Let your little light shine...
Thanks for sticking with me during our excitement in the mechanical
end of the cruising life.
Cruisers have to either have massively deep pockets or largely be
self-sufficient to any emergency or complication which may develop.
Of course, it's well that they have the needed knowledge to accomplish
the cruising in good times and bad, too, along with the ability to
remedy the challenges which crop up from time to time.
However, we are now in cruising mode. I'll spare you the details,
having motored the entire way, with wind directly on our nose, but we
spent a lay day at anchor in a place which helped minimize the fetch
(the amount of build-up in waves as more and more room for them to
travel is available) during a day of continuous squalls. Once
anchored and with the deck scrubbed, we reveled in, literally,
overflowing water tanks.
That's because rainwater here in the Bahamas is pristine, sweet, soft
water which, after a scrub to the deck, we catch on our deck and
direct into the fill holes. Even our gravity-fed, usually-top-feed,
auxiliary tank, due to the head of pressure on the fill tube to the
main tank, filled to seeping out on the bung which normally would be
removed to fill it. Accordingly we won't have to be quite so
conservative in water consumption while these rainy periods persist.
But I get ahead of myself. While at anchor in the Grand Cay area, we
attended to several housekeeping chores. One of them was obtaining
reliable internet connectivity. I'm now a member of the Board of
Directors of the Seven Seas Cruising Association, and need email
connectivity, as well as, occasionally, telephone as we meet monthly
by phone rather than in person.
So, off we go to both check in and get to the Batelco office. Customs
and Immigration were very simple, and accomplished in short order.
Batelco was another story entirely, as it took the remainder of the
day to track down Rosie's daughter Raquel (Rosie is the proprietor for
a goodly portion of the commerce in Grand), who tended the store
(whenever she was there at the office, which seemed to be only on
Our prior account had died for lack of activity, while being not only
paid up, but with a reserve of nearly $70 unused. That number died -
but, surprise, our new account would have the same number! Except
that the new phone I'd acquired in the states took a sim size
unavailable in the office. Instead, a temporary sim was placed in my
original Batelco phone from some years ago, and a proper sim for my US
phone would be provided the next day, at 2:30, in Rosie's bar. In the
meantime, I went with the least expensive combo service, as I was
promised that I could add data at any time, on line. The only
documentation I had was the receipt for the $100 cash I gave her.
So, we came ashore again at the appointed time on the following day,
and found everything in town locked up. Inquiries suggested the bar
would open at 3:30, but that time came and went with no change, nor
any sight of Raquel. Eventually, the bar opened and we went into the
air-conditioned space and ordered a Bahamian beer and a coke.
Concurrently, as we had been searching and asking around town for
Raquel, we'd met some folks who knew us from 10 years ago, with
friends traveling with them who ALSO knew Flying Pig. Conversation,
over the obligatory 115db music in the background (apparently for the
enjoyment of the bartender, as she was the only one present other than
we, initially), was difficult, but eventually two locals joined us,
and several ongoing shouted conversations happened.
By now, at 4:30 or so, we despaired of finding Raquel, as it was clear
she was not coming to the bar, after all. However, her son, who we'd
encountered the previous day, in the office, came in with a new sim.
We installed it and it worked. Raquel said, through her son's phone,
that the cost of that sim was $24 and to "Pay the boy" - which I did.
So far, so good.
I'll shorten the "Don't Stop The Carnival" type story to say that this
sim's data ran out nearly immediately, and there was no way for me to
get more data, whether on line or otherwise, as even the phone would
not communicate with Batelco.
So, the next day, I spent the entirety of the day alternatively
looking for, waiting for, or being passed off to a CSR by, Raquel, on
her phone, in the very few times I caught a glimpse of her. The short
story at this point several days later is that it's impossible, even
with a direct contact I was able to call from the bar WiFi, to add
data at this time.
Fortunately, the new (the one given me initially by Raquel) sim in my
old phone still functions, so I'm on line until they discover it. In
the meantime, we're boogying toward Green Turtle Cay where a My Island
WiFi hotspot awaits. All the reports I've seen by Bahamas users are
stellar, so I'm looking forward to cancelling the new service (no
doubt I'll have to eat the cost of the sim) and hope to regain my
deposit and the unused funds in my other account. If Leo Tripp's MiFi
(hotspot) works for me as it does for everyone else I've seen comment
about it, that will be the end of my involvement with Batelco.
