Monday, January 30, 2017

stepping out

1 Jan 2017
Our anchoring spot at Lee Stocking Island has us just off shore from the Caribbean Marine Research Center:

We find ourselves with no immediately necessary boat projects and no impending storms.  How will we suffer through?

One morning here was more relaxed so we had home made sour dough pancakes.  Those of you who followed our misadventures 7 years ago might recall numerous comments about Sour Dough Saturdays, etc.  We have thought of having sour dough starter aboard each year, but couldn’t bring liquid starter aboard the airplanes.  This year we tried something different.  I had heard of powdered sour dough starter, so I poured some out on saran wrap and let it dry.  Then we bagged it and brought it along.  Ours was not powdered.  It was hard and in big chunks.  We didn’t have much hope, but a little flour and water to feed it and it came to life.   We’ve had whole wheat sour dough pancakes twice so far.

This day was set aside for hiking and exploring on the island.  The CMRC was a substantial research facility into which a lot of money had been invested.  Funding dried up and a little over 4 years ago it was shut down.  Personal possessions were packed up and the facility closed.  It was assumed it would re-open soon, but never did.  Food, computers, files, etc. were left behind.  Much of it has grown legs and disappeared, and storms have left unrepaired damage.  It is quite the ghost town now.  It had its own reverse osmosis water system and diesel  generation electrical system and landing strip.  There are over a dozen buildings for various purposes.  One of them holds dozens of large aquariums waiting to be refilled.  They also dammed around a natural lagoon so they could control water depth and inflow/outflow.  It is named Lobster Lagoon.

After wandering through several of the buildings, we walked across and down the island to several beautiful pinkish sand beaches.

Not every boat visiting the islands has a good trip.

At the northerly end of the island, we enjoyed our lunch on the deck of an abandoned home on a hill.  Our luncheon views?

On our way back through the facility, Barbara picked up a couple coconuts.  They weren’t completely green, nor were they ripe.  We both had seen people drinking exotic concoctions from green coconuts so we thought we would try to make our own.  I’ve never seen how “they” do it.  My efforts included a hand saw, a large screw driver and a hammer.  After much struggling and mess, I was able to puncture the nut and drain off the fluid.  It was clear, not milky.  However, when a little dark rum was added it made a tasty island cocktail!

During the day, no fish were to be seen around our boat.  However, right after dark, the water came alive with fish jumping and splashing.  They appeared to be about a foot and a half long.  What were they eating?  Where do they go in the daylight?

The next day was a lazy day and a short relocation to Leaf Cay.  It is best known for its “pink” iguanas.  They are not really pink all over, but the larger ones have pink on their legs and elsewhere.  When we arrived in our dinghy, they came out to greet us by the dozens. 

We left them to explore a couple other beaches on the island.  When arriving back at our dinghy, we learned why they surrounded us upon our arrival.

Passing tourist boats stop to show off the iguanas.  To make sure the iguanas do their share, the locals guiding the boats will bring bags of grapes.  The iguanas come out for lunch.

Another night at anchor and then off to Little Farmers Cay.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

25 Jan 2017

So This Is Why We Came

As we motored out of George Town this morning there was no wind and if there was any, it was on the nose. However, it was beautiful. Sun, smooth clear blue water and calm seas. I dragged a line in the water, as I have often done. Suddenly, FISH ON. I had hooked a dolphin fish! It was 3 to 4 feet long and jumping out of the water like it thought it was a flying fish.

“There’s a shark or something after it,” yelled Reggie. “Reel  faster.”

I’m not sure if it got away, or only got away from me, but that was my first ‘almost caught fish’ here! 

Later I had another bite, but missed it also. I’m sure I’m actually going to catch something this year.

We dropped anchor at Lee Stocking Island just offshore from the abandoned scientific base. There are only a few boats here and spread out. We are mostly all alone. We went for a nice long swim this afternoon and feel cool and refreshed.

Tomorrow we plan to hike the island.

