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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
02/12/2007, Emerald Bay

So we didn't leave.

It would have been an ok day to go but the front that came over night brought some rain that didn't wrap up until the morning. Hideko and I went to get some breakfast and then, well we just didn't want to leave. Did I mention how nice it was here at Emerald Bay?

We were also looking forward to getting to know the Shazza crew better. We played bridge with Bob and Sharon on Volley Ball beach a few weeks ago. Bob was the guy who gave the tour of the Stromatalites (rare bacteria that have recently been discovered in the Bahamas that formed some of the more ancient reefs of the world). Shazza is a Hylas 46. These are beautiful boats and one of the mono hulls that we considered before we switch to the multi hull dark side. We joined Bob and Sharon for a sun downer on Shazza and had a great evening.

The Bahamas
Leaving Emerald Bay
02/11/2007, Emerald Bay

We have had a great stay at Emerald Bay. It has been pretty deserted with no more than 10 occupied boats (many folks leave boats here to travel home). We are often outnumbered by the staff when we visit the pool or one of the restaurants. It is time to move on however and tomorrow we head south.

The Bahamas
Wind Generators
02/10/2007, Emerald Bay

If you are in a beautifully quiet anchorage and you see one of these (see photo) pull in next to you, move. No "these" is not the mono hull. No "these" is not a Canadian flaged vessel. "these" is the old AirX Wind generator. They are famously loud.

Wind generators are not all bad though, and to be fair the new Air X units have gotten quieter. Many wind generators are unpleasantly noisy however. One of the great things about sailing is the peace and quiet while under sail and while at anchor. A loud wind generator can really shatter the serenity. Wind generators can also be dangerous (consider a tall person standing up on the coming just underneath the blades in a strong breeze...). Many are failure prone because they provide poor control for over charging in high winds, some are susceptible to corrosion, some use brushes (which can generate radio interference) and other parts that wear out. Some don't get going until the wind is 15 knots and then they shut down as soon as it blows over 25.

After inquiring after many cruising wind generators in various anchorages I have come to believe that modern wind generators do not need to be noisy to produce great power. Amp Air and a few other brands actually pride themselves on their low decibel output. Getting high current, quiet and reliable power is not easy to do but there are some products offering a fair set of trade offs.

Our solar panels are great for generating clean quiet power. We have 7 x 75 Watt panels and we can run our fridge and freezer 24x7 without starting the motor indefinitely, as long as we don't get a lot of overcast weather. Our fridge and freezer run about 5 amps (rounding up) and have about a 50% duty cycle. So we typically burn 5 amp hours per hour, or about 80 per night. The 525 Watt solar array peaks at a little over 20 amps mid day and tapers off on both sides which easily makes up for the daytime load and overnight draw. Run a cloud or low flying plane overhead though and the current vanishes.

While the fridge is great, we like to use other electrical things as well and, contrary to popular belief, it is not always sunny down here (almost always though). When it is overcast it is often windy. When it is dark it is windy sometimes. When the sails are up and shading the panels it is definitely windy. A good wind generator seems like the perfect complement to a solar array for a lot of reasons.

Amp Air and Fourwinds II are well liked by their owners and have some of the more desirable features, including quiet operation. KISS wind generators also have a good reputation and they are in Trinidad. I think we'll stop in to discuss matters with them when we get down there.

The Bahamas
Dante and Roq
02/09/2007, Emerald Bay

Roq has met several dogs in his travels aboard Swingin' on a Star but he seems to have formed a special bond with Dante. Dante did a good job of defending his end of the dock but always had time to come down to visit Roq. Dante is an athletic 4 year old Jack Russell. Roq is a decrepit 12 year old something or other (consensus is Sheppard, Blue Healer, Coyote). Dante was too respectful to jump on another boat uninvited and Roq was too old to jump off, but they still managed to spend time together.

The Bahamas
Dragon Lady
02/08/2007, Emerald Bay Marina

We met a wonderful American couple today on Dragon Lady, a Voyage 440. Bill, Cinda and their Jack Russel, Dante, arrived today and are on more or less the same plan as us so we look forward to seeing them down island.

The Bahamas
French Cooking with Bahamian Supplies
02/07/2007, Emerald Bay

One good turn deserves another so we decided to cook dinner for the Mika crew tonight. It can be tricky putting together some of the things you used to make back home in the US. The supply chain gets pretty skinny out here in the Exumas. We did manage a Broccoli Soup from scratch and we cooked up some delicious Mahi Mahi that Hideko was given by Penobscot, a sailboat in the marina. Daniel and Anne are headed back North to enjoy the Exumas some more so we may not see them again. We got out the Ukulele and played them Swingin' on a Star so that they wouldn't forget us.

The Bahamas
Four Seasons
02/06/2007, Great Exuma

The Emerald Bay Marina is part of the larger Four Seasons resort and guests of the marina are welcomed at the Hotel a short walk down the beach. Hideko and I had a great time relaxing at the beach bar while catching up on our cruising guide reading.

The Bahamas

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