Adventures of Adirondack

Adventures of Adirondack

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Another blow coming, and more!

Just to explain some of the routines down here, we'll tell you about more weather. A big western blow is coming on Sunday they say, and a lesser one tomorrow. There are precious few locations for protection from this direction, so everyone has this on their agenda. We found this cute little spot on our own on the charts. It's right at the south end of the Staniel Cay runway, so we get a few airplanes a day and it was shallow and tight to get into, but it looks like great protection, is accessible to the metropolis of Staniel Cay (where you can't even buy a lousy cucumber) and it has a very decent wifi connection! What else could a cruiser want? It better be nice; we could be trapped here for a week. Maybe Sally will write a blog! (I just couldn't help it....)

We had a potentially divisive incident here this morning, but she deftly got around it by splitting the last pieces of coconut bread perfectly in two portions. It's tough out here, and that coconut bread is GOOD!

And I should confess that everything doesn't always go so perfectly. So at home when we flush, it all disappears and we hardly give it a thought. When we are on the boat in the States, it all goes into our holding tank and pumped out on a regular basis into a sewer system. This requires some thought, but not much. Well, not out here; there are no pumpout facilities in the Bahamas, period. This means it goes into that holding tank and we wait until we traveling are in a deep channel and we "macerate," or pump out overboard, hopefully. No problem, right? (By the way, I think it's illegal to even use that word "macerate" while on a boat in Lake Superior or Lake Champlain.)

Well our macerator hasn't been operating just when we want it to, every time. And this is a VERY BIG DEAL. Once that holding tank fills up, we are done toileting if we can't pump out. This is a VERY BIG DEAL!! For some unexplained reason I've gotten it to work by flipping the diverter valve back and forth, and I poured some white vinegar down the pumpout opening in hopes of cleaning out any uric acid in there, but neither of these solutions make any sense. Let me tell you, there is no sweeter smell to us than when that pumpout thingy is dumping poop over the side. We will keep you updated, as we know our intrepid readers are on the edge of their seats about this one.

 We invited the biggest one for dinner a few nights ago and put him on the grill.

This woman makes the best bread in the Bahamas.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Drama in Big Major

You're probably thinking that nothing really fun happens down here except the endless quest for internet, shade and vegetables, right? Well, Wrongo! A couple of days ago I dinghied down to get some better photos of the interaction between the pigs and people, always interesting. So first was a boat load of girls who were wary of all this, and stayed a respectable distance from them, some of which really do weigh around 500#. (I used to live on a farm and am known for my complete and utter inability to exaggerate about anything, ever, really.)

The next group were some New Yorkers we had met the day before in Black Point Settlement. The four of them were packed into a seven foot dinghy and they were loaded for pig, with bags of fruit, iPads and the whole setup. One woman got out of the boat with a bag of apples and was immediately pursued by them. She appeared to be a little frightened by this type of attention and the speed of the pigs and put the apples back in the dinghy with the three others. Now the 500 pound wild pig climbed right into the dinghy with them! (Could he have been looking for apples?) Now this was a small dinghy to begin with. Imagine it with three adults and a huge Duroc! Well the captain decided this was inappropriate (I forgot to mention all the screaming, but what was I supposed to do besides take pictures?) and tried to throw said pig out into the water. Mr. Pig really didn't want to get out because this is where the food was, right? So he promptly bit the guy on the forearm, causing a nasty gash. He finally departed.

By the time I got there he was bleeding and already pretty swollen. I recommended an immediate trip to the clinic, for all kinds of good reasons, but I don't think he went. "Aw, it's just a scratch," he said in front of the ladies. I tried to impress upon him all the places those chompers could have been before they tasted forearm, but........

Here's some photos, but I was a bit far away, zoomed in and on the wrong side of the action.

We're well, having dinghied into town yesterday for what we later realized was no reason at all. The store we had thought about checking out had closed for no apparent reason. Word on the streets was that the supply boat isn't coming in until Wednesday. No one really seems to know anything for sure about these matters. Times, dates, internet, boat parts, ATMs, fruits and vegetables are tough to pin down out here. It's best to just go with the flow.

Yesterday Sally and I did some drift snorkeling, a new concept for us. We drove the dinghy out to the end of an interesting reef on the ocean side, put it in neutral and just sat there for a while to see what the wind and current would do with us. We put on the dive flag, donned our snorkel gear and a tether and flopped overboard. it was pretty slick, actually, because the dinghy can't get away and you just hurtle along with the current or drag it behind or some combination of the two. The water is so clear there is always something to look at. When you've had enough, just hop back on and go somewhere else or back on board to a book.

Dennis and Mary are departing today to find a different spot to hide from a forecast west wind, as they have guests flying in next week and need to be positioned for them. We really hope to see them again before we really part. We will have the same concerns when David and Adam come in on the 17th. Excepts we will have to make all these decisions without the wise counsel of Dennis and Mary.

Capt. Jeff

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Exploring Black Point

We've had a couple of exciting days, but then days on Adirondack are almost always exciting. The dinghy has been wandering, though has come back to us. This is really important for your dinghy is a real workhorse when you are cruising. It lets you get into shore for walks and to town for groceries and to other boats for visits.

