Shake and Break Part 13 - August 6 2015
We left you as we reconnected to the same mooring
we'd left only 6 weeks
earlier, in Vero Beach. If you've been with us recently, you know that our
return was to tend to Lydia's mother (Louise) following her discharge from
both the hospital and the skilled nursing portion of the senior citizen
center where she lives independently in a cottage.
That was following a Gulf Stream
crossing made tense only because our
- sort of like what folks call a GPS
in a car - refused to let
us look ahead to the West - which, of course, was the direction we were
heading - without doing a Columbus and moving our cursor east until we got
to where we wanted to look at. The crossing itself was nearly ideal. The
remained in such a position as to keep us pointed in the best direction
for our travel, and because it was relatively light, conditions were benign.
And, of course, a few other broken things we mentioned along the way, which
has turned into the norm these last couple of years.
No sooner had we landed than we headed out to Target to get a fancy blow-up
for the cottage's office; the rehab team didn't want us to not be
resident during the outpatient portion of Louise' therapy. Aside from the
losing air, and putting us on the ground (Target refunded; we
chose another model), all went well there.
However, there were a few other items to address in that time, before we
could leave again. As it's nearly all just working on parts
, I'll save you
the gory details other than to say:
went back to the manufacturer; a faulty ribbon cable was
replaced, and on reinstallation, all was well. We have several other means
, but none which is as helpful as this, so we breathed a huge
sigh of relief; this unit is long out of production, and at some point, if
it needs repair, we'll have to replace it with some other used unit of
unknown longevity. But for now, all was well.
We wound up getting a new muffler
; the old one was too far gone. Because the
outlet was a different size than what we had, a trea$ure hunt en$ued, ending
with our finding the correct adapter$ at a local surplus shop.
The cooling water
pump for the refrigeration
was also dead, and replaced;
the old one is off for post-mortem diagnosis with the manufacturer. The
refrigerator/freezer continues to gobble electrons, but works well
Our KISS wind generator
got new thermostatic interrupts (it shuts down the
power if the unit overheats) courtesy of its easy-to-rebuild character, and
we were once again enjoying free wind
Our special modem
which we use with our high-frequency radio
proved to be
inoperative; it's what allows us to do email
when we are far at sea. It
went back to the manufacturer for a software
update, and awaits our return
for reinstallation and testing.
We wanted to do some improvements to our Shade Tree awnings; they look a bit
like a Conestoga wagon when they're installed. Attempting to sew those
straps which would make our three sections behave more like a single
revealed that there were problems with our Sail-Rite industrial-grade sewing
machine. They got worse the further we went, until, on the LAST strap, it
finally gave up. Much gnashing of teeth ensued as we did everything the
manual and in-house videos suggested, to no avail. A local canvas
(HIGHLY recommended if you're in Vero Beach: Tony at Latitude 27)
volunteered to have a look when we brought that last item, along with a wind
scoop which was next on our repair list. In the course of our time there,
we got it working, and later, also tweaked it to perfection. Whew!
In the meantime, Lydia was becoming a master gardener while Louise, a
lifelong unbelievably fast healer, did just that, even after her double
surgery. So, finally cleared to leave by the medical
folk, we again engaged
our local diver to clean off the horrible growth which had accumulated in
the 6 weeks we had been there, and we wanted to remove, clean, and reinstall
our presumed-fouled speed impellers just before we left.
Our impellers (water runs by paddlewheels, which tells the instrument how
fast we're moving through the water) were indeed badly fouled, just like our
. They were pulled out, cleaned, and awaited restoration
just before we left.
Oops. The forward one had some form of hangup, requiring a great deal of
effort to remove. Worse, once out, the plug
wouldn't go back in. The flap
which is integral to the tube into which we stick our impeller prevents more
than just a trickle of water to enter when it's out (we use a blank to plug
it when we remove an impeller) apparently was fouled in the tube. You
wouldn't believe how much water can come into a boat when there's a 1" hole
3 feet under water! We thought we might have to call our local diver for an
plug. Otherwise, I was going to have to remain there, holding the
blank in place, partly down, to minimize the incoming water. He, however,
was unavailable, leading us to our own devices.
