Thursday, March 28, 2013

Marsh Harbour, Abaco

Radeen happily says, OMG, look at this store.....
We have returned to Marsh Harbour in the Abacos, sailing in from Eleuthera and the Exumas, where we were lost in the beauty for over a month. We tried to sail into Spanish Wells on the north side of Eleuthera and hoped to spend a few days exploring there with friends on IP420 Flatlander, but the weather called for us to press on to the Abacos before the north winds began to blow.

Now that we are here in Marsh Harbour, we are thrilled once again with the many conveniences and services provided in this town. We are amazed by the massive grocery store, Maxwell's and the large hardware store, Standard Hardware. These stores match any we would find in the USA, yet we are reminded that we are in the Bahamas, mon! Coming from the Exumas, where a store may be a room in a house with three shelves of limited supplies, and now being presented with such large retail establishments, is quite overwhelming. Commercialism and marketing are everywhere, and it is honestly a SHOCK.

Along with this marketing we also have noticed the different attitudes of the store workers. In the Exumas, the people are calm and so happy to see you visiting their store. Conversely, in Marsh Harbour, they really don't seem to care if you are there or not. Reminds us of the attitudes of marketing in the USA. We all can learn a lot from the people of the Exumas, how polite and calm and honestly helpful they are. That is a beautiful place in the world, with genuinely friendly people.

Desmond is the LIMBO KING, no one can go lower
While here in Marsh Harbor, we are participating in all the standard activities. Wednesday Night means RIB NIGHT at The Jib Room, a real local treasure. Tom, Linda and son Stephen provide a great meal and fun atmosphere, where 75 to 100 cruisers will gather and share stories and tales of the high seas while eating one of the best meals in Abaco! After dinner, we enjoyed the fun entertainment of Rake and Scrape by Jason and the amazing DESMOND with his ability to limbo lower than anyone else. Check out the photos...

Another thing we all do in Marsh Harbor is head off to Maxwell's Grocery Store nearly every day. We take our rolling luggage carts or back packs and go shopping for provisions. We wheel them back to the dinghy dock where we load them up and take them out to the mother ship on anchor. Once at the mother ship, we hand the items one at a time up into the cockpit and then move them below decks where they are stored in the lockers.

A typical grocery store run 
This task of "going to the grocery store" is almost an all day task, but it is actually fun. You walk 1.5 miles to the store, chatting with other cruisers along the way. Once in the store, it is fun to find items that are unfamiliar. You must only buy just enough for your carts so you can walk it back to the dinghy dock and get it out to the boat. It really is a fun task, so much more fun than getting into your garage kept car and driving to the store and then driving back. Here, you actually have to walk and carry all you buy, in a round trip of about 3 miles. This makes it a good activity!

 A full moon over the harbor with IP40 Navigator on anchor
Currently, there are at least 8 other Island Packet Yachts at the Jib Room or anchored in Marsh Harbour. They include IP38 Slow Flight, IP40 Sunkissed, IP40 Navigator, IP420 True North, IP440 Grand Cru, IP40 Down Island, IP420 Nederluft and IP35 Island Breeze. We enjoyed meeting many of them at The Jib Room's Cruisers' Cocktail Party on Thursday.  The sailing community is an amazing group where people help each other and are sincerely interested in each other. It is truly different than on land. I guess it is the fact that we all are living the same challenges and the same adventures that brings us all closer together. One thing is for is an interesting and adventurous lifestyle, where even going for groceries is fun!

Desmond preparing to limbo low. He has been performing for more than 15 years!!
Hayden working on his Rake and Scrape skills
Rake and Scrape is percussion via a screw driver and a saw!
One grocery store run for the HEAVY items
Yes, life on a cruising boat is SIMPLE. Imagine walking for all your food, never driving a car, jugging water to your boat, living in a space the size of your closet.....and some really is fun :-)!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fueling Around

Our fuel system totally torn apart.....
What a diverse and challenging passage of 68 nm from Current Cut in Eleuthera to Buckaroon Bay off Abaco! First off, we had NO PLANS to make this run now. We had planned to move 1 hour up to Spanish Wells, and spend 3-5 days exploring and discovering that great area and enjoying the company of IPs Flatlander, True North, Charbonneau and others. BUT....the weather demanded us to move on north, taking the 20-25 knots of south winds. We are excited to stage up in Abaco for our good friends Wendy and Craig who will arrive April 2. Our concern of going to Spanish Wells was that all next week, it will be blowing NORTH and, even after that passes, the sea state will be 6-9 feet, making getting into the Abacos very difficult through the cuts. So, at 0600 we decided to GO FOR IT. This required us to quickly remove the dinghy motor (in the dark), the dinghy fuel tank, lift and strap the dinghy down, enter some waypoints and raise the anchor and get underway. It was a rapid "Chinese fire drill" but we have done this before, so we knew exactly what to do. Unfortunately, our text message to Flatlander did not arrive, so they did not know our change in plans.

