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Old 25-10-2009, 16:19   #1
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Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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Powell Cay-Marsh Harbour, 10/1-7/09

Powell Cay- Marsh Harbour, 10/1-7/09

We left you with a clean bottom and the Hobbit in our ears as we went to
sleep at anchor in Powell Cay, just the first of the many amazing places in
the Abacos.

We awoke to no wind, but lots of rain squalls, so we took advantage of all
the fresh water and cleaned the deck with all that lovely stuff from the
sky. By 2PM, we'd had the anchor up for Cooperstown.

Cooperstown has been described in all the guides as being non-tourist-y,
instead being a commercial hub. We found that to be true, but enjoyed a
walk around town. School was out, and the kids were playing happily, many
ages together, a learning experience for our two granddaughters :{))

Along the way, we met a woman, who, when we asked about the pizza place that
the guides had mentioned, said that her sister was the pizza lady. We
settled on two, which, today, were ham, for 6 PM. However, when we showed
up, and it looked just like a house, nothing more, it became apparent that
this wasn't a restaurant, but, instead, a take-out equivalent.
Unfortunately, with only a standard home-type oven, it meant that one had to
finish before the other could be started. As a result, we stood around
waiting for the second one, feeling uncomfortable in just starting to eat
standing in front of the house, and not wanting to go over to the public
dock, the suggested eating place, before getting (and paying for) the second

In the end, we did, in fact, get and pay for both of them, and went over to
the public dock, and enjoyed a totally different type of pizza than any of
us had ever had. The crust was more like bread, but the rest of it was very
much like a very cheesy pepperoni, ham and some other stuff which escapes
me, pizza. The girls, having grown tired of standard boat fare, ate like
they'd been starved for the last week, but I confess I had three pieces as
well. It was truly delicious.

While we were waiting for our second pizza, one of the many relatives
present at the time, a young boy, tried to stand his bike up on the
kickstand. I noted that he'd wired it up, which seemed curious. As a kid,
I was, of necessity, a bike mechanic, having worn out a half dozen in the
course of having a paper route for 6 years, so I had a look at it.

I suggested a solution using some very common tools, but while the kid
thought he had something which would work, he didn't sound very certain. I
told him that if I could, I'd bring back a large pliers in the morning.
However, as we were eating, I decided that I'd buzz back to the boat and get
the pliers, as there was still enough light, and, as well, not knowing that
I'd find him in the morning or whether I'd be so inclined at the tim, and
fix it then and there. I told one of his cousins, standing there watching
his uncle fish (very successfully, I might add!) to go get him, and that I'd
be right back with the tool.

These kids are extremely talented with their bikes, which are standard-issue
single speed trail-style bikes, but we saw several of them doing
entire-street-length wheelies, for example. Anyway, when I returned, I
found another kid with his bike upside down, as well, with the same
problem - except he had a stainless steel hose clamp holding his!
Fortunately, I was able to get it off the stand without having to unscrew
it, and got both of them worked out. There's a couple of pictures in one of
Lydia's Shutterfly album of me working on the bikes :{)) - and when I get
around to editing (I've been adding to my galleries little-by-little as I
work through the hundreds of pix taken in the last 4 months) that folder,
they'll be up in my gallery seen in my signature line, too.

So, Cooperstown was a fun visit, and we turned in, stuffed with the pizza
treat, in our very secure anchorage right off the town.

Friday October 2nd dawned with no wind, or what little there was right on
our nose, so we motored over to Manjack Cay. From the time we'd gotten to
Spanish Cay to check in, we'd had internet connectivity, and for the last
couple of days, one of the best signals came in as "Munjack Special" - a
very strong signal, indeed, easily capable of voice communications, so the
girls were on the phone with their parents several times a day, and Lydia
and I got to stay in touch with our families. By a little after noon, with
our usual sloth :{)) we were under way across the channel separating Great
Abaco Cay from the barrier islands, to Nunjack Cay.

We pulled in to anchor in an area which looked a bit like a resort, with an
in-the-water bar (it turned out to be something else), many little sailboats
on shore, and nearly nobody in sight on the beach. The "tiki bar" was a
support for 4 sling-seats, with a little table in the middle, so, if you had
one, you could put a drink or snack there, but it was just one of the many
things done to the property by the owners, retired (well, swallowed the
anchor) cruisers who, 19 years ago, had bought the property and did all the
construction, trail cutting, ground clearing and the like, to make it their
home. However, and especially, the couple, Bill and Leslie, are renowned
throughout the cruising community as being hugely supportive of cruisers.
Their home is entirely solar powered, mostly from panels taken from wrecks
in the area, as is their internet connection.