But, back to the story, now that I'd returned to the boat totally
drenched in sweat, we, as we have done nearly every day, jumped off
the back of the boat to get wet for our shower soaping on the aft
platform. Little bursts of light appeared everywhere as we hit the
water, and each time we moved our limbs, more sparkles appeared. For
all the nuisances we encounter, it's moments like this that confirm
our joy of cruising. "Let your little light shine" also means to me
that others get to see our joy - so, here you are!
Our time here so far has been a mix of blistering, soaking-wet humid,
brilliant sun days and no-sun, frequent rain, and little wind. As we
have to make and carry our own electricity, that has alternatively
meant that our solar and wind generation has easily kept up with our
~300AH/day (a LOT of power for those unfamiliar with the terms), or
the batteries get depleted pretty quickly. So, we have run our
portable generator once, to top it back up to the point where the
solar charging can complete the process.
We also have to either get (here in the Bahamas that might mean as
much as $0.50/gallon) or collect (and be extraordinarily conservative
of use compared to the use in a municipal system of water
distribution) our water. The rainy parts has meant that all the salt
spray we accumulated is washed off, and we get to take fresh-water
showers outside in the rain while we wash the decks, in preparation
for opening the fill tubes to our water supply. All in all, a good
Due to the prior couple of technical detailed posts, you know that I
also cleaned up the engine and touched up the paint on it prior to
discovering that I could not simply replace the starter, which failed
on our attempt to escape the flying ants, with our spare. That, too,
is now resolved, and our original-equipment spare sounds SOOOO much
better than the currently specified/used starter I hope it lasts for
the remainder of the time we own Flying Pig.
We stayed on our anchor off of the Pear Cays so that I could talk,
reliably, to the other SSCA directors in our noon phone call. That
was uneventful, but the day and night were interspersed with high
winds (20-25 knots typical) and lots of rain mixed with periods of
lighter winds (e.g. 12-16 knots) and lighter rain. For a variety of
reasons, we had to be on deck several times that day, so got our sweat
easily washed off with the delightful Bahamas rain. The next day,
Tuesday, July 9th, started with a squall but quickly became moderate
breezes and sunshine.
So, with what we fervently hope are the last of the annoyances and
diversions from actual cruising activities, we set out for Green
Turtle Cay. Early morning had us in a light breeze, but we'd had some
squalls (again! - the prior 3 days were nearly constant rain), so we
didn't know what to expect. Up with the anchor after another entirely
satisfactory start at 0815, we headed east. Raising the main sail,
and unrolling the genoa, we set our sails for our course of 085T with
only a slight set yielding our heading of 97T. With only 8 knots of
apparent wind on our beam, we were making 4.7 knots in light chop.
That was short-lived, however, as the distant clouds suddenly were on
us, and at 0915 we were in a 25 knot squall. Fortunately, the wind
backed as well, so the set of our sails merely luffed (flapped without
much air against them) a bit in our beat of 30 degrees apparent wind,
and we stayed on a good heel as our deck got another wash.
By that time we'd turned the corner at the end of Great Abaco,
slightly modifying our course to 092T, with our heading of 100T,
making 5.6 knots in 1-2' chop with 10-12 knots on our starboard beam.
Oops. At 0940, the wind went away nearly completely, and Perky, the
reliable (and easy starting, now!) diesel again sprang to life - for
all of 5 minutes, as the squall returned even more healthy, at 20
knots, and our springing ahead at 7.7 knots at a comfortable level of
heel. Off with the engine, we're once again a sailboat.
Oops. In looking closely at the genoa, we see a very straight-line,
presumed to be a wear line from how it sits when it's rolled up,
tear/open segment, with not-yet open slits above and below it.
Fortunately, when we get to the Marsh Harbour area, we know a good US
ex-pat who has a repair shop in the area. All will be well on that
front, eventually, but it's a real nuisance to take the sail down, let
alone how much it weighs, and transporting it there and back - but
it's part of cruising. Some folks carry a sewing machine capable of
doing their own repairs...
But I digress.
At 1045, there was another 25 knot squall, and, if that continued,
we'd be over-canvassed (have too much sail up for comfortable
sailing). As it was several things below went flying, clattering from
starboard to port before banging against a cabinet, so we needed to
straighten up and fly right, so to speak.
