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Old 18-03-2010, 17:15   #1
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George Town - Thompson Bay, Long Island, Exumas 3-14-10

George Town - Thompson Bay, Long Island, Exumas 3-14-10

When we left you, we were preparing to depart after several lovely weeks in
the Volleyball Beach area of Stocking Island, across from George Town. Our
weather window looked great, both to us, and to many other boats in the
harbor, as there were, eventually, over 20 boats which departed for Long
Island and other southerly points. We'd raised our dinghy which, very
conveniently, had most of the green stuff removed by the frequent trips to
the beach, stowed the engine and fuel tank, and secured all the other stuff
which might go sliding, the prior night.

As is our wont, we didn't hurry things, particularly since this was only a
31 mile trip, with winds favorable for direct rhumb lines between waypoints.
Accordingly, we were among the last to leave, having enjoyed the morning net
and a leisurely breakfast. And, true to form, we were the last to arrive in
Thompson Bay :{))

I'd suggested, on the morning VHF net, that boats enroute use channel 65 to
keep in touch. That proved to be useful, as the usual chatter on 68, the
hailing channel for George Town, was still audible for most of the trip. With
the still-large number of boats in Elizabeth Sound, that made for the usual
busy gossip as boats there hailed each other and went to another working
channel, so not having to deal with that clutter was a benefit to the
cruisers under way.

The day dawned with nearly no wind, but things picked up a bit such that we
sailed off our 200' anchor rode at 8:45 in a nearly straight downwind run at
120* to our first turn out through the cut at the bottom of Stocking Island.
With our 8 knots of apparent wind on a 150* extremely broad reach, we were
making 5.6-6 knots, so the real wind was more like 13-14 knots. Perfect for
a relaxed day of sailing, in brilliant skies. Because of the rolling seas,
however, we stayed on mainsail only, because without the genoa poled out,
something we didn't want to bother with at the time, it would have flopped
more than it pulled us along.

Sure enough, we turned the corner, moving slightly east to 98* on the way to
North Channel Rocks, at 9:15, and improved our point of sail to help
minimize the rock and roll and yawing which always accompanies a downwind
run. For reasons we've yet to discover, for the first couple of legs, our
power seemed to have an intermittent interruption, as both our radios, GPS
and autopilot frequently "took a dump" - but came right up again. As
dependent (and very pleased, of course) as we've become on the chartplotter,
this was very disconcerting.

However, the channel south and southeast is well marked, so we weren't
concerned, other than to be scratching our heads over the behavior. As it
turned out, those were short-lived, and after that brief period of perhaps a
half-dozen such interruptions, everything stayed stable for the balance of
the trip. Given that we were at a strong net positive amps the entire way,
with battery voltage at 13.5V, this was further mystifying, as low voltage
should not have been a factor. Ah, well, another of those mysteries which
may never be solved, as, if it won't persist, it's very difficult to

Our next turn came promptly at 9:30, slightly upgrading our point of sail as
we turned slightly northeast to avoid the next hazard at PigeonCay. We
lost that advantage as we reached our next waypoint, as we headed 111* again
at 10AM, en route to the next waypoint, Hog Cay, which would allow us to go
nearly east. In the meantime, the forecasted 15-20 knots of wind went
a-glimmering, dying as we headed out. Hm... Could be a long day... Oops!
Forgot to set the SPOT - our personal locator transmitter. Turned that on;
you can see, up until about the 20th or so, the remainder of our track to
Long Island at

As we'd entered the Atlantic Ocean, we had many rollers left over from the
last many fronts which had gone through, so our nearly downwind attitude
made, again, for some rock and roll. However, the wind improved slightly
(still very light!), so the genoa mostly stayed full as we made 5.5-6 knots
under an apparent wind of only 5 knots. If it weren't for all the rock and
roll, we'd have put up the spinnaker, but the apparent wind was too close to
our stern to make that work. If the genoa flopped, the spinnaker would have
surely flogged - not a happy thought for that very lightweight, huge sail.

The rolling and yawing made for apparent wind which crossed our stern, so we
prevented the main. For those unfamiliar with the term, that means we took
a block and tackle rig from the end of the boom to the cable on one of our
main shrouds' bases, making it such that the wind, if it got behind the sail
momentarily, couldn't produce a crash jibe - the sudden, unexpected, and
somewhat violent swap of the boom and sail from one side to the other. The
winds were light enough that it wouldn't have been hazardous, but we didn't
want to put up with it, so prevented the main.

