Ya gotta be flexible!
11 May 2008 | Marsh Harbour
December 29, 2007 - January 5, 2008
Marsh Harbour is the third largest city in the Bahamas. It is the transportation, government and commercial hub of the Abacos. Yet it is the only town in the Abacos that requires a traffic light. Boaters also regard Marsh Harbour as the best place in the Abacos to obtain provisions.
We plan to settle in here for a few days because a cold front is coming through with north winds blowing 25 knots. Boats are entering and leaving the anchorage all the time. A better location to ride out the wind and waves becomes available closer to the lee shore so we raised anchor and moved there. The lee of the land protects you somewhat from the wind but mostly the seas. Being positioned upwind of the rest of the boats in the anchorage also reduces the worry of one of them dragging anchor into you. The wind speeds increase at night here in the islands and settle a bit during the day. This is directly opposite of our experience at home in New England where the wind speed usually settles down in the evening allowing everyone to rest at night. Kelly sleeps in the cockpit on the really windy nights to keep an eye on the situation. We have not dragged our anchor yet. This is mostly due to following good anchoring practices. It is the other guys we have to watch out for.
Maintenance and repairs to the boat are ongoing. Kelly works on the forward head toilet. An internal valve has come apart inside the inlet pump which he repairs (a clean job). It hasn't been functioning properly for awhile. It is nice to have both heads fully operational. Our wifi antenna extension cable has a loose connector. The end fitting is secured with a crimp sleeve which has failed. It is an odd style connector and is not readily available so Kelly shortens the cable a bit and solders the connection. It will last for awhile but will fail again in the future. He also replaces our propane regulator which has a leaking diaphragm.
On the eve of December 29, 2007 we had the chance to see some fireworks off to the south of us. We see all the high ones. About an hour later we hear a loud bang. The fireworks barge was coming into Marsh Harbour and they set off four large fireworks. That was really neat.
Cindy and Rick on the catamaran Dragonfly are also in the harbor. On New Year's Eve Day we went snorkeling and scuba diving with them on a reef southeast of Man-O-War Cay. The reef was about 6 nautical miles away from our anchorage. We both have 25 hp outboard motors on our dinghies which can move the dinghies quickly in smooth water. We got out to the reef in no time at all. Unfortunately Danielle feels seasick from the rough ride and stays elects not to swim. Kelly goes off scuba diving with Cindy and Rick. Kristen and I go snorkeling around the dinghy. Kristen was so excited to see all of the different kinds of fish. We had fun but decide to head back because Danielle is feeling really seasick at this point. We had a slow ride back since the seas had built-up even more. Back in the harbor we cleaned up and rested a bit. Around sunset we headed over to Dragonfly for the New Year's Eve celebration.
On Dragonfly we met two other men each single handing their sailboats. Everyone brought something to share. We brought painkiller mix and rum as well as cheese and crackers. We all sat around talking the night away. We watched a fireworks display while sitting on the bow trampoline. Tired from a day of swimming we returned to our boat around 11:30 PM. We stay up until midnight to wish each other a Happy New Year.
The New Year begins with a loud bang noise waking us up around 1:00 AM. Kelly got up immediately to check on the cause. Passing the electrical panel in the hallway between the aft cabin and the main salon he switched on the breakers for the deck lights and proceeded to the cockpit where he switched on all the deck lights. The deck was lit up like a ball field at night spoiling his night vision beyond the brightly lit decks. He searched the deck for the source of the noise and returned disappointed not finding the cause. Everything appeared OK so we returned to sleep.
During the morning Cruiser's Net broadcast on the VHF radio the following morning, we heard a report from a motor sailor named Mixed Blessing of a white inflatable dinghy without a motor on the shore near the harbor entrance. They said the boat had Mississippi registration numbers. Our dinghy is registered in Massachusetts where all registration numbers begin with the letters MS, not MA like one would think. Hearing the boat was registered in Mississippi doesn't catch our attention. Another hour goes by before we are out on the deck for the first time that morning. Kelly is the first on deck. He is going to move the boat to a better spot to sit out the wind change that is predicted to blow soon. It is at this time that we realize the dinghy is missing. We call Dragonfly on the VHF to let them know of our situation. Then we broadcast a general notice to all stations of the missing dinghy. Rick heads right over with his dinghy to our boat and picks up Kelly. They take off towards the harbor entrance to look for the dinghy reported by Mixed Blessing. They find our dinghy up against the iron shore. The engine has been removed, a beat up looking paddle and a new claw hammer, both of which do not belonging to us are found on the dinghy floor. The boat has been pounding on the rocky bottom while the bow and portside tubes were trapped under the limestone ledge jutting out over the water. The boat is badly damaged. The thieves have not taken the fuel line or the full tank of fuel. The anchor, lines, lights and various other items are still on the boat. Evidently, all they wanted was the motor. We are bummed beyond explanation with our loss. This dinghy after all is our transportation to shore and back. It is more important than having a car when you live on the land. The dinghy cannot be paddled in windy conditions or against current. So having a motor is a must.
Rick and I towed the dinghy back to our boat and then he brought me in to town so I could make a police report. The police took down all the information and requested me to make the dinghy available for the detective to see it. I borrowed Dragonfly's dinghy again to bring the dinghy ashore for the investigation. I met the officer at the dock. He took a look at the dinghy, kept the paddle and hammer for evidence and departed. I towed the dinghy back out to our boat at anchor and raised it up in the davits to check the bottom for damage. Careful handling of the dinghy for ten seasons has resulted in only one minor scratch in the gel coat. The bottom is now a disaster not to mention the tube damage on top.
While attaching the dinghy to the davits I spotted a white scuff mark high up on Kwitcherbitchen's transom beneath the starboard davit. I suspect the thieves drifted up to our transom in a wood or fiberglass boat with a tall freeboard. The boat must have been painted white where it struck our transom leaving behind the paint scuff mark.
