Friday, February 26, 2016

Transmission is in.

The transmission is in and we are getting ready to head out.

We have been here ten days and it is time to move on.  I can’t say it was a bad stay, just not what we had planned for this trip.  We did get a lot of projects done, saw a lot of the city and spent more money than we had planned.  We didn’t do much of the typical tourist stuff although we did make a trip downtown, checked out the straw market, toured the rum distillery and crossed over to Paradise Island to see the changes.  Twenty-five years ago Cori and I were here for a vacation and stayed at a little place on Paradise Island.  It is no longer there since the Atlantis complex took over.  We did check out some of what Atlantis has to offer: the marina, shopping, aquarium and casino (did not play).  We were looking for a place to watch the Daytona 500 but the only venue we found was at Margaritaville.  We opted for a bar closer to the marina and watched from there.

Seeing the city consisted of walking downtown, checking out the cruise ships, remembering why we do not like places like the straw market and riding the number 19 bus around several times.  The number 19 bus stops in front of the marina and makes a long wide circle ending up downtown then back to the marina.  We rode it one day just to see where it went, another day to go to the hardware store and two trips to the mall.  It is educational  and entertainment all for $1.25 a ride.  These are small buses like you find in a shuttle service, not the big monsters you see in cities in the US.  First thing we learned is that you pay the driver when you get off.  When you want to get off you just yell “bus stop” and he pulls over.  You do not need to be at a bus stop to catch a ride or get off; just wave and they will pull over.  On one ride the driver stopped the bus, got out and walked behind a small building.  When done with his business he got back on and away we went.  Last time we were here we rented a scooter and saw the sights, no way would I do that now, it’s bad enough being a pedestrian or riding the bus.  Another interesting thing is that when people get on the bus they greet you: good morning, good afternoon, good day, etc.  Another driver needed fuel so he pulled into a station and used his fare money to pay.  There were several corners where instead of coming to a stop and making a left turn they just cut through the gas station.  Remember, they drive on the left side here.

Projects, we kicked out a lot of them.  Cori did a lot of sewing working on her bags, repairing our sail cover and repairing a torn sail for our neighbors one day.  We got a free meal at a very good restaurant for that one.  She made several trips to the grocery store stocking up again.  I had made a list of things to try to get done.  I needed to find out and fix what had gone wrong with my email service, I could not send emails, just receive.  Once that was working I had some emails that I needed to follow up on.  When we plugged into the dockside power and turned on the water heater it would leak, I changed the thermostat setting and replaced the emergency valve.  We needed to contact Verizon to find out why we were still getting billed even though the phones had been suspended.  We got a refund once it was straightened out. Our windlass had quit working so I took it apart and brought the motor down to the mechanics shop to have it checked out.  The windlass works now but don’t know why it quit.  I needed to service the watermaker since we would not be using it for a while and one of the trips to the mall was to find batteries for the water tester.  Being plugged into shorepower gave me a chance to equalize and service the batteries.  Hopefully they will hold their charge better now.  Those are the big ones; there are always small things that need taking care of when you have something torn apart.

Thursday the transmission arrived; we had been given a heads up that it was shipped sooner than expected but had not heard that it had arrived.  The mechanic showed up and proceeded to install it.  Once it was in we slipped the lines and went out for a test ride.  Everything is working properly and we were back at the dock by 12:00.  Docking is so much simpler when you have neutral and reverse.  The only thing left is to make a run to the phone company to put more money on our accounts, pay the repair shop, do a little laundry and check out in the morning.

We had to bypass a number of stops and didn’t make it as far down the Exuma chain as we had hoped so we are heading back that way.  Maybe we will catch up with our friends, if not we will just make new ones.