Radeen sailed on the downind 135% while I worked the fuel repair
Once under sail, we were able to set a full 135% jib on a starboard whisker pole. We could have set a main for a full wing on wing, but with a forecast for serious SQUALLS, we decided that the main was just too much to deal with on this leg. So, we ran the motor at 1500 rpms, hoping for higher winds, and sailed the beautiful jib on the pole. I must say, a whisker pole is a great set up for dead down wind. We were easily making 7 knots and the passage looked quick.....until......THE MOTOR STALLED OUT! motor....yup, it simply stalled. This is always a FUEL problem, so naturally we thought we calculated the fuel burn wrong from Georgetown, so I poured in two five gallon jugs of spare fuel. This was not fun as we were rolling gunwale to gunwale. It was a trick keeping me and the fuel jugs onboard. After adding fuel, we started up, and sure enough it ran....for 1 minute and then stalled. OH motor. OK, it has to be the fuel pick up tube. I pulled it and checked it,, no problem. Nope. Next I changed the Racor primary fuel filter, and now we had a NEW problem....I could NOT refill the Racor using the electric fuel pump. The RACOR WOULD NOT FILL......OH no....NOW WHAT? Ok, this means we must have a fuel pick up issue, or a fuel tank vent problem or a broken fuel pump. So, I kept tearing down the system and all fittings.

THERE IT IS....the plug of crud at fitting #2 from the tank.
I really should have found this sooner, but it took me 3 hrs
Stupidly, I did not start at the tank and go upstream. I kept thinking: The Fuel pump died, the Racor was plugged, the de-bug magnetic filter was clogged, and I kept tearing down these systems. I even tore down our dinghy fuel line, and used the hand bulb pump which I installed into the diesel fuel system in place of the electric fuel pump. With this, I thought I could easily fill the Racor by pumping the bulb and sucking fuel from the tank to the Racor. NOPE.....this did not pump fuel kept moving this bulb hand pump upstream toward the tank. Of course, when I got to the second fitting from the tank, I FOUND THE PLUG of crud in this fitting! I was so happy to find it, and so frustrated that I DID NOT START THERE!

Plenty of water depth....13,000+ feet worries mon!
Radeen did a great job running the boat downwind in what developed into 4-5+ foot rollers and 20-25+ knot winds. She sailed while I worked on the engine for 3 hours. Lucky for us, we were in deep water, 13,000 feet, so no worries of hitting anything. We also had about 5 hours to go until the entrance. The winds were such that we could have sailed into the cut, not a good idea, but that was our only plan if I could not get the motor running. The bottom line really need to know your yacht systems so that when a break down happens, you can at least take a shot at fixing it.
There's no one to call out here!

This is where we broke down, about 40 miles out of Abaco

The sea state NEVER looks a large in photos.
This is 3-4 foot following seas. Notice the foam, that is 7 knots of speed

Radeen, ocean sailor girl, clipped on with her harness

Happy Hayden AFTER the fuel line repairs

Then, to top it off, as we turned the last mile into the anchorage
SALT SPRAY ALL OVER THE BOAT.....errrrrrr.....give me a break!

We had sailed downwind and dry all day, no salt, until we had to turn into it for our anchorage
....and so it is, another adventure.....another story.....another day of Island Spirit sailing. Life is Good, especially on a boat with a WORKING fuel system. :-)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eleuthera is Wonderful

Mr. and Mrs LaFleur, owners of a local farm and bakery
Wonderful people...hard working...kind...friendly...
Rock Sound, Eleuthera, in the Bahamas is a very developed and modern Bahamian island with vast diversity. We were anchored in Rock Sound due to weather for 4 days and, during these days, we rented a car and serviced the boat. We used the local laundry services by JANET, and we jugged 75 gallons of water out to the boat. We filled up the propane tank and the dinghy gas tank. We shopped at the local market and the local farm stand. We used the WiFi and the Batelco 3G networks. What we take away....Rock Sound is FOR SERVICES.....and for stocking up after arriving here from the the more remote Exuma Islands. 
We toured the Glass Window and the towns of Hatchet Bay and Governor's Harbor, the capital. The island is 110 miles long and has large farm lands that used to grow pineapples, corn, and bananas, along with large herds of cattle. Today, there are few farms and no more cattle, yet the island has good soil and large open fields. Two of the most beautiful buildings we toured were the St. Patrick's Anglican Church and the Haynes Library, both in historic colonial Governor's Harbor.  We really enjoyed Eleuthera, and we look forward to more days spent here next year

Rock Sound, where we anchored for days....

A local mailboat departing after delivering the town's supplies for the week

St. Patrick's Anglican Church in Governor's Harbor

St. Patrick's Anglican Church in Governor's Harbor

IP-420, True North, Dennis, Radeen, Debbie, prepare for Island Gift Shopping!