This scuff mark is most likely related to the bang noise we heard. We never heard any motor noises so they must have cut the engine some distance away and coasted up on our transom striking it. Then they untied our dinghy and used the wind and current to drift away from us to remain undetected. The motor was then removed from the dinghy before it was set adrift.
I was on deck within two minutes of hearing the bang noise. The thieves must have been very close to our boat while I was searching the deck. Had I used a flashlight instead of my deck lights to search, I might have seen the thieves. Who knows what outcome spotting them might have produced.
We make an announcement on the cruisers net just so people can make a decision about locking their dinghies. Kelly makes daily trips into the police station to collect a copy of the police report which never is supplied. Upon making the initial police report to the station, Kelly requests a copy of the report to forward to our insurance company. He is told to return the following day to pick up the report which needs to be typed up by the secretary. The excuse for the report not being available the next day was the secretary did not come in to work that day and he is asked the question , when are we planning to leave the island?. Different officers tended the desk each day he returned to get a copy of the report. Each day a different excuse was made for not having a report and the question of when we plan to leave is asked. On the fourth day he had his fill of this Baloney! Everyone was able to hear his loud American voice announce his disgust with the situation. One of the officers asked him to step outside to have a conversation. Now he gets a new story. The report he returned daily to request and was told would be provided the following day, is never given to the individual making the complaint! No reason was given why the rouse. In order for my insurance company to receive a copy of the report, they must request it in writing! Kelly bore this guy a new orifice for the mistreatment and makes him write out the procedure and address to obtain the report. He also makes the officer write his name down. We sent the information to our insurance company by email.
On the 4th we purchase a new Yamaha 30hp. Not Kelly's first choice, but it was in stock and we need transportation.
The motor is the only item stolen. The dinghy damage repair estimate is higher than the cost of a replacement boat. Our insurance company is fair and settles the claim quickly. The claim pays for a new motor but that is it. The dinghy was under insured. We will have to buy a new one when we get back in the states. For now we will have to keep it pumped up as it leaks.
Lucky for us, Rick and Cindy are here in the harbor and ferry us back and forth to shore for a few days. Thank you both so much for the help. We end up going into town one day to walk around with them. We checked out this place called Buck a Book. It is a little container trailer stuffed with used books. Each book is $1 and they rent movies for $1. The money raised goes toward helping the Wild Horses of Abaco. We purchase a book for Kelly and then walk to the Abaco Resort. They have a nice view of the Sea of Abaco. The water was rough with white caps. We then went to get ice cream. Meanwhile, Kelly was at the police station and checking around to see if the outboard came in anywhere. We end up meeting him at Curly Tails for Bloody Marys. We continue with the drinks out on our boat. We had a great time just talking. It was good to get our minds off the stolen outboard.
In the evenings while at anchor we watched the Harry Potter Movies 2 and 3, SpongeBob Squarepants episodes on DVD and we played Yahtzee a bunch of times.
Kelly receives his first haircut from me. We purchased an electric clipper at Walmart before we left. I was nervous at first because if you screw up you have to live with it. In about a half-hour, I give Kelly what I think is a decent haircut. Kelly's not so sure.
We explored the rest of the harbor near Marsh Harbour Marina. Kristen captains the dinghy with Kelly's assistance. In this area, we walk around down near some villas on the north side of the peninsula then we head back past the marina. We see some beautiful homes and go down by the water at Mermaid Reef. From here we took the dinghy across to the Conch Inn Marina. We walk around and check out a few shops. We watch a man make conch ceaviche. We saw how he gets the conch out of the shell and how he strips the muscle. There is definitely no health codes here, since this man has a cut on his finger and he just wraps it with a paper towel, plus there were flies everywhere around the food he was using. It must be good because people were buying it up for $30 a pint.
We went to Curly Tails bar/restaurant at the Conch Inn. It is on the second floor of the building and it is open to the harbor. We have some drinks and some appetizers. While we are there the girls look over the edge and see in the water below a bunch of fish and a turtle. They are penned in and are fed by the restaurant.
On the Saturday night we went to the Jib Room restaurant for dinner. We signed up for dinner, as they need a head count for the buffet style dinner. We hoped that there would be kids there, but none of the ones there were around the girl's ages. We met a couple that was Falmouth. We had our dinner with Cindy and Rick. There were a lot of people here for dinner. We had steak and mahi-mahi, which was really good. There was a guy that was performing Rake and Scrape" music with a saw and a screwdriver. He also did the limbo. Both Danielle and Kristen joined a line of people giving the limbo a try. We all had fun. The band leader then performed his limbo show where could limbo under what the stick set at a height that was set no more than a foot of the ground. He did this under a limbo stick that was on fire. He lit a cigarette as he went under! Pretty wild! We put some money in his tip jar, he definitely was entertaining. We all danced to the music. During the band breaks customers were encouraged to try the instruments. The girls and I gave the bongo drums a try.
Of course schooling is going on through all of this fun. Danielle has her 3rd round of testing in math and aces it. She also did a drawing of pigs. It shows how distance is done within a picture as with the Mona Lisa, which she studied. She completed reading the "Sign of the Beaver" for school. One day she got to play teacher and had to write five questions from one of the chapters to ask me. I read the chapter out loud to Kristen so she could answer some of the questions as well. Danielle did very well with her questions. She had fun with this. Kristen is doing addition with double digits and she picked right up on it. She is doing awesome with addition flashcards and will be moving on to subtraction flashcards soon. In science she is learning about heat, and in social studies we reviewed the Revolutionary War.
We do a lot of food provisioning here since it's the biggest grocery store we will see in awhile.