Adventures of Adirondack

Adventures of Adirondack

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lions and Tigers and Iguanas?? Oh My!

We hear it is very cold back in Minnesota, but we are basking in 75-80 degree temperatures, breezes that keep the no-see-ums away and crystal clear blue waters. We've had a number of boat repairs and I find myself handing over tools and wielding them also. The throttle needed fixing and then the pin fell out of the shifter. Yesterday we replaced the impeller in the generator motor, luckily figuring out how to take the whole thing off the back of the motor and fix it where you could see it - a good thing in mechanical interventions. Now of course everything is working on the boat - at least for a little while!

We left Nassau and headed to the Exumas on the 22nd and went to Allen's Cay, known for its population of iguanas. The anchorage was a bit windy and rolly, but our anchor bit in solid to the sand and we could sleep well, knowing we wouldn't drag. The next day, we took the dinghy over to Leaf Island, walking the perimeter and visiting with the iguanas. They have a lovely pink color to their heads and seem quite friendly, but are known to bite, so we gave them lots of space.

The wind died down a bit yesterday, so we moved south to Highbourne Cay, home to a fancy marina and resort. We anchored off the west side of the island and dinghied in to explore. Lots of fancy BIG boats and well maintained buildings. They had some "island bikes" in a rack with the sign "Use at your own risk." They helped us ride the one road through the island and see the beach at the north end.

Today we plan to move down to Norman's Cay - an island owned by a drug lord who is currently in jail in the States. Then we'll be looking for a sheltered spot to wait out the next front coming through the area early next week. I'm getting good at picking up the weather report on our single side band radio receiver every morning at 6:30. I can sit out on the back deck in my nightshirt with a cup of coffee and listen in. Great to get good weather predictions.

The dark side of cruising

Someone once defined cruising as, " the art of repairing your boat in exotic and expensive locations." Well, just so you don't start thinking the whole trip is 70 - 85 degrees, no rain, perfect beaches, crystal clear water and bunches of new and interesting friends, here is another side:

So we were pulling out of our Nassau marina the other day, bound for the Exuma Islands, our eventual destination. Excitement was in the air, as this 40 mile stretch would likely be our last real crossing. All we had left on the horizon was leisure, beaches, palm trees, great food, beverages and friends; you get the picture. We were still in the harbour (they are harbours here)when the throttle would not go past 1200 rpm, meaning the boat just would not go past half speed. "Sally, we have a problem; you need to take the helm!" I commanded in my best captain's voice. She went up top to pilot while I tackled the problem. She, of course, had no idea what was wrong and neither did I.

I went down below into the "holy room" and it seemed the connection to the fuel injection operated properly. The one up top felt OK, but the one at the lower helm seemed suspect. I took it apart and found a plate had worked its way loose and was jamming the whole mechanism. I also figured I could jury rig it to operate at normal speed and get us to the Exumas, where we would fix it properly. This took a while. Meanwhile Sally was piloting the boat expertly around the shoals and fairly heavy traffic. It is Nassau, home of lots of boats.

I finally went up top and reported my findings. I explained that I had completely disassembled and rebuilt the engine WHILE IT WAS RUNNING, and we could finish the job at anchor later on, which we did. Or I should say she did, as it was one of those jobs that can only be done left-handed and my left hand just doesn't do these types of projects. So, we're now all done working on the boat, right?

Well, not really. The night before last we fired up the generator (genset, in boating language) and I leaned outside as always to listen for the reassuring sound of water being pumped out the exhaust. This cooling function is essential to a living motor. There was no water. OK, we'll start it again, and again, and again. Still no water. This time instead of being in Nassau where we might have found a real mechanic, we were in Allen's Cay, inhabited only by a LOT of iguanas. No mechanics.

So the next morning Sally and I replaced the impeller, a three hour job getting at small parts in impossible locations. I was drenched in sweat and dirt and grease when finished but IT WORKS!!

So now we are all done working on the boat. Nothing else could possibly go wrong. Capt. Jeff

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Who knows how long it will be before we can post anything again, as we are just about to leave Nassau for the Exumas, a group of islands about 40 miles southeast of here without a lot of connections in the way of email.

