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Friday, May 31, 2013

Swing Set Status Report From Nassau

  It has been raining heavily here in Nassau all week and we are tired of it and the place, ready to move on.
  On Wednesday we walked to the Fresh Market, a modern grocery store just a short walk from the marina. It's set in a new plaza that looks similar to any shopping center short of a mall in the United States. The only thing different is that there is a security cop about every fifty feet. In fact, most of the businesses here along East Bay Street require visitors to buzz in at the door before being allowed to enter. I don't see how this is a deterrent to robbery because if I was a robber I'd just piggyback my way in like everyone does anyway. Perhaps I missed my calling.
  At any rate, we did some shopping, and like in the U.S., large portions of meat are at reasonable prices. The quick and convenient foods (a bag of Dorito's is $7) are very expensive. We bought a whole pork butt for $2.79 per pound, not bad, and it wasn't frozen. A frozen whole chicken was $1.99 per pound, again not bad considering in a restaurant chickens are priced like sirloin. We bought enough stuff to fill our knapsack and three cloth bags and walked back to the boat in the rain.
  I've mentioned that sidewalks are few and far between here, at least on this side of the harbor, away from Paradise Island. When it rains, the puddles are as big as ponds, and some businesses have no access to them other than driving in, unless you want to wade through ankle deep sewage. You'd think if a city wants to attract tourists, they would make areas walker friendly. What sidewalks there are sit right beside the busy roadway with no buffer, so not only will a small stumble by a pedestrian result in being thrown in the path of the speeding vehicles, I suspect that many of the locals like to aim for nearby puddles as they pass walking tourists and a drenching them. Yes, this happened to us.
  It rained all day on Wednesday and we felt cooped up, so we decided to walk to a nearby Chinese restaurant in spite of the rain. We have nice rain gear left over from our motorcycle touring days, and we have enlisted them for use on the boat. Our life battling flood waters on the Meramec and Mississippi Rivers have made us accustomed to wading in water, so the lake guarding the entrance to Two Dragons Chinese Restaurant was no big deal to us, but flip flops make a loud squeak when wet, so our entrance into the dining room was well advertised.
  Rosie got a honey garlic chicken combo and I got the tried and true sweet and sour chicken. Both dinners came with soup, an egg roll, and a big pile of pork fried rice, and they were only $12 each. We could have shared just one of them, so we had enough to bring home for lunch the next day. We each had a Bud Light and escaped with less than a $40 tab, including adding on a few bucks to the automatic 15% gratuity because our waitress was so nice and prompt.
  The steering cylinder was due to arrive on Thursday, but we didn't know when, but right after breakfast I grabbed the toolbox and climbed into the engine room. My plan to disconnect our exhaust piping to make room to access the steering cylinder was soon dashed. I quickly surmised that any disconnecting of the piping in the area where it would do the most good would have resulted in the sinking of our boat, as those connections were below the water line. Please don't make this mistake if you ever consider taking apart your exhaust lines.
  I squeezed myself into the area of our steering cylinder and started to take it out. If I reached an impasse, so be it, we had Howard's uncle "on call". I figured to just be that much more ahead of the game.
  I extracted some key bolts by mid-morning before our package arrived from the U.S. Howard wasn't present at the marina on Thursday and I had no way to get a hold of his uncle, so I asked the staff to call him and tell him that he could come to our boat. I kept working and finally got the old cylinder out. By then, Gino, the harbormaster came by and said that he had a message; Howard's uncle said it was raining where he was and he couldn't come to our boat. Maybe later. I told Gino to please send a message back to Howard's uncle and tell him that we didn't need him at all. I decided to get the new cylinder installed on my own, and then have the old one rebuilt when we got back to the U.S.
  It was hard going, and my left hand (I could only reach in with one hand at a time) looks like I have been battling with a tomcat, but I got the new cylinder installed by late afternoon.

 
  I set up my Rube Goldberg steering fluid installing device and not only added fluid, but purged the hydraulic system of all the air. While I worked at this process, I rewarded myself with a few ice cold Bud Lights after a long arduous day. Rosie had a couple too for providing moral support and playing the role of go-fer.
  In between fetching things and enduring the cussing coming from the engine room, Rosie had a large portion of our recently purchased pork butt slowly cooking in our crock pot. Once most of the juice was extracted, she poured that off and saved it for a dish will make later, and replaced it with barbecue sauce. Our dinner of barbecued pork, baked potato and steamed corn was particularly rewarding last night. Not only was our steering fixed for good this time, we avoided paying a stranger to come and possibly make things worse.
  We are probably having the last windy day today in Nassau. The wind will subside but rain is predicted to continue. We plan on going out tonight to enjoy some of our visit here before hopefully heading back to the Exumas tomorrow. It may still be raining, but we won't be sitting in a rolly marina for $100 per night.
  While I was posting this blog we got a phone call from VISA saying that someone charged a few bucks to our account up in Indiana, so VISA is going to put our credit card on hold. This will not be a good thing for us, and will make it a hardship to continue, but it's just another obstacle that we'll have to overcome. They want to send us new cards which would be problematic to say the least, but we don't know any way around it. We are glad they discovered the fraud and we'll probably have them send the cards which will go to our mail service at St. Brendan's Isle and we'll have them ship the cards to a  location where we think we'll be staying for a few days. We still have debit cards and checks, and we still have cash. I'll just have to behave myself so Rosie doesn't have to use the cash to bail me out because after listening to more than a few tirades from me yesterday, she just might leave me sit.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Problem Solving In Nassau

  After our late night on Friday night with Rick, MP, and Danielle at Johnny's nightclub, and our trip to Paradise Beach on Saturday, Sunday was a "down day" for us. The wind was picking up, but we still entertained the idea of going exploring in the dinghy but for one reason or another we just didn't go out.
  But, I hated the idea of sitting around all day and getting nothing accomplished in regard to our windlass and steering problems. So, I grabbed my toolbox and took it to the bow and started messing around with the windlass, checking on electrical connections and just looking at it. I had sent an email to my contact at Good Windlass for them to receive first thing after the holiday weekend, outlining just what was going on with the windlass. The idea came to me that perhaps the anchor chain was jammed up too tight and the gears were bound up. I decided to use a large screwdriver and pry the anchor chain out.
  I was able to move the chain just a fraction, so I hit the "down" button, and the anchor dropped. Retrieval worked just fine too. At this point I thought that even if the chain was jammed into the windlass, maybe on the previous failures, our low battery voltage was not sending enough juice to the windlass motor to overcome the bound gears. I figured that being plugged into shore power for two days certainly charged our house batteries up enough for the windlass to do its job. I was feeling pretty good about the windlass operation, but made a mental note to avoid running the anchor up too far and jamming the gears in the future.
  Another problem surfaced on Sunday afternoon. It was not unexpected. One thing gets fixed and another pops up. This is boat ownership.
  Rosie was on the desktop computer in the office and the GFI in "Holly's" bathroom tripped and knocked out the A/C power on the port side of the boat. Back in Foxtown, we had replaced that GFI because it had tripped and I kept resetting the inverter, not knowing the GFI had tripped, and I burnt that GFI beyond recognition.
  There are a lot of things plugged into the port side of Swing Set, but they are all low wattage devices like chargers, etc., and normally only one thing or two is ever on at the same time anyway, so I feel that we never exceed the amperage limit on that breaker. The GFI tripping on a receptacle that nothing was plugged into was a head scratcher.
  Rosie and I began to systematically plug one thing at a time into that port side A/C system until we found what was tripping the GFI. We found out that the desk top computer was tripping the GFI whenever we plugged it in.
  The baffling thing also was that the GFI wouldn't trip if we unplugged from the shore power and ran off of the inverter. Additionally, if I plugged the computer into the GFI on the starboard side of the boat, that GFI wouldn't trip. I suspected an issue with the shore power, so I switched the cords around but that made it worse, the port side GFI wouldn't reset at all when I swapped shore power plugs. I was stumped.
  We wanted to salvage the rest of our day, so we decided to go to out to eat. But then it started to rain.