I don't know where they get their feed, but they have two APs (access
points) on the island, both extremely powerful - "Manjack" and "Munjack
Special" - voice-grade signals that I was able to use for more than 20
miles, starting well north (at Spanish Cay) and continuing nearly to Marsh
Harbour (where, as you'll see later, there is a large availability of
signals). These, and the trails they've cut to the ocean side, and, if you
just show up and engage them, the sunfish-type boats and windsurfer, are all
there not only for them to enjoy, but, in particular, for cruisers visiting
the area to use. The day we arrived, the crew on two visiting boats,
Cikanga, a large custom boat used for the Boy Scouts' extreme adventure
cruises, and the other, Gusto, an Island Packet, were sailing the two
smaller boats while Bill and Leslie were sailing their wooden gaff-rigged
sloop in a "regatta" - but the wind died, so they came in as we approached.

Thus, all were ashore for us to meet and enjoy. Much to our amusement and
chagrin, we were instantly recognized as the boat which had the Coast Guard
and BASRA search under way a couple of days ago. One (I forget who, but I
think it was Leslie) asked, "Your name is Gundlach, right? Are you related
to the marina Gundlachs??" before we'd done anything more than to say we
were from Flying Pig! (There's a very large marina in southern FL to which
we haven't the most tenuous family connection, but it's got my name on
it...) All of them had seen the news, heard the VHF calls, and the like, so
"knew all about us" :{)) After we'd had the laugh about the initiation and
"outcome" (recall we didn't know about it at all until it was all over), we
got further acquainted and learned about the island and all they'd done with
their part of it.

Eventually, the girls of all the boats went off on an exploration to the
ocean side, and I ferried several out to the wooden boat as the light boats
were launched by others. I was offered, and accepted, and attempted to
windsurf for the first time in more than 20 years. Unfortunately, while I
pretty much retained my skills, the wind was very fluky and light, both,
making the balance advantage of leaning back against the wind very tenuous.
With the very rough seas left over from some prior weather, I couldn't stay
up very long on each point of sail and/or remount; waterstarting (done by
holding the sail such that the wind catches it, and hauls you up) was out of
the question, so each dismount was followed by getting back on the board and
hauling the sail out of the water in order to get into "sheeting" (moving
the sail with the boom is referred to sheeting in or out, just as in boats)
mode frequently, with the wind dying just as I was attempting to set the
sail, finding me back the water. So, I headed back in, and got in the dink
to explore the creeks in the middle of the island.

Unfortunately, as we'd found so far, the bottom was very uninspiring, with
nothing other than sand or grass, and, that, being near low tide, nearly
un-navigable, even in just a dinghy. So, I headed back and, finding none of
my crew there, made my dink a committee boat, giving rides to the men who'd
come in from their regatta, to go out in the sloop. Going back to Flying
Pig for some picture organization, I kept popping my head up and scanning
the shore with binocs to see if anyone had arrived back at the beach.
Eventually, Lydia was standing on the beach, so I jumped back in and went to
do the pickup. Along the way, however, the wooden boat had returned with
its large crew, so I ferried them in on the way.

A lovely day ashore and on the water ended with leftover pizza, the pies
being huge and substantial as well, and we turned in. We noted that Cikanga
had moved way out before dark, and we unfortunately learned why as the
mosquitos descended on us. We lit up the citronella candles and turned in.

Saturday October 3rd had us moving to Crab Cay, immediately south of
Manjack, to go exploring. We had our anchor up, as usual, a bit after noon,
and were shortly ensconced at anchor again. A day of beachcombing was
finished with our moving well offshore - nearly halfway between Crab and
Great Abaco - for our night anchorage, having learned our lesson about the
mosquitos! Fortunately, the depths in this area are all relatively
shallow, but still navigable with our 7' draft, and in about 11' of water, I
put out 125' of chain, the better to rest comfortably. As it was, there
still is very little wind, so the likelihood of our dragging is nearly
nonexistent, but, chain doesn't do you any good in the locker, and we have
an electric windlass, so it's only a matter of time, not effort, to deal wth
lots of chain!

Sunday saw us up a bit earlier, as we headed off to Green Turtle Cay at
10:45. Again, a very short trip, we had the anchor down by 11:30. Like
many of the areas in the Abacos, getting into town wasn't possible in our
boat, so it was a dinghy ride in from our anchorage pretty close to Black
Sound. The girls had been on their best behavior, and since they didn't
have any interest in walking around, we turned over the telephones, for
their parental conversation fixes, and the computers, for their youtube
fixes, to them - a reward, among various we'd developed as coping skills,
for not attacking each other as was frequently the case (sisters, don'tcha
know), in this case on the fabulous WiFi still available from Munjack
Special, and headed in.

I'd been clued by a sistership owner how to get local information, so while
we were walking around the first time, we identified where we were to return
the following morning for the local coffee gathering. The local shops and
stores were mostly closed, being Sunday, but we did encounter one of the
coffee shop regulars who told us how to find it in the morning. Green
Turtle Cay, New Plymouth being the town there, is a lovely old-town
atmosphere with small-town flavor, and, absolutely immaculately clean. It's
as though someone comes and sweeps the streets every day.