We've had some spectacular weather since we first crossed to Bimini, pretty much flat calm all the way across the 5 to 15' deep Bahama Banks where it looks like you're driving across the top of a 2' deep aquarium and the 9980' deep Atlantic to Nassau, where we sit now at Starbucks. Above is Sally sitting out on deck mastering the SSB radio, for the all-important Chris Parker weather forecast. We were out on an anchorage right between these two big bodies of water, but there was nothing in sight but water and very calm seas. We skinny-dipped and watched the sum go down and up, the only boat for miles. Waaay cool.

We had been waiting there for our friends Dennis and Mary catch us in "Tortola," but they had engine issues on the crossing day and are going to be held up by weather in Florida until the weekend. We're pulling out and waiting for them. We'll connect soon, we hope. It's amazing how so many plans can be derailed by a simple engine part.

Nassau is too fast for me; I'm looking forward to the calmer islands. 

Ever wondered what the real "Fountain of Youth" looks like? Well, this is it, the place where Ponce de Leon went so far so bathe. Well, we didn't bathe in it because we couldn't fit down the hole, even though I've lost 21 pounds on this trip. Now we've seen it, definitely a once in a lifetime experience, that's for sure.   Capt. Jeff

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bimini, and beyond

We were wrestling with the decision about crossing the Gulf Stream from Miami to Bimini. We didn't have a very big window and this is always a big deal, going in BIG water in a SMALL boat with BIG current and wind. We decided the best option was to leave at 0130 and out the Government Cut, a huge inlet that serves commercial shipping and cruise boats. It wasn't a great crosing as the waves were more than we wanted (they are almost always more than we want) but we got in to Bimini Sands Marina at about 0830 and tied up. South Bimini is an interesting little spot with a very well protected marina and just about nothing else. There's a bar that calls itself "Last Chance Duty Free Liquor" just down the road from here and nothing else.

We dinghied over to North Bimini today and have fried conch and conch salad, checked out the scuba diving options and came back. The Bahamanians have an interesting way of doing business that drives people crazy. As an example, this dive place communicates with customers via a VHF radio, a fairly cheap device found on every boat in the area. When we went there their radio didn't work. It was no big deal to the guy who worked there, and apparently not to the owner either, who had a schedule that neither hos worker or we could figure out. Not a big deal, I guess. And the place is just a mess, with every bit of trash, appliances, vehicles that anyone has used just strewn about. Terrific people and scenery though. The water is "kool-aid blue," just like in the pictures. Wow.

Photos include a pelican trying to eat me, our special conch salad place and Sally trying unsuccessfully to communicate with some termites on a nature walk near here. We should also make our gentle readers aware that we will be going to the official "Fountain of Youth" located very near here that Ponce de Leon traveled so far to bathe in. If Sally and I look years younger when we get back, you'll know why.
plan to head east to a shallow spot "on the banks," sort of in the middle of nowhere, where we plan to anchor out and wait for our friends who are traveling all night from Florida. No wifi there, that's for sure. We can join up with them and head to Nassau, and then to off the Exumas. Capt. Jeff

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Shopping, Shopping, Shopping

Jeff and I usually hate to shop. We don't buy many clothes and many are from Goodwill (25% off on Wednesdays if you are old). It has been a lot more fun to "provision" which means shopping for the boat.

We spent two nights in Fort Lauderdale. They have the mother ship of all West Marine stores there. It is HUGE - over 30 associates working and they do the same business in an ordinary month that the store where Jeff works part-time in Stillwater does in a year. We stocked up on a number of last minute items for the boat and each got a new swimsuit.

The next day, our friend Bill from "Monkey Girl," the cute tug we met up in the Chesapeake, took us grocery shopping. We filled two carts with food to take to the Bahamas. It was quite the shopping expedition. We have managed to find spots for all of it in various nooks and crannies on the boat. It was wonderful to see Bill and Laura and we hope to see them again in the Exumas.

