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Old 27-09-2015, 17:15   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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Shake and Break Part 14 - August 15, 2015

Shake and Break Part 14 - August 15, 2015

We left you as we were enjoying (Little) Grand Cay, where we'd met lovely
folks, but gotten skunked on fuel. Little Grand Cay is actually where all
the population and structure is located, but Grand Cay is how everyone
refers to it. The actual "Grand Cay" is the large island to the north,
topped with Wells Bay, a favorite among some of our fellow cruiser buddies.

So, off we go, again, to town, to get some fuel for the dinghy. However,
again the sportfisherfolk have sucked it up and the tanks are dry. Another
couple of years of this and Walker's Cay will become irrelevant, Customs and
Immigration (still bearing the Walker's Cay stamp) now being located in the
Post Office Building on Little Grand Cay. For the occasional small plane
which lands (for reasons incomprehensible, as the harbour's barely useable,
and only with local knowledge, due to the wrecks, and there are no goods or
services available on the island), C&I will boat over to check them in.

As our situation isn't dire, we shrug and move on to exploring Double
Breasted Cay. There's an ideal small hurricane hole there, and we'd been
assured that we could get into it. We anchored to the south of where we'd
have to come in, grabbed our hand-held sonar, hand-held GPS, and headed out
to map our potential course.

Sure enough, all the way to the top of the 'inlet' (there's another place
which meets the Atlantic making a Tee there) we had ample depth. However,
we found that just before the Tee the sand rose sharply. We were at
approximately high tide, and the deepest we could find in that area was 5'.
Not so good. We later encountered close cruising buddies Dick and Carol
Simmons, on Gusto!!!. They had relied on the same info, and at 6', on a
lunar high tide, had bumped their way across that bar - and had difficulty
getting out later.

So, it IS a great hurricane hole, but only for shoal or very shoal draft
boats. We did see several power boats anchor there later in the day, as we
remained where we'd anchored after we did some beach exploration after our
depth survey. When we were on the beach, it immediately became evident that
there was a strong current through the cut onto the huge (well, relative to
the size of the islands there) sand bank on the south side. It took all I
could do, in waist high water, to dig in my heels and lean against it as it
roared out.

Best yet, we were sufficiently offshore and south of that hole that night,
when we were beset by mosquitoes. As we have various repellant candle-type
stuff, we survived, but I expect that the hurricane hole, bordered on two
sides by thick mangrove and other growth, would have been thick with the
biting buggers. One hurricane hole less for us!

However, that hole showed its worth later as we had a very nice 35-knot
squall, cleaning off our decks, but not lasting long enough for us to fill
our tanks. Looking over at the moored boats in the hole, we saw that they
were well protected, and not nearly as affected by the wind as we. So, if
you have a 5' or lesser draft, and don't mind biting insects (you take what
you can get in a hurricane!), this would be a great hurricane hole.

We wanted to visit Powell Cay, again, so we headed off on a close reach
later that morning, August 8th, in light winds. Our clean bottom showed its
worth, again, as we made good speed, 6.3 knots over ground, despite a slight
heading current. Also, courtesy of Grand Cay's protection from the northern
swells, our seas were only a comfortable 1-2' - which diminished even
further as the wind dropped to nothing. Striking the sails, we motored the
rest of the way. We anchored at 7:30 in 18' of water, unusually deep for
us, so I let out 200' of chain. Overkill, likely, but we prefer 7-1 scope,
and with our bow rise, we were at 23' 'depth' at low tide. With the squalls
we'd had lately, we knew that chain doesn't do you any good in the locker,
and slept soundly.

The next day we headed inshore for exploration on the beaches. As always,
Powell proved to be a treat, with nice walks on two different trails. Folks
are here often enough that signs of maintenance abound, including evidence
of branches being sawed to clear the way. One of them caught the edge of my
arm, digging a small hole. As it was slightly painful, I noted the source
of the irritation and went on. As that happened to bleed profusely, my
sweating arm was running red, and I had to be careful not to get it on my
clothing! A rinse in the ocean on the other side, and a pressure
application of a paper towel got it under control. On the way back, I
looked for, and found, the cut off branch which had stabbed me. I abandoned
the thought of retrieving the flap of skin when I saw it covered with

But, even more excitingly, when we went to relaunch the dinghy, I discovered
that the caribiner which had held the tow line to the bow eye had failed.
The latch lever's pin evidently rusted out, and the latch fell off - while
we were under tow!