The Abacos, by comparison to the Exumas (at least those we've seen,
admittedly few of either), is very much more populous. Also, by virtue of
most of the Abacos having been settled by Loyalists during the US
Revolutionary War, most of the small towns are predominantly white, though
we encountered very few folks of any color out and about, perhaps because it
was Sunday. However, among the very few open establishments, there was a
grocery store which gladly sold me and Lydia one of OUR rewards, an ice
cream sandwich and prepackaged ice cream cone, which we ate quickly before
they melted in the hot and sultry air.

Among the other benefits of the store, however, was that the proprietor was
the parent of the local Johnson/Evinrude rep. Our motor, since its overheat
in the search for Portia in Saint Simons, despite my having replaced the
entire water pump, wasn't behaving well, so I wanted to have it looked at by
someone smarter than me in that area. Fortunately, Jimmy Roberts agreed to
meet me at 1:30 the following afternoon, being committed in the morning.
Having learned the hard way, we moved a couple of miles out for our
anchorage so as to make it more difficult for the mosquitos to find us
(successfully), but also would entail a much longer dinghy ride to the
service guy, and turned in.

My next several days were occupied with outboard repair issues. I took the
ladies ashore at the repair shop, and they hiked over the hill to the
library while we started in on the engine. While I'd sort of expected some
quick fix, and to meet them there with the heavy bookbag, by 3 we were still
hard at it, so Lydia hiked back to the shop and picked up the bookbag for
exchanges. As we are finding common, apparently (it was the same way at
Georgetown last winter, though we never got there), libraries in the Bahamas
are exchanges as well as places for the locals to check out and return
reading material.

At the library, Lydia had our 20 books exchanged for ones we'd not yet read,
Madi, our older granddaughter, had chosen a couple for herself and Quin had
made friends with a couple of the area children, playing computer games as
they waited. The first afternoon of engine work got a couple of obvious
things sorted out, and replacements under way, but by 4:30 when we stopped,
there was still no joy. He said I should come back first thing in the
morning, so, I left.

I buzzed around to the harbor, where walking to the library with the heavy
backpack would be a no-brainer, vs the hike the girls had before, and Lydia
a second time with the backpack, and went in to fetch them. Off we went for
a walk to a locally famous place which had invented the Goombay Smash, a
favorite in the Bahamas, where Lydia and I had one each, while the kids had
Pepsis, a change from the Cokes aboard. We got to talking to two couples
who were chartering with Sunsail, who ALSO knew about our supposed
distress! - but were much more interested to hear of our wreck on the first
trip we took in Flying Pig. Both couples have full-time cruising as a
target for their futures, so they were very happy to hear of our experiences
and encouragement to do the same for themselvs (without the wreck, of

Shortly, we headed to the boat for dinner and an early bedtime, in our
way-out, mosquito-free environment. I couldn't tell you what the ladies did
aboard, but it took me all day before I returned for good. Without the gory
details, I went back early the next morning, our not having solved the
problem in the first go-round, followed by, again, returning after lunch, as
we worked through all the permutations of what might cause the curious
performance of our venerable (1992) engine that had heretofore provided such
reliability. Each time I went away, he thought some more, and dragged more
parts out of his spares (from other engines) or new (stock) inventory.

Eventually, we replaced everything having to do with electricity or fuel
other than the spark plugs, which I'd replaced at the same time I did the
water pump, all to no avail. The final trip was the first thing before we
headed out to Marsh Harbour, and, essentially, provided the "I give up - I
presume you've got some ring blowby, despite the relatively-ok compression
test (but which, with a locking pressure gauge, likely would have shown
bleed-down instead of the fixed reading at the end) is about the only
possibility for the apparent loss of power." He'd hated to admit defeat,
and kept working at the problem, so kept thinking on it and having me come
back, but in the end, while it ran very much better, the outboard still
didn't have its initial "hole shot' (getting the dinghy up on plane from a
dead start), or quite the top-end power and speed it had before.

It wasn't until then that he'd take payment which, in light of all the time
and effort, not to mention the new head gasket and carburetor rebuild kit,
was a real bargain at $150. After it was all over, I'd wished I'd taken the
camera, as all the stuff we did (well, I kibitzed and we chattered, while he
did) is just the kind of documentation I'd normally have of my repairs and
improvements in my gallery of stuff we've done on the boat!

