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Old 21-10-2009, 18:14   #1
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9/27-30/09 Lake Worth to Abacos, Bahamas

We left you comfortably ensconced in Lake Worth, the Intra-Coastal Waterway
between West Palm Beach and the luxury of Palm Beach, FL. We slept in a
bit, had our breakfast of scrambled eggs (we've discovered, through a
recommendation, that eggs, alone, within 2 hours of waking, kick-starts your
metabolism and doesn't leave you hungry in a few hours), and headed to the
Municipal Marina to take on Diesel, gasoline and water.

As this would be our last free water, perhaps, for a very long time Lydia
took advantage of it to wash down the deck, and in particular the area where
the chain comes in to the windlass, much marked by the dirty water which
cascades off the chain, even after we wash it with our bow washdown hose.

Given the condition of our prop and keel mentioned earlier, we weren't
surprised to see that our fuel usage had been much higher than normal, so
perhaps we'll see an improvement, now that we're cleaned up of all that
impedimentia on the prop. I'll take advantage of the first very shallow
anchorage we have to go get the rest of the barnacles off the keel.

In any case, the fuel delivery system there allowed us to very completely
fill the tank, something which isn't always possible, so it's also possible
that our fuel burn rate was somewhat inaccurate due to a
less-than-completely-full tank on our last fill. Our practice is for me to
pull the bung on the tank, and, with our "Marriage Saver" headsets allowing
me to communicate easily to Lydia on the handle, monitor the level so that
it comes as close to the nipple sticking down into the tank as possible. We
do it this way in order to avoid the usual spit out the vent, due mostly to
foaming, as the tank gets full. In this case, we were able to go very
slowly toward the end, and had experienced very little foaming in the
full-flow segment of our fill. Thus I was able to get the tank full right
to the brim. As that's the largest part of a triangular shape, the top of
the tank takes the most per inch of level, and could well have had as much
as 10 gallons more than was the case on the prior fill.

We got off the fuel dock at 11:15, and had our sails up by noon. Chris
Parker had suggested that this would be an ideal time to make the crossing,
with only light winds for the last several days, and a southerly wind in the
making. The wind direction was ideal to put up the asymmetrical spinnaker,
sailing what would turn out to be a very close tack, instead of a run. I
was very pleased to see that we could sail as close as 60* to the apparent
wind with it and the main flying. We ghosted along at 3 knots with 2 knots
of apparent wind, and reluctantly motorsailed beginning at 2PM. Our speed
went up to 5 knots, still with 2 knots of apparent wind, until, at 3PM the
wind shifted south, when we discovered that the aysm would carry us
comfortably under 60* apparent wind. At the same time, the wind filled in a
bit, and we were making 6.3 knots with 5 knots of apparent wind, and we were
a sailboat again, much to our preference!

Whatever the wind levels, we didn't want to have the spinnaker up at night,
so by 6:30, we'd doused it. The modifications which Mack had made to the
sock worked very well, and we collapsed the chute without incident.
However, getting it down wasn't quite so benign, as we discovered that our
halyard had chafed through the cover, leaving the core intact, but having
the cover foul on the turning block at the top of the mast. Later
headscratching led me to believe that we'll have to cleat the halyard on the
opposite side of the fly, as that could only have happened by the block not
leading fair, despite our having made sure that the halyard led topsides
freely, with our hoist line aft.

In any case, eventually the cover made it through the block, and the rest of
the lowering and stowing was uneventful. This, however, makes the 3rd spin
halyard which has come to grief at the top of the mast. The first one had
been fouled on stowing, and the furler eventually cut through it. The
second one was cut to shreds in the return from the Bahamas when it was
instantly fouled in the genoa as I tried to corral it in the gale which
eventually damaged our genoa, again repaired by Mack sails in Stuart, FL,
during our refit in Saint Simons Island, beautifully. Anyway, I took it all
down, and will strip/milk the cover back as tightly as I can over the core,
and only a very short length of it will be lost, as the chafing ocurred just
before the hoist point.

Our crossing was as uneventful and beautiful as we could possibly have
wished, and we entered the banks north of Memory Rock, preferring the wider
spaces and deeper water available there, at 9PM. We saw light rain at 9:30,
and were on the edge of several squalls which never actually reached us,
despite pretty much surrounding the area we were sailing in. It provided us
a good chance to educate our girls on radar, as they were able to see the
squalls visually as well as on the radar, enjoying the vigorous light shows
in the distance, but monitoring the direction, strength, and distance of
them over the radar. None actually got closer than 2 miles to us, but the
peripheries allowed a bit more wind, as we made 5.5-6 knots in 11-14 knots
of apparent wind.