Except for having to motor, it was a perfect day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Storm!?  Update 24 January 2017

We dodged the bullet.  Our storm was not as bad as predicted.  It began to break up a little farther north of George Town.  We had the rain squalls in the late afternoon and into the early evening.  Then, they stopped and the winds eased.  They picked up again overnight from the Northwest  and it was fairly rocky rolly over night.  This morning it was calm until after breakfast and then the wind picked up to probably 13-18 gusting 20.  We heard reports of 68 knot wind gusts at Eleuthra to the north.  If I remember correctly, 70 knots is category 1 hurricane strength.

The next several days are supposed to be benign so we are starting back north. We'll take it slow for now and stop places we've missed before.   First planned stop is Lee Stocking Island.  It might be worth a google for those of you interested.  We will be doing a little hiking and exploring on the beaches and among the palm trees, and perhaps some snorkeling.

We went in to the local marina called Exuma Yacht Club.  While I topped up the fuel cans and smaller tank, Barbara hoofed it to the local grocery store for a few provisions.  We have now moved across the road-stead and anchored at Honeymoon Beach.

 Last time we were here, a crew was ashore taking down the big tent and other equipment left from the previous day’s wedding of a couple from the US.  They are staying at the local Sandals resort.  We’ll submit to the comforts of our floating home.

Monday, January 23, 2017

oh Luci!

several folks asked about Luci.  Well, she is one of our favorites.  She comes with us on "Submit" and when we go to the old hunting cabin in the mountains. She really brightens our...nights!  She is an inflatable, collapsible solar recharged light.  She is bright enough to dine by and read by on low power.  She would have been sorely missed, hence the heroic efforts to save her.

Kidds Cove, Exumas, Bahamas 2-23-2017

Kidds Cove, George Town, Exumas, Bahamas 23 January, 2017

We moved out of Red Shanks anchorage after only about 2 hours and moved to Kidds Cove on the edge of Goerge Town.  We were concerned about being caught in Red Shanks if our fuel issues caused us to have no engine.  The entrance to Red Shanks is narrow and shallow.

An additional 2 days was spent working on the fuel  issue.  The port fuel tank has developed a leak so we needed to isolate it and get as much of the fuel out of it as possible before it all leaked into the bilge.  Isolating the tank was a time consuming project which included blocking its vent and removing its fill hose to create a fill hose for the starboard tank.  Also, since the two tanks functioned as a combined system, we had to de-couple them. 

On the cruisers net, there is a time for asking for help and we asked for the use of an electric fuel transfer pump.  Two different cruisers brought pumps for us to use.  One of the pumps worked out well for us and we were able to pump the fuel from the leaking tank into the non-leaking tank through its new jury rigged fill tube.  We had about 8 gallons of fuel which I had squeeze-bulbed into a couple of the 3 fuel cans donated to us by another cruiser.  This fuel was also added to the non-leaking tank.  Then we were able to pump the fuel and bilge water out of the deep bilge into one of the fuel cans for later proper disposal. 

Our fuel tankage has now dropped to about 25 gallons capacity.  We’ll top it up and then fill two fuel cans with an additional 10 gallons to carry and add as needed.

All the tank problems consumed a little over 3 days and I’m guessing over 4000 squeezes of the fuel bulb before my arms were saved by the loaned electric pump. 

Palm trees!  At about 4:30 pm day before yesterday, I was done.  I took a moment to look around and enjoy the palm trees, sunshine, pale green water over white sand, light breezes and high 70’s temperatures.  I guess if you have to suffer, you couldn’t picture a nicer place.  Of course, the dark Bahamian rum and guava juice cocktails helped!

Yesterday was spent in preparing the boat for the storm arriving this afternoon.  It is about 1:30 pm and winds are blowing 20-25 knots, gusting 30.  Barbara is down for an after lunch siesta.  In two hours, squalls and thunder storms are supposed to hit with winds gusting to the 50 knot range.  Boats have moved around the harbor area looking for some protection and good holding for their anchor.  All have their fingers crossed hoping they do not drag anchor. Breaking loose could lead to hitting another boat or running aground or worse.