Fortunately, the hook portion had remained engaged in the bow eye, but there
was every possibility that we'd have lost the dinghy after we'd returned to
the boat. Thank you, Lord! A replacement was in hand, so it turned out to
be easy to resolve, but it sure gave my heart a bump to see it hanging loose
and open! If the tide had come in, as the waves bounced the nose a bit,
what was now our dinghy's anchor line might well have unhooked itself, and
our dinghy floated off. I probably could retrieve it, as the waves tend to
push a dinghy ashore, but not so much had we been under way and not noticed
it missing for an hour or two.

But, I digress, and get ahead of myself. Nikker beans are not common,
though not rare, in the Bahamas. Kids play with them, and folks make
jewelry and other arts sort of stuff with them. So, near the southern of
the two trails on Powell Cay, when Lydia found a bush sprouting seed pods,
she was ecstatic. Pod after spiny pod went into a large plastic jug we'd
found (think pickles on a deli counter). On the Atlantic sides of both
trails, for some reason, there is next to no trash. Most east faces of
Bahamas islands, if they're not pretty populated, are strewn with flotsam,
some of it very interesting. Its an anomaly, therefore, to find a 'clean'

The northern beach is over the 'mountain' - one of the few places higher
than a couple of feet above sea level - and as a result, is also very steep.
It has a very tall dune, too, so despite the typical tide of perhaps 3 or so
feet in this area, the sand climbed perhaps 25' above the sea. The wave
action had dug a trough just before the beach, and we observed a large lemon
shark cruising up and down in that area. That one was large enough that I
didn't think petting or feeding it was wise, and with my arm running bloody
sweat, probably it wasn't a good idea to go swimming there, either!

To get there, you cross a swampy area, across which many flotsam aids to dry
feet had been placed. So, our beachcombing this time was mostly for lumber.
We carried as much as we could of the suitable planks and beams, and laid
them in the places not already well covered.

I'd noted that our dinghy motor hadn't been seeming to do very well, so I
replaced the spark plugs to see if that helped. As it happened, it didn't
do anything, so I have further work to do there, most likely in the
carburetor. Not as exciting as some of our Shake(down) and Break(down)
items, but still worthy of attention.

Right across the Sea of Abaco lay Cooperstown, however, and we wanted to go
there to put the pictures of my 2009 bike repair visit, and of the
currently-aged kids we found on our last time there a few months ago, on a
library computer. Following the axiom in cruising, where the wind is either
too much or too little, or right where you're going, on August 13th, we
motored directly into the wind to get there. A cruising buddy boat we'd
adopted (they'd never been to the Bahamas before) had gotten there before
us, and anchored right off the marina/gas station (the fuel, whether gas or
diesel, was piped out to the docks from the roadside pump). We anchored
nearby just before a heavy squall hit.

Scrubbing our decks, we rinsed with the freshwater rain, and opened our
water tank. Unfortunately, it was a short squall, so didn't make a lot of
water for us, but we left it open as we dinghied to the dock. We wanted to
do some chores before fueling...

A couple of the marina/gas station owner's kids asked to come along with us
as we went from the gas station/marina dock to both the library and the
three stores in the community, on a quest to replenish our breakfast eggs.
The first two had none, but one called the last at my request; there were
eggs there, so off we went. Along the way, we encountered Everett Bootle,
the distant relative of the man who first settled in that area, and after
whom the highway which runs the entire length of the island is named; he
remembered us from our previous visit and confirmed that, indeed, the last
store was about a half-mile further down the road.

It was a LONG way for the kids to walk, and we had concern for the
4-year-old's stamina. However, he soldiered right on, albeit holding my
hand, all the way to the far end of town and back to the gas station. We'd
cleaned out the last eggs of the last store, helping them in that they were
on the 'sell by' date when we arrived. We also bought treats for the kids,
which for the boy was an icysleeve of some flavor, and some ice cream for
the girl. She saved most of it for her mother, who had a freezer in the
marina where she also had a snack bar. Not too many US kids would do

The huge squall which had occurred along the way had blown itself out, so we
were able to refuel our gasoline on a stable, dry platform. Step right up,
streetside prices, only $5.62 a gallon! But it's available, and has none of
that corrosive, power-robbing ethanol in it. Back to the mother ship, of
course, the wind had clocked 180 degrees, and was right on our nose, again.
That pushed us alarmingly (the bottom drops off severely) close to the
shore, yet, still in 8' of water. However, we bumped once, which, in that
half-gale, encouraged us to move out a bit, into deeper water.

