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Old 04-11-2009, 15:31   #1
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skipgundlach's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Currently on the boat, somewhere on the ocean, living the dream
Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
Posts: 1,773
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Guests in the Abacos 10/19-22/09

Guests in the Abacos 10/19-22/09

Hello again...

We left you after a lovely trip through some of the Abacos before returning
to Marsh Harbour, there to meet my son Michael and his wife Katie ("Fish"
after Fishburn) who were coming in on Monday, October 19th.

Our selected cabbie, Fabian ("129" on channel 6, referred to us in a prior
visit to the marina with the book exchange and laundry), delivered them as
promised following the hail from his VHF letting us know that he had them in
tow. We met them and their luggage at Union Jack, the public dock in Marsh
Harbour, and headed off to Flying Pig in our dinghy. We settled in and did
a review of boat safety and marine heads (they're not sailors), as well as
familiarizing them with the boat.

After dinner, we reviewed our immediate term options, which were affected by
the unusual heavy weather present and expected for the next several days.
Up until now, our time in the Abacos has been extremely light winds, but
it's honking now, typically 20-25 knots. That's been great for our power
generation in the past, but sorta mucks up the water for snorkeling, and
sometimes for traveling, too, depending on whether you're inside or outside
of the island chain between here and the Atlantic.

We'd hoped for the more settled weather immediately prior, so that we could
do a fairly long sail on the outside (Atlantic Ocean), but between the
expected sea state, their newness to sailing, and the wind levels, we
thought it might be better to stay "inside" when we traveled.

Tuesday morning, I got on with Chris Parker over the SSB and confirmed that
it would be nasty, if not dangerous, outside, and so we got our anchor up at
1PM and headed down to Sandy Cay in 15-20 knot winds true (at anchor).
However, once out of the harbor, and away from the protection of the island
spit to the north, it increased to 22-30 knots true wind. Quite an
introduction to sailing for our guests!

The trip to Sandy Cay, which is a vaunted snorkeling destination is
convoluted to say the least, due to the depths involved and the necessary
waypoints. All told, it took 23 different turns, and used all points of
sail, from a hard beat to a downwind run. We had about a 1/4 sized patch of
the genoa out, only, both for ease of tacking and not being overpowered with
our somewhat green guests aboard. For all that, we typically were making
4-6 knots, depending on the point of sail.

It became apparent that we'd not reach our destination by dark, so we pulled
in south of the huge sand bore off the south end of Tilloo Cay. By 5:30,
we'd got firmly hooked on the sand bottom, and started to make shipshape.
Between the wind and the tide, it was pretty rolly there, but we figured it
would be all right. Not...

A very helpful boat buzzed out from a dock ashore and advised us that we'd
be badly beaten up there if we didn't move, due to the tidal surge coming
around the south end of the island. They recommended going around the sand
bore to a very comfortable anchorage on the other side of it - but that
would involve doing some pretty close navigation in what would be dark
before we got there, in very shallow water, so we elected to go south,

As the surge was pretty high, and the navigation, even southerly, a bit
tight, we elected to motor it, and motor off the anchor, hurrying to beat
the dark. No sooner do I start with getting up the chain, talking over the
howl of the wind to Lydia on our "Marriage Saver" headsets, than she says
she has no power, and the engine stopped. Shortening the story, our
pitching (well, rolling) has thrown a sheet overboard, and in the gathering
darkness, it's gone unnoticed. Yup, it's in the prop. Can't relieve it by
bumping reverse, and it's tight over the winch, to boot.

YIKES! It's going to be dark pretty quickly, so, fortunately, I'm
already/still in my bathing suit (very warm here and mostly we live in
them), I dive into the dinghy to get my snorkeling gear and head below. The
first couple of turns off the prop are easy, but it's over-wound, and,
worse, jammed between the cutlass bearing (the thing in a strut which the
propshaft comes through just before the propeller) and the prop. Even
having Lydia unfurl slightly, allowing some slack once taken off the winch,
isn't sufficient for me to win against it on a lungful alone.

Quickly, before it gets dark, I climb out of the water, fling the stuff in
the way out of the lazarette (the storage compartment at the stern of the
boat) in order to get the hookah rig out, get Michael and Lydia to take the
compressor to the cockpit and feed me some line to the regulator over the
side, and jump back in. By the time I get around, it's up and running, I
check the regulator, and without having taken the time for either a weight
belt (neutralizes my bouyancy) or the clip belt for the hookah line, I take
the mouthpiece firmly in my teeth and head down with a knife in case I have
to cut it free.