Light rain persisted through midnight, and the wind continued in the 10-14
range, with our speed remaining pretty much constant in the 5-6 knot range.
There was a wind shift due to the squalls, eventually, and we moved to a
broad reach between 2-2:30AM. However, near 3AM, there was a total wind
shift, one I expected was just a result of the squalls, so I kept the boat
pointed to keep the sails full as we did a full 360* wide turn. Shortly,
the wind died altogether, but when it filled again, it was coming from the
SE, the direction we were heading in. BOOO!

Eventually, shortly, it died altogether, and the rain increased, so we
rolled in and dropped the sails, and dropped the anchor. We were
comfortably in our berths at 4AM, having turned off the SPOT transmitter, as
we weren't going anywhere. When we got back up at 10 AM on Sunday,
September 28th, the instructions and methods for using the SPOT (track us at
Please wait for redirect) were such that instead of turning it on, we
sent an OK message, and those watching us saw no movement or transmission
from 4AM. I've since sorted out and proven how to do this in the future,
labeling our transmitter for a reminder, but, alas, we weren't

Combined with our confusing 360 broad turn and the lack of signal, a
concerned friend called the Coast Guard, asking them to look into it. As it
was totally clear both on the radar 24 mile scale, and visually, we didn't
bother turning on our VHF radio. If we had, we'd have heard the USCG's call
to us, trying to reach us. When nothing was heard for a very long time,
they launched a search on our behalf, asking all in the area to look out for
us, including BASRA, the Bahamian volunteer equivalent of the Coast Guard.
Of course, we were blissfully unaware of this, and sailed on ignorant of the
Falcon jet which was dispatched, or of any efforts the BASRA folks may have
exerted on our behalf.

As we are a documented boat, we have our phone number as part of the
records, and, once we reached a usable WiFi signal, when we saw emails from
Vonage, our VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephone service, which
emails us sound files of any messages we receive, we found that at 7:11PM,
the USCG, shortly followed by the BASRA folks, had both left messages on our

Ironically, just at that same time, I was on the Maritime Mobile Service
Net, a HAM radio service to log members as they travel. One of the services
provided HAMs using the Net is to enter our information into ShipTrak,
which tracks Maritime Mobile units around the world. As seen in my
signature line, my call sign is KI4MPC, and, in addition to the SPOT
signals, when I'm able to check in, that service will also show our
position. In any event, as you've seen in my prior posts recently, we made
the news all over, albeit inaccurately. I'm guessing that my resetting of
the SPOT, reactivating the tracking, or the ShipTrak was what called off
the search, because, certainly, it wasn't us. We didn't learn of it for
another couple of days! For those interested, you can see our position
reports for the last couple of years by going to and
enter my call sign, KI4MPC. Moving the mouse over the dots gives you our
position and minor reports. Clicking on the log entries at the bottom and
scrolling will give you all of them from the time we started our checkins.

Anyway, we sailed off our anchor at 10AM, blissfully unaware of the
excitement over our safety. The wind was right for a wing-and-wing downwind
run, or, better, a spinnaker run (but see above about the halyard!), and we
made 6 knots for the rest of the day as the wind slowly moved around to NW.
We arrived at the Little Sale Cay mark at 3:30, and our ETA for Carters Bank
for our anchorage worked out to be 6:30 - just perfect for being in at dark.

However, we pulled up a bit short, so turned north by a little to find
shallower water, sailing on to our anchor at 6:30 in 17 feet of water.
After a lovely dinner, we celebrated our effortless crossing with The Sound
Of Music on our video system, and turned in late at the intermission.