 I glanced out the window just now and the leading edge of the clouds is starting to darken the sky.  The storm cells, highest winds and rain should only last about 3 hours, but then the wind is supposed to shift dramatically and blow all night with gusts to 40ish knots.  Few folks will sleep tonight and all the VHF radios will be tuned to channel 68 to listen for boats in distress in hopes they can be helped.  Things are supposed to calm down by Tuesday night.

We’ve decided to not travel further south this trip.  Services and supplies get fewer and farther between the farther south you go.  Instead, we’ll begin working our way back up the Exumas stopping at places we’ve been hoping to see.  The game plan is to cruise back towards the states and find a place for the boat to stay while we make repairs between trips.  Surely there must be a good spot for “Submit” and us along the coast somewhere between Texas and South Carolina!  In the past we have lived aboard “Submit” while making repairs and upgrades.  This next batch will probably be more comfortably and efficiently done if we find a place to stay nearby.

We’ve thought at times about what it would have been like to just go charter a boat for a trip each year instead of having our own boat.  No repairs.  No maintenance.  No storage.  No worries! 

Chartering would have been fun, but most locations popular for chartering are appealing to charter boat tourists.  We wanted to get off the beaten path.  And, charter trips usually last one to two weeks at the most.  We wanted to spend longer times on the boat and, since acquiring Submit 8 years ago, have lived aboard her for over two years, several months at a time.

For now, it is still pretty outside.   The pale sea foam green water has white caps, the palm trees are all leaning one way, and I’ve decided not to have a delicious rum drink right now just in case I need my wits about me later.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Red Shanks Anchorage

January 20th, 2017  Red  Shanks
We are at anchor in Red Shanks area, outside George Town, Exumas, Bahamas.  We were here last spring when our granddaughter Libby joined us for a week.  We walked beaches, snorkeled, collected sand dollars, explored a sea cave and had a delightful time with her.  We are enjoying light breezes, sunny skies and are surrounded by little uninhabited islands, though no palm trees.  I would guess the outside temperature at 80F.

Yesterday was the first day it wasn’t blowing like stink and people were starting to head out. We were planning to leave George Town this morning and head for Concepcion Cay.  So, why are we here?
Since last post we have been gradually getting “Submit” ready to travel.  We did find some damage from Hurricane Matthew.  The sparfly wind indicator is missing from the masthead.  But, while digging into various compartments, we found the companionway covers which we thought were lost.  We were delighted!

We have two  40 gallon water tanks aboard which were empty when we left the boat.  We have no large water cans, so on the two trips to town in the dinghy, we took an assortment of gallon and smaller jugs, we managed to add 16 gallons to one tank, a dismal job if necessary to fill both tanks this way.  We also were only about half in our two fuel tanks which hold a total of 45 gallons.  We have no way to haul fuel.  So the decision was made to go to a fuel dock and pay $.40 per gallon for water and much MUCH  more than that per gallon for what turned out to be 25 gallons of fuel.  I made brisk walks to collect the now filled propane bottle we had dropped off in town yesterday, to a different business to purchase a thermometer for our refrigerator and to a local café to buy take out lunch.  It was 11:45 am.  I was informed lunch would not be available for at least 45 minutes.  We'll skip it.

I headed to the grocery market where Barbara had been doing some last minute shopping, a few tomatoes, some broccoli, several bottles of guava juice and mango juice to mix with Haitian rum, another dozen eggs, another expensive loaf of bread, etc.  We hauled our treats back to the boat and were given permission to stay at the fuel dock long enough to eat lunch at the marina’s restaurant.  I think we have eaten there for the last time even if we stay here a while.

After lunch, we headed to Honeymoon Beach to anchor and continue preparations.  The wind had finally eased enough to allow us to install our sails.  After that, a short nap and then things began going down hill.  Barbara had a very unquiet tummy.  Perhaps the seafood fritters from the marina café had not been cooked completely through?