The genoa continued to flop a bit, but mostly stayed full, adding drive in
the light airs as we proceeded at 119* true (vs magnetic, an offset which
varies each year, very slightly, but in any case is several degrees
different than true direction). Our course of travel was intended to clear
several shoal and reef areas, with the Explorer Chart (the "gold standard"
of Bahamas navigation) waypoints well beyond the last hazard.

Accordingly, as soon as we'd cleared the last little reef area north of Hog
Cay, we turned nearly east, to 106 magnetic, at 11:45. What a glorious day
to sail! We saw several boats, frustrated with the light winds, motoring by
us, and, with our grungy bottom, left over from Marsh Harbour, we knew we
would be slow, anyway. Thus it was no surprise that we were overtaken by
the last boats, one by one, and soon, there were none in view astern. Most
of the early-outs were nearly out of sight, and a few had chosen to go full
east, to get more wind, intending to go down the lee (normally - the wind
was into the inside of the island) of Long Island, hoping that their faster
speed east would make up for the downwind run near Long Island. As it turned
out later, it caused us to ALMOST not be the last ones in, as those boats
didn't achieve what they'd wanted.

That's because the wind continued to die, in defiance of the forecasts.
However, we were now on a broad reach for that leg as we headed for White
Cay Bank for about an 8-mile sail. Strangely, further out in the Atlantic,
the waves subsided notably, and you simply couldn't have asked for a better
sailing day, even if it wasn't very fast. As we always do, we put out our
fishing lines while we were under way, and despite the occasional bleep from
our fishfinder indicating fish at 4-6 feet, and our nearly ideal trolling
speed of 4-6 knots, nobody decided our lures looked inviting, or, perhaps,
they just weren't hungry. However, our cedar plug, the most reliable lure
for any variety we've caught, managed to accumulate several grass or seaweed
clumps, and, early on, a couple of pieces of plastic. Fortunately, the
plastic experiences were limited to relatively close to Little Exuma, the
island south of George Town...

The wind continued to die, but with the broad reach, our genoa stabilized to
the same side as the main, which we un-prevented, allowing us to sheet it in
a bit (bring the sail closer to the stern), and we were achieving 5.5 to 6.5
knots with only 5 knots of apparent wind on a very placid sea, perhaps 1-2'
light chop, with no rollers to slew us sideways. Ahhh... This is how
cruising SHOULD be!

Unfortunately, the wind continued to die, and by the time we'd reached our
final turn to the last waypoint outside Thompson Bay at 2:30, taking us back
on a downwind run, our blazing speed had dropped to all of 2 knots. So,
reluctantly, as, at this speed, we'd arrive after dark, with a promised
cocktail hour at one of our special friends' boat's likely finished by the
time we got there, we turned on the engine at 2:45.

Rolling up the genoa, we sheeted the main in tight at the center, the better
to stop rolling, we motored along for the last 10 miles. We were in open
ocean, so didn't expect anything, particularly since our fishfinder had been
quiet for most of the trip after our turn, but as we made our turn into
Thompson bay and prepared to drop the main, I suddenly remembered we still
had lines out. Oops! I'd hate to have those go in the prop, despite our
line cutter, so I had Lydia (she drives while I flake the sail) abate while
I reeled them in, about 5PM.

Surprise, the first line was very deep, and had a fair amount of resistance.
Hm. We must have a fish! Sure enough, a very tired barracuda appeared
alongside. Unfortunately, he'd managed to get inside of the other line, but
a few shakes, trying to escape the hook, allowed it to throw the other line.
As I reeled him in preparing to bring him aboard, Lydia reeled in the other
line, and all was well.

Once the gaff was inserted and re-tubed (there's a plastic tube which goes
over the end of the point for safety when it's not being used to fetch a
fish), we secured the gaff under the platform supports, letting him hang,
while we threw out the hook. We'd come well in to the harbour, for better
protection against wind and rollers, but still had a secure 8 feet or so
under us. Ironically, by that time, the wind had come up again, so
anchoring was our usual procedure of letting out enough rode to assure a
good point of attack on the anchor, letting it grab, and then successively
letting out about 10 feet each time, allowing the anchor to further set
before we asked it to take the entire load.