  The Poop Deck is a popular tourist destination in Nassau, and it's right next door to our current home here at the Nassau Yacht Haven Marina. In the picture that I took from the deck of Swing Set, it's the building just to the left of the yellow building. It was a short walk.
  At 6 P.M. on a Sunday night, the place was packed. There was a long line of folks waiting for a table, locals and tourists both. A group got up from the bar where they were waiting for their table, and we snatched two seats at the crowded bar. Two ice cold Kaliks please.
  Rosie and I got menus and about choked on the prices on the menu at the Poop Deck. With a name like Poop Deck, one would expect casual fare at casual prices. I would. But, no.
  A fried chicken dinner was more than $20. Came with a side and a salad, just for an example. Rosie wanted to leave, but it was getting dark. We didn't know where else to go and we already had a seat. I told Rosie to ignore the prices and get what she wanted. Because Rosie is practical minded, she ordered a lowly priced ($22) "smothered chicken breast", and because I'm cheap, I ordered the fried chicken. But give us two more of those reasonably priced $5.75 Kaliks while we wait. What, are we at a Cardinals baseball game?
  Our dinners came and we both groaned. Rosie's chicken breast was the size of a slice of Spam. My chicken dinner was three pieces of chicken that could have been mistaken for a canary if I could have seen the feathers.
  Our day had not gone so well, other than having fixed the windlass, so we just made up our minds to enjoy our dinners and not complain. "Yes, everything is fine", is what we said when our bartender asked how our food was. It's like when a man asks his wife how the sex is on their honeymoon...what's the use of her complaining at that point?
  I watched a fella next to Rosie perusing the menu. He kept opening it, looking at it, and then closing it again. I knew he didn't think the prices were to his liking, so I asked him if he had been there before.
  Bruce, as our new acquaintance was named, had been there before over the several years he had been coming to Nassau, but he hadn't eaten there. I told him not to order the chicken. We wound up having a great conversation with Bruce. He's from Connecticut and he and his wife live all summer aboard their Grand Banks Europa, a boat that I admire but never dream to own. His boat runs a lower horsepower version of our engines, albeit as a single, so we traded technical information as much as his intake of martinis and our intake of Kaliks would allow. We stayed much too late, but had a good time in spite of a bill that would knock my socks off if I was wearing any.
  My time at the dock here at Nassau Yacht Haven Marina was not entirely wasted. A dock is a good place to network, talking to owners of other boats and finding out who knows what.
I had met the owner of a 450 Sea Ray that is docked two slips over from us. John Neely is a trauma surgeon here in Nassau and lives on his boat. He had lots of questions about some issues he was having with his Sea Ray, and I had questions about services that we might need in Nassau. He, and George, his captain and mentor in matters of the boat, were very nice and John offered as to how he was off on Monday, he could take me to a local battery and tire supplier who he had done business with and I could get a price on new batteries for our house system. He said we'd meet around 9 A.M. on Monday to go visit Albert the mechanic, as he was needing some work done too, and then we'd to the battery store.
  I called Albert the mechanic first thing Monday morning as it wasn't Memorial Day in the Bahamas,  and he said he would be in his shop in about an hour. He knew John and I told him we would both be there by 10:30.
  Meanwhile, John and I walked up to some close by marine suppliers where I bought some steering fluid and a filler hose for the Sea Star hydraulic steering system to replace my Rube Goldberg system that I had previously devised. I learned that two local shops had seal kits for Sea Star steering systems, but no one had the one we needed for Swing Set.
  John and I then walked over to Albert's shop. We had just missed him by five minutes. One of his staff called him and he promised to come by the dock at Yacht Haven to see both of us that afternoon when we got through with a job he was doing.
  Instead of waiting like sausages for Albert to show up, John and I went to get his car and he drove me to the local battery and tire shop so I could price some batteries.
  The drive to the battery shop took us through downtown Nassau. Now, John is a trauma surgeon, but the drive through downtown Nassau made me think John was trying to garner some new customers, but one wouldn't think he'd be bucking to be one of them. Here it's right turns in front of you at the last moment that make you grip the seat. I'd describe the ride as being "hairy", and I've raced motorcycles for years.
  At the battery store, John saw the owner who greeted John with a "Hello Doctor", and then John introduced me as his friend Mike, and then the owner went to get his son to wait on me personally. I was shown the battery that they sold that met my specifications, and then quoted me a 30% off price that brought the total into the realm of something I would have paid in the U.S. Darren then took my credit card and said the batteries would be delivered and if I had the old ones out, they would pick them up to dispose of. We agreed on a delivery two hours from then and John drove back to the marina where he had to get ready for work, having been called in on his day off. At least he or I wasn't to be the patient.
  I pulled out the old batteries and set them on the dock. Soon after our new batteries were delivered to our boat and the driver helped me get them into the cockpit. They weigh 70 pounds each. I felt the effects of that enterprise that evening.
  I called Albert again. He promised to be at our boat by end of day. So the time waiting for him was taken up by installing our five new AGM Group 31 batteries.


    The skies darkened as we waited. We are docked on a main thoroughfare here on the dock so we get lots of other boaters walking by. We talked to several of them and met some nice people. Since there was obviously some mechanical issues going on, we were approached by a couple of "mechanics" wanting to help us out on our steering issue. I held out for Albert. I asked these applicants how they would feel if I had scheduled them to come look at our boat and someone else was aboard giving us an estimate, or even working on our boat? They understood this logic and gave us a number to call if Albert didn't work out, or show up.
 
  We were still waiting as the skies got more threatening. When the rain starting pelting down, we retired to the salon. I still held out hope that Albert was going to show up.
  It was after 7 P.M. when I finally closed the blinds and gave up on Albert showing. It was similar to when people turn off the porch lights on Halloween because even though there may be more trick or treaters out there, they should have shown up by then. My optimistic side gave Albert the benefit of the doubt, blaming the weather on his failure to show, but a phone call would have been appropriate, if not mandatory. My pessimistic side decided to find another mechanic.
  I had also put a feeler out about our GFI tripping problem. Our friend, Darryll Weil, back in St. Louis, suggested that I install the desktop computer plug with an adapter that would eliminate the ground plug from the receptacle. I found an adapter on the boat and tried it. Worked like a champ. One more issue resolved.
  This morning, Tuesday after Memorial Day, the U.S.A. was open for business again and I hit the ground running. I sent an email to Sea Star, telling them to expect a phone call once they got their day going. I also browsed the Internet for suppliers of Sea Star products for availability of the seal kit. I also read some technical reports of replacing the seals on our cylinder and started having second thoughts.
  Some people found some difficulty in replacing the seals, and actually found that cylinders were getting ruined in the process of rebuilding them. Rosie and I talked and we decided to take a new tactic. We decided to order a whole new hydraulic cylinder for our steering system, and a seal kit to possibly repair the old cylinder once it was swapped out with the new one, in order to have a spare on hand. A good plan.
  When I called Sea Star Solutions I was told that I would have to call West Marine, or another supplier, to obtain items from their company as they were wholesale only. Thank you very much.
  I was placed on hold no less than three times when I called my Marine Max dealer in Lake of the Ozarks, normally my go to Marine Max parts dealer. (Morgan has always been very helpful.) But I wanted to get something shipped today, so I had no patience for waiting for a return call after leaving a voicemail.
  I called Marine Max of Miami and was put on hold again before my call went to voicemail.
  I called Marine Max of Fort Lauderdale and hit pay dirt. Anthony in parts understood our plight and was more than willing to help and knew the ins and outs of shipping to the Bahamas. He only asked that I hold tight until he found out if he could obtain the items we needed. Once he agreed to not leave me hanging, I promised to wait for his return call.
  About a half hour later the phone rang. I expected it to be Anthony from Fort Lauderdale, but it was Morgan from Lake of the Ozarks Marine Max. No sooner than I began to explain to Morgan that I had something going with Marine Max of Fort Lauderdale, my phone beeped to tell me that Anthony was calling back. I had to let Morgan go.
  Anthony said he would have our parts in hand within the hour. I got a price and we traded information over the phone, with expectations of backing up everything via email. I had to send our cruising permit to him anyway, so we traded email addresses.
  Rosie and I then went on a walk to find a hardware store. I still wanted to find a bolt to use as an impeller puller, plus we wanted lunch.
  We walked towards the downtown area. Not a good idea. There isn't much in the way of sidewalks here in Nassau. A pedestrian is taking their life in their hands walking along the streets of Nassau. Rosie later told me that our walk made her nervous. I told her that our walk made me petrified. Not only that, we didn't find anything we wanted and it started seriously raining once we got as far from the boat as we were willing to walk.
  We returned closer to the marina in one piece and decided to have lunch at a local place called Nassau Stadium, a local place off the beaten path that is owned by the cousin of John, our doctor friend.
  We stepped into Nassau Stadium and the few customers in there were having breakfast and it was already noon. We asked when lunch was served and was told it wouldn't be for another half an hour. We about to leave when the owner said that we could order "snacks".
  "What are snacks?"
  "Chicken, fries and slaw, or conch, fries and slaw, like that", we were told.
  "That would be great", we said, and ordered a conch snack and a fried chicken snack. Me and my fried chicken.
  It took a half an hour, but our food came out. Rosie's order of a conch snack was piled high with cracked conch and a small salad instead of slaw. The plate was piled high with fries too. My chicken wouldn't have won any prizes at the state fair for size, but it still beat anything I had been served outside of the chicken plate in Governor's Harbour. I got a nice salad too. Our only complaint was that we could have used the grease from our fries on our steering system, but they were hot and there was plenty of catsup. Our bill was only $21 which included a grape soda and a Goombay Punch. A pretty good deal and we couldn't even finish all of it.
  As I paid I saw a photo of a boxer behind the bar and I asked the owner if the boxer was him. He said he wasn't a boxer, but a promoter. He went on to add that he had promoted one of Ali's last fights that was held in the Bahamas. My dad's first cousin, Classy Freddie Blassie, knew Ali, so I asked if he had ever heard of Freddie Blassie and he said that he had. He threw in a decent imitation of "The Greatest" and we promised to return before we left Nassau.
  Rosie and I were glad to get back to the boat having dodged water puddles and vehicles. We retired to our favorite places on the boat; me on the sofa and Rosie at the dinette where we read our books and I grabbed a nap with Holly on my lap.
  After my nap, Rosie and I did some recon on our steering system and determined that even after tightening a suspected possible leak source, that we did indeed have a leak on the cylinder and still didn't have anyone lined up to swap out the new one coming with the present one. Rosie made an attempt to tighten one of the bleed valves on the cylinder and that experience made me realize that if our marriage was going to survive, I better find a small person knowledgeable with a wrench that could swap out our steering cylinder.  I decided to go on a fact finding mission. I left Rosie on the boat and set out on foot.
  I inquired at several places, and even went to Albert's shop, but the door was locked. That was his last chance. I was mulling over my options as I entered the guarded gate to Yacht Haven, and then I met one of the staff here that I had previously spoke to about our need for a mechanic.
  Howard, a young fella who had worked in Marsh Harbour, and knew Troy, the owner of Harbour View Marina, said he had a semi-retired uncle who was a more than capable mechanic and so he got him on the phone.
  I spoke to Howard's uncle Don and he understood what we needed. He told me to call him when the parts came in and he would not only swap out our steering cylinder, he would rebuild the old one with the seal kit we were getting. Sweet.
  I returned to the boat and Rosie said she had gotten an email from Marine Max of Fort Lauderdale and our parts were on the way. Next day via FedEx was going to be $175, but this would allow our parts to be installed by the weekend even if "overnight" turned into "over two nights".
  We have to stay here in Nassau, but no one is leaving anyway. Not only has it been raining nonstop, but the wind is predicted to gust over 30 miles per hour the rest of the week. Even the big sport fisher boats are staying put. Most of us are setting our sights for Monday to leave. It's OK here, but it's still a city atmosphere and the rent here isn't exactly cheap. We really want to get back to the Exumas with a healthy boat.
  It's hard to believe I've been retired two years and here we are in Nassau, having been away for over a year from our friends and family back in St. Louis, and other places too. Don't think for a minute that we didn't think of everyone over the holiday weekend. Ours was not so special, but we still hoped that everyone we hold dear to us were able to enjoy themselves.
 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Just When You Think Things Are Going Well

