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Old 07-05-2010, 17:28   #1
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Long Island to George Town, Exumas, Bahamas 4-21-10 and Regatta Week

Long Island to George Town, Exumas, Bahamas 4-21-10 and Regatta Week

When we left you, we were safely at anchor, still without internet
connection, in the same place we started in Long Island weeks ago. Due to
our desire (well, Lydia's obsession, by this time) for internet
connectivity, and the presumed weather window from Chris Parker's previous
forecast, we went to bed expecting to leave the next morning, to George
Town, where we knew we'd find internet available to us aboard.

Getting up early to tune into his 6:30 forecast, Chris forecast weather
which looked ideal for a spinnaker run to George Town. After a leisurely
breakfast, we had the anchor up by 9:30, and were off to our first waypoint,
the one at the entrance to the harbor. As we'd be flying the spinnaker, we
luxuriated in the use of Perky, our main propulsion engine (after the sails,
of course!!) on our 271*T course for just a few minutes.

While Lydia drove, I got the spinnaker ready, and by 9:40, we were ready to
have Ray (our chartplotter) make our first turn, instructing Otto (the
autopilot) in his duties. That would put us on a course of 300*T, and, once
we made the corner, up went the spinnaker on a starboard tack against the
slightly southwest breeze.

It was very nearly directly behind us, not the most efficient for our
asymmetrical spinnaker (with a true spinnaker, you adjust to the wind
direction by using a pole to hold out the tack - the windward portion of the
bottom of the sail - but this had a sleeve which went over the furled genoa,
keeping the tack centered, which is better for wind less fully behind us.

Indeed, the sail billowed a bit, blowing the luff (the part closest to the
wind) over the genoa frequently, but by playing with the sheet, we were able
to minimize that, and we were making 3.7 knots in 0 knots of apparent wind
at 160-180* behind us. The seas were pretty calm, so it was a very quiet
sail, on a brilliant day.

Just before we left, a sistership (a Morgan 462) hailed us from
Clarencetown, a harbor on the southeast side of Long Island. They, too,
were heading to George Town, but they had much further to go, and were
motorsailing in the very light airs. We'd probably arrive about the same
time, as we had a head start on them by about 30 miles, but we were going
much more slowly.

With the very light air, we were wondering if we'd have to motor, too, but
the wind filled in a bit as we moved out of the wind shadow of Long Island.
Oops... The wind died at 11:30, and by noon we'd made the reluctant
decision to turn on the engine again. The spinnaker came down without
incident, was stowed, and we motored along at 2200RPM, rolling a bit in the
very light seas.

As is our practice, for the infrequent times we have to
motor, as long as we're making all that electricity, we run the fuel
polisher. Our first Racor (the fuel filter immediately after the tank)
filter replacment, happening at a known (it may well have been more, as it
was the same one we got with the boat, 6 years ago) 1000 hours plus proved
that the polishing system worked, so we take advantage of it!

Just after we struck the spinnaker, we noticed a prominent foam line in the
water, extending as far as the eye could see in either direction. There were
no notable features in the bottom to suggest a current striking a line, but,
none the less, apparently there was a current differential, as we dropped a
full half knot as we crossed it. We'd later cross that line, which
meandered, several times along the same rhumb line, and each time, our speed
would rise or fall depending on which side of the line we were on at the

Suddenly, at 12:40, we had a vicious strike on the single pole we had out.
(The sheet for the spinnaker crosses over where the port fishing pole is
mounted, making it really nervous-making - recall the loss of the reel
recently during a spinnaker jybe - to use that one!) As quickly as I had
the pole in my hand, it went slack. Did the fish throw the lure? Reeling it
in proved that it simply snapped the 30# line! OY!! Another contribution
to Davey Jones, a new cedar plug, this time! No biggie, I have more lures
and fittings, and, better yet another pole ready to put in the holder...

Ready to go, and the old maxim of "Where there's one, there's likely to be
another" proving true by another strike at 1PM, on our painted cedar plug.
It turned out to be a very big barracuda, which we released, not wanting to
take chances with ciguatera poisoning. Regular readers here will recall
that we normally don't keep any larger than 30 inches...

By this time, I'd redone the other pole with another leader and lure, this
one a blue skirted "squid" looking thing, and we got another large strike at
1:45. This one felt really big, too, and he'd taken a lot of line out
before I got him stopped. Lydia throttled back to reduce the pressure and I
proceeded to reel him in.

Another big barracuda, this one taking a very long time to land. Too big,
another release, and we were powered up again by 2:15, still on our original
course line. By now, with the sun nearly directly overhead (this area uses
Daylight Saving Time, and is near the western side of the time zone, so the
"sun" time was close to noon), and the only breeze coming from our forward
progress, it was very hot aboard. Fortunately, of course, the solar panels
loved it, putting out 25 amps of power, supplementing our alternator's input
to the batteries..