OK, funny story on Dale.  With whatever I did to my hip I have been taking a couple of Ibuprofen in the morning.  I emptied the container and mentioned it to Cori that we need to dig out some more.  In the meantime I noticed a container of Acetaminophen and was taking those.  For several days I was complaining of being tired, so tired that one day a nap at 10:00 am sounded good.  About that time Cori got out the Ibuprofen and showed me the Acetaminophen container saying “here take these if you can’t get to sleep.”  I had been napping so much that I couldn’t sleep at night.  She showed me the container; I had read “Acetaminophen” and had not noticed that they were “Acetaminophen PM”.  I had been taking a sleep aid first thing in the morning, no wonder I was tired.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


We are in Nassau, we didn’t plan to be here this year but circumstances dictated the visit.  We are having transmission problems.

On Friday we were anchored at Big Majors with a lot of other boats working on a plan of action.  All symptoms lead to a faulty transmission.  It would run in forward if the engine was running and would not shift into neutral and if shifted to reverse it would kill the engine.  There was nothing for us to do about this problem so we made a run to Staniel Cay in the dinghy.  We were going to the fuel dock when the transmission acted up and I still wanted to top off the fuel tank.  We carry two five gallon jerry jugs with us so we poured that into the tank and took them to town to be refilled.  Now I knew we had enough fuel in case we had to motor all the way.  We also needed to go to the phone company to buy more data for Cori’s phone.  We also checked out the grocery store, closed over lunch and dropped off a bag of garbage.  Back to the boat we got things ready for the trip.  In the afternoon we got a call from Selah that they were on their way with our laundry.  We did a little exploring with the dinghy and in the evening joined Selah on Willamia for drinks and snacks.  At sunset Les, Allison and Cori blew their conchs, the first conch trio we have heard.

Saturday morning we were ready to head out for Nassau.  To add to our headaches when I tried to use the windlass to pull up a little anchor chain to adjust the snubber on Thursday it stopped working.  Now we were sitting without a windlass and no neutral gear.  To pull the anchor we drive the boat up to the anchor as the windlass pulls in the chain.  Without being able to shift into neutral we would overrun the anchor and pull more chain out.  Pulling the anchor by hand was the only option and it required that we motor up to the anchor and kill the engine as I pulled in the chain.  Bo and Allison came over with their dinghy to see if they could help and it was good they did.  What we attempted to do was to pull the chain until it went tight and attach the snubber to keep it from pulling out more chain.  It didn’t work as well as I had hoped and all of the chain I pulled in was pulled back out before we got the snubber hooked.   On the second try we got it right and the motion of the boat broke the anchor free.  From there we started the motor again and I pulled the anchor the rest of the way in as we started out of the anchorage.  Our plan was to go back up to Shroud Cay and pick up a park service mooring for the night and continue to Nassau on Sunday.  The wind was on the nose so we ended up motoring for the day.  We were not sure how picking up the mooring would go.  Normally we maneuver up to the ball slowly and when within reach pick up the pennant line and tie one or two of our docklines to it.  Usually it takes us a couple of tries.  This time went better than when everything is working in our favor.  We pulled up to the ball and killed the engine just before reaching it.  The boats momentum carried us up to it and when it was alongside Cori was able to hook it with the boathook.  We then got a line through it and got it cleated off.  While we were doing this a neighboring boat was coming over in their dinghy to give us a hand after being alerted that we had engine problems.  He gave us a hand getting the second line on it and we were good for the night.  The winds were still blowing in the 20’s as they had all day so the seas were built up.  We were secure for the night but the waves and wind caused us to roll violently, almost enough to throw me out of bed a couple of times.  Anything sitting out got moved or knocked down during the night.

