A Travellerspoint blog

Fire In The Sky

Mike: 19/20 Jun
We had been anchored over at Volleyball Beach on Stocking Island and needed to return across Elizabeth Harbour to collect our newest crew member. We also needed water so the best solution was to visit Exuma Docking Services and get the water, diesel and dingy outboard gas replenished. The fuel was the easy part. One of our crew, no names, had torqued down the forward water filler cap which now required removal by chiselling. I was not in my happy place to say the least, but we did get the cap off and the tank filled. Overall, we've used about 30 gal of diesel to travel the over 800nm covered so far. Gotta love sailboats.

Bill and Brian headed to the airport to pick up Ann leaving Alison and myself to look after some boat maintenance issues. These included the fixing of a poorly installed new shift lever and the correction of a minor electrical problem that was supposed to have been fixed during the month long refit prior to our adventure. At the same time I checked the other head's holding tank to ensure that a repeat of the other day's head problem did not have the potential to happen again in that head. Alison also spent considerable time trying to remove the stains left from the colours that ran from the new nationality flag that we'd bought in the BVI just prior to departure from there. Unbelievable that a marina parts supply shop would sell items for boats that weren't colour fast. They'll be getting an email from me when I get home!

After loading Ann aboard, we moved to the tranquility of Volleyball Beach again since the winds and water had kicked up and staying at George Town would be uncomfortable. The St Francis Resort and Marina offered the evening's fare. Co-owners Tony and Suzy and their dog Nina treated us like royalty... we were the only guests that evening, and had a great time.

After retiring to our bunks, we were awoken in the wee hours by a dazzling light show outside. I have never seen so much lightning off in the distance ever before. While topside, a dolphin lazed about. While we never really saw him, we certainly heard his unmistakable sounds. At about 4am, we were all awakened again, but this time by torrential rainfall and thunder and lightening directly overhead. I sat up for the next hour watching the anchor drag alarm to ensure that we weren't somewhere we weren't supposed to be. In between flashes, the mast and rigging of another boat loomed precariously close. Fortunately, everything stayed where it was supposed to be. The downpour continued until about 10:30am when the rain abated and the sun finally broke through.

Setting sail, our destination today was Lee Stocking Island, about 20nm up the Exuma chain. There's a Marine Research Station located there, but we arrived too late in the day to get a tour of the facility. The wind had been light, and with our late start, we elected to motor sail in order to arrive before the sun got too low to allow visually navigating through the reef into the anchorage. Mooring balls were required but they're free. Right after we secured to one and shut down the big diesel, we noted a delicate fragrance eminating from below deck. It wasn't the head though. All hands were mustered to search their respective quarter for the offending stinky. This was located and religated to a line and cast off the transom of our boat. Surprisingly, it attracted a school of yellowtail jacks. Well, to each their own.

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While snorkelling the waters here, some of the crew saw what they believed to be a sand shark, complete with ramoras attached. I didn't, so I'll just take their word for it. For dinner, a feast was prepared on the barby and a bottle of champagne was popped to celebrate Ann's arrival.

In the morning, we're heading on to Staniel Cay, the site of the water scenes for, among many, the James Bond film Thunderball. We hope to explore the same caves. To get there in a reasonable time, we cast off at 7am, right at high tide in order to arrive by early afternoon. Hopefully we'll get some great shots that we can post.

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Posted by Ali-Mike 03:50 Comments (0)