  We left Rock Sound Harbour at 7:30 A.M. on Friday morning. The wind had let up and there were a few clouds around but the skies were not as threatening as the day before. We had a 40 mile run to Highbourne Cay, an island on the upper end of the Exumas.
  We had been about an hour out, running in deep blue ocean a half mile deep, and the steering started feeling "funny". Eventually, it was feeling not very funny at all. Our steering was failing us at a rapid rate meaning we had a leak somewhere in the hydraulic system.
  We could have turned around and went to one of the marinas on the southern end of Eleuthera, but as I had mentioned, a weather system was coming in and we didn't want to get stuck in southern Eleuthera for who knows how long. Better to be out in the middle of the ocean with no steering, right?
  No steering on a twin engine boat will not leave you stranded, I normally don't even touch the wheel in close situations, but it does get more serious if the water is rough. Also, traveling at idle speeds across miles and miles of open ocean gets rather tedious.
  I kept our speed up to our normal 8-9 miles per hour and used engine throttle on one engine or the other to maintain our course. At one point I tried putting the boat on plane, thinking torque against the rudders would increase our ability to steer, but the attempt had the opposite effect and I could spin the wheel around and around and nothing would happen.
  I'd say we were pretty happy to see Highbourne Cay when it came in sight, but we still had the challenge of getting through Highbourne Cut with a following sea, toward rocks and reef, without be able to steer as well as I would have liked. There is a dogleg coming in from the ocean and I had all I could do to keep us off the rocks. You could say I was nervous.
  We made it inside the reef and I called Highbourne Cay Marina and told them we were coming in for fuel and that our steering "was compromised". I had decided that I wasn't going to say that I had no steering as I was concerned that we wouldn't get clearance to enter the harbor.
  Highbourne Cay Marina is ritzy. There were mega yachts in abundance, but none were at the fuel dock and we pulled in there without mishap. One thing that was simply astounding was the water clarity. There were so many black tip sharks swimming around at the fish cleaning station that it was impossible to count them, and several other multi-colored fish were swimming around too, the most we've seen so far on our trip.
  We took on 51 gallons of fuel, not bad after cruising over 100 miles of the Eleuthera coastline. Even though the marina is ritzy, fuel was "reasonable" at $5.56 per gallon, cash.
  In the office I asked about finding a mechanic and the woman there was knowledgeable and honest. She said that she could get someone to look at our steering, but getting parts would be an issue, meaning possibly hanging out there for several days waiting. Our budget would suffer if we paid for  dockage at the marina there, so I decided to anchor out until the next morning and then head to Nassau, nearly 40 miles away, where we would have a better chance of getting services and parts, and if not, the U.S. was that much closer.
  It was nearly 2 P.M. when we went to drop our hook just off of Highbourne Cay, amidst large mega yachts and crystal clear water. But then the anchor wouldn't drop.
  We had had an issue several days ago in Governor's Harbour when the windlass wouldn't actuate, but Rosie used the foot switch on the bow and it worked. I just thought I had a sticky switch at the helm, and we used the windlass several times afterward without any problems, so...
  I weighed our options. Nassau was at least five hours away, but we had plenty of daylight, so I plotted a course for New Providence and away we went.
  The Exuma Banks were calm as can be and I had a brainstorm. I put Swing Set on plane and ramped her up to cruising speed, 25 miles per hour, and then used our trim tabs to steer the boat. Putting the port tab down would cause the boat to veer starboard, and vice versa. It was actually easier to steer than fighting the wheel, but this method would be problematic in a bumpy sea.


  Within sight of Nassau Harbor we stopped the boat and topped off the fluid in our steering system. Nassau Harbor is one of the busiest a cruiser will encounter, and I figured to give us the best chance of navigating our way through it.
  We had a couple of things going for us: We met a couple French Canadians in Marsh Harbour that live on their boat at Nassau Yacht Haven, Rick and Marie-Pier, or "MP" for short. We had called them on the phone and said we were coming in. We then called the harbor master and said we were friends of Rick and MP, and could we get a slip? He said he would squeeze us in, so then we called Nassau Harbor Control and got permission to enter the harbor, a prerequisite of entering Nassau Harbor.
  So ten hours and 74 miles later we were idling through Nassau Harbor and we spot Rick and MP coming into the harbor too on their sailboat!
  Just before closing time, we got assigned a slip just four boats down from Rick and MP, plugged in our shore power, and because the temperature was hot and the air was still, we turned on our air conditioning for the first time since last October. Luckily, the A/C is working fine.


  Holly was taking to the A/C wonderfully, and Rosie and I went down to visit Rick and MP on their sailboat. One thing led to another and next thing we knew we were cleaned up and headed to a local club for a few beers and a night of dancing. Well, I don't dance, but Rosie danced with MP, and Rick's daughter Danielle, who was visiting from Canada.
 

  The next morning I walked Holly around the docks at the marina just to get the lay of the land. Not much happens in the Bahamas after noon on a Saturday, and nothing gets done on a Sunday, so we decided to not let a few mechanical issues spoil our Memorial Day weekend, at least the first day of it, so we agreed to join Rick, MP, Danielle, and two more friends of theirs, Dan and Ashley, on a trip to Paradise Beach near the Atlantis Hotel and Casino.
  We spent the afternoon on the beach and loosely formulated a game plan for getting our steering and windlass repaired, as well as finding replacement batteries for our house bank of batteries.

  Rosie and I were the last to leave our group to head back to the marina. Everyone else had plans to visit a sushi restaurant, but Rosie and I were feeling the effects of not only the long travel day on Friday, but the late night at Johnny's nightclub the night before.
  Taking the dinghy to the beach is somewhat of a trip. It is better to leave the dinghy at the dock of a yoga retreat and walk through the retreat and across Paradise Island over to Paradise Beach. As we walked through the quiet grounds of the yoga retreat, I was half tempted to join a swami and meditate as to how we ever decided to buy a boat in the first place. A person could cipher on that subject for days.


  Nassau Yacht Haven is across the harbor on New Providence, right in the heart of Nassau. On our way back to Yacht Haven we cruised with the dinghy through the Atlantis Marina. If we thought Highbourne Cay Marina was ritzy, the Atlantis Marina is definitely high rent.
  Back to the boat, we left the dinghy in the water, locked, as per Rick's advice, and we were so happy to see Holly and have dinner. We ate the sandwiches Rosie had prepared for the beach but we never got around to eating. Then we were both out of gas.
  We went to bed early but at 10:30 we both woke up to gunshots. We are in the heart of Nassau, but it turned out to be a fireworks display over on Paradise Island. Gunshots would have made a better story, however.
  After a big breakfast this morning I sent an email off to the folks at Good Windlass, paving the way for a phone call to them that I'll make on Tuesday to find out what they think is wrong with our windlass, and to order parts if we have to. I'm hoping that they deal with an outfit here in Nassau who can arrange things, but we'll have to see.
  Rick and MP gave us the number of a mechanic in the area for us to call about our steering issue, but first I wanted find out a little more. Plus, I had no intention on calling anyone on a Sunday. No sense on making anyone mad right off the bat.
  I laid out some cardboard and some foam rubber over our water pumps and starting battery to enable me to crawl back and get a better look at the cylinder on our Sea Star hydraulic steering system. Unfortunately, I couldn't get as far back in the small area as I would have liked because the cylinder is stuck behind our water tank and also behind our starboard exhaust lines, but I was able to stick one arm back and feel both ends of the cylinder and had Rosie actuate the wheel. I found out that the seal on my left hand side of the cylinder was leaking for sure.
  I can remove some equipment to allow better access to the steering cylinder, but I don't want to start tearing stuff out until I can find out if I can get the parts to replace the seals on the steering cylinder. If I'm going to go through the trouble of pulling the cylinder out, I'm going to replace every thing on it possible so it's good for another 17 years. This I assure you.
  I won't worry too much about finding batteries at this point, or even ordering parts for the windlass until I see if I can fix the steering. Without the steering, there is no sense on buying batteries here in Nassau at inflated prices, or waiting for windlass parts, if a trip back to the U.S. is necessary. We'll take one thing at a time.
  Tomorrow, it not being a holiday here, I'll call Albert the mechanic, and also visit Harbour View Marine, just across Bay Street from our marina. They are a Sea Ray dealer, so they may have the Sea Star parts, or be able to get them. If they have a smaller, nimble, and savvy mechanic, we may just hire him to pull out the steering cylinder. (Rick and MP said that Albert was a "larger" type fella.) We'll have to see.
  So that's our story. In the last blog I was all proud of my ability to fix our steering and it turns out I didn't fix "doodily doo", like my dad would say. (Try to spell check doodily doo.)
  If we can get all our stuff fixed and feel confident, we'll turn right around and head back to the Exumas by the weekend. For the time being, a weather system is heading in and the winds are going to pick up in a big way, making travel in any direction very unpleasant anyway. Whatever we do, we'll be here at Yacht Haven at least until next weekend.
  Enjoy your Memorial Holiday weekend. We'll just be chillin'.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Flexible Cruising Plans Are The Key To Success