Monday morning, September 29th, we sailed off our anchor by 10AM, still
flying the yellow quarantine flag we'd put up under our Seven Seas Cruising
Association burgee when we entered Bahamian waters, not yet having checked
in. We still had no radio contact, as, again, the seas were clear. The
wind remained NW at 8-10 knots, providing another totally restful day of
sailing. Despite our having had our poles out (ya, I know, we hadn't
checked in yet so didn't have our fishing licenses, but the boat - and its
license - had been good for a year when we checked in last December, so we
figured we'd push it a bit), there was nothing on the end of the line for
the entire trip, including the Gulf Stream, sometimes the best fishing to be

However, the wind died at 5:30, so we motored the last half hour to our
anchorage at Spanish Cay, and had the hook down in 11' of water. We had
limited WiFi available, so while we were able to learn of the excitement
over our being "missing in action" we weren't able to call the Coast Guard,
and BASRA didn't answer the hails over the VHF. However, we did reach the
marina at Spanish Cay, and learned how to do our checkin process, which
included a $50 fee to use their dinghy dock, despite our various guides
having shown it as free. Ah, well, perhaps they were out of date. We
finished The Sound Of Music and piled into bed.

Tuesday, September 30, we did our usual leisurely start, which meant that I
didn't get to shore very quickly. We'd been advised that the Customs folks
were there at 8:30, but had gone home for the day, by the time we called on
Monday. I made the assumption that they must be available more than just a
few minutes in the day, so thought nothing of heading in about 10:30.
Imagine my concern and surprise when I saw that the marina, virtually
unoccupied by boats, also had a "Closed" sign on the door, everything inside
dark, and instructions to call on VHF channel 16. Of course, I hadn't
carried along a handheld, so couldn't do that, so I went exploring a bit.

Sure enough, around the corner to the left, I see a small building with a
prominent sign indicating a door for Customs and Immigration. However, it
sez to ring the bell or knock, I forget which, now, which I did. No
response. Uh-oh... Repeated, still no response. So, I tried the door, and
it was open. I walked in to a small office area, looking, aside from the
connecting room's loud TV in it, like most bureaucratic surroundings -
linoleum floor, sterile walls, and stacks of forms. Judging from the
various piles, aircraft are frequent visitors to Spanish Cay :{))

I called out "Hello?" and eventually a woman came from the area with the
loud TV and processed me very quickly and personably in much less time than
it took in Nassau on our last visit. I concluded that the Customs and
Immigration agent lived there, and was only required to make herself
available between business hours, otherwise living in the rest of the
building. On my exit, I made sure not to arouse any more attention than
necessary on the way back to the dinghy. Sure enough, I wasn't accosted for
my $50 landing fee, and by 12:45, we'd sailed off our anchor, replacing our
yellow "Q" flag with our Bahamas courtesy flag as we went.

Our destination was for Powell Cay, a very short hop, as most of the
destinations in the Abacos are, and we got there in short order, with the
anchor down at 2PM in very shallow water. The ladies headed to the beach,
while I headed under the boat with my hookah rig, to attack the remaining
barnacles. The lower part of the keel and rudder were very heavily
encrusted, as were the Dyanaplate, the grounding piece of bronze related to
our SSB and HAM radio transmissions, and the keel cooler, the thing which
helps our refrigeration dump its heat.

The girls, as those following Lydia's log already know, had their first-ever
skinny-dipping experience, and loved every minute of it. As we'll find
throughout our early days, at least, nearly always, we're virtually alone in
the Abacos. We're ahead of the season, so we're enjoying the solitude. Our
very shallow anchorage allowed me to stand on the bottom, heavily weighted,
and attack the barnacles and oysters.

The water was so warm that despite my not having a wetsuit on, I was
comfortable to stay down longer than I'd expected, and not only got off all
the barnacles but got to cleaning up around the waterline, as well, where
there were a few. Because of our ablative paint, for the most part I was
able to crush the barnacles with Max (our silver [stainless steel painted]
hammer, recall, that we use for opening conch - Maxwell's silver hammer,
after all), and then scrape the residue off easily, using the flat sides of
the hammer. However, Max needs a new coat of paint after all that, as I
pretty well scraped off all the paint which had held up so well for the last
couple of years.

I got out just as the girls were returning, and I had the hookah rig stowed
as they were coming aboard. After our salt-water baths and dinner, we
celebrated our good fortune to be in one of the most beautiful spots on
earth by watching another earth, entirely, in The Hobbit, and turned in.

We'll leave you here, warm and cozy with a light breeze, securely at

Until next time, Stay Tuned :{))


Skip and crew

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
See our galleries at Web-Folio -- Your Portfolio on the Web !
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"You are never given a wish without also being given the power to
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"There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in
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Old 21-10-2009, 19:09   #2
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Location: St. Simons Island, Ga.
Boat: Hunter Legend 37.5 1993
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Thank You for sharing the beautiful photos and blog. What a great time and adventure.
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abaco, Bahamas, lake worth

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