Wasting Away In George Town

A Shitty Day - 17 Jun

Mike: So today was supposed to be an R&R day. You know, the kind of day where you simply float, snooze, suck back a few brewskis and generally veg. Somewhere between the yawn and snooze came the pungent odor that could only come from a head. Alison came up on deck and told me that I should pull my feet out of the warm waters that flowed past our transom. The quizzical look from me had her fill in that one of our crew had just dumped their holding tank - -right there in the harbour - in about 6 feet of water. Going below revealed Brian standing ankle deep in the head (the door was open) with effluence at his feet. He was pushing the overboard shower pump out button for all he was worth. Oh the sight! Oh the stench! Oh the inhumanity! OK... so after the laughter subsided, I took the cover from where the holding tank should be and lo and behold, there it lay, out of its mount, the pump out hose ripped from its fitting spewing its 'shit' out. Over the past week, we'd cleaned that head a number of times already due to odor. Now we knew the problem. Anything that went into the holding tank was vented directly into the head. Brian did what I believe was the right thing... as soon as the tank was full and it overflowed into the head, he dumped the tank overboard. Better outside than inside I agreed. During the reassembly and clean up, I noted the following: 1) one screw that holds the strap that holds the tank in place had been ripped out completely, 2) the pump out hose was disconnected, 3) the venting line was plugged. So what happened? Our best guess is this: As the tanks was filling through use while at anchor it was getting heavier and was beginning to bulge (nowhere to vent to). The bulging tank actually caused the retaining screw for the retaining strap to pull out of the bulkhead it was attached to. The weight of the full tank was now free to fall about a foot down. The hose that attached to the deck pump out couldn't support the weight and separated. The result was the spilling of the tank contents behind the paneling and draining onto the floor of the head.

So here's what we did: Removed the mounting for the other half of the strap that was still attached, threw away the vastly undersized screws that were originally installed and put in more appropriately sized strap screws. Next was to detach the vent hose and clear it out. Not having a plumbers snake handy, we took apart a wooden close pin and with pliers expanded the steel spring which ended up being about 6 inches long. This we used to clear the throughhull fitting from the outside. Next was to reassemble everything and start pumping to fill the tank. After about 50 strokes, I realized that the overboard drain was still open, so I closed it and started again. This time, we did see the vent discharging as it was supposed to.

A swim over to Volley Ball Beach was the next order of the day, at the least to get rid of any possible residue that may have attached itself to me from the morning's adventure.

Later in the day, we popped over to the St. Francis Resort and Marina which had just opened two months earlier. We did two loads of laundry, ordered a pizza and enjoyed $3 beers. We met Tony and Suzy, the owners, and their dog Nina. They've got a great location and offer great food at reasonable prices in a brand new facility. Check out the pics below. Good times!

Alison: Yes, I can honestly say it was a shitty day in paradise. But I guess this gives us an idea as to what cruising life is all about - there are some days of relaxation, and there are other days where things on the boat need to be fixed. But what better place to have to do work on the boat! We are really getting into the cruising life style. Going ashore and talking to other cruisers. And for us, it's learning from their experiences sailing in the Bahamas and specifically the Exumas - what anchorages we should visit and which we should avoid. And then there is dingying our dirty laundry ashore to a laundry facility and then dingying our clean, fresh smelling laundry back. Mike and I spent the afternoon planning our route from here, through the Exumas and on to Nassau. We've been here in George Town a few days now and we're starting to look forward to moving on and exploring more of the Bahamas. But we're here until Monday when we pick up Ann (Bill's girlfriend), who is joining us for the remainder of the trip.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a day of relaxation.

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Posted by Ali-Mike 11:01 Comments (1)

Breezing Into George Town

Chicken Harbour - 14/15 June

Mike: Yesterday, we left our sand beach oasis at Point Santa Maria and sailed the 20nm to the south east entrance for Elizabeth Harbour. From there, it was about 2nm through reef and sand bar infested waters requiring Alison (bow babe) to be point person at the bow while we advanced at a miserly pace based on instructions from her. As our sailor friends already know, this is George Town. Also known as Chicken Harbour owing to the many sailors that venture south, this point is the last of the easy sailing points on the way to the Caribbean. From here, the going is southeast toward the Virgin and Leeward Islands. Right into the prevailing winds. The distances get greater between landfalls necesitating overnight passage making. Bruce Van Sant, the author of the book "A Gentleman's Guide To Passages South", dubbed it 'The Thorny Path'. Many never go any further, concerned with weather windows and all manor of other foibles. So this is as far as they get. They stay and enjoy the company of numerous others in the same situation. There's daily volley on the beach and endless pot lucks.

We anchored just off from Regatta Point, and while the crew put the dingy together, I got shined up, possibly even looking respectable for the customs and immigration folks who were in need of a visit. This was taken care of without difficulty or delay, but the cruising kitty took a hit with the $300US fee. Still, I'm not complaining, the weather's great, we've sailed practically the entire way with the fuel tank just starting to show below the full mark, the spinnaker's been full and the crew is working well together although I wonder whether I'm getting my fair share of the rum rations.

