Log of Our Diamond

07 January 2018 | Blackpoint Exumas
07 January 2018 | Blackpoint
07 January 2018 | Staniel Cay
06 January 2018 | Warderwick Wells
23 December 2017 | The Grotto (Staniel Cay)
23 December 2017 | The Grotto (Staniel Cay)
23 December 2017 | Staniel Cay
18 December 2017 | Allan's Cay
17 December 2017
16 December 2017 | No Name Harbor
16 December 2017 | West Palm Beach
09 December 2017 | Stuart
09 December 2017 | Ft Pierce Inlet
09 December 2017 | New Smyrna Beach
30 November 2017
25 November 2017 | St Augustine, FL
24 November 2017 | St Mary's, GA
24 November 2017 | St. Mary's, GA
24 November 2017 | St Mary's, GA
18 November 2017 | Cumberland Island National Seashore

Watermakers and 79 Cent Washers, Pt II

07 January 2018 | Blackpoint Exumas
[This is a continuation of the previous post as I was unaware of a text limitation. Am I really that long winded?]

Unfortunately (not really) we have dinner plans on SEA JULES with WHITEBIRD and DUCHESS and I am not ready to tackle the watermaker at cruisers midnight. In the morning I install the fitting and start the watermaker and guess what? We have water. Yes WATER, it is kind of like Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway making FIRE. Except I make WATER. Somebody else can make EARTH and WIND. Actually somebody did make wind as we have it is spades now. The bomb cyclone (or bombogenesis, 24mb drop in 24 hours) that made all the news for the east coast weather started between the Abacos and Port Canaveral and we have two days of sustained 25-35 knots (SW going N) with gusts to 45 knots during the front passage. Plenty of stories of poor boat handling (by others) out of that, but that is another story.

After making water for 30 minutes we stop and go to town for bread, milk and eggs before the top of the storm. We also stop at the BTC store to top off my minutes and get Lana a data SIM card. It all works and back to the boat.

Then it happens, I try to make water again. This time it works for about 30 seconds and one of the feed line hoses blows off and spews brine water all over the lazerette. Repair the fitting and another fitting leak on the manifold assembly and then the pressures usually only 150 psi is back to 200psi and low voltage errors occur. I am majorly bummed. To top it off I drop three phone conference calls for work and one is with a customer. Panic ensues and I finally take Lana’s advice to swap her Verizon SIM card back in to make another attempt at comms to work. No joy. Swap back to her BTC SIM and now there is no data access for her phone. A couple of texts go through but no internet search or Facebook updates. Now I am double bummed. We ride out the storm with me attempting to work and Lana watching three movies in a row. The next morning things appear to be moderating so we move OUR DIAMOND off Staniel Cay for a shore run to BTC before heading to Blackpoint in preparations for the next round of ENE winds in the 25-35kt range for three days with included squalls and storms. Remember the story of how you answer the question of what you do all day on a boat? Well the BTC store is supposed to be open according to the hours but there is a sign posted that the person has gone to Blackpoint and will be back at 2PM. We will be in Blackpoint and I have a phone conference at 2PM so you get the picture. Just to be clear the BTC stores here are not like the Verizon, T-mobile and Apple stores back home. These are like one stall bathrooms with one person behind a bank teller style window with a drawer and very random hours. No displays of phones, no service techs, essentially it is a location to collect phone bill payments. Unfortunately all my transactions are done online so I could really use a tech. Anyway off to Blackpoint where we arrive at 1230. We motored as I was on a conference call for two hours while the rest of the fleet of 10 boats or so that we spent the bombcyclone with at Big/Little Majors Spots are all sailing to Blackpoint. Since we are before 2P we take a chance and go to the one stall BTC store on Blackpoint and of course, no one is there. Plus their hours are Wednesday 9:30-12:30 and closed all other times. Really? Back to the boat for the phone conference and then back to Scorpios for happy hour rum punches. Lana and I had three each, and I don’t drink much. These are blended rums with a little juice thrown in so they are powerful. These are the rum punches that caused trouble for Mike last year and sprained his back. Dominic and Bianca also had trouble with the rum punches and went swimming with the sharks at the dinghy dock. Actually one fell and the other had to dive for the outboard key all in the dark of course. Anyway we met old friends DUCHESS, SEA JULES, WHITEBIRD and new friends on INTREPID and BLUE MOON.

So here we sit in Blackpoint and are about the same place as before Christmas with no watermaker, poor phone service and weather coming in. It could be worse; we could be in Shady Side with 20 degree (F) highs today. No problem mon.

