It never rains but it pours...
Well, we left you, following a fellow cruiser's towing us back to
Flying Pig, as the rain was starting in Green Turtle Cay.
The issue had been that our venerable 15HP engine
had been partially
submerged, and would not start. So, immediately the next morning, I
started into restoring it to health
. I'll save you the details -
those who have done it know what happened, and those who haven't
likely would be bored to tears - but I got it running.
Wonderful! Heaving the 90# engine
off its mount, and gingerly
lowering it to the aft platform, I replaced it on the dinghy
pull, it starts. Hooray. Off we go (we think). But wait. It won't
shift into forward gear
. Reverse is OK but no forward.
Sigh. Back off the dinghy
and in its rail mount; I'm getting a bit
old for this weightlifting! But the other engine, normally used on
our Porta-Bote, not yet assembled, will suffice to get us where we're
going until I can sort out the shifting.
Off we go to New Providence, the seat of Green Turtle Cay, and do our
usual touristy thing, refreshing friendships at the various
establishments around town. We resolve to come to the church there on
Sunday morning. Skipping ahead, I'll tell you that we did go, did
sing, reveled in the catechist (subbing until the new priest arrives
in a month) singing behind us in what we expected was a classically
We can say that because we both came from musical backgrounds, Lydia's
also containing both parents as professional vocalists, her father
also being a voice teacher. After church, in conversation we learned
that it was entirely natural - he'd never had a lesson in his life.
To say we enjoyed listening to, and joining, his voice would be an
Small world department includes not only meeting cruising friends
unexpectedly in the harbor, but that one of them came from a few
hundred feet from where we are moored when in the US, in Vero Beach.
Neither knew the other was there until I remarked on the boat
. Most non-cruisers think this is unique, but it happens,
even all the way around the world from their typical cruising areas.
Another case in point is a couple who we'd last seen - in that area,
among others - 4 years ago also pulled up into the harbour.
As we'd cruised somewhat (several weeks) extensively with them, the
reunion was enthusiastic, and we decided to go to something we'd not
: A happy hour for townies and cruisers at the local
liquor store. Which also serves breakfast and lunch, but on Fridays,
they stay and cook late. Buy their bottle of wine, and they'll manage
it, including providing the glasses. If you/your party gets a table,
they then bring your bottle - and in our case, being a total of 3
bottles, two bowls of munchies to share. I got a dozen conch fritters
for the table, and we had a great time getting to renew our
acquaintance, as well as meeting his nephew and family
In any event, the culmination of the time there was the discovery of
Turtle Crawl, an ice cream and sandwich shop. But they're really
serious about the ice cream, with over a dozen interesting flavors.
Having first (a couple of days earlier) been enticed, by its being
right on the waterfront, into Harvey's, and experiencing $8 small cups
of mediocre ice cream, this was right up my alley. (That alley is
that my definition of a well-stocked freezer
in a dirt - built on
dirt - home is not less than 8 flavors, at least two deep - I wouldn't
want to run out while serving...)
For a nickel less than my pitiful cup, I got a 16oz, thick enough that
a straw was laughable, perfectly mixed pistachio almond/rum
raisin/strawberry, milkshake. That was probably the best milkshake
I'd ever had outside of my own kitchen.
Sated, we set about getting ready to transit the Whale Cay passages
(one each on both sides of a small island), as conditions looked
ideal. Mounting the outboard
and stowing the fuel
can in preparation
for the next day's departure, we took our salt-water plunge off the
back, up on the deck
for soap, another plunge to rinse the soap, and a
fresh water shower
rinse. Because we have to carry our water
the rain making for - thus far - full tanks
, we are still conservative
in case the squalls quit coming!
As it's not a long trip around the Whale, and to Settlement Harbour,
the major marine
point on Great Guana Cay, we did not leave first
thing. As well, our marine
forecaster, Chris Parker, had suggested
that our winds would be more friendly (in favor of sailing, rather
than having to motor
all the way) the later in the day it got.
So, on July 24th we again rejoiced that pushing the "start" button
resulted in the fast spin of the newly installed starter and an
instant startup. The anchor
was up by 11, and we set off to get
around a large shallow area to the south of where we were. Wind
that point was not comfortable to sail (14 knots at 30° apparent
angle) so we motored into the 2-3' chop. However, once we cleared the
shallows and could turn to port, we could sail. At 11:30 we had the
up with the 11 knot wind
on our beam (90° apparent wind) and
were making 4.9 knots. We had some weather helm
turn into the wind) but we still made good on a 114°T (true, vs
As the seas started to lay down a bit, we turned toward the cut at
noon, resulting in a heading of 84T, but being pushed sideways a bit
(typical; keels don't prevent ALL movement) were actually making 88T.