We left Fort Lauderdale and are now in Miami, full of fuel, food and water. The weather looks like it might cooperate to settle down the waves in the Gulf Stream so we can cross to Bimini tomorrow. Sally

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friends - New and Old

Cruising is such an interesting life style. Every day is different - new scenery, new challenges, new experiences, new critters and new people.

We are heading south down the Intracoastal Waterway of Florida. We are "inside" meaning we are behind the barrier islands on the coast, trundling past the backyards of fancy houses and in wild, marshy, mangrovy areas. We are seeing lots of dolphins, some of which swim alongside the boat jumping up to take a look at these interesting creatures floating on the water. The pelicans glide just above the water - we keep waiting for one to catch a wing tip and cartwheel into the water, but they never do.

The other night, I woke up very early and reached over to my bedside light to get my headlamp to read for a bit. I felt something cool next to the headlamp, turned it on and was surprised to see a small, very green lizard on the wall by my head. I did not scream (as Jeff would have you believe), but did wake him up to see it as it walked across his pillow. I was a biology major and am not freaked out by most fauna. The next morning we found the lizard, caught him and contained him and were able to let him go when we docked in Cocoa, FL to visit the world's biggest, funkiest hardware store. He was glad to get back to land.

We've met some wonderful fellow cruisers - a pair of Aussies on the sailboat "Salty Sally" - a great name for a boat, I think - and another Minnesota couple on another sailboat.

In addition to new friends, we ran into some old friends. We took a mooring ball in Vero Beach, dinghied in to the dock and took the free bus to town to start provisioning for the Bahamas. When we returned, there was a note on our door from Dan and Kathy "Ariel" - fellow cruisers we met doing the Great Loop trip six years ago! They now spend their winters in Vero Beach and were looking at boats in the marina to find friends from Michigan who had just arrived. They saw "Adirondack," checked at the office to find out if the boat was still ours and left a note with their phone numbers. We made contact and had a lovely dinner and catch-up with them. It helps to have a boat with a fairly unique name!

We are starting to look at weather to find a good window to make the passage across the Gulf Stream over to Bimini and the Bahamas. There are lots of lists being generated - things to pick up for the boat at the West Marine mother store in Fort Lauderdale and food and drink to stow for the trip where groceries will be expensive and hard to find in places.

We hope to connect with other friends we met up in the Chesapeake as we pass through Fort Lauderdale in the next few days. It makes being far from friends and family at home a bit easier. Sally

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wow, what a night!!

So at 4:00 I was awakened by a terrifying scream. I grabbed the only weapons available to me, some old bear spray, a small propane solder gun used only for precision electronics and some pain pills. I ran out on deck to find Sally hanging high up on the mast, yelling at the top of her lungs and pointing towards the dragon circling below. What a scene! I subdued the beast and wrestled it into a 55 gallon Ziplock container we had on deck and helped her down below and back to bed. She told me it had crawled over her during the night and she wanted to lure it outside to save me but things got out of control. We took it on shore the next day and let it go. Here's a photo.

I just read Sally's version of this incident. Really. Who are you going to believe? You can see the gallon markers right on the barrel. He was a monster; we were lucky to survive the encounter.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

On the Water Again!

And it feels great! We flew to Jacksonville on the 4th after a long visit with family and friends. It was nice to be home for a while and to enjoy a few times out on skis and the rest of what home has to offer but I'm happy to be moving south on the boat again. We reprovisioned on Saturday and were disappointed to hear about a bad weather forecast for today, so we slept in. I woke up, checked the all the sources and we decided it didn't sound so bad. The tide was running out the St. John's River all the way to the Atlantic and then washed us down the Intracoastal almost all the way to St. Augustine. We picked up a mooring in the new mooring field (pretty tough in the wind and current; ask Lisa and Dave. Good job, Sally.)

The only noteworthy part of the whole day was lunch. Sally decided to use up some expired mac and cheese (IGA, for you future provisioners). It was so awful we made a note of it in the boat log, then went out for dinner at Harry's in St. Augustine, a place Dave and Lisa had told us about. Well, they were already out of the Christmas special they recommended, but we found something almost as good to wash that lunch taste out. And we got back to the boat just before the rain that we had been watching all day arrived. Life is good. Capt. Jeff