Watermakers and 79 Cent Washers, Pt I

07 January 2018 | Blackpoint
The watermaker saga has been continuing throughout the holidays.

In Blackpoint I continue debugging the watermaker and get the system rewired eliminating all splices in the power cables to the control unit and boost pump motor. After several emails with the factory and phone calls with the Nassau rep the tech guys in California turn me over to a rep in France who has been actually quite helpful. He made some recommendations and I have tried some with no luck and have a couple more to change when we get to Big Majors Spot for a night before heading to Warderwick Wells and Cambridge across the New Years break.

After one last test in Big Majors Spot (disassembling and reassembling the Energy Transfer Device of the watermaker, see photo) we determine the pistons of the ETD have been pushed out of timing, by probable air bubble ingestion. I get them back together and find that one of the hose fittings has separated by all the high pressures during the failed tests. Unfortunately, it is a onetime only fitting that is beyond recovery to be reused. Several emails and phone calls to Nassau and I determine they will not be able to assist. This makes it very frustrating as I am literally down to one fitting from making water. This is very much like the auto racing "joke" about losing a million dollar race for want of a 79 cent washer. I know what it is like as water is a minimum of $0.40 per gallon here and the part I need is about $7. In fact we have the exact part in the lab at work.

We leave for Exuma Park early in the morning and I spend my last bits of cell coverage clearing issues at work instead of ordering the part I need. I expect to use the $10 internet service at the park rangers station the next day. When we get to the park the internet services are down during our visit so my idea of emailing the watermaker services to order the compression fitting doesn't pan out. This is getting very frustrating but you can't remain frustrated in such a cool area for very long. Somehow as I begin to relax, I realize I have one last communications method I have not tried, the Delorme tracker has a function for short message texting via satellite so I make another try to one of my engineers at work, Gino. Gino is on holiday in Florida so I send a couple of emails asking him to order the part from McMaster Carr and ship it to the air freight handler in Ft. Lauderdale which has direct service to Staniel Cay. I used them last year for my Google Fi phone and an exhaust part for the then engine. As a coincidence the air freight service is Watermakers Air, go figure. Gino gets the message and works to ship the part and arrange air freight to Staniel Cay. Later I find out Gino has the part I need in his garage and sends it. Yep that is one of the reasons Gino is such a good engineer; he hoards parts like I do (except I don't have the one I need on the boat).

After the New Years Day holiday Lana and I kayak, in her new tandem inflatable kayak, with Peter and Cathy (in their similar kayak) to several coral heads and beaches. We find a 5 foot ray in 2 feet of water and end up floating above it for about 10 minutes. Really cool. The next day I get the invoice from Watermakers Air which must be paid before they load freight, so I pay it online and get the email I have been waiting for "your package is loaded on the 1PM flight and will arrive soon". YIPPEEE!!!. We spend the rest of the day working and listening to the radio for the twice daily radio call of "Staniel Cay Yacht Club, Staniel Cay Yacht Club this is Watermakers". The call finally comes at 4PM so we head to town to pick up the UPS overnight envelope. Yes it was $86.15 shipping for 0.3 pounds and worth every penny for my "79 cent washer".

New Year’s Day Cruisers Regatta

07 January 2018 | Staniel Cay
The morning of New Year’s Day was spent preparing for crew (Mike and Julie) and getting ready to race. We found out from Peter that the pre-race meeting was held before we arrived in Staniel Cay but he gave us a run down and a course map and rules. Ten boats registered which I found surprising as there were so many boats in the area. Racing was scheduled for 10AM but this is the islands mon. As we were getting ready to pull anchor there was a radio call for a racers update on 72. After switching to 72 we learn from the race committee that based on the very light (non-existent) wind they were cancelling the race to allow all to enjoy the water benefits of the Staniel Cay area without being forced to drift for hours looking for a bit of breeze to sail big cruising boats in. Good call committee as the wind did come up to about 5 knots at 4PM just as the regatta banquet was to begin. We spent the day kayaking and dinghying around and learning to navigate in 3 knots of current by dinghy in the inlet.

The banquet actually started around 5:30 (island time mon) and we had a great feast put on by the local Staniel Cay civic organization. Chicken, pork, red beans and rice, coleslaw and mixed veggies. Most of it was delicious. The race committee came by and handed out awards to the racers. Of course OUR DIAMOND got first place. Yes, yes I know it was in the Catalina 36 division of one boat. Funny how there were 10 divisions in a 10 boat race. I am still trying to figure that out. I received our “trophy” bag and thanked my crew and the race committee. All was well.

Last year WHITEBIRD participated in their first regatta and won first place (actually) as they had 20+ knots of wind. They squeaked out a win by about two boat lengths.