Wind had also died a bit, so it was only 8 knots, now at 75° apparent,
and we were pushing ahead at 4.7 knots. We both remarked that this
would have been a perfect day to take newbies sailing, as it was a
very comfortable ride.
The wind wandered around a bit, and we made it through both cuts with
no excitement whatsoever (well, unless you consider a sailboat ride
exciting; we do, but "exciting" usually means something requiring lots
of activity to maintain control!). Along the way, we noted that a
which had been parked with us in the harbour at Green Turtle
had followed us. As they pulled aside, they hailed us. Much
conversation ensued, giving them tips on where to go and what to see,
as this was their first time in the area. We find ourselves doing
that a lot with newbies, which not only helps them but expands our
list of cruising buddies in the process. They elected to anchor
us, as they - after our chat - decided that what we were going to do
ashore also sounded pretty good to them!
We pulled up and threw out the hook at 2:15. I decided not to tackle
the disabled engine just yet, my beef deprivation becoming desperate,
and mounted the smaller outboard
to the dinghy. Off we went to
Grabbers, the sea-level eatery easily accessible after bringing the
dinghy to the public dock
. Having been pre-warned with our other
experience with a dock
, we threw out a stern anchor in the course of
landing. That would keep the dinghy away from the dock.
Grabbers proved every bit as attractive as our prior times there, and
I had a delicious (particularly since I'm in withdrawal a bit at the
moment) burger and fries, along with a couple (widely spaced!) of
their signature "frozen Grabbers" - a fruit punchy flavored (if you
ignore all the rum) drink. We made our way home before dark, and
again enjoyed the crystal-clear salt water
bath and fresh water rinse.
The next day was boat chores day. Marine toilets are usually
hand-pumped systems that bear little resemblance to toilets ashore,
and our aft head
(rear marine toilet) had not been pumping well.
Fortunately, that merely means a rebuild
- replacing all the rubber
- of the system. We follow a flushing
regimen which, unlike
most boats' heads, have no remaining small bits of sewage if
disassembled. However, I noticed as I did the rebuild
that one of the
seat hinges had broken. Hmm. Reassembly was straightforward, and all
is again well. An internet
search showed me that exact replacements
were inexpensively available. Hooray!
I also tackled the outboard problem. I had visions of some dire stuff
going on with the shifting mechanism. However, as I started to look
for problems, the first thing I saw was a part I recognized, and which
had, unnoticed by me, come off the carburetor when I had been
replacing it during the rescue
of the drowned engine. When I picked
that out from under where the lever would have to move, it shifted
Unfortunately, the solution to the not-in-the-right-place part
involved an O-ring I didn’t have. I managed a temporary solution
pending the arrival - with a new computer drive, new toilet seat
hinges, and said O-ring - of a friend in a couple of weeks, and closed
it back up. It was well I was able, too, as it looked a bit
Sure enough, the rain started just before dark. It was enough to wash
down the deck
, so after that we opened our fresh water fills again.
Water made it into our tank, but it was not a gully washer, so to
speak. However, apparently, it went on nearly all night. Because...
Overnight, the winds had picked up substantially, and apparently it
had rained a LOT of water ... because our dinghy had 3-4 inches of
water in it. Enough that it had floated the mostly empty outboard
can, which had turned over. That would have to have resulted in
water getting into the fuel. I was also worried about getting the
boat emptied, as it had the potential to submerge part of the OTHER
So, in 4-6' seas, I abandoned the idea of getting into the dinghy to
bail. However, I really wanted to both not LOSE the can (which could
be washed overboard) and to get the engine off. We managed, in the
violent differences the seas made as the stern dropped, and the dinghy
simultaneously rose, in the waves, to corral the tank and get it
aboard. Fuel line to the engine also off: check. Get the dinghy
close enough to reach the clamps on the inside of the dinghy. Not so
much. Lydia's right middle finger was smashed into the swim ladder,
putting an impressive gash on her fingertip. She went below to
bandage her wound while I got the dinghy back in place. Regardless of
the potential for damage, it was unsafe to attempt either bailing or
removing the engine.
Finger ministrations administered, and the bleeding stanched, we went
. The next day dawned calm and nearly windless. Over the back
I go, and sure enough, it's all fresh water in the dinghy.