By morning on Sunday the wind had shifted to the northeast which would be a little better for sailing but it was still blowing from 15-20 knots.  At sunrise we dropped the mooring, no anchor to pull today, and headed out for Nassau.  Of course not everything was going to go well; I got my heading wrong and aimed us for a shallow area.  As I caught the depth sounder showing less and less depth we went aground.  Not a good felling when you can’t back off.  I made a sharp turn and hit the throttle pushing through the sand until we got back to deeper water.  We were lucky that it was sand and not rocks and the tide was coming up so we would have gotten off eventually.  After changing our course we tried to sail.  The wind was still too close to the nose to sail efficiently, 2.5 knots is not efficient, we started the motor again and motor-sailed.  We had one course change planned for when we got to the Yellow Bank waypoint and that put us at a better angle to the wind, still blowing in the 20’a.  The Yellow Bank is an area of large coral heads near the surface so it was necessary to keep a good look out.  Vic had given us the coordinates of where to make our turn and where we would see the fewest heads and get through them the fastest.  Once through we turned off the motor and had an exciting sail for the rest of the afternoon, 6-8 knots which is about as fast as this old boat will go.  The seas had been building all day so we were dealing with 4-5 foot seas, just under the 6-7 that had been forecast.  We had water coming over the bow all day with some splashing into the cockpit.  Where was salt water everywhere.  The pounding we were taking shifted everything below deck also.  The v-berth was a complete mess and anything loose on the starboard side was on the floor.  We were planning on going to the Nassau Harbor Marina but they wanted us to wait to come in on Monday.  We proceeded to Rose Island, a couple of miles from the harbor and anchored for the night.  The wind continued to blow but we were somewhat protected but the seas were still causing us to roll.

Monday morning was still blowing 15-20 from the east and when we called the marina to enquire about coming in they were not too sure about it.  We thought it over and decided to wait until Tuesday to go in since the winds were supposed to drop.  The marina agreed with us.  We spent the day rolling with the waves as the wind clocked around giving us even less protection with some real ugly rocks behind us.  We had another night rolling and getting up several times to check to be sure we are not dragging our anchor.  We had a couple of rain showers go through helping to clean the salt off everything.

Tuesday morning at 7:30 we got a call from the marina telling us they were ready for us.  We pulled anchor again, it went better this time, and started into Nassau Harbor.  The winds were still around 15 knots but out of the south.  We called and got permission to enter the harbor and made our way to the marina.  The plan was to line up and come straight into the dock and the dockhands stopping us with the lines we would throw them.  Killing the engine to drop our speed in time was important.  Well I would like to say everything went as planned but it didn’t.  We were still going too fast when we got to the dock and one of the dockhands dropped his line before he could get it around a pole.  Our plan on stopping before hitting anything was gone.  All we had in front of us was a concrete dock which was effective in stopping us.  Had the tide been lower we would have run our headsail furling gear and forestay into it, if it had been higher we would have some fiberglass repair.  It actually lined up with our Rockna anchor on the bowsprit.  We actually broke off some of the concrete as the anchor went under it.  It appears that the roll bar on the anchor is bent back a little and the bowsprit is bent down a little.  Not much damage considering the impact.  Once in we called the mechanic Vic told us about to report we had arrived.  He sent a man over and after a couple of tests he agreed that the transmission was the problem.  He removed it and took it to the shop.  Later in the afternoon they called us to report what they found.  The transmission was toast, possibly not in good enough condition to use as a core trade-in for a rebuilt unit.  Working the numbers it was evident that our only option was a new one.  We got directions to the shop and walked there to place the order (make a down payment).  They placed the order and it will be shipped from Ft. Lauderdale in about a week.  Day one in Nassau was done, but we slept well not rocking anymore.

Wednesday was a project day.  On the way here we made a list of projects that need to be done since we will be sitting for so long.  We were able to check off several but it looks like several more have been added to the list.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

In the Exuma's

We have not updated for a while because we have been having problems with Internet access.  Our connection this time is slow so no photos this time.