  I barely got any sleep Monday night as all I could think about was how I was going to successfully add hydraulic fluid to our steering mechanism without the proper equipment. The more I thought about finding what I needed in Rock Sound, the more pessimistic I became.
  At about 2 A.M., I went online and found out as much as I could about the job I needed to do, even watching a video on how to do it, and I went back to bed, feeling a little more confident on being able to fix our steering.
  On Tuesday morning I was up at daybreak sorting through my collection of hoses and fittings, seeing what I had that might serve my purpose. I did have an ample amount of hydraulic fluid that met the specifications of Sea Star, the manufacturer of the steering system on our Sea Ray, so it appeared that a trip into town wouldn't be necessary.
  When I tried to add fluid on the previous day I was using a funnel, a bad idea. When air would burp from the hoses, hydraulic fluid would erupt out the top of the funnel, covering me and the dashboard with steering fluid. The instructions in my Sea Star manual call for hooking the bottle of fluid to the vent hole at the helm using a hose, and then poking a hole in the bottom of the bottle (which would now be the top if the bottle is held upside down) to keep everything enclosed while turning the wheel alternately in opposite directions to allow trapped air to vent from the system.
  I was able to jerry rig a bottle and hose to add the fluid to our steering system, although it looked more like something rigged up to provide an I.V. drip in a third world combat zone. I wish I would have taken a picture of it, but I was busy.
  Instructions also include bleeding the hoses at the steering cylinder at the rudders, but I pondered that aspect of the instructions and deemed it unnecessary in our case because from the bilge to the helm, it's all uphill on our boat, and air bubbles travel upward. The biggest reason to avoid bleeding the steering cylinder was because the only one of us that could reasonably reach the area in our boat where the cylinder is located is Holly, and I haven't gotten around to teach her the way around a 5/8" wrench yet.
  With my bottle and hoses hooked up, and by continuously turning the wheel one way and then the other, I eventually was able to get a lock to lock turning count of about six turns. That means three complete turns of the wheel from hard port to hard starboard from dead center. 
  Then I left the wheel centered while I had breakfast, as little bitty bubbles kept rising up through the hose. It's a long way from the stern to the helm, and my patience was rewarded. When I came back an hour later, the hose was solid steering fluid with no bubbles. Additional turns of the wheel revealed no more bubbles. I packed everything up and considered the job a success, at least until we could do a sea trial.
  By mid-morning, Rosie and I decided to take the dinghy in and see what was what in Rock Sound. We left Holly to guard the boat because our last stop was going to be the local grocery store.
  We tied the dinghy up at a small dock provided by the Four Points restaurant. They have a sign there inviting travelers to tie up, and also where to place any trash that they may bring along with them, which we did. Two bags full.
  We walked south to the heart of the small settlement along the main road. No sidewalks are along the Queens Highway, so our path took us through rocks and grass when the occasional car would speed towards us. I was impressed with how many of the folks would wave as they passed. I did wish one of them would have stopped to ask us if we needed a ride, but no one did.
  We saw a sign advertising "Sammy's Place", which we knew was a local restaurant, so we followed the signs further into the heart of town and eventually came to a small establishment that not only had a bar/restaurant, but a small hotel as well.
   It was 11:30 when we walked in. A few patrons were seated at the small bar, and a few more where in the dining section. Most people in the Bahamas will greet anyone entering any place of business with a "good morning" or a "good afternoon" and we received the same treatment as everyone else, and we also returned the greetings.
  It was a bit early for lunch, but we were told that if we could wait five minutes or so, the cook would clean up the breakfast supplies in the kitchen before making us whatever we wanted off the menu for lunch. Jen, our waitress, was very nice and welcomed us to their town and to Sammy's. She could not have been more pleasant, and soon enough she arrived with a tall conch burger for Rosie and a taller bacon cheeseburger for me. And at reasonable prices, I may add.
  We finished up lunch and promised to return for breakfast the next morning if the weather co-operated, and Jan said she would look for us. With a tip, our lunch amounted to $25, the lowest priced meal we'd had in the Bahamas yet.
  It was a hot walk to the market, and we took a short cut to avoid some of the busy Queen's Highway. I saw a local walking our way as we walked along a quiet residential street, quiet meaning the only living thing we saw were dogs and chickens running loose in the yards. The guy walking towards us was carrying a big machete, something that always makes me nervous. When I get nervous, I begin to look around for any possible weapons, just in case, and the only item I saw that could do any harm to anyone was a tangled up garden hose laying next to one of the shacks along our way. By this time, our machete carrying fellow traveler was alongside us and we both offered a "good afternoon" to each other. As we passed, I turned around to look, and found him doing the same. I suspect he was checking us out for a different reason than I was checking him out for, but he kept walking and so did we.
  Some may call my behavior paranoia, but I call it prudence. We always say "better safe than sorry", and we actually practice it.
  About a mile north of town is a strip mall that houses an automotive store, a hardware store, a bank, and a grocery store. We entered the NAPA store looking for a bolt I could use as an impeller puller the next time I did that job, and was sent to the hardware store. A fella at the hardware store in turn directed us back to the NAPA store. I may add that in both stores, my request for a 3/4" number 16 bolt was met with quizzical stares. I didn't bring one of my spare impellers with me as a method of demonstrating exactly what I needed, but to be fair, my experience at Home Depot, or Lowe's is usually the same. Typically, any requests need to be kept simple, like asking for "paint" or  "a hammer". OK, asking for "a hammer" may be stretching it at Home Depot.
  The grocery was the best stocked we have visited with the exception of Maxwell's in Marsh Harbour. All the meat was frozen rock solid, and appears to be sent from somewhere other than the U.S. Rosie asked how I knew this fact and I noted the absence of anything resembling a U.S.D.A stamp. But we bought a big package of pork chops, at least it's what the label said. The bread selection was slim as the supply boat hadn't been in yet. It was due in that afternoon. We added a lone loaf of rye bread to our cart after checking it for freshness. Bread is easy to find in the Bahamas, so we didn't sweat at not finding exactly what we wanted. We filled our cart about a quarter of the way up and only spent $125.
  We popped into a large liquor store on the way back to the dinghy and picked up two cases of Bud Light for the lightening low sum of $97. The rationing plan for this beverage of choice has not been working out too well.
  As we got back to the dinghy, the doors to Pasqual's, the restaurant at Four Points, were open but no cars were around. As Rosie loaded our purchases into the dinghy, I went inside to find out when they were open.
  I saw two little kids at a small bar. Hardly any lights were on, and I wondered if there were any adults around. I heard a voice say "Hello", but still didn't see anyone until a young woman rousted herself from the confines of the deep couch she was resting in.
  In a sleepy voice she informed me that they were in fact open for business from noon until 6 P.M. It was currently around 1 P.M. I would have expected more to be going on than a nap at that hour, but I don't own the place. I found out later that they do a bang up business when the cruise ships come in. I hope so.