Today will be a day of floating. No wake up call was set for rise and shine this morning. Just sleeping in as long as we wanted. The guide book suggested that there was a cruiser's net, but we couldn't find it. About 9:30am, a dolphin and her young pup appeared beside our boat and entertained us with hours of cavorting around the boat. Check out the pic. Alison and I wasted no time in getting in the water with our snorkel gear and underwater camera. You'll all have to wait for those shots since they're 35mm. While they didn't come up close to us like they do at Marineland, they came well within camera range. The hams! The young one was especially playfull, leaping out of the water and landing on her (his?) back. It's incredible to hear the sounds that they make. Awesome!

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Lunch was had over at the Peace and Plenty - a great resort with great food and reasonably priced. Tonight, we'll hang out here at George Town and tomorrow we'll move over to the anchorage at Stocking Island to see what sort of mischief we can get into there. We'll be here now for a number of days awaiting the arrival of a fifth crew member, Ann, who's Bill's S.O.

We haven't posted in the past few days due to internet difficulties, but having access to high speed internet allowed Alison and I to upload some of the pics we'd taken over the past two weeks and post them up to the blog. They're put under the section that's appropriate, so you'll need to scroll back and take a gander.

Regarding the outboard engine problem, I had fashioned a replacement gasket and installed it. I'm happy to report, that so far my amateur fabrication and repair is working well. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's a lasting permanent repair.

Lastly, we'd like to thank everyone who emailed us regarding the tropical storm (Alberto) that was brewing in the gulf. We did know of it from the daily weather reports and forecasts that we collect via satellite each day. It was hundreds of miles to the south west and never a threat.

Alison: It's hard to believe that we are actually here in George Town. We've heard so much about George Town from other cruisers and now we finally get a chance to experience this place for ourselves. Although, after navigating our way in, we did wonder if it was called Chicken Harbour because people, once into the harbour, need to gather their courage to navigate themselves out. It is beautiful, with a turquoise waters and sand beaches. Of course, the momma dolphin and her baby were the hightlight of the day.

We said good-bye to our newly made cruising buddies, Steve and Wendy on Obsession. While we're spending a number of days here, they are heading off for the Florida coast.

Tonight, it's off to shore to sample Bahamian cuisine. But before that, it will be an afternoon siesta and then before dinner drinks onboard. Yes, it is a tough life!

Posted by Ali-Mike 08:13 Comments (1)

Good Times at Point Santa Maria

Mike: 13 June
We're now at Point Santa Maria at the north end of Long Island. We're just a short sail now from George Town. We'd actually planned other stops, but based on the winds and seas, stop overs such as Rum Cay just weren't going to happen, what with their east and south exposed anchorages.

This evening, we met up with our buddies from last night, Steve and Wendy from Obsession, and collectively put together a feast aboard their ketch. The stars were all out and we were even able to eyeball track some satelittes as they crossed the sky. The moon rose about 10ish adding to the atmosphere. The party continued 'till almost midnight at which point our contented crew, now totally played out, headed for our bunks.

Posted by Ali-Mike 08:51 Comments (0)

Clarence Town - Long Island

Mike: 12 June
Today's sail took us from Landrail Point on Crooked Island to Clarence Town on Long Island. Departing at about 8am and with a clear blue sky and 10 kts breeze, we were able to average 6kts through 2-3' following seas for the 38nm passage. Arriving in Clarence Town in mid afternoon, we set the pick in 6' of water over sand in calm water. No sooner had we finished anchoring when a large ray swam under out boat.

A short while later, the next boat over from us (actually, the only other boat in the bay), came over and offered us some hospitality on their boat. Their names were Steve and Wendy and they'd been living on their 42' center cockpit ketch rigged Robertson-(something) for the past six years. They had a playfull and excitable young dog named Coco who just couldn't get enough of Alison and a parrot called Azul that had a colurful vocabulary and kept us entertained. Steve and Wendy are on their way to the US coast (like us) but are fast tracking covering as much distance as possible each day (not like us). As the sun set over this pristine achorage, we bid our new friends farewell and safe travels and headed back to our boat to make supper which consisted of chicken on the barby and fixin's along with a bottle of wine. It's amazing how at 10pm, nobody's able to keep their eyelids open.

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Posted by Ali-Mike 08:47 Comments (0)

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