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Old 23-03-2009, 15:34   #1
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Cat Island to Black Point March 19-21, 2009

Cat Island to Black Point March 19-21, 2009

As we left you, we were enjoying the first fruits of Barry, our first barracuda.

As Chris Parker has forecast a hard blow for the weekend, this is a very protected location, and a good place for hunkering down. Thursday was forecast to be very light and variable, so Lydia and I rowed ashore to go exploring. We found the Hermitage atop the tallest hill in the Bahamas (206’) to be enchanting, and the view stunning, taking in the harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. An easy walk up, and an easier walk down, we were rewarded by discovery of what seemed to be wild tomatoes growing at the side of the road.

We enjoyed a few on the way up, and more on the way down. Much to our embarrassment, as we were leaving, we discovered that this was, in fact, a garden set out by locals, for their private use. After mortified apologies to, and gracious forgiveness from, the owner, who’d driven up to tell us of our trespass, we later discovered, on our walk through town, that it was the baker’s.

As much as we enjoy Lydia’s breadmaking, it was a treat to buy both raisin and coconut bread at prices very much more attractive than we’d found in the grocery store. After additional apologies, graciously demurred, we had an entertaining conversation with the owner, a genial lady who was impressed with Lydia’s mother being alive and available, let alone sailing, at 83. The day ended with a short shelling excursion on the beach before rowing back for dinner. Dinner was some of the barracuda, the remains of which, combined with the last of the Mahi, will make for a fantastic salad tomorrow night.

Listening to Chris Parker’s broadcast Thursday morning revealed that the blow we thought would be over by the weekend would instead last through a week from now. Additional conversations with other subscribers (listening in on the party line, so to speak) suggested that sailing over to Black Point would be quite comfortable if we were to go tomorrow or tomorrow night, so long as we were anchored by Saturday evening. So, I called him and confirmed our suspicions. Tomorrow evening it is, for a dawn arrival at the cut.

Between now and then, I have the boat 1-2-3s to attend to. Our turning blocks on the Genoa should really be back further than they are, but our fishing pole holders prevented that. We also found diesel and water leaks, which should be attended to. I would very much like to dive the boat, cleaning the bottom and inspecting our prop zincs in this lovely warm water. So, I’ll do all that tomorrow while Lydia goes ashore for her extended walk, and we’ll have an early dinner, departing well before dark to assure comfortable navigation while we clear the shallows on the way out.

Heh. As usual, the best laid plans, etc…

Given that the wind was such that Lydia didn’t feel comfortable rowing to shore, and I had plenty to do. After doing the morning chores, including moving the fishing pole holders to a stanchion further astern, which cured the coming problem of where the genoa sheet turning blocks would be moved. We’d noticed an anomaly in our charging and expected rate of discharge, lately; we never seemed to get to the expected level of charge based on how long the Honda ran, and it seemed to use an enormous amount overnight. We were soon to find out.

I set to the engine room chores first, as that’s more important than diving the bottom. Close inspection revealed that there might be a couple of bolts loose (well, not tight enough) in the engine pan area, so I gave the only one which would move a twist. I also attempted, unsuccessfully, to tighten the spot seeming to leak diesel – annoyingly, the same place as before. So, we’ll have to see how that works out, later.

We’ve also had a bit of a nuisance in unexpected engine stops (always starting right up again) after a time of running, when going into neutral. I’d previously fiddled with the throttle stop, trying to increase the idle, but it didn’t cure it. Close inspection, as I was further adjusting the stop, revealed that both ends of the throttle linkage were loose – the one on the actual fuel meter, and the other on the cable from the throttle at the helm.

Well… That’s not good – I need to attend to those, too. It took a lot of wrestling in short, tight spaces, but I got both ends of the linkage off, to see what was up. The one at the fuel meter hadn’t been tightly set, and, as well, wasn’t properly attached so as to make a good surface for the lock washer holding the nut from moving, so the inset from the meter to the link wasn’t securely engaged. I resolved that first, as I’d need it during the water pump exercise.