Once supplied with air, I'm able to do a bit more experimenting, and by
rotating the prop shaft at the same time as I'm pulling on either one end or
the other, or jamming a line in one direction while I rotate, I'm able to
free the line from inside the gap between the bearing and the prop. Once
free of that, it's a relatively simple job to unwind the various loops it's
made, swim out to the side, spit out the regulator and have them pull it in
while I snorkel to the back of the boat and climb in.

We quickly stow the compressor and the stuff on top of the dive bag, leaving
the hose until later, and as darkness falls, we uneventfully get up the
anchor. PHEW! Not a bad day's work. So, off we go in the now-full
darkness, with puckered sphincters due to the very narrow passages we'll
have to negotiate, but, despite how long all this has seemed to take, from
anchor down to anchor up is only an hour. We anchor in the lee of Lynyard
Cay, south of Sandy Cay, getting in and the anchor down by 8:30. Along the
way today, we'd also fouled our two fishing lines in each other due to the
wind having carried one over the other. We managed to get it aboard, but
not untangled, despite Michael's valiant efforts on the stern deck during
all the rock and roll, making him slightly nauseated. We'll save that for
another day. Once securely at anchor, due to all the wind, I redid our
anchor tow line and added a safety line in the event the primary should
part. However, we've acquired a kellet, exactly the same as we had before:
A 1/2" shackle, courtesy of the folks at the welders having it lying around
as scrap. They'd actually had two they'd have given me, but I didn't think
I'd need both, so I took only the least rusty. This blow has me wishing I
had both of them.

For those not familiar with the term, a kellet is a weight slid down an
anchor rode (or, in this case, the mooring line for the dinghy), which keeps
the anchor rode closer to the bottom by virtue of its weight, at some
distance in front of the anchor. In our dinghy's case, it keeps the
catenary (the shape described by a hanging line in free space) deeper. In
calm water, if it's shallow and we have out most of our floating tether
line, it may well rest on the bottom. In this case, we had it rather
shorter, so the kellet never hit the bottom, but instead just rose up and
down as the tension on the line increased and fell with the waves. The idea
is to keep the line from yankng as the dinghy surges in the waves.
Generally speaking, it works very well, but if there's a strong breeze or
very high seas, or both, just one isn't enough to guarantee it won't jerk.
Every so often, the kellet flies out of the water as the line quickly
tightens, but on the whole, it's doing its job. We spent a bit of a rough
(but not uncomfortable - just more motion than usual) night following our
late dinner, and slept well.

Wednesday, October 21, we moved closer in to Lynyard Cay with the benefit of
daylight to reassure us, in order to get more shelter from the still-noisy
winds and seas. We got the anchor up by noon (early risers, we are!), and
were again secured in less than 15 minutes. This time we were in about 11'
of water, but I put out over 150' of chain for reassurance. By the time
we'd run out the scope, we were back in 18' of water :{))

Lynyard Cay is private, so going ashore requires permission. We saw next to
no activity, other than that there was a huge home being constructed near
where we anchored. When we hailed the shore, attempting to gain permission
to go ashore, there was no response, so we took that to mean that we could
go, anyway. Accordingly, we dinghied to the beach on the north well past
the construction, and got lots of friendly waves from the workers laying the
roof tiles on the new home. Like most of the Abacos, Lynyard is pretty
isolated, and most folks don't get to see many boats come ashore. We'd
later wave to them coming and going in their open boat as they arrived and
returned to their homes at the end of the day...

Once to the beach, we tested the snorkeling gear for our guests, and while
we jaded folks found it very boring, our guests were enchanted to see the
grass and the occasional live shell, including a grand total of one
adolescent conch, which we of course put back. As the tide went out, it was
great beach walking, so we had quite a hike there, including seeing, as we
were to later find common, a place where someone/group came often, being
equipped with a portable charcoal grill and some chairs as well as a
makeshift table.

