Shake and Break, part 6 - Wednesday, April 15, 2015
We left you as we'd just checked in to the Bahamas
at Green Turtle Cay.
We're still anchored in the same place off New Plymouth, the community
founded by the Loyalists who fled here after the American Revolution. One
of the things about being a cruiser...
You're forever encountering folks you know from someplace else, and may not
have seen for years. My trip into Customs
yielded two such; one was a
couple who were hurrying to the grocery before it closed, so we didn't chat
much - but the giveaway was the beautiful miniature Shelty, which was how we
met in Vero Beach! The other we knew from years ago in the Bahamas
We've been embarrassingly slothful, though we HAVE played tourist. The
first order of business, however, was to become familiar, again, with our
realities. In addition to Chris Parker, we look at local weather
sources, chiefly "weather underground" - "wunderground" on the internet
and our ability, when we have an internet
connection, to pull down what are
called Gribs - graphical descriptions of weather, predominantly wind
rain, which can be viewed in segments as small as 3 hours, and as far
forward as a week. They're a great aid to get me prepared for my
conversation with Chris.
So, once I'd checked in, and returned to the boat, my first order of
business was to become one with the universe - or, at least, with the
internet. We have what is most likely the state of the art available for
private use in our WiFi
system. It's an amplified WiFi
adapter with a
, and sits on a bracket to the port (left) side of our mast
top; the VHF radio
(what we use for short distance radio
sits off the starboard side.
Both offsets are to give as much room from other metal objects as reasonably
able; other metal mucks up the signals coming in or going out. It has the
maximum power allowed for general communication (private systems,
point-to-point, can use higher gain and power), and, in the past, has
allowed us to be connected, WHILE SAILING, as much as 7 miles offshore
At rest, here in the Bahamas, in this general area (south of here in Marsh
Harbour, our likely next stop), in our previous times, we routinely used
three different stations which were 6, 8 and 12 miles away. When we were
outside the harbor itself, where there wasn't any conflict from other
stations packed on top of each other, the bandwidth was sufficient for our
, which uses VoIP - Voice over Internet Protocol - and gives us
the same local US number that I've had for more than 40 years ago. Having
your US phone
ring in the Bahamas is a bit psychedelic, but we enjoyed it.
That was more than 4 years ago, though, so the landscape has surely changed.
And thus it was that my Marine PC's & WiFi by IslandTime PC
(you can see a picture of our
on their page, along with three other varieties of mounting)
system pulled up dozens of visible sites. Many of them were "open" - that
is, meaning unencrypted. Technology today has marched along to the degree
that most routers - the things which send and receive the digital
information to your laptop
, phone, tablet and other WiFi devices - are
encrypted when the owner receives and installs them. If you have a cable or
DSL router in your home, you likely know exactly what I mean. These days,
it takes some doing to have an open (no password) router.
So, in addition to many legal
opinions on the subject, open sites are
considered to be just that. Open. In particular, if the router (the thing
you'd sign on to with whatever it is you're using) has a name other than the
manufacturer's, the owner would have to have made that change. If they're
that computer savvy, they've made a conscious decision to leave it open, or
to MAKE it open. Indeed, I have a geek friend, who does component-level
; he configured his to be open, with a high-gain
directional antenna (focusing the energy in one direction, rather than the
omnidirectional typical antenna) he made, pointed at a nearby Air Force
base. He knew that the airmen stationed there had no open WiFi available -
and his unlimited cable access meant that he could freely share that
bandwidth with them.
So, I tried out a variety of connections. Several, including some of the
, worked, to various degrees of satisfaction, but they (because
we move at anchor
, sometimes the signal is better for another station) are
adequate to the task, which is mostly text stuff. These sites are where all
of these logs
have come from. Thank the Lord for technology. Lydia uses
our router, which we ALSO leave open, intentionally - we meet the nicest
people that way - to connect on her cell phone
. Due to the nature of the
beast, the WiFi connection allows her to use that like her "computer" (she
also uses her laptop
, just as I'm using the 12V Island Time computer at my
nav station) through our router.
We also have a VERY slow, text-only, email
capability with our HF (high
frequency) ham radio setup, so we are never truly unconnected. At this
point in our lives, with 4-each children
, and the 14th grandchild cooking
that's a comforting thought to those who might have thought we'd come to
We just chilled out on Sunday, reading and watching a movie
There was little wind
, so we mounted our 4-square wind scoop. We’d modified
it in the past to include snaps for the bottom corners, which fit into our
just perfectly. It did the expected job of funneling what
little wind there was into our sleeping space, regardless of the direction
it came from.
Unfortunately, when we awoke, we saw that the piece of strapping which held
the ring by which we hoisted the scoop had torn - old age finally let it
give up. Unfortunately, as we expected to be out for less than 6 months,
the decision was made to leave our heavy-duty sewing machine
, along with all
the rest of the sewing gear
, at my mother-in-law's, where all the sewing
since we entered Vero Beach had occurred. Therefore, we had no means of
making another strap.
Out comes a new Windscoop. Oops. We'd also put snaps on our Windscoops,
but this one was new - the previous version had died a dignified death.