I had a sandwich and a beer for dinner and laid down to read.  Drip, drip, drip.  Furl leaking into the bilge.  A fuel tank has developed a leak.  We are not sure which one.  We decided we had to stay in George Town to sort this out instead of heading off to areas with no support and running out of fuel around here is an inadvisable option.  And we did not want to have fuel leaving the bilge to pollute the sea.

This morning we announced on the VHF cruisers net that we needed help.  We asked to find someone with a manual or battery operated pump and containers which could be used to pump fuel back out to the tanks.  They did not appear to be leaking at a little less than half full, so we needed to get the fuel down to about that level and see how it looked.  We have tried various ways to isolate one tank from the other in attempt to determine which one is leaking but so far have failed.

A sailor with an old sailboat called us saying he had jugs and a hand pump.  We headed across the roadstead and rafted up next to him.  His system failed to be able to draw fuel from the fuel fill.  I ended up disconnecting the fuel line near the engine and squeezing 22 gallons of diesel out of our tanks with the priming squeeze bulb the size you find on an outboard motor fuel line.  I’ve decided not to shake hands with anyone any time soon.  My new grip might harm them.

So, we’ve decided to hang out here at Red Shanks for the next several days, deciding what to do, enjoying the area, swimming, walking the beaches, snorkeling, perhaps diving under the boat to do a little cleaning today, tomorrow and Saturday.  Then a storm is headed through, building on Sunday, winds gusting to 50 or 60 knots possible Monday and gradually dying down on Tuesday.  We chose Red Shanks because it is protected from the waves during the high winds and the little islands around us may help to break the winds a bit.

Oops!  Change of plans.  Still fighting fuel tanks.  Back to Kidd’s Cove outside George Town.  Stay tuned.

Monday, January 16, 2017

First post of 2017

Day 1.
Day one: Boat yoga.
Arrived around noon and a taxi was waiting for us, arranged by Bob, who took good care of our boat while we were away. Our taxi driver kindly stopped at a store so we could purchase water, as we had left our tanks empty. He dropped us off at the water taxi, but Bob was there and gave us a ride to Submit.

Submit looked pretty good. No creatures. Some mold and rust. Moving in begins.

Reggie started by moving stowed items in the ‘hallway’ and installing them in the cockpit. Steering wheel, boom, dingy, etc., are back where they belong. Barbara was busy moving everything from one small area to the hallway, enabling her to wipe it down with anti-mold and then putting everything back, plus whatever we brought with us that would now live in that area. This helped Reggie improve his ‘mountain goat’ poses, as he climbed over the mountains she created.  He then folded himself into ‘mole pose’.  Some of you may not know this pose, so I’ll explain it. First, fold yourself into the smallest ball possible and ease yourself into the lazarette. Once stuffed into the confined area, you practice several other poses, mostly stretching your arms where they can’t possibly go. Occasionally, his head or one of his arms pokes out of the hole. This is why it is called ‘mole’ after the game Whack a Mole.

Barbara’s  boat yoga consisted of ‘frog’, which she tries every year and then gives up. It is a move she attempts it when making up the bed. As our bed has three walled sides, it is necessary to sit on the bed while it is being made. ‘Frog’ requires one to grab hold of the cushion, on which you are sitting, hop up and stuff the bottom sheet under the cushion.  Barbara cannot hop high enough nor tuck fast enough. She must resort to ‘rocking horse’ to do the corners of the head and that’s good enough.   The foot of the bed, which in encased in a box about three feet deep and 2 and one-half high, requires another pose, ‘inchworm’. With the sheet bunched in front of you, it pushed  towards the foot of the bed as you inch your way after it. Once there, Barbara finds combining ‘rocking horse’ with ‘inchworm’ works best.

We celebrated that night with freeze dried beef stew, which is left over from our back pack trip in Glacier last summer. We had some wine left from our last visit to Submit. To our surprise, it has turned to port.  We find we like it better if we add water, Croation style, but it isn’t bad without water.