Eventually, I rooted around in there with a very long screwdriver, ignoring
the fountain which arose, and managed to dislodge it, allowing our blank to
fully insert, plugging it up. The next time we're on the ground (hauled out
for whatever reason) I'll see if that flap can be replaced. In the
meantime, replacing the impeller every time we remove it to prevent growth
will involve a gusher between it and the blank. However, our bilge
easily cope with that amount of water, and the bilge
, normally dry, gets a
So, our diver cleans the bottom, we clean and reinstall our impellers, and
we're off to the races again on July 27th, to our staging spot in Fort
Pierce, and departure on the 28th. We take the outgoing tide at 11AM. With
main and staysail up, we sail off our anchor
and are outside by 11:15,
helped by our clean-bottom STW of 8 knots, enhanced by the current
knots SOG. Once out, we put up the genoa
, trimmed our running backstay (for
keeping the mast
straight under the pressure of the staysail) and headed as
far south as we could get, and the best speed, before encountering the Gulf
Stream. Making as much of our southing as possible early on would mean that
we might not have to go south to get onto the Little Bahamas
target for entry into Bahamian waters, once we were out of the Gulf Stream
Heading 150°T, with a resulting COG of 140°T, we were on a beam reach - the
fastest point of sail - and thrilled with our progress. Depending on which
of our speed indicators you believe, we were making 9.8-12.0 knots STW.
Approaching the edge of the Gulf stream meant we had a slight current
against us, but we still averaged more than 7 knots SOG, despite an apparent
wind of under 10 knots.
Of course, everything is subject to change, and by 2PM, we were in the Gulf
Stream after gaining about 18 miles of southing as we moved southeast. The
wind picked up, and we saw a squall line in the distance. We rolled in the
, and let out both the main and staysail while we ran before the
40-knot squall. Another Shake and Break, the wind indicator suddenly goes
100° off true. That's a problem, as we want to keep the wind about 120-150°,
at our stern, and there's no frame of reference other than to keep looking
up at the indicator atop the mast
. One (relatively gentle) crash jibe and a
very strong push-over (not a knockdown by any stretch) during our tack to
regain our heading aside, we managed just fine, and flew along before the
storm. It blew itself out shortly, and we resumed our plan.
That was to take the best point of sail which would allow anything east or
southeast; as we weren't in any hurry, and our southing should allow us to
meet an ideal entry point, we head
119°T, yielding a north-flowing Gulf
Stream's 070°T COG at between 7-8 knots SOG on our beam reach. At this rate,
we'll gain our entry onto the banks shortly before dark. Indeed, we anchor
on the Mantanilla banks at 10PM, in 20' of water.
With 16 knots of wind, there is a HORRIBLE rock 'n' roll, making Lydia sick
for the first time since we left. Enough of this, we pull the anchor and
out again at 11PM. As we're trimming the sails
under our deck
play alongside, perhaps attracted by the light. A very nice sendoff
from a very uncomfortable anchorage!
We ghosted along with 9 knots of wind at an apparent 120° on our starboard
stern. Headed at 120T°, we made 105T°. Fighting the outgoing tide, we were
making only 5.5 knots SOG against our STW of 6.5. The current held us
beam-to on the waves, which made for an uncomfortable roll, but it was a
very gentle ride. Around 12:20AM we saw LOTS of heat lightning
clouds all around us. We never heard any thunder, but we turned on the
, anyway. NO activity within 24 miles, so we relaxed a bit. Later,
we'd watch several squalls trying to approach, but none got within 6 miles
of us, despite the entertaining light show in excellent visibility.
Those, however, caused the wind to back, and suddenly we were having to
reach as much as we'd been running, because it was now at 60° apparent wind.
We continued our heading of 124°T, but slid to 98°T COG as we made our
comfortable 5.6 knots SOG. Of course, a squall-line induced wind shift will
go away with the squall, so we were soon back at 120° apparent wind, which
wandered around constantly, requiring diligent attention in order to keep
the wind behind only ONE side of the boat. Otherwise, a crash jibe (a
sudden unintended shift of the mainsail
from one side to the other, caused
by having the trailing edge at the wrong angle to the wind catching it and
slamming it over) was in the cards. An otherwise easy sail concluded with
our dropping our anchor at Little Sale
Cay at 9AM.
I'd spoken with Chris Parker, our weather
guru, on his morning forecast
the SSB radio
, and heard a friend hail him also. Calling him after the
, on the same frequency, revealed that he wasn't very far north of
us, and had a perfect anchorage, and great spearfishing to show us. So, by
noon, we were under way to Grand Cay, a short 13 miles away.
Our friend guided us to where we could anchor in order to check in.
Normally, in this area, Customs
and Immigration have been on Walker Cay, the
last major island in the chain going northwest, but having suffered major
damage during a recent hurricane
, unless there's an airplane arriving there,
all C&I business is being done in a temporary location in Grand Cay. They're
hopeful that they will be able to make it a permanent fixture, both because
the Walker Cay situation, should someone buy it, is relatively dire, with
many sunken boats and the total destruction of the marina requiring
resolution before rebuilding can start, which will mean a long time before
normal business can resume on Walker Cay, and because it would drive
additional business to Grand Cay.