We spent a week at Rock Harbor moving from one side of the harbor to the other depending on what the winds did.  We did have several opportunities to go to town and check things out.   One of the features in town is an ocean hole, which is a large hole filled with water that is fed with salt water from the sound.  Outside of town, but still within walking distance is another hole and close by it was a cave.  Touring the cave was interesting since there were opening above letting light in and there were what looked like trees growing through them.  In reality it was root feelers that connected to the bottom of the cave and helped feed the tree above.  While we were there Lee and Cheryl on Shalaylee came in.  They planned to stay for one night but stayed for several.  All of us went out for dinner at Rosie's which is on the other side of the island.  She offers pick up and drop off service and we all had a great time and great food.  On Tuesday Phil on Sea Ya rented a Cadillac Escalade and eight of us toured the island.  We started by trying to get to Lighthouse Beach on the south end of the island.  There is no real road to get there but there is a rough and narrow path that we drove along.  By the time we got back on the highway the vehicle had some pretty bad scratches from rubbing against the brush on both sides.  The beach was ok; I wouldn’t advise trying to go there again.  From there we turned north and worked our way north eventually turning around at Gregory Town to return the car before closing.  Along the way we checked out the towns and harbors.  We arrived here on the 21st and on the 30th we pulled anchor the final time to move on.

We moved out of Rock Sound Harbor and set course for Ships Channel Cut in the Exumas.  The wind was off the quarter but not enough to sail efficiently so we ended up motor-sailing all day.  Once in the Exuma Banks we moved down to an anchorage just off of Ships Channel Cay.  In the morning we pulled anchor and motored sown to Allen’s Cay.  The main attraction of Allen’s Cay is the native iguanas.  They are used to people and come out to the beach to see if they are going to be fed.  They are about a foot long and very prehistoric look but are not aggressive.  While there we started talking to two couples that arrived in their dinghys.  It turns out that they both have the center cockpit version of our Pearson.  We had a mini Pearson Rally among the iguanas.  We pulled anchor again and headed off to move several islands down to Shroud Cay.  This being part of the National Park has some rules that need to be followed, certain areas are off limits to motorized vehicles (dinghies), no going to certain shore areas, no fishing, taking conch or shelling, etc.  On Monday morning we took the dinghy out exploring the north part of the island along with Kim and Les on Willamia.  The river on the north end is open for motorized dinghy’s so we rode into the center of the island and then out a small opening onto the other side.  The center of the island is a mangrove swamp area with a variety of wildlife.  We saw a variety of fish, a ray and several turtles in the clear water.  We stopped for lunch on the other side and climbed the hill to Camp Driftwood where cruisers used to leave mementos but it is no longer allowed by the park management.  On the way back down the river it started to rain, which turned into a downpour with high winds and waves.  We made a fast run back to the boat with 20+ knot winds and 2 foot seas.  For the next hour we hunkered down while the storm moved on.  Once the front moved on the winds switched back to the east and everything calmed down.

On Tuesday we planned to move down to Wardwick Wells to check in at the park headquarters and get more information on the park.  We got a call from Bo and Allison on Selah and agreed to meet up with them at O’Briens Cay to check out the Sea Aquarium.  We got there before them, only going aground once while maneuvering around the islands.  We dropped anchor and launched the dinghy.  When they arrived we went over to pick them up to go snorkeling.  There is a spot called the Sea Aquarium where it is almost like swimming in an aquarium.  A large variety of beautiful fish swarming around us.  I shot some video of it so watch for that being posted to our YouTube channel.  On the way back to the boats we stopped at another marker to check out an airplane that crashed there.  The other attraction was Johnnie Depps house on the neighboring island.  No one is allowed ashore there and I doubt that he was home.  I didn’t mention the naked Canadian, but we did run into one.  As we passed an anchored boat there was a naked man on the swim platform.  We moved on.

In the morning we moved back out to the banks and proceeded down to Big Majors Cay.  Once out in the protection of the islands we turned into 20+ knot winds and 2 foot seas on the nose.  Once we arrived at Big Majors we anchored with all of the other boats out of the wind.  We took the dinghies to shore to see the swimming pigs.  This island has a herd of pigs that when you approach the shore they swim out to be the first to get fed.  Cori brought some lettuce to feed them so we were popular with about five of them.  At one point some small piglets came squealing out onto the beach to find their mother for a quick lunch then back into the brush.  After checking out the pigs we raised anchor again and moved to the other side of the island to anchor off of the Staniel Cay Yacht Club.  We dinghied over to what is called Thunderball Grotto for more snorkeling.  Thunderball grotto is famous for its use in the James Bond movie Thunderball.  There is an underwater cave that feed into a large grotto with some openings in the ceiling letting in some light.  There is again a large variety of colorful fish both outside and outside the grotto.  Again I shot some video so watch for that to be posted when I get it edited.  I have to say snorkeling the grotto is one of the coolest things I have ever done.  After going back to the boat and getting cleaned up we went to the marina to buy some gasoline for the outboards and generator.  Then it was into the yacht club for drinks soon to be joined by Bo and Allison.