Holidays and Sewing Machines

06 January 2018 | Warderwick Wells
I haven’t written as we have been quite busy and distracted lately. We spent four days in Blackpoint doing laundry, snorkeling and enjoying Christmas dinner with about 50 other cruisers. It was a good dinner and we met Steve and Jane on REFLECTIONS from Ontario Canada. REFLECTIONS is a CS36 and this is their first year down so we were comparing notes. During their trip south they were advised on several occasions to turn back as they had recurring transmission problems and spent some major boat bucks getting them repaired at various places along the way. They are now glad they kept going and made it to the Exumas.

We snorkeled by dinghy with WHITEBIRD on the south side of Blackpoint and somehow missed the myriad of sharks that frequent these waters. There were quite a few small schools of little fish that were interesting. Before returning to the boat we took a dinghy tour to the far end of Blackpoint, on the south side, where there is an anchorage with good protection from the east, north and some of the northwest. The BTC coverage was less than stellar and very confusing as the Google FI phone and the BTC phone both had three bars but an E indication. WHITEBIRD has LTE and SEA JULES has 3G and E at times. After some research E is roughly an indication of 2G, H and H+ is an indication of 3G and LTE is you guessed it, LTE. I fiddle with the settings quite a bit and am able to get H and H+ intermittently but it seems to reset to E quite often. Not sure if it is my phones or the tower, but tend to think it is the phones as others have LTE and 3G. We may stop in at the BTC office in Staniel Cay on the quick stop before heading north. Before leaving we “borrow” 30 gallons of RO water from ZURI as they make something like 45 gallons per hour or something and are quite generous. Good to have Stephen and Estelle as friends. They are off to Georgetown in the morning with guests that have to catch a plane.

I am going to take a couple of days of vacation so we can spend some more time in Warderwick Wells. This is in the Bahamas National Trust Land and Sea Park and is an area without cell phone coverage. Who needs a working cell phone anyway? At the park office you can buy 24 hours of medium speed internet for $10.
We leave Big Majors Spot and head for Sea Aquarium Coral Garden at O’Brien Cay near Bell Island. It is quite a sail, for a bit, in 20 kts of wind and then as our course is heading more upwind we take in the head sail and motor sail the remainder. SEA JULES continues sailing to the last minute and then has issues furling and ends up with some tatters when completed. By this time it is quite rough and we decide to go hide behind O’Brien Cay. In the anchorage there is a large super yacht taking up most of the area so we head a bit further south in the open area to anchor. OUR DIAMOND is the lead boat for depth sensing and it is a steady call of 10s and 8s until it becomes 6s and 4s and then CRUNCH; we are aground in 3+ feet, sandy bottom. SEA JULES turns around and decides to anchor where they are while we spend the next 30 minutes working to get off a sand bar. Good thing for low tide rising! We get off and decide to hide behind Little Halls Pond Cay even further in from SEA JULES. They follow later and we anchor in 20 feet (not my favorite due to the amount of chain we have to put out which means our windlass, named Robert, has more work to pull anchor. As the afternoon wears on we find out we are in the cut between Bell Island/ Cambridge and parts north that all the fast tour boats use as a super highway. We have lunch, a nap and after a conference with SEA JULES decide to move further north to Emerald Rock in the Exuma Park. The main point is to go out on the high tide at 3P so we don’t have to go through the shoals again at low tide, and also to get away from the tour boats. Of course the wind is abating so we see several dinghies heading to the Coral Garden as we pass, bummer, but we will be back.

We motor to make Emerald Rock just before sunset and anchor among 7 superyachts with about 5 jet skis each having races against the better advice of the park warden calling on the radio stating jet skis must be operated at idle in the park boundary. They finally call it a day and we have a great dinner and watch the moonlight create shadows of fish and boats on the bottom as the water is so calm. In the morning we get a mooring in the Warderwick Wells Park. We were here last year with the kids on a charter cat and had a great time. Rusty proposed to Stephanie here so they were excited to hear we were going to visit the park again. The next couple of days are spent hiking to Boo Boo Hill and snorkeling Emerald Rock and the Park Rangers Garden. No sharks but quite a few large (4 foot) rays and lots of reef fishes.

