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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
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
Dinner on Mika
02/05/2007, Emerald Bay

Our friends Daniel and Anne on Mika, a Beneteau 393, invited us over to dinner this evening. They made a wonderful Chinese stir fry and capped it off with Banannas Foster. Yum!

The Bahamas
Eyran's Departure
01/23/2007, Emerald Bay

We got up early this morning. It was a beautiful dawn with the sun rising over Stocking Island in Technicolor. It was also a sad morning because we knew we would be watching our friends on Eyran sail away to the North for perhaps the last time in a long, long time. I was getting used to watching them leave the anchorage two hours before we could possibly get ready.

By afternoon Hideko and I had the boat ready to go and we hauled anchor and motored north out of the harbor with Hideko on the helm. You have to do a little zig zagging to stay clear of all of the shoal areas in the harbor but I think with our draft you could probably sail just about anywhere you wanted to at high tide. Still we stayed to the marked channel and the waypoints on the Explorer charts.

It took us about an hour of casual motoring in light and variable wind to get to Emerald Bay. The Marina entrance is a little dicey as the waves break on the rocky beach just to the starboard side as you enter the marina. I think they have plans to put in a proper break water, but until then you will have a tough (perhaps dangerous) time coming or going with a strong easterly driving the swell across the entrance. The channel is wide enough but you might want to wait outside if you see a mega yacht transiting.

The Marina is setup to be a very nice place but it is still a work in progress. The dock master's office and the restaurant are in temporary buildings and most of the slips do not yet have power (because the islands power plant can't supply the amount needed). There is also a fair amount of construction going on in the area, both projects in the Marina and Resort Condos going up all around.

All that taken into consideration, the Marina is a very nice place. They have free trash disposal and laundry with new high quality washers and dryers. The captain's lounge has comfortable furniture with satellite TV, lots of charts, cruising guides and magazines as well as a pool table. The restaurant has good food and a nice outdoor bar. The bathing facilities are top notch, with clean showers and restrooms sporting shampoo, conditioner, body wash, sunscreen, hand soap, mouth wash, Q-Tips, cotton balls, etceteras. Wifi is free and available throughout the Marina. They have a shuttle service that will take you to the grocery store or the nearby resort pool. The pool area has a great heated pool, a Jacuzzi, a nice restaurant serving breakfast lunch and dinner, great indoor and out door seating areas, complimentary towels, beach access to Emerald Bay along with Kayaks and other stuff.

The regular rate is $3 a foot for full services. However for the time being you can get a $0.75 per foot rate (40 foot minimum) for slips with no power. Water is metered but if you are a cruising boat set up to be independent of grid power for long periods of time this is a deal and a half.

We came into the E dock and tied up facing North East stern to. I wanted to face North East because this is where you typically get the strongest winds and I wanted to be stern to in order to allow Hideko and Roq to use the boarding ramp while I was away. They let us tie up between two spurs allowing us to avoid deploying fenders. The docks in most of the marina are floating with the posts on the inside of the spurs which is heaven compared to most places in the Bahamas. All of the floating docks have rubber rub rails and solid cleats (no tying up around a post!).

A dock hand was waiting for us when we arrived and they even set a nice Emerald Bay rug out for us. After putting the boat away, Hideko and I enjoyed a nice dinner out to commiserate the departure of our friends on Eyran.

The Bahamas

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