We have made the decision to move past everything around us and go further down to Little Farmers Cay for the annual 5F festival.  It sounds fun and we figure we can move back up island to see what we passed later.  We also heard via email and VHF that our friends Vic and Gigi on Salty Turtle would be there.  We ended up motoring against the wind all the way to Little Farmers but it was not blowing as hard as the previous day.  Once we got close we tried working our way into the anchorage only to find we went about it the hard way.  It seems there is a discrepancy between the depths the chart shows and what we were seeing.  Approaching the anchorage we had a stretch with less than a foot under the keel eventually anchoring in 8-10 feet where the chart showed 3 feet.  Had we found a boat to follow in we would have had a better time arriving.  We dropped anchor next to Salty Turtle and when they came back from going ashore then stopped by for a drink and stories.  Later we went over to Loon for drinks with Ben and Craig and Debbie from River Rat.  Then it was time for happy hour at Ty’s, cheap beer and appetizers.   We were joined by Salty Turtle, Salah, and Nightingale Song.  After making plans for breakfast we headed back to the boat for the night.

Friday was the beginning of the Festival and we headed to Ty’s for breakfast, stewfish and kalik beer.  This was different then the stewfish we had at Green Turtle.  This was a whole fish in a bowl of brown sauce.  It was delicious but a bit unsightly.  I have a photo I will upload when I get a faster connection.  After breakfast we went back to the boat to trade out the 3.3 horse outboard for the 9.9.  We then made the trip around the top of the island to the town dock to look around.  This is a small island with about 60 permanent residents so the festival is a big deal.  There were booths being set up for the weekends festivities.  We walked around a bit stopping at JR’s woodcarving shop getting a tour of his garden and descriptions of his plants and trees then checked out his carvings.  He is a talented carver.  After the walk and no booths open we got back in the dinghy and finished riding around the island.  At one point I glanced back and saw a ray jump about four feet out of the water.  We turned around but did not see it again.  We went over to Salty Turtle for the boat race and rode out to the start line in their dinghy and followed the fleet around the course.  These are the C class traditional Bahamian boats and this is the first time we had seen them race.  They start out with the sail down and anchored in a line.  At the starting signal then pull up their anchors and as the anchor comes aboard they raise their sail.  There is only one sail and it is a big one, way overpowering the boat.  This is compensated by having boards extend out the sides that the crew sits on to balance the boat.  At the end of the race everyone met back at Ty’s for food and drink before the next race.  The second race is around and somewhat through the anchorage so we watched it from the upper deck on Salty Turtle.  For dinner we went back to Ty’s for ribs and chicken then tried to carry on a conversation over the music.  Finally giving up we headed back to the boat to be ready to leave in the morning. 

The festival is scheduled to run through the weekend but there is a strong front coming through sometime Saturday night and into Sunday and we need to move to someplace we are protected from the west.  We raised anchor and followed other boats out of the harbor keeping track of the route for future reference, raised the sails and had one of the most pleasant sails back up to Pipe Cay, a trip of about 20 miles.  Once we reached our waypoint we dropped the sails and motored around the islands to a cove that Vic had pointed out would be protected.  We maneuvered around until we found a nice patch of sand and dropped the anchor.  Once we were settled in Cori launched the kayak to go exploring.  Shortly Selah and Nightingale Song joined up maneuvering around for a spot to anchor.  Salah had stopped in Blackpoint to pick up a few items and we had them pick up some bread for us.  During the night the wind picked up and we heard a sound we had never heard before.  We were up immediately to check it out.  It turned out that the combination of tidal current and the wind had us pulling forward on our anchor instead of pulling back.  This had the chain going under the boat instead of off the bow.  As the boat would swing the chain had to move itself from one side of the keel to the other making a lot of noise.  This is the first time we have had the wind and current working to push the boat in a completely opposite direction then how she lays with just the wind.  Needless to say we slept a little lighter after that.  We are used to most of the noised we hear regularly so an unusual one really catches our attention and will wake us up.