Fortunately, I have developed a technique which can empty the dinghy,
even from that state, in just a few minutes. Once all the water was
out, she rode
to her lines perfectly, and I got back aboard to tackle
Fortunately for my personality, before we even started cruising, I'd
acquired a water and debris filtering funnel. We have a small gas can
we use for putting some of a newly filled fuel can's contents into,
the better to avoid any spillage from a tank stored on deck. I used
that can and the separating filter to dump the entire contents of the
troubled fuel can. The first run generated probably a pint of water.
Discarding that, I then did the same, into the outboard can, back into
the spare can, and again into the outboard can. Thus assured of its
purity (no further water was found), I took off the engine-side nipple
on the fuel line, and ran fuel from the outboard can through it, and
into the filter. With that flushed, all that remained was to put the
nipple back on, and restore it all to the dinghy.
Bated breath, can in the dinghy, fuel line attached to the outboard,
priming bulb squeezed, and pull the starter. Brrrmmm. Sweeter sounds
were never heard. But what if some water got into the engine fuel
somehow? Let's run it for a while, and I'll pump
up the soft tubes
(long story omitted). Ooops... It's slowing down. It's stopping.
reveals that I'd not engaged the clip on the fuel nipple,
and the nipple had worked its way off the feed. Reattaching it, I
again successfully started, and all was well. Phew. Paradise is hard
work! (Well, we don't really have any excuse, because we know that
"Cruising is repairing your Boat in Exotic Places")
Hooray. A good day's work
. Off we go to Nippers, a famous spot on
Great Guana. High on the hill, it overlooks a stupendous beach.
Frozen Nippers (their signature drink) are a bit more expensive, but
the dinner was wonderful. The Ahi Tuna was a chunk like a small
T-bone, an inch thick. The cheeseburger was awesome, and the pile of
fries impressive. Unfortunately, for us, while the Bluff House and
Grabbers had two-fers when we ate (at the same time frame), it was per
each at Nippers. Still, it was marvelous, and we returned to Flying
Pig satisfied and happy.
One of the prior nights had an infestation of flying ants. They don't
bite, but they are a large nuisance. We dealt with them, but made a
command decision to move further away from shore. So, in the
impending darkness, we quickly got the anchor up and moved to the
middle of the Sea of Abaco
, near Foot Cay.
The next morning we set off to Marsh Harbour. Before leaving, I did
what I call my 1-2-3s - a check of the engine and all it's functions.
I found both the water pump
belt and the alternator
belt starting to
be a bit loose, so tightened them both.
Again, as we are SO pleased to see, the new starter sprang into
action, instantly starting our diesel
engine. As is the norm, the
wind was directly on our nose, at 10kts, so we motored into the 1-2'
seas at 4.7kts, again a very comfortable ride.
About halfway there, our chartplotter
suddenly died. A chartplotter
is sort of the equivalent of current
- a visual indication
of exactly where you are. Like most cruisers in this age, we have
become dependent on our chart chip, the thing holding all the charts
and our visual display, the chartplotter.
Yikes! The entrance to Marsh Harbour is reasonably straightforward,
but getting to it involves avoiding some shallow areas. Fortunately,
again, for my belt-and-suspenders mentality, I had a charting program
on my computer below. So, with Lydia below directing, I eased into
Marsh Harbour's entrance channel. The depths in the harbour (English
spelling, down here...) are right on the edge of our depth
choosing where we would throw out the hook was important.
Fortunately, our computer program, OpenCPN
, keeps a record
tracks, and, of course, many of them started or ended (well,
inevitably, both) where we'd anchored before. So, guiding Lydia at
, we rode
around the various places we'd been before, and
found the depth
still adequate. I came topsides, and went to secure
No problem, we were well set. But our navigation
was troublesome at
the very best; trying to negotiate the areas we expected to visit in
the next week, a few days from now from below was challenging at best.
We could take waypoints (latitude and longitude points) from our paper
, and enter them into the chartplotter, which, other
than having no real charting, could do everything else. But it wasn't
a good solution. The solution would be to isolate and cure the
Much easier said than done, if you're not in the US, as, if parts
needed, it takes FOREVER and a day to get her on a standard basis, and
even an overnight service
has to make a full stop in Nassau
, so the
very best expected is 4-5 days.
Which is not a comforting thought when there is a guest coming for
only two days, the arrival and departure days bracketing them. There
is SO much to see and do in only two full days, and much navigation
needed to get from one to the other, doing it from a chart at the nav
station, or even with dozens of waypoints entered, would be
challenging and stressful. And our guest arrives in only a few
Will we revert to sextant
and paper chart? Will we be stranded
waiting for parts? Until Next Time, Stay Tuned!