Hallelujah, a breeze came up at 2:05, and by 2:10 we had our genoa up. The
wind had clocked, as forecast, and we were at 60* apparent wind, but only 4
knots - which resulted in not much forward speed! However, we were still on
track for arrival well before dark, and would beat our sistership by an hour
or so at this rate.

Drifting along, we eventually made the various corners in the entrance to
the channel leading to Elizabeth Harbour. Like the last time we went
through here, though, on the way out to Long Island, our chartplotter and
GPS went crazy, going off and/or misdirecting. After a dozen or so panic
corrections and circular movements by our power steering, we finally made it
through the cut.

Sure enough, as soon as we were headed into the harbor, we had a fish
strike. This one didn't take any energy, however, as it was just a small
jack - about right for a sandwich for us, later. Rather than deal with it,
as light as it was, I just left it on the pole, in the holder, hanging out
to the side :{))

As soon as we made the first marker, we saw that the beginning day of the
Family Island Regatta was in full swing, with the harbour full of boats.
This is a REALLY big deal with the Bahamians, with boats being shipped in
from all the various surrounding islands, and the 3 classes being fiercely
fought over a 3-day race schedule. We were concerned for where we might
have to go to elude the pack, and/or not interfere with the racing, so a
call on the VHF soon put us straight. We could go to any of the usual
anchoring beaches and not be in the way.

So, by 5:45, we were anchored in Sand Dollar beach, and I quickly filleted
our jack, putting the filets into some marinade in the refrigerator, for
eating later. Of course, one of the reasons for "hurrying" (you can hardly
call our trip a hurry) back to George Town was for the internet. Where we
were, we connected to the VERY sporadic internet. It turns out that the
huge visitor population for Regatta Week was severely taxing Batelco, the
state-run telephone system, and internet connectivity suffered. We crossed
our fingers that it would improve by the time the regatta was over, but in
the immediate term, I resorted to winlink, my Ham email interface to my Ham
radio. Unfortunately, for Lydia, that's VERY brief text messages, not the
extended conversations and Skype video calls she was looking for...

Regatta week is an annual event - this one being the 57th - featuring wooden
boats built to the style and substance of the fishing boats which used to be
the chief means of commerce for the fishermen in the Bahamas. People come
from all over the Bahamas, and it's PARTY TIME!!!

We'd originally thought to anchor close to town, the better to reprovision
our water and fuel, both of which have to be jugged in our dinghy. As we'd
JUST run out of our main tank (averaging a little under 3 gallons of water
consumed/used per a day), we knew that would be a major undertaking.

We'd also not refilled our diesel since we left Marsh Harbour, months ago,
so that would take an unknown amount, too, this being the first fill with
our new injectors, and being close to the little inlet on which the gas
station, to which we carried our jugs, was located, would cut down on the
ferrying time considerably.

However, we were advised that it would be very noisy, all night, over there,
so we parked on the other side. Not finding any satisfaction for internet
there, we moved up to Volleyball Beach, where we'd anchored last year. That
wasn't any better, but we found that everyone was having the same problem,
regardless of their connection source - paid, walk-in, or open-site. Just a
Batelco problem, it likely would go away at the end of the regatta.

While we waited, we enjoyed the racing from a front row seat, including, on
Saturday, the final day. when the winds dictated, the boats tacking through
the anchorage, threading their way between the anchored boats. However,
Saturday also included Volleyball beach being swarmed by the locals and the
visiting power boats. Unfortunately, most of them had no regard for the
anchored boats, and blasted through, including one wakeboarder, of all
things, creating very large wakes.

One of these wakes thoroughly drenched - over the top! - our Honda
generator, sitting on the platform at the stern, a wave height of more than
3 feet. Of course, that knocked it out - we'd been using it because we were
on the computers below, and Lydia was polishing her beans (more below) - but
were hopeful that simple drying would allow it to work again. That proved
accurate, we're glad to say. The pull start recoil mechanism misdesign
aside, they're nearly bulletproof little machines!

Meanwhile, to Lydia's beans...

We'd had great luck in finding sea beans in the Jumentos, and our bench
grinder, equipped with a buffing wheel, along with polishing rouge (a very
light abrasive in a wax medium), made very short work of changing ugly
ducklings into beautiful swans, so she's been spending a lot of time (back
at the old grind??) dressing up her beans. Between the computers and the
grinder, we've been using more amps than usual, thus the Honda generator...

Our sistership arrived in short order, and we got together with them for
dinner one night. While they were here, we bought their Caribbean charts
which they weren't able to use on this trip, their last for many years, and
the captain and I repaired a fishing reel which had been misbehaving.

That was the first of our 1-2-3's - the usual boat chores which accumulate
along the way. In the succeeding days, the internet would, indeed, return.
As usual, our conversations with other cruisers usually eventually include
their wondering if we'd had any luck with the internet.