Sunday, we had strong winds out of the west then turning northwest blowing all day.  It is real interesting to watch the current point the boat one way and the wind pushing it from another.  Normally the boat points into the wind when at anchor.  The winds were in the upper 20’s all day with gusts just over 30 knots.  Other areas around us reported even higher gusts.  This is the first time we have started the engine and let it run at idle in case the anchor didn’t hold.  At the end of the day everything worked as it is supposed to.

Monday Cori took the opportunity with the lower winds to take the kayak to shore and follow a path over to the other side of the island to look for shells, glass and sea beans.  As the front passed it changed the winds from the north and the temperatures dropped, time to pull out an extra blanket.  Tuesday the winds went back into the 15-20 knot range so we stayed aboard and did a few projects.  We re-bedded a leaking stanchion, resealed a leaking window and did some troubleshooting on a problem with the single sideband radio along with a couple of smaller projects.  I also did some editing of videos and got them ready to upload when we get a good internet connection.  Cori spent her time between helping me and with sewing projects.

Wednesday we finally launched the dinghy to get off the boat.  We started out making a run up to Compass Cay to check out the marina and follow a small river up into the mangroves.  We were then joined by Selah and Nightingale Song for a run up to Rocky Dundas Cay to snorkel into a couple of caves and check out the coral and fish.  From there we crossed back to the north end of Compass Cay to check out Rachel’s Bubble Bath.  This is a shallow pool that is filled at high tide and then as the water flows out waves break over the barrier rocks causing the water to bubble up, thus the name.  Cori took the opportunity to swim around in it.   When we got back to the boat it was time for showers and hot chocolate, unfortunately after sitting this long we no longer have hot water so it was a cold shower in the cockpit with a cold wind blowing.  Thus the need for hot chocolate.

Thursday has the wind out of the north going to northeast and we decided to leave.  We had not seen everything there was to offer here at Pipe Creek but expect to be back again.  We made the decision to move down to Staniel Cay to top off the fuel and then move down to Blackpoint Settlement where we can do laundry and get good internet.  Once out on the banks we turned south and put out the headsail and had a great sail to Staniel.  Once we got close we fired up the engine and proceeded in.  Once we were in range of the fuel dock we were told it would be about an hour before we could get fuel, there were a number of boats ahead of us.  We decided to anchor and wait.  When we dropped the anchor and started to backdown there was a metallic noise from the engine compartment.  We pulled the anchor and moved to a less crowded area and tried to re-anchor.  The transmission would not come out of gear, when put into reverse it made a very bad clunking sound and killed the engine.  The engine restarts but will not come out of forward gear.  We were wishing we had our friend Vic from Salty Turtle with us since he knows people that can fix things and more knowledgeable than we are.  Just as I was ready to dive overboard to check that the prop was not fouled we see Salty Turtle going by.  We hailed them and once they had anchored they came over to take a look.  He immediately knew who to call and it happened they were anchored around the corner.  We pulled anchor and moved over to the Big Major anchorage and re-anchored.  Soon Vic and Scott from Catalyst came over to check it out.  Scott went back to his boat, did a little research and made some calls.  I also did some Googling and found the same results Scott.  When this model transmission fails, it locks itself into forward gear so you can still get home.  Any attempt to go into reverse will kill the engine.   It looks like we will be making a trip to Nassau for some transmission work.