Given the shallow depth, a target of mine so that I could dive the bottom of
the boat and clean off all the accumulated wildlife during our time here, we
only needed 75' out. There's plenty of room here, so I could have put out
as much as I wanted without fear of imposing on anyone else, but this
amounted to a 6-1 scope at the anchor roller, and more at the water. With
the forecasts calling for dying winds, that was plenty, and when Lydia
backed down smartly after I'd set the snubber (the nylon line which
stretches, allowing the boat not to be shocked by wave action), we were
rewarded by a substantial change in angle and a curtsey from Flying Pig as
her nose was pulled down. The 75' marker stayed close to the surface,
giving us our comfortable angle of the chain.

As I'd expected, the cocktail hour was well under way, with 4 dinghies tied
off astern of our hosts, next to us. Since it would take us a while to drop
the dinghy and get it operational, we begged a ride, and were shortly aboard
Far Niente, home to Jay and Diana Howell. We were pleased to see our
friends from Veranda, Bill and Christy, who we've encountered in places as
far-flung as Sandy Hook, NJ, Annapolis, Sampson Cay Exumas and, now, here.
Also aboard were two other sets of cruisers we'd met at the laundromat in
George Town, and a great time was had by all.

As usual, the talk seemed to turn to internet connectivity, and one of the
boats, Savage Son, will have a visit from me soon to see if I can help him
get his RadioLab setup running. Another cruiser is helping him with a
sudden death of his computer, and yet another cruiser will be helping Jay
and Diana with a generator problem. This is classic cruiser behavior -
everyone helps everyone else. Generators were another source of discussion,
and, again, classic cruiser behavior, the generator problem will be
addressed by spare parts carried, but not needed, by a fellow cruiser. We
have several hundred pounds, probably, of such parts aboard for the same
sort of circumstances. Those parts are not even for gear we own - but we
know that someone will have a use for them.

However, while not related to that evening's discussion, I'm very comforted
by what my kids referred to, all the time they were growing up, and later,
as young adults, coming to me for something they needed, as "Dad's Hardware
Store" - a place to get nearly anything you'd need for common household
repairs. That concept has since been converted to "Skip's Chandlery" as I
took an unused space in the workbench area and installed 3 cabinets of 18
bins each, where you'll find nearly every commonly used screw and bolt,
along with their associated nuts, lock nuts, washers and fender washers.
Other of those bins are filled with electrical connectors, backing plates,
cabinet hardware, shims, and the like. Other major bins in the engine room,
about 6 cubic feet each, are filled with other spares and tools. It, and
the other many storage places aboard Flying Pig, all full of heavy stuff, is
the reason, most likely, that we draw 7' instead of the designed 6' :{))

We left Barry for when we arrived back at the boat, and I made short work of
filleting and skinning him (or her - I didn't bother to examine the insides
to see if the relatively full stern-side belly area was full of eggs) under
the aft spotlight. That allowed me to also (of necessity, done each time I
clean a fish there) scrub down the platform, my filleting/cleaning station.
I'd noted I'd been tracking a bit of dirt aboard, probably from the time I
helped another cruiser sharpen his drill bits. Actually, the sharpening
took place on the work bench, but I'd taken advantage of fetching out my
grinder to wire-wheel all the rust off some wrenches I'd not gotten to in
St. Petersburg during our refit. The rust and wire wheel bristle throw-off
had soiled the platform, and brushing just didn't get it in terms of
preventing tracking.

Once that was done, I'd taken them ashore in George Town, and applied the
special stainless steel spray paint we've had such great luck with on other
tools. I discovered on the trip down here that I'd forgotten the spare
snubber - a simple chain hook, which came with the boat - used on our second
anchor. It was severely rusted, dropping rust flakes on the deck under
where it hangs on our boom crutch supports. That will be one of the future
1-2-3s we do aboard, but, having stowed the grinder, I'll not attack that
just yet :{))

As it was very late, we didn't grill our dinner, particularly since, as
these occasions seem to do, we'd filled ourselves with everyone's appetizers
at the cocktail hour, we just checked the internet and headed to bed.