So, on Wednesday, October 7th, we set sail for Marsh Harbour at 10AM. We
quickly had a fish on the line, and by 1PM had boated him. As the water was
calm enough, as the girls helped Lydia clean up the deck where he'd splashed
some of his blood, I got ready to clean him on the platform. Once in my
harness and strapped to the stanchion, I set about filetting, and then
marinating our catch. The girls got a chance to experience fish right off
the bone as I was filetting, handing them the inevitable small scraps, a
treat for them as they both enjoy sushi.

Arrival in Marsh Harbour was uneventful, other than that we took a tour of
the ship channel, in the main, and out the minor one, to our anchorage in
~10' of water neaby to the public dock, settled in by 3PM. It wasn't until
then that we checked our email and phones, learning that Craig Air had tried
to contact us regarding the cancellation of the girls' flight home on

As the phone contact there wasn't reliable, we did most of the arranging
with their parents and the airline to, eventually, settle on the flight a
day earlier. Once that was settled, we used the remaining time that day
wander the streets and look for souvenirs for the girls to spend the money
which had been burning a hole in their pockets the entire time, and to get
the lay of the land, so to speak. We were able to pick up a bit of
information for our next day's wanderings, and headed back to the boat after
the girls made preliminary choices at the only place we found open, a gift
shop on the main drag.

I grilled our marinated filets while Lydia made a combination macaroni
noodle and vegetable side dish. This is a fish we've still yet to
conclusively identify, but, whatever it was, it was not only delicious but
the girls loved it, and the veggie-noodle combo as well, a pleasant surprise
compared to the usual dinnertime antics. We turned in, ready to go
exploring the next day.

We'd noted, as we hunted for a place to go ashore the previous evening, that
one of the marinas had a laundry facility, always of interest to Lydia, as
there's nothing (really!) she enjoys more than doing laundry. So, we
stopped in there first, when the office was open, and were given a tourist-y
advertising map of several communities and surrounding islands, as well as a
recommendation for a taxi driver for tomorrow, Friday, when the girls would
fly out. We were also noted that they had an exchange library for cruisers
there, and brought in yet another pile of books to exchange. Having now
been directed to the public dock, we went up there to go explore.

Marsh Harbour is a very commercially viable city, with a couple of major
groceries, one of which will deliver an order to your dock! and all the
usual other services found in metro areas. We were able to walk to one of
the grocery stores where we were amazed at the variety and, in some cases,
the prices, noting that some of them were markedly lower than we'd found in
Georgetown the prior winter. We stopped in several places of interest, but
in the end, other than a couple of items Madi bought at a rather high-end
gift shop, the girls made their purchases at the same store we'd been in the
prior evening, and we returned to the marina for a drink of cold water, and
the cell number of the recommended taxi driver, so that I could contact him
directly rather than over the VHF open-air discussion which could be heard
by all. Madi wanted me to walk down to the public dock and bring the dinghy
back to pick them up, but we all walked "home" - to our awaiting dinghy -

There, Lydia encountered a different taxi, and, while I was firing up the
dinghy and before I could stop her, had made arrangements for our trip to
the airport and back. However, once back aboard, I called the cell number
the marina had provided us for Fabian, Taxi 129, and he made a round trip
deal for 20% less. My next call was to the taxi Lydia'd met, relieving him
of meeting us.

Friday, October 9 dawned and we made ready for leaving for the airport. The
girls had already set out all their things they'd need overnight, and packed
all the rest, so putting it all together was a pretty easy chore. Madi
mailed off her homework and book reports to herself so she'd have them for
her parents when they returned to their regular home-school environment, and
we went off to the airport.

Not surprisingly, given the small size of the airport, and of the carrier,
whose plane would accomodate at most 17 passengers, checking in and clearing
customs was about a 10-minute affair, despite the airline wanting us there 2
hours early. Our taxi driver had said we'd need a maximum of an hour, so we
splt the difference, arriving at 10:30 for a noon flight. In the end,
because all were present and accounted for, the plane and its 7 passengers -
includig a leashed dog! - left 20 minutes early!

In the end, we were bitterly disappointed that we'd not been able to show
the girls what we'd expected of the beauty and variety of the Bahamas. The
islands we'd been to along the way had, at most, a couple of beaches (which,
admittedly, were the highlight of the trip for them), but not the first
interesting snorkeling spot, no fish to feed as they swarmed around you
looking for the rice we'd put into Gatorade bottles with a 1/4" hole melted
into the top (fill it with seawater, squeeze, and out comes some rice, a
fish treat), and, with that single exception, not the feast of fish to eat,
fresh out of the water. Accordingly, I'm sure the girls had some negative
reports about the supposedly wonder-filled, exciting, times in the Bahamas
to report to their parents. However, other times and places, where we've
already been and know the local knowledge needed to find those things we
think kids would stand, slack-jawed, in wonder about, will happen, we're

So, we leave you for now, having put the kids on the plane, and having the
boat to ourselves for the first time in 4 weeks...

Until next time, Stay Tuned!


Skip and Crew

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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