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Old 23-05-2009, 15:29   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Currently on the boat, somewhere on the ocean, living the dream
Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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Warderick Wells Cay, Exumas April 10-13 2009

Warderick Wells Cay, Exumas April 10-13 2009

Safely at anchor in Warderick Wells, the location of the headquarters of the National Park for the Bahamas, the only visible WiFi signals were from the park itself. I reluctantly signed on for a three-day package.

The provider here, while giving an excellent connection, is a metered subscription. One is allowed 100 megabytes per day, or allocated in full over whatever subscription period you choose. Thus, your data or time allotment determines when youre cut off.

There was some sort of glitch, however, and after our first evening of connectivity, wed somehow lost nearly a days worth of data allotment overnight. As its volume sensitive, they give you a meter, and Id kept careful watch on it, so I knew of the discrepancy.

Good thing, too, because the first evening wed used much more than a days data allotment. We finally figured out that facebook and other web-based stuff was the culprit. Lydia does most of her communication with family and friends through facebook, Shutterfly and youtube now, and every page refresh (which it does every few minutes, and, of course, every time you check it or post something) eats up several megabytes. The techie there gave me a restart, not having an easy means to adjust the allotment by taking a new charge for 3 days (which started the clock and data allotments), and cancelled the old one. In the end, we had almost a days allotment left on our departure, so we made out very well, having well overshot our first days allotment.

This experience makes me all the happier that I use a mail client (Outlook Express, or in Vista, Microsoft Mail, the newer label for the same functionality and feel), where all I do is pull down the mail, and dont have to be on line to either compose or read, a comfort not present in web browsers or web-based mail (or for that matter, web-based anything). Id not known how big the web-based files were, but its obvious its huge. Lydias often complained about connections in marginal areas, but Ive come to conclude that its because the way she uses the Internet its very volume-intensive. Sometimes, our throughput (the amount of data that can pass in a given time) is similar to dialup speeds. As seen in some of the Georgetown logs, sometimes that is due to the number of users on the system, but sometimes its just a matter of our signal strength. Wed been seeing, but not quite able to connect to, the park signal all the way down in Cambridge Cay. The closer we get, the faster it goes :{))

Thus, in remote locations, I can pull down my nntp Usenet newsgroup ( and my emails in one go, read and respond to them, even offline, and have them get uploaded the next time Im at a useable connection. Of course, for those still landbound (other than, perhaps, on a slow dialup connection), with broadband, full-time at their disposal, this is of little concern, but for us cruisers out in the remote areas we visit, its crucial to be able to use tiny bandwidth.

Of course, for serious matters, even in the middle of the ocean, we have sailmail, the high-frequency radio Single Sideband-based email program, over which Ive posted logs reports in the past.

Anyway, as it turned out, our time in Warderick wells was brief, due to the weather window which quickly presented itself or, risked slamming shut later, but we had a good time.

Saturday, I took advantage of the early-afternoon low tide and dove the rest of the boat. As is our custom, if we have the chance, wed anchored where there wasnt much water under us at low tide, making it much easier for me to reach the waterline with my deck broom that I used to scrub the bottom. As the time before had been at close to high tide, I had about 2-3 of the entire length of the boat to scrub, but the water was very much warmer there than anywhere else wed been so I was able to stay under a very long time comfortably. Its pretty cool, walking around on the bottom, and watching the sea life as I scrub. I had some large fish hanging near me most of the time, and saw a monster hermit crab scuttling about near the stern. I picked him up, and banged on the hull for a very long time, thinking to show Lydia and Louise (her mother) this marvelous creature. Unfortunately for the shared experience, they thought I was just cleaning some barnacles or something, and never came to the side, so I had to put him down and continue with my work. There were interesting craters (well, holes) in the bottom, and an equal number of hills, both probably about 2 feet across. I wonder what creates those?

Of course, like everywhere else in the Bahamas, the water was crystal clear (if you discount the clouds of what I was scrubbing off, and a bit of the ablative bottom paint we had, that I stirred up). However, by standing right next to the hull, under where I was working, my air bubbles carried off my debris. I dont know what changed, but this time I got very little water in my mask, for which I was thankful. When Im looking up as I do (the opposite of most diving positions), any water which gets in the mask can run down my nose. My cure for that is to blow it out the regulator (which is no problem), but some of it inevitably gets swallowed, and constant salt water in my mouth has always dried it out. Whatever it was, I didnt have that much to deal with this time. In any event, by the time I finished, the hull was clean, and wed find later that it really helped our speed.

During one of our relatively longer-scoped (a lot of chain out) anchorings, done when I use two anchors, Id noticed that the section of chain which rarely gets used was pretty grunged up with salt. I took the opportunity to let all but the last couple of feet out in this very calm anchorage, hoping to have the sand scrape some of it off.