Internet here is very sparse, with only a few stations to choose from.
However, when there's a signal, it's great. Monday dawned slightly
overcast, and with Daylight Saving Time in effect, we slept later than
usual. That resulted in our missing the Chris Parker broadcast on the
weather, but we got a brief period of internet connectivity allowing us to
pull down some mail.

That went away very quickly, so, I set to my 1-2-3s, the first of which was
to see if the liberal application I'd done of PBBlaster (a rust and other
parts-seizure corrective) to the inside area of the Honda generator, where
the bolts for the feet come through, and had thoroughly rusted, had produced
any success. We'd broken two of the feet, due to aging of all things
vibrational, and the bolts were sticking out of the bottom. We'd solved the
problem of deck damage by puttng a board, wrapped in the type of
waffle-surfaced rubber common in boats' cabinets, to minimize sliding while
heeled, under those. However, being a hard surface, that produced a lot of
resonant noise inside the boat, and, in any case, I wanted to replace not
only those missing, but the two other feet, which I knew wouldn't be far
behind in their departure.

You may recall from one of the Marsh Harbour logs that we'd taken it to a
Honda repair place to solve a running problem, and, at the same time, see if
the feet could be removed, using those I'd sourced in our last trip ashore
for replacements. Stuck fast, it didn't happen, but the solution to the
problem is to liberally attack the corroded/rusted parts with something like
I'd used, and be patient.

My patience, enhanced by the number of times it had been run in the interim,
allowing the puddle I'd made in the little receiver over the "nuts"
(actually plates) to vibrate, helping work the stuff into the threads of the
rusted areas, was rewarded with the reluctant, but eventual, removal of all
4 bolts and installation of the new feet. I lightly oiled and reinserted
and removed the bolts, thus chasing off any rust from the threads both on
the bolts and receivers, and then carefully and thoroughly removed the
remaining oil from the bolts. Before installing the new feet, I applied the
temporary Loctite adhesive which would help prevent further rust-ups, and
another set of feet (which likely won't be needed for another several years,
based on the first set's lifespan) is on my next shopping list items for our
expected trip for Lydia's Grandson Fix.

Also while in George Town, during my on-air seminar on Honda generators, I'd
commented that an ideal vibration isolator would be some closed-cell foam.
One of the listeners offered some scraps he had, and we Gorilla Glued a pair
together, making an ample base for the generator. I was thrilled to NOT
hear the generator as we started it up to top off our batteries, and also to
realize that with that vibration damper, the feet would likely last even
longer than the first set. I wasn't thrilled to think that the last month
or so, when we didn't have the KISS wind generator, and we'd had lots of
wind, and thus likely would have had full batteries, not needing the boost,

As always, though, Cruising Is Boat Repairs in Exotic Locations. Thus, my
next 1-2-3 was to remove and inspect the bearings from the salvaged parts of
the KISS which went overboard in Marsh Harbour. They were fine, but,
preventatively, I regreased them and reinstalled them, ready for the new
housing and needed parts for its reinstallation. As we move south, and the
sun moves north, accompanied by the trade winds which should arrive soon,
perhaps the Honda will assume its normal storage condition :{))

So, thus chuffed with my success on two major nuisances on the yet-to-do
list accomplished, we again looked for internet connectivity. We were
pleased to find a strong connection with great data flow. Unfortunately,
that ruined the rest of our day, as we caught up on all the delayed internet
stuff we'd put off. Voice communications were great, too, so every other
plan we'd had for the day got ignored as Lydia spent most of the day on the
phone, having many conversations with family, and I got some of my sourcing
for the next round of parts ordering done. Before we knew it, dark had
fallen, and by 9:30, we gave up and went to bed :{))

We have yet to explore Long Island, and while in the area, we'll also visit
the Jumentos, widely held to be even more amazing for diving than the Abaco
locations we're so stunned by. It's also an area, being very remote, which
boasts fishing of every sort - piscene, shellfish, and crustacean are at
every turn - and we're anxiously looking forward to having our fill of
easily obtained dinners.

Long-time readers may recall that last year, as the "season" was winding
down, we encountered a new arrival to George Town who commented that he'd
spent the entire winter there, spending only $500 the entire time, as his
food supply was no further than a jump off the boat, supplemented with the
dry goods he'd brought with him. We won't be here that long, but we surely
do look forward to being able to duplicate the experience. Friends here
confirm those reports, so I may, in fact, be able to get my first lobster -
and with any luck, many more.