Day two: Back packing cruising style:

We arranged for the water taxi to pick us up and take us into town. Back packing dehydrated food is OK, but we were in search of real food. First stop, however, was the phone company. Our Bahamian phone, didn’t seem to be working.  A nice young man punched a few buttons and we are set. Grocery store next. Unfortunately, the boat had just arrived and the shelves were not restocked. We were able to get a few vegetables, milk and eggs.

We stopped at the Towne Café, recommended by our taxi driver, for tasty grouper fingers for lunch.  When did groupers grow fingers?

We each put a bag on each shoulder and carried one in each hand. Barbara carried 30 pounds and Reggie maybe had 50? Hike back to Elvis, the water taxi to for the return ride to “Submit” to stow our food. 

We are both delighted with how well “Submit” came through the 9 months without us and hurricane Matthew.  No damage found.  One light needs to be re-glued to the side wall above the galley sink.  We had to replace the ventilation fan on the Nature’s Head composting toilet.  It was a real delight to find no bugs.  The bilge was not full and we don’t believe it was ever pumped in our absence.  We lost a couple port light covers and our companion way cover.  That is the biggest loss.  Barbara worked very hard on the companion way cover and it was great.  It sounds like bearings in the wind generator have died and need replacing.  Onto the list it goes.

We have numerous flashlights and other battery operated items aboard and therefore have a supply of various size batteries.  Many of the batteries are being thrown away because they have died or are dying.  It has been decided to eliminate battery operated flashlights.  There are great rechargeable flashlights available now, some with their own solar panel.  They can even be used to recharge cell phones and other devices.  We will try to eliminate as many battery operated devices as possible.

The evening included cribbage practice and curling up with books.  Between reading before sleep and again after 4 in the morning, Reggie finished  a Jesse Stone novel.  War and Peace it “ain’t” but entertaining it was. When he said he’d finished his book, Barbara had to wonder if it was “Cat in the Hat”. Guess he was awake longer than she thought.

Day 3: Upper body workout for Barbara and step aerobics for Reggie:

Reggie inflated the dinghy with the foot pump and launched it. Barbara started polishing away surface rust on the stainless steel. Don’t believe it when told stainless steel is low maintenance. Reggie took pity on her and rounded out his workout with his shoulder polishing exercises.  He also hooked the dinghy battery into the charging system, re-installed the blades on the wind generator and other odds and ends.

Barbara and Reggie Love Luci! Luci blew or was knocked overboard and was drifting away in the strong breeze. We have been having the same weather as last year. Strong winds from the north. Everyone is staying put. Reggie pulled the dinghy forward and Barbara leapt into it to rush to the rescue.  Paddles were thrown in and she was off to the rescue.   Barbara had forgotten how short the rope (painter) on the dinghy was. The shocked look on her face after turning around triumphantly with Luci in hand, tells all. She was ‘miles’ from Submit. “You let me go?”
“The rope wasn’t long enough,” he shrugged.  The strong breeze plus paddling with one oar took her quickly to Luci for the save.  However, getting back to submit proved no easy task.  She paddled mightily from the bow with one oar, not wanting to take the time to install both for proper rowing because she would lose too much ground and had no seat from which to row.  She made it to a mooring ball behind Submit and held on.   Reggie retrieved a long line and a fender from the lazarette, tied them together and threw them overboard.  The wind carried them to Barbara and she was retrieved along with the dinghy and Luci. 

Between the polishing and paddling, Barbara can hardly raise her arms.  We declared 3: 15 pm to be cocktail hour so she was presented a guava juice and Haitian rum cocktail.  She is reviving.

Tomorrow is moving day.  Our time on the mooring ball is up.  It may be challenging to find a reasonable spot to anchor.  Winds in the twenties plus gusting to 30 knots have been blowing for a couple weeks and are predicted for another week at least.  Finding a spot with protection could be difficult since the 100 plus other boats have already made their choices.  Anchoring solidly in a good spot is the secret to a good night’s sleep.