Once that died down a bit, we set out for Manjack Cay, again essentially
directly across the way, but inaccessible directly from Powell due to a
large shallow sand bank. A small squall added to our water tank, and filled
our dinghies, for that matter, too, requiring much bailing after we'd
anchored. The sky cleared, and, once again, we went topsides at 3AM for the
Perseid meteor shower. The previous night had been spectacular, and tonight
was a repeat performance. It sure helps to be in the middle of nowhere,
with no light pollution other than a dull glow from the small community
miles away, and a nearly new moon, on a warm summer night. Aaaahhhh...

We went ashore the next day and renewed our acquaintance with Bill and
Leslie, who have built their home near a very nice beach, and about whom
much has been written by us and others. Suffice to say, they're completely
self sufficient in the wild, with elaborate gardens and hydroponic systems,
a wonderful, very long nature walk to the Atlantic side, a large workshop
and larger barn with tractors and other farm implements, and a beautiful
home, all of which they have built themselves, in their portion of paradise.

No visit to Manjack Cay would be complete without a visit to the top, where
you can pet stingrays, nurse sharks, and (maybe - they're a bit skittish)
the lemon sharks which abound in that lagoon. Well socialized, the rays
will come up and rub their silky arms across your legs, and if you're
receptive, give you head butts like a cat, as well as enjoy having their
fronts of their wings massaged and being skritched between the eyes. Take
some bait fish, or perhaps a cut up conch (nothing larger than, say, 1/2
inch), and feed them with open hand, like you would a horse. They'll
literally be eating out of your hand. The nursies wander among you, and you
can feed them, too, but they're a bit more fiddly to do without accidentally
being bitten by their tiny teeth, so tossing chum out a bit might be more
prudent. Bring a mask and snorkel; it's very shallow and very cool to get
up close and personal with these marvelous creatures.

Back to the BAB (cruiser-ese for Big A** Boat, as contrasted to the simple
'boat' which is the dinghy), I run the Honda 'suitcase generator' to catch
up with all the non-sun we've had (our solar panels handle a great deal of
our battery charging needs); it's running horribly. A carb rebuild, or, at
least, a cleaning, is on tap for me. As we say out here, "It's a boat" -
despite this being a small generator very commonly used also by RV'ers and
campers - meaning, "Of course, stuff breaks!" Phew. I was afraid I'd have
to change the title of this series to Shakedown, or something bland :{))

So, I pull the carburetor the next morning, and while I wasn't able to
entirely disassemble it, merely having the bowl (the place where gasoline
accumulates before being metered into the engine) off convinced me that I
was on the right track for our performance issues. Sure enough, with
nothing more than a careful cleaning, on reassembly and reinstallation, the
engine ran perfectly. Go-oooo-ood (what we say, as we're patting it, to all
our mechanical stuff - the boat, its engine, our landside ancient car, and
the like - which performs despite less than stellar care) Honda!

Lydia is on a kick to make all sorts of crafty-type stuff for those landside
in the US, so off we go on August 19th to Fiddle Cay, where we'd found lots
of Sea Biscuits - empty, elaborately marked shells of previous filter
feeders. This time was no exception; we filled 3 large buckets with shells.
This time also included some sand dollars as well as some very small
(different species/variety) sea biscuits. However, by the time we'd reached
the end of the beach, where Stranded Naked (not any more, but keeps the
name), the huge party, is held each year (except for next year, for some
reason), biting green flies were attacking, so we bade our farewell and
headed back to the BAB.

We want to get through the Whale Cay cut and onward to Marsh Harbour before
we have to go back, again. We've met up with Dick and Carol again, and will
visit Green Turtle Cay with them on the way. This time it's Dick with the
breakdown; his outboard isn't happy at all, so we'll tackle that soon.

As the wind has died, unlike here, where some have noted I could propel a
small fleet, we'll leave you. Will the trip through "The Whale" (the name
for the two cuts around that island), sometimes truly dangerous, go well?
Will we get more Neem Oil, a miracle natural substance curing a multitude of
ills, including all the itching I got as a result of my scratching up as
well as the gouge in my arm while crossing Powell Cay? Will we ever get to
sail, again?

Until next time, Stay Tuned!



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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