We keep moving south - we're now farther south than we have ever been on the boat. The Exumas are a chain of islands that are part of the Bahamas and we are working our way down them. The weather determines when and where you go. Every morning we "have coffee with Chris" - listening to the weather report on the single side band receiver (the SSB) coming out of central Florida and reported by Chris Parker. He gives the weather for the whole of the Bahamas at 6:30 then takes calls from boats with transmitters, so you often get good extra information listening for boats near you that are going the same direction. The islands, called "cays" and pronounced "keys," protect you from the prevailing easterly winds, but if a cold front comes through, the winds clock around to the west and you have to look for a protected harbor.

We came to Black Point Settlement yesterday. It is a small town on Great Guana Cay with a lovely big harbor that is filling up with boats today. There's been a wind from the northwest, so the sailboats are moving south. The town is mainly one street long, with three restaurants, a store - "Adderley's Friendly Store" - and a "laundermat" that sells a variety of hardware items, some snacks, straw baskets and haircuts.

We had a great walk today to the north end of the cay and came back to town for conch salad and to pick up a loaf of coconut bread made by Lorraine's mother. Tonight we are going to the weekly buffet at Lorraine's Cafe with a lot of other cruisers. Tomorrow we'll head further down the cay and hope to get to Little Farmers Cay and finally to Lee Stocking Island then head back to meet the boys the middle of March at Staniel Cay. Sally

Staniel Cay Adventures - the dinghy escapes!

Here's a photo of the Staniel Cay (pronounced "key") Yacht Club, the most prominent building in that town. It's a cute marina that chases all the boats out when the wind clocks around to the west because they have poor protection from those winds. We we anchored close at Big Major where the "pig beach" is. There are quite a few very aggressive pigs that approach your dinghy expecting food. People swim with them and take a lot of pictures, and, you guessed it, feed them. Sometimes they try to board your dinghy (ours is an inflatable). I remember pigs when we were on the farm; they have sharp hooves. As it turned out, we have had quite enough dinghy issues this week.

There are two versions about what happened on Monday. We have settled on one that preserves both our dignities. And mine is of course the most reliable because I posted it first. The dinghy didn't get properly secured, so that when I let it down it just drifted off, apparently trying to escape. I noticed it shortly afterwards, but it was just a little too far off to swim for it. It was moving out into the anchorage where about 40 other boats were anchored. We suspect it was looking for a more expensive boat to belong to, and that shouldn't have been too tough, as almost everything floating out here is more expensive than ours. So I figure we would just pull up anchor and go after it with the big boat, right?

So I went inside, pushed the "start" button which has heretofore worked EVERY SINGLE TIME we've ever pushed it, but all I got was this loud clicking/buzzing noise. It wouldn't start. Pushed it again, same result. This is not good. We then noticed two other dinghies out there vying for the special status of salvaging our dinghy, so that wasn't a problem anymore. Sometimes things like this create a lot of excitement in an otherwise boring anchorage. At least we didn't have to ask for help on the VHF radio and alert everyone about our predicament. Whew!

So now what do we do, keeping in mind just how many engines we have (one)? One of my boating rules is that when electrical things like this happen, it's usually some sort of a grounding problem. I solved the problem in less than five minutes. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? The ground from the engine to the BRAND NEW BATTERY INSTALLATION was too loose to handle all that amperage. Usually problems like this involve a whole lot more anguish, bad language, consultation with manuals and other cruisers, etc.

But bad things come in threes, right? We waited for the other shoe to fall. Thankfully we didn't have to wait long.

Yesterday we moved to Black Point Settlement, our new home for a couple days. It's quite the metropolis with a one block long main street and wifi and cabbage!!! On the way we decided to just tow our reluctant dinghy instead of clipping it on the stern, as it was just a short distance. I should mention that we almost always regret this, and today was no exception. And we should have known that he would make another escape attempt. So half way there, the eyebolt in the hull broke out and he got away. (The only good part of this equipment failure is that it really wasn't anyone's fault in particular, unlike the last time, but I won't go into that, preserving our collective dignities.)

This happened quite a while before we noticed it and we had to turn around chase it down in open water, while the wind was blowing it away, assisting the escape. Another boat moved in to intercept it, meaning we now had to communicate with them on the VHF, meaning the whole boating fleet in the Bahamas tuned into our embarrassment. We've been so ashamed we haven't shown our faces off the boat since. Well, except to go to town twice for groceries, happy hour and a BBQ dinner. We'll get over it, someday.

Capt. Jeff

Friday, February 15, 2013

More of the same, sort of

So every day is sort of the same. We always wake up at 0615, put on the coffee and wait for Chris Parker, some guy in Florida who does weather on the SSB radio. Everyone is up at 0630 to listen, because this drives everything in the Bahamas. There's supposedly a big front coming through tomorrow, so we will seek shelter in a marina or a bay out of the 25 knot winds.