Following our guide's instructions, after we'd lowered our dinghy
installed the fuel
, we quickly went on the winding path into the
harbor. There was no obvious place for us to go with our dinghy
, but we
asked the folks at the first dock
where to go. They told us, but invited us
to tie up to their dock
and walk up the hill, which would lead us directly
to the Post Office, in which a spare room was allocated to Customs
Immigration. So, we did just that.
immigration has a 90-day window in which your boat can leave the
Bahamas and return, once, without incurring a new entry charge for the
. Unfortunately for us, that was 12 days ago, and we
reluctantly paid another $300 for another 1-year cruising permit
. We were
given only a 60 day visa, too, as we expected to be back in the US before
the end of September. But we were again legally able to set foot ashore, and
we took down our yellow "Q" (signal flag of the letter Q, but also a
quarantine notice for boats which had not checked in) and hoisted our
Bahamian courtesy flag. That lets others know that we (say, at least, that
we) have checked in and are under a valid cruising permit.
By 4:30, we were back aboard Flying Pig, and got under way for the narrow
channel leading up to the entrance to Wells Bay. Our friends had been there
for nearly a month; they tell us that this is their very favorite place in
the Bahamas. And, in fact, they'd just returned from hunting, despite a
having vacuumed up most of the lobster hideouts they'd been
tracking all month, illegally, on the day before Opening Day of August 1st,
where they (even so) got so much lobster that they gave us 5 tails for our
After exploring the beach for a day, we took our dinghy on the mile-or-so
trip to town, to get acquainted with the local folk. We went to Rosie's
Place - a marina and restaurant - and tied up at a dinghy dock. No sooner
do we start to walk toward the town's street do we encounter Rosie himself.
He immediately, of course, recognizes us for cruisers, so when we ask him
what we should look for as we walk around town, he asks where we're parked.
We show him, and one of his employees had already moved us to a marina slot
as he told us to take any spot we wanted.
We also asked where to get gasoline, as he was the vendor of that, too.
"None until tomorrow - tanks
are empty." Hm. Well, we'll have to come back.
The season for sportfisher boats and fishermen is in full swing, and they'd
cleaned him out the previous day. I have no idea how he gets restocked, but
that wouldn't happen until early the next day. So, we'd have to come
Thanking him after an exchange of cards (cruisers usually carry 'boat
cards' - the cruisers' equivalent of a business card), we headed up the
. As we look both ways on the street, we hear hammering, and see a guy
just finishing up and stowing his hammer and tools. We asked him, too, what
He suggested we go to a gazebo, and talk. "Boss" regaled us with his story
and the local things we should look for. He also stopped and said, "Have
you had lunch? (It wasn't even noon yet.) (No) "What are you going to do
for lunch?" (Probably go back to the boat and have a Zone Bar.) "No, you're
not. You're having lobster!" (How much will that cost us?) "Nothing. I'll
give it to you. I'm a fisherman; I have plenty to spare."
He went on to describe where to find his house, immediately opposite "The
Decision Tree" - a large tree surrounded by a bench, around which locals
would gather for discussion and the occasional town meeting - which he was
rebuilding, it having burned along with 15 others when a house caught fire,
spreading to the others. His was poured concrete, so Boss and his family
were living in the spaces which remained while he completed his work.
Our walk around town was the usual experience of meeting locals and learning
about their community. By the time we'd arrived at the Decision Tree, there
were several men
sitting on the bench, talking. We spent probably an hour
there, and, having been encouraged by them to visit the local (right down
the hill from the tree) bar, Cooper's. Inexpensive beer
and Coke, we
chatted up more locals, including one from a neighboring island, who ran
back to his room to get a book to share with us. We had him write his name
in it, so we could find him, should we ever get to Fox Town, his home.
While we were at the tree, we saw Boss head out with a bucket, fins, mask
and snorkel. Up the hill after our time in the bar, we found his family
outside talking. Apparently they'd been alerted for our arrival, because
shortly one of the men
headed inside and came out with a plastic shopping
bag. We assumed that to be the lobster Boss promised us and we thanked him
profusely, asking to be remembered to Boss. When we got back to the boat, we
discovered that there were SEVEN tails - enough for two dinners. The
generosity of the Bahamians is legendary, but we were stunned. Our next
time here, we'll be sure to stop and visit Boss and thank him personally.
The next day, following beach and coral
areas explorations, we came back in
for eggs and gasoline. Oops. No gas, they were cleaned out, again, by the
fisherfolk. We also cleaned out the local store's stock of eggs, that
working out perfectly for the number we eat each day as part of our diet,
however, so all wasn't lost
for having made the trip.
Thus fortified, we headed off to explore Double Breasted, which had been
represented to us as having a perfect hurricane
hole for us, even with our
So, we'll leave you here, hanging, again, to see if we succeed in threading
the needle into the hurricane hole, find fuel
for our generator
otherwise continue in our quest for a breakdown-free experience here in the
Until next time, Stay Tuned!
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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When a man comes to like a sea life, he is not
fit to live on land.
- Dr. Samuel Johnson