Later, we followed a road which had been cut into the island very long ago,
based on the level of overgrowth it had. It led to apparent attempts at
development, and also to the Atlantic side of the ocean. The Atlantic side
was very impressive indeed, along with the large stretch of limestone on
which nothing grew because of the salt spray. On the way back we noted two
tractor-trailer containers out in what looked to be the middle of nowhere,
and mused on what it must have taken to get them there, and to get the
equipment which must have been used to cut in the road. The Abacos is full
of such areas, and looking at satellite views (which we did through our SPOT
page), it was evident that many islands had roads cut through them, but
leading, apparently, to nowhere. Yet, in Marsh Harbour, and nearly all of
the islands we've visited, real estate offices have lots for sale, so
someone's still optimistic!

Thursday, October 22, we up-hooked to go visit Little Harbour, something
which is only 16 miles from Marsh Harbour by road, but a fairly big trip by
boat, including the usual very shallow approaches into the harbor
necessitating anchoring well off. Getting an usually early start, we had
the anchor up by 8:15, and were soon anchored off Little Harbour for
touring. The harbor there is a perfect hurricane hole, but the anchorage
outside is a bit nerve-wracking. There's this impressive cliff-type (not
high, but lots of waves crashing on it) limestone face with deep water right
up to next to it, followed by a lovely beach which also allowed us to get
relatively close-in. However, on one side of us are these rocks, and on the
other, a large reef which extends out and forms a bit of a breakwater (or
surf break, in this case) for the harbor entrance. We made sure of our
rode's extension and swing, and, since we weren't expecting to be there very
long and therefore subject to a wind shift, felt comfortable in our

However, getting into the harbor was a bit exciting, as we were close to low
tide, and the surf was rolling over the reef, which we had to skirt in order
to get in. Those rollers, in a small dinghy, were interesting to play in
order to make sure we were neither rolled nor swamped. Once around the
corner, it was placid, of course, but we had our moments. This is the home
of the fabled Pete's Pub, along with a famous foundry where life-sized
bronzes are cast. Both were closed, but we enjoyed chatting up a local who
invited us to the sundowners party on Friday, a BYOB affair at Pete's,
which, while closed, still had all the picnic-table type stuff out for
someone to plop themselves for a carried-in libation and munchies.

We also toured the "lighthouse" which, unlike Hopetown's, was automated. In
fact, it was nothing more than a telescoping antenna rig with a flashing
light on the top of it, powered by a solar panel which refreshed a battery
at the top. However, it used to be an actual lighthouse location, and the
keeper's house' ruins were interesting to explore, as promised by the local
who pointed us to the marked/signposted path. Another path led to the
Atlantic side beach, where, again, the waves were impressive, to say the
least. Glad we weren't out in them! However, the beach itself, as opposed
to the neighboring rocks which had the impressive display of spray, was
extremely lovely. Ironically, we'd anchored Flying Pig right off that
beach, and it would have been closer and easier to come ashore there, and
walk the other way :{))

So, we headed back out and around the corner. The tide was coming in by
that time, so we had a bit of current to deal with in the narrow neck, and,
even more excitingly, the wave height was now impressive. Fortunately, we
were not involved in breaking waves, however, and we merely rose and fell as
they moved under us. Back aboard, getting the anchor up and our home turned
around was very quiet affair. As it was just across the way, so to speak,
Michael drove us back to Lynyard Cay, where we moved right back onto our
previous anchorage, using the abandoned/damaged pilings of a previous pier
for location, along with our SPOT beacon's satellite picture (still a great
internet signal there, one of the best we had, so we could pull the web
page) and our "bread crumbs" of tracks both in our chartplotter and our
navigation program.

This time, however, having seen the satellite picture and studied our paper
and electronic charts, we moved a bit closer in. With the wind still coming
over the island, we were confident of being held off the shore which had a
depth which fell off very sharply not very far out. We had the anchor down
in water crystal clear and thus easily allowing us to see it land and hook,
by 5:30, and settled in for dinner and a relaxing evening. Because it was
totally sheltered from both fetch (the buildup of waves from a long
distance), prevented by the island being in the way of any wave buildup,
and surge (tide movement around a corner of an island), it was a very
peaceful night despite the wind. For all the wind, we've been blessed with
sunny days which, with our wind and solar setup, has kept our batteries at
full charge.

Speaking of wind, I see that I've gotten my usual windy style well engaged,
and it's getting a bit long. We'll leave you now, snugly and placidly, if
somewhat noisily (from the wind) here at anchor off Lynyard Cay in the

Until next time, Stay Tuned!


Skip and crew Lydia, Michael, Fish and Portia, the seagoing cat

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in
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