So, today, while I got some gasoline and dumped the garbage, Lydia walked
the ocean side, a hike of nearly an hour over some "interesting" terrain,
once you left the roads, hoping to find more sea beans - hamburger and heart
beans in particular, with some friends from Windara, another boat we met in
George Town. Much to her disappointment and disgust, it was absolutely
filled with trash, and not the first bean. However, report of the mother
lode entice her to the Jumentos. The weather, fortunately, was perfect -
low 80s, brilliant, and flat seas made for a lovely hike, unspoiled by golf
clubs ("Golf is a lovely walk, spoiled"), even if the beach was

So, we'll leave you as we head for the water for our salt-water showers, and
future adventures in Long Island.

Until next time, Stay Tuned!


Skip and crew

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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Old 18-01-2011, 19:42   #2
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Boat: Oday 37
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I saw your post and thought i d ask.
I am in Georgetown onboard an Oday 37 waiting for weather to cross to Turks and Caicos.
Which weather window should i wait for? Any advice on the route. I am planning on taking the east coast of Long Island-Acklins-Mayuyguana-Provo.


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Old 18-01-2011, 19:54   #3
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We're in George Town at the moment - listen for us on the VHF and tomorrow where I'll do a business entry in the morning net (8:30, 72). We're anchored at Sand Dollar at the moment, I play volleyball each day at 2:30. What's your boat name?

Toucan Dream is heading there, too. Chat them up for Chris Parker recommendation, or listen in on 4045, USB at 6:30, or on the web, same time, at

Give us a shout out to say hi, your window looks to be in the next couple days.


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Old 25-01-2011, 14:52   #4
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Hi Skip, just found your pictures after following this thread, they're great. I was born down there in the BS and we're hoping to take off work for 3 months winter 2012-2013 and take the kids through the islands. I'll search around for your prior entries to make some notes.

Until then, I'm dying to hear the story that accompanies the on the rocks photos, do you have a link handy?

Despite being from there, I left when I was young and did not get interested in sailing until a return trip in Georgetown. I was down there on passport business and it was cheaper to rent a sea kayak and tent and head out at Barreterre to the outlying cays. I've got some family in Nassau but that and official business are about the only reasons you'll find me there. On the fourth day I saw a sailing couple come off the sound, drop their dinghy program, and head off to square rock cay (or therabouts) for an excursion. I knew right then that theirs wasa superior mode of travel and I vowed to learn how to sail a boat. I just had never really seen it from that perspective but it is my good fortune as we have had so many great adventures up and down the SE coast in the last 6-7 years.

Sorry for the hijack, hope it's ok. Good luck imaginesailing on your trip to T& C.

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Old 31-01-2011, 20:54   #5
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Hi Skip!

I have also been enjoying your sailing updates. If you have a favorite online stop to find all the relevant cruisernet channels, would you mind posting it here (or somewhere)? We'll be keeping two eyes out for Flying Pig!

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Old 07-03-2011, 13:38   #6
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Re: rocks!

Originally Posted by csh View Post
Hi Skip, just found your pictures after following this thread, they're great. I was born down there in the BS and we're hoping to take off work for 3 months winter 2012-2013 and take the kids through the islands. I'll search around for your prior entries to make some notes.

Until then, I'm dying to hear the story that accompanies the on the rocks photos, do you have a link handy?
Click the yahoogroups link in my sig and go to the very beginning. Fully covered there :{))

Currently back in the states, reluctantly, but taking advantage of having to be here and doing some boat work while we're not running off to see weddings, grandbaby births, and perhaps a reunion of my college national championship crew clean sweep (Frosh, JV and Varsity). Look in this section for more on what we're up to currently...


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Old 07-03-2011, 13:40   #7
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Re: George Town - Thompson Bay, Long Island, Exumas 3-14-10

Originally Posted by AquatiCat View Post
Hi Skip!

I have also been enjoying your sailing updates. If you have a favorite online stop to find all the relevant cruisernet channels, would you mind posting it here (or somewhere)? We'll be keeping two eyes out for Flying Pig!

What is a cruisernet channel? You mean places to see times and frequencies? Try



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exumas, Long Island

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