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.