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Old 11-04-2009, 06:50   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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Big Majors and Staniel Cays – 3-26 to 4-1 2009

Big Majors and Staniel Cays – 3-26 to 4-1 2009

We left you as we’d thrown out the hook and stayed connected to the Internet connection we’d found on the way over from Black Point. During our time there, we continued to enjoy a good connection from several miles away. Lydia got her Shutterfly pictures uploaded while I caught up on all the mail we’d missed along the way.

Big Majors has, as its major (pardon the expression!) attraction, the famous swimming pigs on the mostly otherwise unoccupied (there are also some feral goats in residence) island. We got up close and personal with a couple of matrons on our first trip to the beach where they come out of the woods. They later introduced us to their kids; we got great shots and experiences of the kids trying to climb into the dinghy to join us, but eating out of our hands with great enthusiasm, in any event. As pigs are built pretty much the same as we are, gastronomically (just one stomach, not ruminants), one can’t feed them just "anything" but they love vegetables. So, carrots and potatoes and lettuce for the pigs were the order of the day on each day we were there.

As it’s just around the corner from Staniel Cay, with its many attractions, we made a couple of dinghy excursions there to look around. As the first trip was on Sunday, everything was closed, but gave us the lay of the land to know where to go on Monday, when we did our tiny, miniscule, shopping in the two "grocery stores" ashore. Like most of the markets in these little islands, what passes for a grocery store is little more than the size of a very small cottage, with a couple of rows of very sparsely stocked shelves. We managed some Oreos, a huge luxury at island pricing, and sugar from the first, and some lime juice from the other. Anything else we may have needed or wanted wasn’t there, or was so dear we couldn’t bear to make the purchase. For all that, as always, the proprietors were friendly and chatty folks; as we’re coming to learn, most knew Lorraine or were actually related to her!

On one of our trips to Staniel, we visited a wreck that was on its side on the rocks on the ocean side of Big Majors. A huge hole in the deck and hull was occupied by a sharp rock, and it had been salvaged of many items. All we took, leaving some other stuff I’d removed, ready for someone else who needed it worse than we did, was some lovely teak. Much of the teak work on our refit’s "new-stuff" projects came from salvaged boats, so even though we had to scratch our heads a bit to figure out where to store it, we’re very happy to have found some more, very nice, teak. In the course of breaking apart some of the fixtures (to reduce the volume to just straight wood pieces) which had been thrown up on the rocks, I was presented with the lovely scent of raw teak, something I’d forgotten in the couple of years it’s been since I did any of that sort of work. Ahhhh…

While we were in Big Majors, since we were located such that the boat was nearly aground at dead low tide (my preference – at least one inch under the keel in whatever waves we might encounter is great anchoring as far as I’m concerned!), I took advantage of that close depth to do some more boat chores. I’d not cleaned the bottom since – well, actually, I’m not certain when it was cleaned, other than it went in the water clean in Fernandina Beach, well over a year ago! – maybe never! - so I put on extra weights, allowing me to stand on the bottom, cranked up the hookah, and headed below with a long-handled broom.

As part of that exercise, since we’d not been sure of our actual depth, or our depth sounders’ offset adjustments, I took an exercise dumbbell down with a line. I measured the keel-seabed depth of about 18", tying a knot at the level of the keel. Because it was so shallow, I was able to reach the surface, as well, so I repeated that knot at the water level-to-seabed depth. Once back on deck, the distance between the two knots was measured to be 7’. As we’d not known for sure what our depth was, that was reassuring, having a relatively short distance to the keel from the bottom.

Later excursions for bottom scrubbing proved to me, as I walked around with my head up, thus, not looking down, and, therefore, stumbling sometimes, that the bottom wasn’t level as I thought. Thus, I’m (still!) not really certain of our depth. However, whatever it is, our depth sounder agreed with the space under the keel, which is half the battle. As we’ve always used 7’ as our "working depth" that, too, is satisfactory for this time.

All that was on our bottom was sort of slimy grass-looking stuff, with the general appearance and depth of a fish-spawn, but there was a great cloud of it to remove. Fortunately, it came off with just the brushing, albeit sometimes in more than one direction, and always with more than one pass and with some force applied. I’d love to say I did it all in one shot, but even with a wetsuit on, after a couple of hours, it gets cold down there in high-70s water. That, combined with the substantial surface area of a deep-draft, 45’ hull, made it such that it took me a couple of times to complete the starboard side, both times at low water.

Both times, I knew for sure that I’d had a workout, not only from the scrubbing, but also the resistance of the water. Long-termers here will recall that I did a lot of pool therapy for my shoulder while ashore about a year ago, and had intended our hookah to assist in doing it a lot while aboard. Having overcome the difficulties of the shoulder, I didn’t need the hookah for that, but sure got my workouts while I was cleaning! I slept well each night…

The port side, however, didn’t get started until nearly high tide. Though that made doing the keel easier, it meant that while I was able to stay down longer this time (the sun was higher, and the water warmer), I wasn’t able to reach very high up the hull. So, I got all but the last couple of feet below the waterline done, still a big workout. The rest of the port side will have to wait until I get to the next shallow anchorage…

One final note of our time here is that Lydia has been baking up a storm, and we’ve been storming the results, going through about a loaf a day of wonderful homemade bread. The side effect to that is that the stove propane is also being consumed at a much greater rate than just with our stovetop cooking. On the 28th, just before she was about to start another batch (great thing it happened then, rather than in the middle!), our stove propane tank emptied. No big deal, as we have another in the locker, having refilled in Georgetown, so I headed up to change them over.

However, as I opened the lid to the propane locker, I smelled the slightest whiff of propane. I’ve been meaning to ditch the pressure indicator, as it long ago rusted out, and I suspected that it might have had a small leak based on the apparent short time we got from the tanks, previously attributed to all the baking. When I went to remove it and the Tee fittings to it in the line, I found that all three connection points were very easy to remove, requiring only hand, not wrench-assisted, pressure. So, whether or not the dead gauge had been at fault, it’s possible that those connections had been the source of a very small leak.

That’s not a safety issue, as the propane locker is designed to vent any fumes overboard, but it could explain the seemingly short life of our tanks. So, we’ll track our usage and see if we do better on the next fill. As we have plenty aboard, likely we’ll not refill our tanks until we return to the US for our next shore excursion. That’s a good thing, as the availability of propane in the wild is pretty sparse!

We’ll leave you with an almost-clean bottom, fresh propane, fully caught-up Internet chores, and happy swimming pigs, until the next time!

Stay tuned!


Skip and crew

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"And then again, when you sit at the helm of your little ship on a clear
night, and gaze at the countless stars overhead, and realize that you are
quite alone on a wide, wide sea, it is apt to occur to you that in the
general scheme of things you are merely an insignificant speck on the
surface of the ocean; and are not nearly so important or as self-sufficient
as you thought you were. Which is an exceedingly wholesome thought, and one
that may effect a permanent change in your deportment that will be greatly
appreciated by your friends."- James S. Pitkin
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