Of course, regular readers here know that we ALWAYS have luck with our
internet, assuming there's any bandwidth to be had (none in Regatta Week).
As such, I wound up helping several folks figure out how to make it happen,
and, along the lines of my seminar on Wireless Communications For Cruisers,
delivered twice last year, and again this year, some of them had Ham/SSB
communication difficulties I was able to assist with.

Well, one cruiser was so overwhelmed with that assistance and (anyone who
knows more than you do on a subject is an expert or "guru") my presumed
infallibility that he put out on the morning net that I was the go-to guy
for WiFi answers, and had a means (the transcript of my seminar) to solve
their problems which wouldn't take much time to get.

Wouldn't you know, today most of the time I'd expected to have been ferrying
water and fuel, I had a half-dozen visitors who needed my "expertise" -
which, of course, led to my showing them what I had, a pictorial review of
my installation, a demonstration of how it worked, and so on. I could have
done another seminar in less time :{))

For the record, I have no financial interest or commercial connection to the
company who supplied my gear, but if you're a cruiser and want killer WiFi
internet aboard, visit Marine PC's & WiFi by IslandTime PC, and/or drop a line - Bob Stewart is the absolute king of
customer service; we met when I was having the trials of the damned
attempting to make some other vendor's product work as he'd promised it
would. It patently wouldn't, but Bob saw my thrashings on a usenet
newsgroup on wireless internet, sent me a PDF diagram of how I could make it
work (it did, but not what I wanted in the end). He later sent me the link
to buy the piece of gear which he sold as part of a full system which would
fix my problem, and then did another PDF of the setup for me. This without
my being a customer...

Needless to say, I was pretty high on him, so when his new setup came out, I
immediately got one and installed it. It was an improvement on my prior
setup; you can see screen scans of some of the places in the Bahamas I've
captured signals on his web site, on my sub-page there (run your mouse over
the WiFi section and click on Flying Pig). Note that I'm not the only one
featured; I've just got some more info useful to cruisers thinking of using
his solution...

Anyway, our time and new-friends-and-old meetings-and-greetings have
continued here, along with my chores. I've just finished the KISS wind
generator reinstallation, which involved reassembly of all the parts, a
fiddly job, and balancing the blades (a VERY critical step, as it assures
whisper-quiet operation). Unfortunately, as I was nearly finished, a squall
came up, so I had to put away my tools and wait before making the electrical

However, we are now back in operation, and making amps, albeit not many with
the now-calm air. Earlier today we had a puff of wind and were rewarded
with lovely amps flowing into the battery. I look forward to the time when
we have some of what we seem to have had for the last 5 months, constant
15-20 knot winds, as we'd never run the Honda. Instead we'd run the
microwave! :{))

It's difficult to convey how much we love living our lives at sea.
Relatives and parents and friends' relatives and parents, and, at my age, my
classmates, are dying or becoming incapacitated. This life keeps us young,
healthy, and fit, not to mention ecstatic.

We may stay here another week or more, waiting for our dearest and closest
cruising friends to make the passage up here from the west coast of Puerto
Rico, or we may head out for some of the islands between here and Abaco,
where we will be catching a plane to the states for the month of July. I'll
probably take advantage of the shallow location on the town side of the
harbor to let us go aground in the full-moon shallows and scrub the bottom
again, as we seem to have accumulated a slight fuzz.

We're halfway through our rewatering, which involves us taking our 8
collapsible camping 5-gallon water bags in to the free spigot at Exuma
Markets, filling them, returning to the boat and pourng them into the tank
fill, using a large funnel. As soon as the first 4 were emptied, I jumped
in the dinghy and sped in again. By the time I'd filled and returned, Lydia
had the other 4 empty, and we did that several times before taking a break
from that back-bending job (leaning over the funnel and pouring slowly
enough that most of it went in) to get our propane filled on the tanker's
regular Wednesday visit to the same little lake where I was getting the

At the same time, I emptied our 4 diesel jugs into the fuel tank (exactly 5
gallons each, allowing us, at the end of the exercise, to have an accurate
measure of how much we put in) and took them along for filling at the local
filling station, with its convenient dinghy dock in the same lake. A couple
more of those runs and pouring them into the OTHER (not in the water tank!)
fill, and our diesel tank was also full. I'll take the empties in for
filling, along with our single empty (after all that time in the Jumentos)
dinghy can in for filling, tomorrow, as we finish our jug transfers.

I'm thrilled to say that our refueling showed that we averaged 0.83 gallons
per hour of running the diesel, nearly half what we had been seeing before
our new injectors went in. So, despite the annoyance of the treatment we got
at the hands of Foley Engines and Dr. Diesel (another thread in this log
series), it was very well that I installed the rebuilt units. At $4.10
(better here than in Long Island, and much better than in Abaco) a gallon,
saving half on our fuel costs quickly pays for the rebuilds!

I'll update you later, as we start moving again, but for now, I'm off to bed

Until next time, Stay Tuned!


Skip and crew, happy in George Town, Exuma Bahamas

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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