  I've been watching the weather waiting for a window for us to travel to Little San Salvador, a small private island to our east, but rain and wind are hampering our attempts to leave Rock Sound Harbour. 
  Our plans to have breakfast at Sammy's Place yesterday were abandoned because all morning the sky looked like it does in the picture above. The next break appeared to be on Thursday, so we hunkered down and read our books. Swing Set got a free boat wash.
  By late afternoon the sun came out, but the winds were still howling. We left Holly and took the dinghy into the town dock anyway, not wanting to be cooped up all day.
  Dingle's Hardware was on our way to Sammy's, so we stopped in to see if they had the bolt I was looking for. I was specific in the size bolt that I needed, but when the young man behind the counter pulled out a 1/2" carriage bolt about 8" long, I knew I'd be getting the bolt I need somewhere else. We thanked him for his effort and continued on our way to Sammy's.
  Along a side street I saw a man sitting in a chair along the narrow road and he appeared to be fast asleep. His arms were at his sides and his head hung down with his chin resting on his chest. As we got nearer, he looked to be around ninety years old. Gin bottles, lots of gin bottles, were littered around his chair.
  We didn't expect him to stir, but as we nearly got past him, he woke up and asked us to come over to him and we did. "Snake Man", or "The Traveler", as he introduced himself, was ecstatic to see us, and began to reveal to us that when he was younger, he traveled "all tru the United States", working as a laborer on movie sets, and occasionally even getting in some of the movies as an extra. He asked where we were from and when he was told that we were from Missouri, he got even more excited and said that he had been there too. "All tru the United States, but came home to the Bahamas after all dat."
  "Snake Man" shook our hands at least twice, before we made our escape, but we should have stayed longer to talk to him. I'm sure we were the highlight of his day, but it was hot and I heard cold Kalik's calling all the way from Sammy's Place.
  We walked in Sammy's and our waitress from the day before, Jen, was tending bar and no one was in there but her and the cook. She was genuinely glad to see us and served us up two cold Kalik beers when we asked for them.
  We spent the next two hours talking to Jen and whoever else came in. Sammy's Place does more carry out than anything, and it being dinner time, they were doing a brisk business of selling sandwiches to go after wrapping them in small paper bags. Some folks came in with cash in hand, and others appeared to have some credit line going, as no money changed hands as they went away with dinner.
  Jen has worked in Nassau, and we got caught up with what has been going on there on Paradise Island. We found out that some places we had been to thirty years ago were still there doing business and holding out from selling to the Atlantis outfit. We were glad to hear it.
  Jen also was telling us about the current problem of Chinese and Jamaican immigrants coming into the Bahamas and adding to a growing crime problem in some areas. Nassau has made some inroads into the crime issue there, but the smaller settlements are having a harder time of controlling crime because they have smaller police departments if they have any at all. She also explained the need in the Bahamas for a national health care system so everyone could be treated at the hospitals, regardless of their wealth, or lack of.
  We didn't want to walk back too late to the dinghy, so we ordered a couple of orders of chicken wings to go and said our goodbyes and left a nice tip for Jen the bartender. 
  We were happy to see the dinghy still tied up where we had left it. There were several locals fishing off the small dock where we had the dinghy tied up. They were having some good luck catching snapper with little else than some "slop", or leftover conch parts, and just fishing line, no poles. I'm wondering where on the boat I can keep some "slop".
  Back aboard the boat we feasted on chicken wings and red beans and rice. I stowed the dinghy on the davits because we planned on heading out in the morning. It was early to bed with our books, but the wind was still howling and it was a rolly night.
  During breakfast I checked Windfinder again. The wind from the east was due to subside during the day, but only through tomorrow. It appeared from the forecast that we could be stuck in Little San Salvador for a week or more if we went there.
  Little San Salvador sits alone several miles from its neighbor to the east, Cat Island. It's basically a private island for cruise ships to visit and there is no services, nor BTC tower. I didn't like the prospect of sitting in Half Moon Bay for over a week, so I checked our charts and decided to travel southwest to the Exumas Islands instead. We'd have the wind and waves to our backs mostly, and if the winds kept up for a week or more, we'd have protection from the islands as we'd be on the lee side of them and could still bounce our way southeast as we saw fit. Rosie liked the idea, so we pulled up anchor and began to head out.
  The wind was still whipping us on our bow as we made our way south in Rock Sound Harbour and I began to second guess my decision to leave today. The wind is really supposed to subside by tomorrow, so we decided to take an anchorage on the southern end of Rock Sound in a calm spot where we could wait to head out tomorrow instead. Highbourne Cay is only 27 miles away from southern Eleuthera once we get around Powell Point as we leave Cape Eleuthera, so we should have no problem getting over to the Exumas if we leave early tomorrow.
  Additionally, thunderstorms are still predicted for today, and traveling on the open ocean during a thunderstorm is not something we would choose to do if we had a choice, and we do. Our current situation is exactly why we won't make any plans to meet anyone anywhere, as traveling to meet a schedule is foolhardy, dangerous, and unnecessary.
  The good news is that our steering is working just fine. We were able to give it a good tryout on our way to our new spot on the hook. The water is nicer here, being away from Rock Sound, and the town dump is also on the lee side of us, so the air smells better.
  If our plans change again, I'll let our friends know who we have listed as SPOT contacts. We'll be issuing "We're OK" reports as we cross open ocean on our way to the northern tip of the Exumas. We don't want to keep anyone up nights.
  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Governor's Harbour To Rock Sound

  We couldn't decide to leave Alabaster Bay or not because we liked the beach and we were well protected from the wind and swells coming into Eleuthera Sound from the southeast, but we had lots of places we wanted to see and they pretty much have all been better than the last place, so by mid-afternoon on Saturday we made way for a short hop over to Governor's Harbour.

  One reason I was reluctant to enter Governor's Harbour was because everything I had read about it said that holding was poor, being a slim layer of sand over hard rock, not leaving much for an anchor to grab.
  As we entered the harbor, there were five sailboats settled in, and they looked to be holding just fine. We picked a spot that wouldn't be intrusive to them and we dropped the hook and took in the scenery while we waited to see if we were holding.
  We had dragged the dinghy behind us when we left Alabaster Bay, so we jumped in and took a quick look around the harbor to see what was what. We were planning on getting dinner somewhere, so we wanted to scout out a dinghy landing.
  The best place for the dinghy seemed to be at anchor in the sand along the beach, so we went back to the boat and while Rosie made ready to go out for dinner, I grabbed my mask and fins to check on our anchor.
  The anchor was dug in just fine, and as I swam back to the boat, I spied a dinner plate on the seabed and went down to retrieve it. It looked to be fine china from France, and it hardly had any marine growth on it. I swam back to the boat with it and showed it to Rosie.
  "Why, that thing has a chip in it!" Rosie said.
  "Gives it character", is what I said, then I took a 3M pad and scrubbed it up good as new, except for the chip. My story is that some irate wife on a fancy yacht threw the plate at her husband, and it missed, sending it to the briny deep. This story may change as time goes by.
  We left Holly to guard the boat and we went into town. What we have found is that some pretty paint does not make for a good looking town once you see it up close, and Governor's Harbour is no different.
  One restaurant we thought we would go to had just closed, and it was only 5 P.M. Upon asking, we found that another restaurant was a "five minute walk" in one direction, and a "twenty minute walk" in the opposite direction. No other details were given.
  We hadn't seen what looked to be a restaurant in the five minute direction when we were on our dinghy ride, so we decided to walk in the general direction of the twenty minute place, but had no intention of walking that far. Rosie was wearing tall chunky sandals and was having all she could do to just stay on top of them on the on and off again pavement.
  We walked for enough inland and passed enough shuttered food stands and abandoned homes before we mustered up our street sense and turned around and headed back towards civilization. Nothing gets my defensive radar up like a "remote" part of town. Any town.
  We had passed a small grocery on our walk, so on the way back we stopped in because I wanted some black beans and some red beans, and believe me, in the Bahamas, both are in abundant supply, along with rice and noodles. Carbs are king here.
  On a dirt lot, just off of the road, was a group of folks selling take out dinners for some youth group. I think it was a baseball team. I asked it they were still serving and they were. We were told we had our choice of steak or chicken, with peas and rice, slaw, and cheese and macaroni, all for $10 per plate. We said we'd take one of each and they piled two styrofoam containers high with a good sized steak in one, and a large quarter dark meat chicken in the other.
  When the nice woman who served us dished out the peas and rice onto our plates from the grill where they were being kept warm, the flies swarmed like I hadn't seen since I shoveled horse manure at a local riding stable years ago.
  We paid, and gave them a $5 tip for good measure, and I told Rosie to hurry up so we could get back to the boat to eat our food while it was still hot and before any of those rice grains could hatch.
  We actually had a nice meal back on the boat if we didn't think about the flies too much. After dinner we played gin rummy and two locals in a center console fishing boat came by the boats anchored in Governor's Harbour at a speed designed to offend. They did this no less than four times. If they were intending on discouraging boaters from anchoring in the harbor, it worked for us. Next time we'll take a pass on Governor's Harbour.
  The next morning we headed down the coast to Ten Bay, a promising looking anchorage that I had seen on our chart, and we were not disappointed.


  Ten Bay beach is just beautiful. The beach has such a gentle slope that you have to be aware of when the tide is going out or you might have a long haul for the dinghy when you want to go back to your boat.
  We took a long walk on the beach and met some women who loved dogs and Holly made some friends, and also made all three of the girls homesick for their pets at home.
  Rosie and I took Holly in the shallow water and let her swim. We sat a bit apart from each other in a couple feet of water and let Holly take turns swimming from one of us to the other in the crystal clear water. Holly had a ball.
  Back to the boat, and Rosie and Holly took a nap while I had a few beers and chatted with friends on Facebook until Rosie got up and made us a dinner of roasted chicken and red beans and rice. We had been cooking our beans in our small crock pot that morning and they turned out great.
  We have some bad weather coming our way, so this morning we left yet another great beach and anchorage and set out on a 20 mile cruise to Rock Sound Harbor, which is just about at the end of Eleuthera Island before we have to come around the southern tip and head east to Little San Salvador, a trip that needs to be done in settled weather to avoid strong prevailing southeast winds and giant swells coming in from the ocean.
  When we left Ten Bay the steering on Swing Set didn't seem right, and as we traveled to Rock Sound, the steering got worse, as in there wasn't much steering to be had.
  I put the anchor down and did a few quick checks. (No, there was NOT a loose nut behind the wheel.) I suspected low steering fluid, and decided to nurse us in to harbor until I could take a better look at the problem.
  Once we got settled I got my tools out and my extra bottle of steering fluid. What I don't have is a proper filling tube and fitting to add steering fluid properly, so even after over three hours of messing with the steering, I wasn't able to get the steering working like I wanted to.
  Today is Whit Monday, a holiday here in the Bahamas, so going to the local NAPA store couldn't be done today, but first thing tomorrow, I'll go and get what I need to do this job right.
  If I can't fix the steering, I'll have to ask around for some mechanic that is familiar with hydraulic steering, especially the part about bleeding the cylinder that actuates the steering arm for both rudders. This mechanism is way back in the bilge toward the stern, in a spot that's a little tough for me to reach, especially with two wings that are not in the best of shape.
  After getting drenched with steering fluid, I took a hot shower and Rosie did too. I spent time contemplating my plans for getting our steering fixed while Rosie made us a nice dinner of Italian sausage on pasta with a small side salad.
  It was a perfect dinner, but we found out that we are anchored in the direct path of the smoke from the town dump. Every town has one, and anchoring downwind is typically avoided, but we didn't see any smoke when we dropped anchor, and the reviews on this anchorage don't mention it. If it gets worse tomorrow, we'll have to move.