Past experience of how to deal with mounting Windscoops had convinced us
that bungee cords strung across our aft berth wasn't how we wanted to deal
with it; snaps were the answer. No big deal. Ooops. The snap kit is with
the sewing gear
Fortunately, the two snaps which would have held the forward legs had
mounting points pretty close to where the grommets of the new scoop would
land. Unscrew the snap base, screw in a screw-hook, which had been sized to
barely let the grommet pass, hoist and we're in. As we're free-floating in
an area of little current
, we basically are into the wind all the time, so
it works, with the rear being fluffed out in the wind but held down by the
provided dowel extending out past the hatch
And, in a bit of physics, our cockpit
enclosure can act as an airfoil, if
the front windows are closed. When there's a nice breeze, we don't need the
Windscoop. The air rushes at the windows, goes over the bimini
cover over the cockpit), and the same forces as keep an airplane in the air
point that air outflow down - which rushes down our open hatch. This
morning (Sunday 26th) it was cold enough at 4AM that we slid the hatch
mostly closed. The remaining slot poured the 16-20 knot
winds into our berth
like an AC vent on super-high.
But I get ahead of myself...
Monday, we went ashore to explore. As this was the second time we'd been
here (the previous being in 2009, with two of my granddaughters), we knew of
some of the special places. One of them is the Blue Bee, which claims to be
the originator of the Goombay Smash. I'm scarcely a tour guide - but
having been here before makes one an expert to those newly arrived. So,
when we chatted up a couple we met walking the street, newly arrived for the
first time, who'd asked about local notable places, Blue Bee came up.
Off we went to sample the original. Many tales of our mutual travels were
exchanged, and the topic of communications
came up. I've been a
pay-it-forward kind of guy all my life; I've been RICHLY rewarded in turn,
so, when we learned that they'd been having difficulty with their HF radio
as well as their WiFi setup I spoke up. As I'd just conquered both of those
demons as part of the more-than-40 projects we'd done between arrival and
departure in Vero Beach, I volunteered to take a look after we'd done some
more walking around. We wanted to check out the groceries to see what level
of selection we might have, so went into each for a look-see and a small
relief from the brilliant sun.
"Walking around," for a bibliophile, MUST include a stop at the library,
which is staffed by volunteers from 2-5PM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Like many of the libraries in the Bahamas, there's an exchange section.
Except that in THIS library, it's huge. And, at this time of the year,
essentially bursting at the seams. It was thus that, while the half-dozen
we brought in were welcomed, the 15 or so we took out were even more
so. Thinning the herd, so to speak.
So armed, we set out from the little puddle called Settlement Creek next to
New Plymouth, where we'd arrived, and where the ferry
lands, around to a
major anchorage and moorings/marinas space in Black Sound. They had their
boat at Leeward Yacht Club. Geeky systems exploration and, later, on-air
tests showed that their HF radio
and WiFi weren't connecting for
, though you could hear traffic.
As their primary interest was in being able to listen to Chris Parker, I was
able to show them how to get to the individual frequencies they'd need to do
that. I also put them in direct contact with the vendor for their WiFi
system, as I know him very well; they'll sort out all of their electronic
issues when they get back to NC in a few weeks.
We went up to the club with them to meet some of their other cruising
buddies, and we exchanged boat cards. One of the couples, it turned out,
had followed my logs
for years. Small world! We were off and back to the
boat before dark, the entrance area of both town and Black Sound being a bit
nerve-wracking if you couldn't see the channel markers clearly. About like
not doing the Intra-Coastal at night - running into a marker pole would ruin
The next couple of days were mostly lazy-days, hanging out on the anchor
and doing our 1-2-3s. A dear friend of ours shared his method: Do 3 small
things for the boat every day and the boat will take care of you. As an oil
change was in our horizon, our initial marker of 150 hours (compared to the
factory specified 300 hour intervals) having passed while we were getting
here, I got out my gear, which is a drill-driven pump, a bottle to catch
what comes out, and some extension tubing.
I used the extension tubing to empty the engine
pan (over the bilge
, to catch contaminants) of the gallons of seawater it had
accumulated during our water
failure, pumping it into the
. That experience led me to be a bit wary, as I had to lower the drill
(driving the pump) nearly to the level of the pan; it didn't have the
suction to lift
the water very far, but I got it out...
That conquered, we ran the engine enough to get the oil
TRIED to pull the oil out through its drain hose (connected to the bottom of
the oil pan with a locking valve and hoses). I also tried our spare. Same
luck. Run the engine some more, to get it hotter, but not unbearable. Same
This is not yet a gamestopper, but it smells a bit like one; I don't want to
go very much longer without changing the oil; if it REALLY gets serious,
I'll at least change the filter. However, I recall
that I'd gotten my last
replacement pump in Marsh Harbour - where we'll be sometime soon - at the
Napa store. Perhaps one of the hardware
stores here would have another,
too. Shake and Break (down) continues afresh, but as it's not a
gamestopper, it only sorta qualifies.
But, it's getting a bit long, so we'll use that excuse to stop here. We'll
start up with our 12th anniversary next time. Until then, Stay Tuned!
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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I expect to pass this way but once; any good therefore that I can do, or any
kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now.
Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
- Etienne Griellet