The rock cliffs at the Glass Window north Eleuthera

The team takes a lunch break at TIPPYS on the beach at Nix's Point

The beautiful Haynes Library in Governor's Harbor

Lobster sales with the local fisherman......$20 each!

Spinney Lobsters and their colorful markings

We will depart Eleuthera tomorrow and make a 50+ mile run for Current Cut, and we leave this wonderful town with fond memories of the beauty and the hard working people that make it so.....

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sailing to Eleuthera

...The sailing to Eleuthera was fantastic..
We really enjoyed our 4 days in Warderick Wells, but it was time to press on and sail on over to Eleuthera and into Rock Sound. The winds were E to SE 12-17 with a few gusts to 20-22 knots. With SE winds we were mostly on a beam reach and the seas were 2-3 also on the beam, so it was a dream sailing day. Our autopilot sailed us on the 30 mile crossing to Powell Point. We then sailed partway around the sandbars until we needed to fire up the motor and power into the harbor.

Working the GoPro on a long boat hook
Rock Sound is a very large harbor that is easily 1.5 miles across and there are dinghy docks and landing places for getting to shore. We were in need of water, as we last took on water in Gerorgetown, 12 days ago, and our 90 gallon tank was getting low! Yes, we made it 12 days on about 65-70 gallons of water, and we do shower everyday! We estimated our water usage at about 5-6 gallons a day total. While on anchor in Rock Sound, we jugged 75 gallons of water from the beach to the dinghy to the deck and into the water tanks. This is a bit of a task, but we have done this before and here in the Bahamas, where water is $0.50/gallon when you find free water, you take it, even if you have to carry it!

The Market Place in Rock Sound, very modern!

Our other task on in Rock Sound was to explore the Market, which is very modern and new. We picked up a few items like milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and a few snacks, and checked out with a $95.00 bill! WOW, food is expensive here in Eleuthera. Good thing the RUM is cheap :-) We plan to walk more of the town and discover this well known gem of a location. One thing is for sure, you can easily tell this island is far more developed than the others simply by walking the roads and the visiting the market.

Here are some photos of the area

This is a really cool shot from the GoPro that was sideways up on a long boat hook
Radeen manages the helm and the logbook
Sailing at 7 knots in 21 knots on the beam.....perfect
The chart with us in the middle of the Exuma Sound sailing for Eleuthera
Calm seas, 2-3, beam winds, this is the shade of blue of coming up on soundings
from the deepest ocean blue
Beam reaching, midway across the Sound
An Eleuthera home in restoration need
Looking into the window and out the roof
Island Spirit anchored off the town dock
One of the many cottages you can rent on the beach in Rock Sound
$7.44 for a jar of peanuts!
Milk is $5.85 for a half gallon
This is what $95.00 of groceries looks like and we bought no meat!
Best deal: Ramen Noodle @ $0.38 each!
This is our access to town - the dock where we tie up the dinghy
Bahamas.....beautiful...but the PEOPLE.... are even more so. Everyone we meet is so friendly, so kind, very calm, patient and very willing to help you. This is what truly makes the Bahamas so special. The people are wonderful!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hiking Warderick Wells

Radeen on the trails.....

We are hiking the trails and enjoying the remote beauty of Warderick Wells for one more day before we head northeast for Eleuthera. The hiking trails are numerous and well marked with yellow paint on rocks and cairns, stacks of rocks to guide us. The dunes provide panoramic vistas overlooking Exuma Sound and west to Exuma Banks. From these high vantage points you can see the beautiful deep blue Sound side contrasted to the aquamarine Banks side. The shallow waters light up with a nearly white color as the sand bottom reflects the light back to the 1-2 foot surface. Navigating these waters is simple mid day by  reading the color of the water. This makes it easy to see the deep waters as you approach the islands, cuts and harbors. Today we will hike a few more trails, and enjoy more beaches and maybe even more snorkeling. It is obvious why so many cruisers spend time in Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park.

Hayden and Radeen share homemade bread with JEN
Volunteer extraordinaire  Jen, who hails from Vermont, makes this place even more special, with her friendly and welcoming attitude. She runs the gift shop and the radio and answers at least 1,236,547 questions every day!  Thank you to Jen and Andrew and the rest of the Park Crew for making this place great!

Here are a few photos of the trails...

It is amazing that anything can grow on these rocks!

Typical trail across Warderick Wells
A Curly Tail suns on a rock at barefoot beach

Looking back to the bank side and the aquamarine water

Our tender and its shadow at the dinghy dock, 10-15 foot water

Radeen next to a trail maker

Red Mangroves at low tide
Bread for Jen and the Exuma Park Staff
....thank you again for sailing along, we hope you are enjoying the discovery along with us....