  As you can see by the picture, Rock Sound is not much to look at, but there is a good market here, and several restaurants are in the guide books. Like I said earlier, there is a NAPA, and a hardware store. The water is blue, but cloudy. We hope it's just because the wind has the bottom churned up, but we're not sure.
  We might be here a few days, so we'll make the most of it and keep in touch.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cruising The Coast Of Eleuthera

  We missed "Bandit" on Tuesday when we went to Harbour Island as he usually comes by the boat to collect our mooring fee. He was away piloting a boat through the Devil's Backbone. I called him on the radio and got his wife or somebody and told them we'd pay the next morning, so early on Wednesday, Jock (Bandit) came by at 7:30 and we paid up for two nights on the ball and said our goodbyes.
  We went over to Ronald's Service and filled up with diesel at $5.96 per gallon. This is a cash price. Credit cards are hit with an extra 4%, plus VISA charges an extra 1% for transactions out of the U.S.
  We learned that, particularly in the out islands, the Bahamas is a cash economy. A long time ex-pat over here told us that the typical Bahamian doesn't have a concept of "owing" anyone, so the idea of having a credit card bill is rather foreign to them. I guess more importantly, paying the bill every month may be more foreign. I don't know if this is true, but the extra charges for using the credit card are real, so we started a new plan in Dunmore where we'll go to a bank if we are near one and pay 2% to get cash with our VISA card, and then purchase all fuel with cash. We brought a lot of cash with us but I like to save that for emergencies, for example; getting me out of jail if the need arises.
  Not far from Spanish Wells is a little island called Meek's Patch, where locals go on the weekends to BBQ and hang out. A lot of Bahamian businesses are closed on Wednesdays, because Tuesday nights are party nights, so we thought we might meet some of the locals at the nice beach at Meek's. There is a few tables and a firepit there for anyone to use, just like a couple of the sand bars up on the Mississippi.
  Only two boats showed up on the beach, and a sailboat anchored near us toward evening, so we had a peaceful night and went to bed early. We both woke up at 4 A.M. or so, both having smelled smoke. I wasn't alarmed because it smelled like wood smoke, like a campfire was smoldering. Rosie and I went outside and even though it was dark, we could see smoke billowing up from the east, over North Eleuthera.
  The next morning we pulled up anchor and headed southeast toward Current Cut, a pass that leads cruisers into Eleuthera Sound. The Cut is reported to be somewhat risky, as it's narrow and has a swift current. (Thus, the name.)
  We got there right at high tide and breezed right through. There was little current and plenty of water until we got on the very eastern edge of the channel, but we still had eight feet easily. I'd rate the pucker factor much higher passing through the break in the dike at Bolter Chute, or the upper end of Lumpy's Chute, along the Dardenne Slough on the Mississippi. I wonder what some of these blue water boaters would think of, passing through those two places? It reminds me of being a salmon heading upstream on an Alaskan river during spawning season.


  After getting through Current Cut, we pointed the bow north, northeast, toward "The Glass Window", a natural break in the rock formation separating Eleuthera Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The bridge used to be natural rock, but it was destroyed in a hurricane, so a bridge was built in its place. The road is an essential artery along the 75 mile long island of Eleuthera.

  We had traveled a comfortable 20 miles or so, so just south of the Glass Window, we found a somewhat protected anchorage from the southeastern swells and dropped our anchor. There were a few homes, and a reported hotel overlooking a couple of very pretty beaches. As you can see, the water was beautiful.


  As we sat in the cockpit looking west, northwest, we could see the fire on North Eleuthera that we had smelled on the previous night. This fire appeared to be a wildfire, spreading many miles wide. We tried to find some news about it, but were not able to. CNN wasn't covering it.
  The wind picked up during the night and we got tossed around some. I had a rough idea as to where we would find a better anchorage, so without planning a route, we just hugged the bluffs along the coast and headed southeast toward Hatchet Bay.
  Even putting along at 7 miles per hour, a slower speed than our normal one because we were making water (the water maker doesn't draw very well at higher speeds), and I was trolling for dinner, we came up on Hatchet Bay way too early for us to stop.
  We peered into the very narrow cut in the rocks that shelter the bay from the sound, and we didn't like the view anyway. All we saw was a few buildings and scrub bush leading down from low hills. We had also read about the locals trying to collect an annual "mooring fee" from passing boaters, and we didn't want any part of that. It sounded like something I needed to avoid, emergency cash fund or not.
  I want to mention our water maker. It has turned out to be a one of the things we had installed on the boat that we have found to be an essential item. We have only filled our tank from a hose once since we left the U.S., and that was from the dock at Harbour View in Marsh Harbour. This allows us to not have to worry about where we are going to get water for showers, drinking, and flushing the toilet, not necessarily in that order. It's enough worrying about the weather, anchorages, getting food, and where we'll get fuel, without worrying about where we'll get water, how much it will cost, and whether it will be any good to drink. The water we make tastes great and we've been able to keep up with demand, even when we use it to rinse the heavy salt residue off the stern occasionally. I would advise perhaps installing a slightly larger one rather than our 3.5 per hour model, for anyone who is considering it.
  A place called "James Cistern" was next on our list of possible anchorages for the night, but there was no protection from the southeast, where swells were still rolling in from, but not enough to make our cruise unpleasant. Our next place to check was Alabaster Bay.


  Our wait paid off as we glided into a very protected anchorage along a beautiful white beach and crystal blue water over a flawless sand bottom. We dropped the hook in eight feet of water, but still fairly away from the beach on a gently sloping bottom.
  We had a quick lunch and then jumped into the dinghy for a shore trip with Holly. There was one couple enjoying a picnic of sorts on the beach when we pulled up and we didn't waste any time asking them about the area.
  Tony and Jessie were from Toronto and on their honeymoon. On this, their last day staying nearby at Governor's Harbour, they were told about the beautiful beach we were on and they came over for the day, carting along a huge cooler filled with Kalik Beer.
  Tony didn't have to ask us twice if we wanted a cold one, and we wound up sharing their beach towels and a couple more beers before I had to take the dinghy back to the boat to restock their cooler, only to wind up staying and drinking those beers too.
  Governor's Harbour is five miles away, and Tony had to drive their rental car back to their hotel, so we bid them goodbye, way later than we had planned to. They wanted us to join them for the Friday night festivities in Governor's Harbour, but our hook was set for the night and we declined, even though we knew we would have had a good time.
  Back on the boat, Holly got a much needed bath after playing in the sand and surf all afternoon. Rosie and I chilled out and read our books as a gentle breeze flowed through the salon.
  Dinner was two leftover breaded pork chops, with a nice big salad on the side, and after dinner we retired to the cockpit for an after dinner cocktail, accompanied by our library of tunes on the iPad.

  The seas really calmed down as we watched the sun set. The water was window pane clear around the boat and we knew we were in for a peaceful night.
  After dark, Rosie and I popped a movie into the DVD player and spent the next several hours having popcorn and watching The Gangs Of New York, a film we hadn't seen since it came out.
  As we expected, we barely rocked at all during the night and we woke to a spectacular sunrise. Being Saturday, it was "big breakfast" day, and Rosie served me up some fried eggs smothering some leftover Spanish rice. Three slices of bacon, buttered toast, and hot coffee rounded out the meal.
  Our plans for the day were to include a cruise over to Governor's Harbour, where we want to anchor for the night and go into town, but halfway through this blog, Rosie told me to come out and see the sky and I found big rain clouds to our east and south, coming this way.
  Oh, whatever shall we do? Maybe we'll have to stay here another day and night! Maybe the rain will come and go, the sun will come out, and we'll have to take the dinghy back to the beach and have another beach picnic with some more nice folks.
  Unlike Tony and Jessie, who at this moment are headed for the airport for their trip home, we don't have to be anywhere for the time being and that suits us fine.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Harbour Island