Last night was a little different, though. We booked a Valentine's dinner at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, dinghied quite a long ways there before dark and dinghied quite a longer ways back to the boat at 2200 when it was really dark. And it was kind of bouncy, due to swells coming around from the side at Big Major, our anchorage. (There 's a beach right there with a bunch of pigs that come right out to meet you and eat anything you might bring as an offering.) Sally went to sleep right away, but I had to mess with a bridle system to set the boat against the swells so I could sleep, finally at 0100. We moved to a quieter spot today, just north of Fowl Cay, a place known for their $100/per person dinner. We didn't.

We finally got some wifi! Sally updated my phone, I was able to call my mother and we could answer 12,000 emails. Life is good. Today we went scuba diving and the divemaster speared four lionfish, the scourge of these waters. We took them home, cleaned them and they were supper. Delicious!

The second photo above is the welcome to Compass Cay marina, kind of a pricey little spot that charges you $10 per person to get off your dinghy and wander about. We didn't.

Adirondack still is performing admirably. It's so nice to not have anything to repair. We are so happy to be all done working on this boat! I should report that I built a scuba tank rack out of driftwood the other day. Pretty boring, but it really is the kind of accomplishment that cruisers get excited about. AND Sally got my iPhone backed up, what a great day it was!

Capt. Jeff

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Compass Cay Connecting

All kinds of hot information for the intrepid bloggers! We spent two gorgeous days on Cambridge Cay, an interesting island with lots of interesting snorkeling and beaches and hiking. We would love to include some photos, but we are in a place that sells a tiny bit of megabytes for a lot of money and we don't even know how much it might cost to upload a photo, no matter how beautiful.

Lots of sun, warm water and very few people out here. We've been snorkeling and eating with Andy on "Andante," but we went our separate ways this afternoon, but will probably meet up again, maybe on Staniel Cay, a real town. By "real town," we mean someplace with stores, real internet, docks. I'm amazed to note just how remote the Exumas really are, compared to the other parts of the Bahamas we have been in.

The boat is still working admirably well. We have our occasional trepidations, like yesterday when the propane alarm woke us up, signalling the smell of an impending explosion. We know it's just kidding, as it does once in a while, except this time it went into a "warmup" mode for 15 minutes and looked like it was going to quit supplying us propane. This means no coffee, no food, no tea and the end of life as we know it. Just after I figured out a way to bypass that system, tear it out and toss it into the sea, it straightened out and now works. Sort of like when we started to mention the word "Yamaha" in front of our outboard it started to act like it should. Capt. Jeff

The islands continue to entrant us - blue water, white sand, mild temperatures. Where there isn't sand, however, the rocks are vicious - sharp, holey, pointy. We wear our Crocs and step very carefully so that we don't trip. We are making only short moves, which is slowing down my knitting. We don't go far and the routes are often twisty. The water on the Exuma Banks is very shallow, so you have to pay attention to the water color, which indicates the deeper water.

We are getting some good snorkeling. Just north of Cambridge Cay is an area called the "Sea Aquarium" by which the park has placed two dinghy mooring buoys. We went with Andy, who jumped in first then popped up and yelled, "There are LOTS of fish!" There was a school of black and white striped fish that were very friendly to me - followed me wherever I swam. I think they liked my $5 blue polka dot swimsuit. We even saw a lovely sea turtle swimming by. Sally

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Warderick Wells Wresting Windy Waypoint

We've slowed our pace a lot, tending to spend two days in a place instead of moving every day, and not going very far, either. We were in Hawksbill Cay where we walked endless beaches without seeing anyone. We found ruins of "homes" built in 1785 by British Loyalist who fled to the Bahamas from the US. We also did our last boat repair job! The patch on the dinghy which attaches it to the big boat when we are moving was coming unglued. We brought a pile of tools, glue, rags and solvents to the beach where we could work on it out of the water. We re-glued it and then rigged a come-along to hold it in place for 24 hours while it dried. So hopefully this fix will last forever, our last boat repair project.

We found our way over to Warderick Wells Cay, the beautiful headquarters for the Exuma Land and Sea Park, where we picked up a mooring. A little hiking, some snorkeling, meeting with new friends at the whale skeleton on the beach rounded up the day. No photos posted because internet is really expensive here and is charged out by the megabyte. Our first try at it used up our share in about 15 minutes. We are more careful now.

We checked out the scuba equipment on board - figured out our weights and dove under the boat, cutting off a line that had wrapped on the shaft of the propeller. The water is beautifully clear and we could see lots of fish around a sunken sailboat hull nearby.

We've also done a bit of volunteering on the island. The park will give us a free day of mooring worth $15 for every day we work. Our friend Andy has been hauling rocks in a wheelbarrow from a pile and replacing a seawall. This is real work! Sally and I painted some moorings and signs and then teamed up with Andy to start the process of securing two huge fuel tanks on a nearby island. It seems the hurricanes come along every so often and just wash them away if they aren't cabled down, so they hired three professional tank types (that would be us!) to take apart the old cables and affix them to the new tanks. Except the wind came up and we can't get back on the island until it slackens.

It's been real wind, 15 to 30 knots from the NE, enough to move us around in this sheltered spot all night. AND, it went down to 69 degrees last night, the first time it's been below 70 since north Florida.  The wind is supposed to slacken off tomorrow, so we'll probably move on Monday. Capt. Jeff