Saturday was Easter evening, with a potluck hors deorvres BYOB get-together on the beach. As low tide was fully under way, we had to make several passes at finding the route into the beach where this was occurring, but we got there in good time. It was so low, and so flat there, that we walked the dinghy in a few hundred feet, knowing that the tide would rise later. As it was, when the party broke up, quite a few of the dinghies being fetched had their owners with wet shorts :{)) Several cruisers wed met in different anchorages were there, and we made several new friends as well. It got a bit buggy toward the end, but we had a good time there none the less. The trip home allowed us to go close to the park office, previously all exposed rock and coral, so it was a lot shorter!

Sunday, Easter morning dawned beautifully, as has nearly every day we have been in the Bahamas. The park put on an Easter Dinner, with boaters bringing a side dish, with solicitations having gone out beforehand by the park personnel. We brought a pasta-cheese-broccoli casserole which, if eaten as a dinner, would easily have fed 5; evidently everyone liked it, as there was absolutely nothing left in the dish afterwards!. This, and the other side dishes other cruisers brought accompanied the turkey and ham the park provided. The park also provided ice for both gatherings, so had we known, Id probably have brought a mug for our Cokes, as I like chewing ice nearly as much as anything else Id put in my mouth, but, in particular, I really like icy cold Coke instead of whatever temperature it comes out of the can :{))

One of the special treats wed wanted to experience was the bananquit birds on the park offices porch, where we took our bounteous banquet to eat. These tiny birds have come to expect handouts; indeed, they were a bit of a nuisance at the serving table, landing to steal a bit from the food, even with people right there with a spoon or fork! Theyre tame enough that theyll eat out of your hand. Indeed, I had one instance where they were fighting for space - and Ive got a big hand! when I put a few crumbs of carrot cake in my palm. Others of them perched on my and Lydias plates edge while I was eating. Wed been told we could bring sugar to tempt them, but they didnt really need that. However, having brought some, we put sugar on the railing in a trail, and there were dozens of them.

Its a real treat to watch them eat, because they clean each others beaks of the crumbs which accumulate. Their tongues, very narrow, and appearing as they use them sort of like a snakes, but without the fork at the end, seemed to come out of the roof of their beaks. Fully stuffed, we waddled back to our dinghy which we had to drag back into deep water, despite our having anchored it well out from the beach, it being a falling tide after we got there. We met a few more new folks, and a couple more of cruisers wed encountered along the way, on this trip, too. Our boat card file is well over 150 by now

When we returned to the boat, we took advantage of having all the chain out to inspect the chain locker. There was a lot of chipped paint debris in the bottom, so I vacuumed it out and then poured a pitcher of water down the limber hole. Those following us from our refit days know that the limber hole leads to a PVC pipe which, over the 30 or so years that these boats have been out there, tend to get clogged up. I wound up drilling out, with a 6 drill bit I had left over from some consulting and training I did for the security alarm industry, a very fully impacted sticks-and-mud clog in there at the time.

As expected, though, this time it was free, quickly sucking down the couple of gallons I poured in there after the first test. Once that was done, I pulled up most of the excess chain, which, due to some currents and a very little bit of wind, had gotten fairly clean in the time it was down, washing it thoroughly as I did so. However, one of the projects we have for later includes making some sort of dodger (which well do out of some of the sailcloth from our remains of the main which was destroyed in the wreck) to go over the opening for the access doors.

Thats so when were in heavy seas and water splashes into the anchor locker from the hawse holes (despite their having covers on them) and feed pipe from the windlass, it wont seep down the holes for the access doors and end up in the vee berth. Of course, that will require letting both anchor rodes all the way out. It will probably have to wait until were either back in the Bahamas, or, if we stage from there, perhaps in Lake Worth, as where were going has a really nasty mud bottom, making for a real chore to wash the chain as its restowed

Because of our expected early departure the following day, we finished up our internet activities, including phone calls home on the excellent connection-allowed VoIP Vonage phone setup we have and Lydia reveling in the renewed data allotment to catch up on her Shutterfly uploads. Due to our experience early on, Id been watching the meter closely, and wed not used very much on Saturday but you could literally see it going down this time :{)) However, as mentioned earlier, with the new start we were given, we still had close to a days allotment left, so we didnt feel too badly about having been given the extra.

Well, I see this is getting long, as usual, so well pick up next time with our departure from Warderick Wells. Theres so much to do here that we really look forward to our next visit, as we really didnt do anything other than go to the beach for cruisers meet-and-greets (and, of course, stuff our faces with Easter dinner, and feed the birds).

Stay tuned :{))


Skip, working on the boat, as always!

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"Believe me, my young friend, there is *nothing*-absolutely nothing-half so
much worth doing as simply messing, messing-about-in-boats; messing about in
boats-or *with* boats.
In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's
the charm of it.
Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your
destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get
anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in
particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and
you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."
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