  We survived our first night on our mooring ball with nary a mishap, with nature, or with the sailboat next to us. The view above is of Spanish Wells from our mooring ball.
  "Bandit" came by Monday morning to collect our $20 fee. His real name is Jock Morgan, and he is a local pilot, and probably jack of all trades if he needs to be. I asked him how much he charges to pilot one's vessel through the perilous Devil's Backbone on over to Harbour Island. He smiled and said "A hunnerd dollars". I nodded in reply and only offered that we had some business to attend to before we could start thinking about a trip over to the famous Harbour Island and the town of Dunmore.
  We have no less than four printed guidebooks, or chartbooks, plus the advantage of Active Captain on our Garmin Bluechart app on the iPad, so we have lots of information to sift through when it comes to local knowledge and inside tips. For instance, all the info we have on the mooring we are on says that the charge is $15 per night. "Bandit" says $20, so you don't argue with "Bandit", you just pay and hope he isn't cheating you.
  The piloting charges are reported to be $70 for a local pilot to take your boat through the Devil's Backbone. The price goes up per foot over 70 feet. "Bandit" says he charges $100, so that's what you expect to pay if you want his services.
  My point is that with all the information at our disposal, we still know little going in to any area as far as what things cost. We can never get a handle on fuel costs or dockage costs. We only find out by asking in person. It makes it hard to make some of our decisions, as a lot of them are budget based.
  We do feel, for the most part, that the locals need to make money off of us, and the prices are consistent with everyone. It's not like they see a "live one" and gouge them. Their future business depends on their friendliness, honesty, and reputations, and they usually are smart enough to not ruin it for a quick buck.
  Rosie and I left Holly on the boat in search of the local BTC office, or Bahamas Telecommunications Company. We docked the dinghy at the dock in front of Pinder's Market, after going in and asking if it was all right to do so. We promised to come back in on our way out to buy a few things when they told us it was fine to park where we were.
  At BTC, we signed up, and paid for, 90 more days of Internet service on our iPad. The young man behind the glass booth in the very small office re-entered all of our information and said we should be able to access our account to see the status, but we still wouldn't be able to add on to our Internet via their online system. They don't work that way. One must take the SIM card out of the iPad, put it into an unlocked phone, and then use some screwy phone number to activate more data usage. He agreed with my assessment of their system as being more than confusing for the average customer. But if all I need to do is visit any local BTC office every 30 days for the next three months to keep a very inexpensive data plan active on the iPad, I'll do it. We're getting 1 gig of data for 30 days at the sale price of $20. We're paying AT&T $120 for 800MB of data per month, but luckily we don't have to visit a local office.
  We popped in Pinder's and picked up a few things. We got bread, eggs, some pork chops, tomatoes, and some lettuce. All expensive, but necessary. The Food Fair, owned by the town, was too far of a walk, but we hear that their prices are good and the selection is better.
  Spanish Wells saw the need a few years ago for some services that their town was lacking, so they banded together and pooled resources and built their own grocery store, and some other things. Most of the goods from the Bahamas come through Spanish Wells, and a lot of the lobster and stone crab claws are processed here as well. It's a nice little blue collar town and the people are incredibly friendly and helpful, which I'll come to next.
  Back at the boat, I commenced to investigate the overheating problem we've been having on our starboard engine. The first thing I did was check the sea strainer. I had cleaned it in Port Lucaya, and upon checking it again, it was clean as it could be.
  A check of the water pump belt revealed nothing out of order, so it was on to the raw water impeller. I pulled the three half inch bolts out and took the cover off and found that our impeller was toast, missing at least five blades.
  The good news was that I had found our problem, the bad news was that I had failed to obtain the needed impeller puller used to pull a usually recalcitrant raw water impeller from its housing. I knew I could probably get the thing out, but only by destroying it, and for the time being, I could still run the engine as I had been, just not at higher speeds.
  An impeller puller is nothing but a bolt with a T-handle on the end, and a regular bolt will do, if you can find the right bolt. I grabbed the new impeller and took off in the dinghy in search of either a proper bolt, or an official impeller puller if I could find one.
  I mention that Spanish Wells is a blue collar, working town. So that means they use heavy equipment, and that equipment breaks, and they need to have the means to fix it. So that also means they have a better selection of parts, and people to do the work, than most of tourist type towns a cruiser may travel to. We came to Spanish Wells for a particular reason, and that was to check out a local boatyard, R&B.
 R&B had a bolt that would have done double duty as an impeller puller, but as I found out, our impeller utilized a fine thread, and most bolts you might find in a hardware, or marine store, will be course thread.
  The nice woman at R&B asked me if I had tried "Onsite Marine". I told her that we were just passing through and didn't really know where to turn. I said that I'd be glad to pay them to change out our impeller, but she said they really only did bottom work, and prop repair, even though the sign says "Full Service". I won't hold that against them because this is what she did next: She gets on the phone with Onsite Marine and asks them if they either had an impeller puller, or a fine thread 3/4" bolt, then she handed me the phone.
  After some negotiations on the phone, the guy I was talking to said they had a puller but he didn't know where it was. Only some other guy knew where it was and he wasn't there right now.
  At this point, I mustered up all the tact that I had in my power, and asked him; since I was in dire need of an impeller puller, and I had no where else to turn, could he please, if the party of which he was speaking that knew where the impeller puller was, if he could please, pretty please, call him and ask him where in their building the item was? I also offered to come over and look myself if that's what it would take. I was told to hold on.
  Meanwhile, I talked to the nice woman at R&B and cultivated her, in order to obtain some information on some local knowledge. She turned out to be very helpful and I learned a great deal. Our chummy conversation was cut short when I heard loud exclamations coming from the speaker on the phone I was holding.
  "I found it! I found it!", the person at Onsite was hollering into the phone. I would have thought that he was the one who was in dire need of an impeller puller for a raw water pump on a Caterpillar 3116 marine engine!
  "I'll be right over", is what I told him, and after getting directions to the place from the nice woman at R&B Marine, I marched off in the direction of Onsite Marine.
  Onsite Marine is housed on the main drag in Spanish Wells, and for all practical purposes, looks like an old "filling station", like we used to see on all the corners of any given town, before they all became "On The Run" or "Quick Trip" facilities.
  I walked in and immediately saw the guy I had to have been on the phone with. He appeared to be working on a radio from the 1920's, with tools more suited for a 1950's Buick, but I was in a hurry and I could have been mistaken. He went "in back" (that's where all the good stuff is always found) and produced what looked to me like the impeller puller of which I was seeking.
  I was under the impression that I was in a position to purchase the impeller puller, but quickly found out that, no, I could only borrow it.
  Borrow? At no charge? Indeed. I told him that even though I didn't need another impeller, as I still had another for our other engine, I would gladly buy one from them, no matter the cost, just as a show of appreciation of letting me borrow said puller. They certainly did have a Sherwood impeller for our 3116 Cat, and even though it was $130, I bought it and promised to return in a short time with the impeller puller.
  On the way back to the dinghy I stopped in at R&B and told the nice woman there how well I was helped at Onsite Marine, and to thank her for her help. She was glad to be able to help. Is this town, and the people in it, for real?
  I had been gone quite a while and as I approached our boat, Rosie and Holly were out on the foredeck keeping a watch out for me. As soon as Holly saw me she started running back and forth like she hadn't seen me in ages. It's nice to be missed. Rosie even wagged her tail.
  In the engine room I went; pulled old impeller out, put new one in, took off inlet end of the heat exchanger and extracted missing impeller blade parts, buttoned everything up, and fired up the engine to check for leaks. Check. I was a happy camper.
  Now, the nagging feeling I have is...what about the other impeller? We have put on over 600 hours on our engines since the impellers were replaced before we started out. I'm not sure how long they are supposed to last, but what I'm going to do is just keep an eye on the temperature of the port engine. If the port engine begins to complain about high temperatures, I'll know what to do. But first, I better find my own impeller puller. It's on my list.
  As Rosie, Holly, and I were getting ready for a dinghy ride back to town to return the impeller puller, a boater pulled up and chatted with us for a while. "Robert" is from the U.S., but has been around this area for 50 years. He gave us some good tips about not only Spanish Wells, but some of the areas we are headed to. He was a very nice fella, in spite of him being a blow boater.
  We went back to Onsite Marine and returned the impeller puller, and thanked everyone profusely. When we got back to the boat, things really got weird.
  Our sailboat neighbors came by in their dinghy and I waved. They came over and we actually had a nice long conversation with them. I think it helped that while they were gone all day, having taken the "Fast Ferry" over to Harbour Island, our boats played nice and everything was how it should have been when they returned.
  They wanted to exchange "boat cards", but I sadly answered that we didn't have one, even though we do, because I didn't want them to read what I wrote in the last blog about them. You won't tell, will you?


  Today we went to Harbour Island. That's Rosie, of course, and Holly, of course, at the government dock in Dunmore, on Harbour Island. It's not easy getting to Harbour Island, I guess that's why a lot of rich and famous folks come here for vacation. Imagine: we went there too.
  I did some information gathering and learned that a water taxi from the government dock in Spanish Wells over to Jean's Bay on North Eleuthera was $4 each. Then a taxi for ten miles to Three Island dock was $25 one way. Then another water taxi over to Dunmore was going to be $5 each. You do the math.
  Taking the boat over would require a pilot. Even the experienced folks around here suggest it. Then we had to think about coming back, as our trip south would require it.
 The alternative of taking the dinghy on at least a ten mile cruise was out of the question, as the winds have picked up considerably out of the north and breakers would be pounding the Devils Backbone.
  So, we decided, since we had to leave the dinghy somewhere, we would take it the two miles or so over to Jean's Bay to the water taxi dock over there, and then grab a taxi to the Three Island dock for a water taxi ride to Dunmore. And you thought this life was easy.
  We tied up at the dock at Jean's Bay and got a call in for a taxi. We quickly got picked up by David in cab 146, and then found out the price wasn't $25, but $30. Remember what I was saying earlier?
  Still, when you think about a ten mile cab ride for two people, and at the price of fuel around here, the charge is fair.
  We jumped in a waiting water taxi with some other folks and were soon in Dunmore Town.
  It was encouraged by the water taxi folks that we rent a golf cart in order to explore Harbour Island, but we wanted to have lunch and have a couple of beers, so I couldn't justify paying $20 per hour for a golf cart so it could sit guarding a parking spot while we ate lunch. A lot of cruisers visit the touristy spots, like churches and nature areas. We think that's funny.
  Valentine's Marina is where we would have liked to have lunch, but dogs were not allowed. I don't blame them, the place was ritzy as hell, but at noon, they only had two customers.
  We found a nice deli with outside seating, and pets were allowed. I certainly hope so; two women at the table next to us had a newborn baby, and they actually set its bottom on the table! Horrid.