The wobbly-joint at the cable, likewise, wasn’t well set to the linkage. I left that off while I fiddled with the raw water pump (to see the results of the repairs there), enabling me to instantly throttle up, to see the results. I’d also expected to leave the throttle linkage off so as to easily adjust the idle, but afterwards, when I restored it, I got a nice surprise. There was no engine stalling, and the revolutions were at the proper, not lower, number, as they had been, despite my having substantially moved the adjustment out (normally resulting in a lower idle). Apparently, all along, from those before me, too, it was that sloppy linkage at fault, not something to do with the engine’s efficiency. Even though I hadn’t set out to do that one, I’m glad that chore’s done, and the adjustments I made to the hardware should insure that I’ll not have to deal with that again for a very long time. Back to the water pump…

The water was coming from the hose at the bottom of the raw water (the seawater which cools the transmission and, through a heat exchanger, cools the engine, which uses something similar to the antifreeze found in automotive applications so you don’t get rust and scale inside the engine) pump. Hm. Should be a simple fix, right? Not so fast.

Shortening the story, I must have had the water pump on and off not less than a dozen times. The first few were to cut off the squished (but very hard, being new) hose, where it had been compressed against the – depending on what size hose you’re trying to use – either slightly too large to take a standard size hose, or much too small to take the next size up, properly, spigot on the Jabsco water pump, and redo it, thinking the hose deformation might somehow be the fault. After the first 9 or so times without success, I fetched out the Sherwood (the other brand of pump that came with these Perkins engines) that I’d bought over the internet, and had in my spares. These have a different in and out arrangement, much better suited to effective sealing with hose clamps.

On it went, and sure enough, the hoses didn’t leak. Unfortunately, the weep hole, designed to tell you when your bearing is failing, copiously wept (well, ran a steady stream). It was definitely better at sucking water, however, and since I thought I had a rebuild kit for the Jabsco, off came the Sherwood (because it needs a rebuild, and delivered at least as much water to the engine room as the Jabsco, this time through the bearing weep hole). While Lydia searched in the spares, I disassembled the Jabsco, because it clearly wasn’t delivering enough water, as proven by the superior pumping of the Sherwood (despite all the water it threw around), to install a new impeller.

Sure enough, one of the vanes (the rubber things which push the water around in the pump) was broken off. No wonder it wasn’t doing an effective job of cooling. Good thing I looked.

Oops – no new impeller. But meanwhile, the gasket on the rear plate, being paper, disintegrated when I disassembled it, and I didn’t have another. Fortunately I knew we had some Permatex, an in-the-tube gasket material, and I reassembled it, and tried again. @!#$%^&*()_#@$%!!! Leaked worse than before, at the hose connection. However, meanwhile, Lydia managed to find a replacement impeller. Off with the pump, yet again, and, fortunately, the old impeller came off without complaint (not always the case!). Also fortunately, we had enough left in the tiny tube to make another gasket. The impeller went in, very well lubricated with the same stuff pool servicers use on swimming pool pumps, we reassembled it, and tried again, this time using yet another (one more than before) clamp, squeezing it until the hose squished, and came out the screw slots in the clamps.

On, again, with the pump, and start the engine, again. Well, it pumps a great deal better, but still leaks. Raggasnaggagiggafratz!! I’ll have to leave that for another day. I continued to tighten the clamps until I fear breaking them (as I’d already done on three others earlier) without success in stopping the leak. I finally gave up and we had dinner. No such luck on leaving today, or at any rate, before dark –and that, only if I’m lucky, with all the rest of what I need to do. That’s because...

Meanwhile, the Honda’s outside charging for all it’s worth, but the amps going into the battery are fewer than those coming from the charger. Given that we had good sun and some wind, that didn’t make any sense, as the total amps should be more, not less, with those added. Into the engine room to see if I can find what’s happening. I’d noticed a somewhat funky smell, and laid it off to all the water we were dumping in the bilge, but no sooner had I climbed over the engine than I see smoke coming from a wire. Hm. A short – that’s not good! But it would explain why we were not charging well, and the charges not lasting as long as we expected.