We have happy hour the last night and meet quite a few folks. One of the boats is captained by one of the guys that commissioned SEA JULES which is another small world story. In the discussions Mike finds a sewing machine that can be borrowed in the morning as I had said I could fix the sail but our machine was left in Jacksonville with Stan and Annie of KOKOPELLI. The sewing machine story is quite convoluted as it was stated as a giveaway machine, with the caveat of pay it forward when requested in the future. Later it was a “borrow” and in the morning it was a borrow of a completely different machine which actually needed to be serviced to be useable. After Mike gets the machine sorted out I spend about 20 minutes adjusting, and breaking two needles and more adjusting to the point where it might work. An hour and half later I get the suncover of the headsail repaired and do not spot any major damage. Good thing the cockpit is SEA JULES is so big as their headsail was quite large also. Just as we are wrapping up the sewing machine “broker” shows up with another machine to “adjust”. At least this one is a more familiar Sailrite machine, even though quite old. The guy is quite adamant that I should adjust the timing for it to work but I hold him off long enough to get the thing set up, threaded and actually make a couple of stitches to see what I have to work with. Two tension adjustments later it is sewing through 8 layers of Dacron without issues. They begin to call me the sewing machine whisperer, but it is just people that try to force the material through the machine. A walking foot machine does the work so let it. I let the guy photograph a few pages of the sewing machine manual so he can make further timing adjustments down the road. Good luck to you sir.

After sewing machine classes we drop the mooring lines and head for Staniel Cay on the sound side to try fishing again. Mike always says afterwards that we were definitely fishing as if we caught anything we would call it catching. I get the point as we both are skunked again. Back to mac-n-cheese for me.

WHITEBIRD calls to let us know they are between Big and Little Majors Spots to grab a hidey hole from west wind and weather that is expected January 2. This area is not typically used much but we decide to anchor near them and good thing we did. The anchorage off Pirate Beach for New Years Eve is a cluster of about 20 superyachts and about 100 other boats. The Staniel Cay Yacht Club is swamped with big and little boats. We spend 30 minutes holding position in high current to get on the fuel dock for diesel and water (still no water maker joy). Not to brag but I was quite impressed by my boat handling in 2.5-3 knots of current. Back to anchor near WHITEBIRD but that creates friction for the viewing and partying of New Years Eve. We end up spending the evening on SEA JULES with WHITEBIRD and DUCHESS. Matt and Joyce run the 32 foot Allied Sailboat DUCHESS out of Albany New York. Peter and Cathy start calling them the young guns as they are in their early 30s and just quit working to go sailing for a year or two. We are all amazed and thinking where we were in our early 30s, not sailing in the Exumas that’s for sure. There are some very good impromptu fireworks from Fowl Cay Resort at cruisers midnight (9PM) which are very visible over the hills of Big Majors Spot so Lana is thrilled again. After that it is back to the boat and an early retirement. We welcome 2018 from behind closed eyelids hiding bloodshot eyes. Tomorrow is the 43rd annual New Year’s Day Cruisers Regatta which WHITEBIRD signed us up for while we were out of communications in Warderwick Wells (at our request).

Grotto Fish

23 December 2017 | The Grotto (Staniel Cay)
Here is a Go Pro video screen capture of the large group of fish in one of the cave entrances at the Grotto taken during the non party times of the Blotto in the Grotto James Bond party.

Blotto in The Grotto (Shaken not Stirred)

23 December 2017 | The Grotto (Staniel Cay)
Late in the afternoon at low tide, the six of us went snorkeling at The Grotto for a James Bond party. This Grotto is the location where the scene that James Bond finds the bomb device in the underwater vehicle and fights off a few bad guys to determine it is one of the bombs that was hijacked was filmed. There are some old photos in the Staniel Cay yacht club of the crew filming and some of the props that were used. The Grotto is a small island (you could snorkel around the whole thing in about 30-45 minutes. It has four or five underwater entrances but one is just open at low tide to snorkel through so that is where we go in. Inside the island is about half hollow and the light filters in from the underwater caves which allows you to see all the small fish swimming, it is like being in a full aquarium with fish all around. There are three large holes in the roof about 30 feet above, so there is plenty of overhead light. The rock formations are quite interesting also.

We are there for a James Bond party so I have a bow tie on made from black electrical tape while Lana, Peter and Julie make (very strong) martinis, shaken not stirred of course. We even have a couple of throw cushions to make floating two and four tops to hold the drinks and mixers. I have Gatorade instead. There ends up being a water spot right in the middle of the Go Pro pictures and video but I get one selfie of the group.

All in all a good afternoon and the grotto is all ours for about 45 minutes until a tour boat with about 15 shows up. Two kids climbed to the top and jumped in while the others are snorkeling. Not for me as I am afraid of heights. They ask about all our asundry gear and we state we are filming a part for the next James Bond movie called Blotto in the Grotto. Don’t expect to see it any time soon on the big screen, I doubt it will even make the direct to DVD market.

The next day we are going to Blackpoint where we will stay through Christmas.
Vessel Make/Model: Catalina 36 MkII
Hailing Port: Shady Side, MD.
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