  After this photo, Holly settled in to Rosie's lap and didn't make a peep. She was basically enthralled with the bugs scooting along the floor. Meanwhile, the baby at the table next to us was breast fed, (mildly interesting) but then both women took turns trying to make the critter "burp", which means "barf" no matter how you say it.
  I had an oven roasted turkey sandwich with Applewood bacon, provolone, and avacado on one of the freshest buns I've ever had. Rosie had a "California Wrap", which was vegan, but it really looked good, and Rosie said it was delicious. We both say this was the best meal we've had (off the boat) since we've been in the Bahamas, and we don't know the name of the restaurant!
  After lunch the wind was out of our sails, so we headed back. A quick water taxi ride, a quick taxi ride, and we were back to our waiting unlocked dinghy at the water taxi dock in Jean's Bay.
  Once back to the boat, I put the dinghy back on the davits and we read our books and had a nap before the wind picked up again and a storm threatened.
  Rosie started dinner and I started this blog. Seemed like a good thing to do. We'll pay "Bandit" in the morning for last nights mooring, and tonight's, but at mid-day tomorrow when the tide is up, we'll unhook from our mooring ball and get fuel over at Ronald's Service Center, and then we'll point our bow south and follow the Eleuthera Island chain as far as it takes us, at least for a few miles tomorrow anyway.
  Rosie calls and dinner is ready. We're having oven roasted breaded pork chops, steamed corn and garlic butter rice. Can't wait.
  I thought this was going to be a quick blog entry today.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Spanish Wells

  Just a quick note today. We left our anchorage just off of Lynard Cay this morning at 7:30 after a nice breakfast consisting of a corned beef hash omelet, toast and hot coffee.
  Big swells passing through the Little Harbour Cut and they didn't let up once on our over five hour crossing past "Hole In the Wall" on the southern tip of Great Abaco and then on to Ridley Head, just on the northern tip of Eleuthera, a total of 51 miles.
  The waves were on our port quarter bow and fairly consistent, and we were only ringing the ships bell on every fourth one or so.
  We only passed one sailboat going the opposite way of us, but we saw three sailboats way off in the distance when we finally spotted land as we approached Eleuthera.
 

  We wanted to go on the hook, but the wind is going to be nasty when the cold front moves in Monday night, or early on Tuesday, so when we cruised by the local mooring field and saw nearly all of the only eight moorings already taken, we called on the VHF and got assigned a mooring for $20 per night.
  We are in a tight little mooring field and the sailboat next to us is pretty close. We got the "hands on the hips" treatment as we tied up, but our mooring harness is as tight as we can get it. The other guy's isn't.
  I said hello to our neighbor and told him I'd be monitoring the radio if he saw a problem. He seems nice enough, and said that he has a spotlight he uses to get the attention of other boaters. I told him that the spotlight will be hard for me to see when I'm sleeping.
  Tomorrow we'll make our trip to BaTelCo to see about getting Internet back on our iPad. I missed having it today.
  We also still have an overheating issue on the starboard engine. Either we picked up more debris in the starboard sea strainer since I cleaned it out in Port Lucaya, or there is another issue. I'll have to look into it tomorrow. I'll check the circulating water pump belt and then the raw water impeller. If I have to call out the cavalry, there is a good boatyard here. This has been a full day, so none of these things are happening for the time being.
  A pork roast has been simmering in the crockpot all day. (Ever use a crockpot when you had to use a bungy cord on the lid?)  When we ladle the pork over the egg noodles we're going to cook up later, we'll have a feast. We'll add a bottle of wine we bought in Marsh Harbour and then maybe shoot some bottle rockets over toward the neighboring sailboat if things get too quiet.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hope Town and Pete's Pub

  As soon as we left Harbour View Marina I heard a distress call on VHF 16. A boat was sinking nearby and there was a request for assistance. Even though the boat sinking was eight miles away, I decided to try to help once I cleared the harbor, but by time I got out to where I could put the boat on plane, there was already help on the scene and all vessels were told to "stand down". The person making the distress call was hard put to describe his location, initially making it hard for anyone to come to his aid. Things to remember.
  Our cruise over to Elbow Cay and Hope Town was a short one, only a few miles. Hope Town Harbour is small, and is mostly mooring balls. We anchored just outside on the harbor entrance, along with four or five other vessels. It was my birthday and I wanted to spend the day on the hook, especially since we had just spent ten days at the dock at Harbour View.


  We didn't even put the dinghy down. We just sat on the boat and listened to the stereo and occasionally took a dip in the beautiful water. In the photo above, I'm enjoying my favorite beverage, bought in Marsh Harbour for $48 per case.
  My birthday dinner of bar-be-que'd pork steaks and "summer crabs" didn't turn out like we had wanted, but I still got to spend the day doing what I wanted to.


  The next morning we took a cruise with the dinghy into the harbor. The town sits on the east side of the small harbor, and the lighthouse and some resorts are on the west side. We got some fuel in the dinghy and went back to the boat for a few hours.


  The street in the picture is typical of all the roads in Hope Town. They barely are the width of a small truck, and some are just for walking. All the homes are painted in bright colors and most are neat and clean looking. Most of them also seemed to be vacation homes for rent.


  Here's another view of Hope Town. We were out to celebrate our anniversary, and we had plans to go casual, picking out a place called Captain Jacks, because they had an outside deck and we took Holly with us, but Holly wasn't allowed even on the deck at Captain Jacks. Geez, it's not like we were wanting to bring a toddler into their restaurant!


  We found another restaurant with an outside deck, and they welcomed Holly, so we sat at the outside bar and had a couple of cold beers and enjoyed the shade at the Harbour View Inn. Catchy name.
  We perused the menu, thinking we would have some appetizers to start with when the bartender wanted us to "cash out" because she was going home, the shift was changing. I hate it when that happens, so I told her we would be glad to pay our bill as we were just leaving. The menu was a bit pricey anyway.
  Not wanting to ruin our anniversary celebration, we reluctantly took Holly back to the boat, and even more reluctantly we went back to Captain Jacks for dinner.
  Captain Jacks was having trivia night. As we stepped off the dinghy, they were just asking the first question, so the host asked if we wanted to play, but we declined.
  The waitress that waited on us had an attitude like you wouldn't believe, but we attempted to kill her with kindness when all I really wanted to do was just kill her. Her bad attitude was starting to rub off on me, so to be ornery, every time the host would ask a trivia question, I would blurt out the answer, which in every case was the number three. Each time I was told that if I did it again, we would have to buy the house a round of drinks. I laughed each time, as well as some of the other folks there. Rosie just wanted to melt into the floor.
  We met some folks at the table next to ours and they were very nice. It was a whole family, out celebrating the wedding of their grand daughter. The grand parents had been living in Hope Town for many years. We told them that we had been married on that date too. Both times.
  Things were going well until we got our dinner, or at least until I got mine. I ordered fried chicken. I knew I would only get a breast and a wing, that's how they do it in the Bahamas. You get  a quarter chicken, either white or dark meat.
  When my plate came, the piece of chicken looked like some part of a chicken that I had never seen before, and I've had lots of fried chicken in my life. I would have sworn that someone, or something had taken several bites out of the chicken breast before they deep fried it. Apparently it was payback time for my trivia antics.
  Rosie got a small taco salad that wound up looking inedible by the time she got around to asking me if I wanted any of it. No thanks.
  We went back to the boat still hungry and wound up eating some cheese and crackers. But Holly was very glad to see us, and that made our whole night.
  On Friday morning we pulled up anchor and cruised fourteen miles or so south to Lynard Cay, at the southern end of the Sea of Abaco. We dropped the dinghy once we got our hook set and took Holly to one of the very nice beaches on the west side of Lynard Cay.
  By mid afternoon we pulled up anchor again and took the boat into Little Harbour, just a little over a mile away. We were going to anchor outside of the harbor but the wind was picking up and I didn't want to leave the boat at anchor out of our sight while we visited Pete's Pub,  the famous beach bar overlooking Little Harbour.

 
  We entered the harbor at near low tide, a risky move, but the lowest our depth gauge read was 4.2 feet going in. The narrow channel is marked, but there is unforgiving rock on the starboard side going in. We slipped in slick as a whistle and grabbed one of the few vacant moorings.
  We took the dinghy in to the bar to pay the $20 mooring fee and then we went to explore a little bit. The harbor has a great abundance of sea turtles, the most we have ever seen in one area. They're amazingly quick.
  We were intent on making up for a less than enjoyable evening the night before, so by late afternoon, it was on to Pete's Pub, which is in the center of the photo above, and just off our bow.

  Holly was more than welcome at the outside bar. It was early, so we were able to grab the best seats in the house. I didn't think we would get along with our bartender because all she did was complain about working double shifts for the last few days and she was by herself. But...we won her over eventually and she gave us tremendous service. We never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for a beer, and it was standing room only later on at the bar.
  We met lots of other boaters, and Raymond, the bartender from Snappas came in and actually seemed glad to see us. I even got a knuckle bump from him.
  We left a RiverBill's sticker on the framework of the bar. Look for it if you ever go there.


  It was way past dark when we finally got into the dinghy and back to the boat. I told Rosie to not even let me know how much our bar bill was when we left, but I intended on making up for a less than perfect night on the night before, and we did.
  Things were a little fuzzy this morning, but we had a great breakfast in the harbor, and then rode a high tide out, back to Lynard Cay for the day and to spend the night on the hook before heading to Eleuthera on Sunday morning.
  We took Holly back to the beach and boy did she have a ball! We let her run and play in the water, just like any proud parents would.
  A cold front is coming in on Tuesday, and it's going to get very windy throughout southern Florida and the Bahamas, so we want to be in a safe anchorage by then.
  We plan on being in Spanish Wells by tomorrow afternoon. On Monday I have to visit the BaTelCo office because I'm can't add minutes to our data plan on the iPad. The BTC home page has no option to use the prepaid cards we bought in Alice Town. We'll get it figured out. Our Bluechart Mobile app doesn't need Internet service to work, but we like to have Internet at the helm when it's available.
  I got news today that a guy I started with at the beer factory many years ago died today. He didn't get to enjoy any of his hard earned retirement, having left the job diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about the same time I left. I feel fortunate that I've gotten to live this dream with Rosie for the last year. Every day forward will just be gravy, as I've already gotten more from life than some people have. Like I always say, "I'd rather be lucky than good." And I've been lucky.