But wait – it’s not hot. It’s the starter battery, which must have a short in it, and it’s – despite it’s being a sealed unit – steaming away (generating nasty smells in the process). Undo the negative lines attached to it, and it quit. And, it was very hot. There’s our culprit – glad we discovered it before any excitement! Bolting the negatives together, in case they were somehow important to starting the engine, and thoroughly taping them off, all is well again in that department.

So, we equalized the house bank, about time anyway, since the last time was January 8th. Sure enough, it did that chore, and was fully charged with a resting, under load, voltage of 13.2. However, it’s now well after dinner, and I didn’t get the other things I wanted done. I finished up the throttle exercise, though, and it was only 8:30. Hm… Maybe if we hurry up and get shipshape?

Chris had said that leaving any time before midnight would be good because the heavy weather wasn’t due to start until late on Saturday. Accordingly, for our first time in pitch darkness, we sailed off the anchor, having the anchor up by 9:30, only 3 hours later than we’d wanted. We made sure to fall off so as to not get involved with any of the other anchored boats upwind of us, and commenced to sail to Black Point Settlement, the cut into which was 55 miles away. We’d thought we might have to slow the boat down in order not to arrive too early, but given the expected direction (broad reach or deeper point of sail) of the wind, and our delayed departure, we didn’t shorten sail, putting up all the laundry.

The expectation was that we’d have low to mid teens wind all night, building toward dawn. However, Lydia’s shift, starting at ~10:30, had mostly 4-8 knots of wind, and the expected very large swells caused by long-term unsettled weather to the north caused a great deal of rolling and sail crashing. At that, one 2-minute period was 20 knots, and she got 7.1 knots of boat speed. It looked as though we might not arrive before noon, however, as most of the time, we were making only 3-4 knots most of the time.

When I came up at 3:30, I took advantage of all the rock ‘n’ roll to turn on the fuel polisher. We’ve had absolutely no fuel issues, but if we were to ever have trouble, this would be the perfect opportunity – so, better safe than sorry, it ran until we arrived. By 3AM, the wind had picked up to 9-13knots, with boat speed of 5.1. That added wind was enough to make the boat stiff enough to stop all the sail crashing which had been going on beforehand (rolling causing slack sails as it goes back over the top of the wave, thence to suddenly fill again at the bottom of the next one).

By 4AM, it was 13-18 and 5.8, 5AM had a 25-knot squall that gave us 8 knots over ground. All along, however, the wind varied from minute to minute, and sometimes in the same minute, by 10 knots or more. Thus, it might be 18, then drop to 6, then back up to 20, down to 4, and so on. Not a very comfortable sail, but not at all alarming, either.

You’ll recall that cruising is boat repair in exotic locations, and this voyage confirmed it yet again. At 6 the back porch light came on spontaneously. As it was still full dark, that was very disconcerting. No amount of “clicker” activation or switch movement on the manual switch in the walkthrough had any effect. 10 minutes later it spontaneously quit, and the clickers and manual switch worked properly. Hmmmm. Wouldn’tcha know, 10 minutes later, it came on again, and was still lit when we anchored.

We negotiated the cut at full dawn, and had our anchor down by 8:30. It’s a good thing we hadn’t left any earlier, as we’d have arrived too soon! We were all buttoned up, and ready for the blow by 9AM. However, there was no internet visible (much to my surprise), so this is coming to you either by internet café or by sailmail. There’s a couple of sites which are “open” and have very strong signals, but they look like schools, so perhaps they just aren’t on line on the weekend, as no traffic passes.

So, we’ll leave you after having finished the last of the Cat Island baker’s bread for breakfast, as we go ashore. We’ll pick up next time with our adventures in Black Point, where we expect to stay for the next several days, waiting out what’s expected to be nasty weather for nearly a week.


Skip and crew
Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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