So, we rolled up the genoa, the largest sail aboard, on the
possibility that we might see even more enthusiastic winds later, and
motorsailed. Our apparent wind moved forward, to a beat of 040-050
degrees, and sustained velocities of 18-20, with gusts to 25. But with
the main alone, Flying Pig stood up at about 10 degrees of heel, and
flew forward on our new course of 127T at a comfortable 6 knots.
The way the Sea of Abaco is situated, we were sailing pretty close to
land, which led to very little wave action despite the wind speeds, so
our typical wind of 045 to 060 degrees on our starboard side led to a
comfortable level of heel and not much chop. Our course was at 132T,
with the heading 148T. Having only our main up meant that we were
unbalanced, and had lots of weather helm, where the boat tries to turn
into the wind. Correcting for that is like putting out the brakes, as
the rudder deflection slows us down, and our speed dropped to only 5.5
This time of year, squalls are frequent, and, sure enough, at 1240
another hit, but at the same time, backed (counterclockwise), putting
our apparent wind at 030 on starboard, which, as we did not tighten
for it, allowed the main sail to luff a bit, and the squall passed
An hour later, at 1340 (1:40PM) we changed course slightly toward our
anchorage in Green Turtle Cay. With the wind still at 15-19 knots, we
made short work of arrival, and by 2PM, with no further rain in sight,
had our anchor down in 8 feet of water. My practice is very
conservative; I would much rather sleep through, than anxiously dash
on deck to deal with, a squall at night, so unlike many, who think
that a ratio of chain length to depth is overdone at 5:1, I never put
out less than 7:1 scope. That means accounting for high tide, and our
bow rise (how far above the water) of 5', that I routinely put out
100' or more of chain, to our VERY effective, 2-sizes-oversized, Rocna
Well, that was July 9th. The 10th dawned brilliantly and hot, and we
went ashore after remounting our engine to the dinghy. We toured the
town, stopping at all the places we normally call in to and renewing
acquaintances. However, there were not too many of those open, other
than eat or drink-type places, as it was Bahamian Independence Day.
Which meant that we got to see fireworks, set off from the point next
to the entrance to the town dock, from our boat. What a great way to
enjoy their celebration!
We're now here, so off we go exploring. We had expected to find a
WiFi hotspot at the Green Turtle Club and Marina, sent by heroic
effort to reach us here in the wilderness (you can walk into a
location in some of the more populated places to get it...), so we
loaded up all our sweaty laundry, accumulated in the last two weeks,
and head to the marina, where we can use their laundromat.
As it happened, the unit was not there, but we occupied ourselves by
sipping our Bahamas beer and US Coke while we perused the book
exchange. Virtually every marina which serves cruisers has one. Many
cruisers are as we, inveterate readers of the old school, which means
that we want a book, not a screen. Having brought our own donations,
we took several, and as I went to refill our drinks, we encountered a
couple of families who were also visiting, but by plane.
Much conversation ensued, and in the meantime, the tide was rising.
The GTC&M has fixed dinghy docks and boardwalks, and our inflatable
dinghy had managed to become wedged, perfectly (another 2 inches long
and it would not have fit), parallel to and under the dock.
It had been long enough that the transom was flooded - which meant
that the inside of the dinghy was also flooded, and considerable
pressure was against the port and bow tubes (inflatables typically
have a bow and two side segments, together, making up the flotation),
holding it firmly.
Fortunately, with both of us standing in the bow, and lifting (well,
pushing the bow down) on the boardwalk, we were able to free the bow,
and soon after, the stern. However, the engine had been partially
submerged, and would not start, including that water had gotten into
one of the cylinders, and it would not turn over.
Fortunately I had my mini-tool kit with me and I removed the spark
plug from that cylinder, and pulled the engine through several times,
ejecting water from that cylinder. The other one looked dry, and
after I'd blown out the accumulated water on the drowned spark plug,
No such luck. However, another family (the ones we'd been chatting
with had gone off in their golf carts to the home one of them owned on
the island before we discovered our plight) was boarding their
outboard center console (in which they'd come all the way from
Florida!) offered us a tow back to our home, still anchored in the
It started raining as we were leaving the marina, so we huddled over
our laundry, as well as the bag with the books in it, to attempt
keeping them dry. It worked, and we stepped aboard Flying Pig just
before a torrential rain began. Having already mounted the outboard
on its storage pylon, we left the attempt to make it go again for the
But leaving it alone for that time also meant that there was still a
trace of salt water in the cylinder, and, likely, the carburetor,
neither of which would be a good thing, ever, let alone left there to
corrode and rust components. Resolution of these issues will involve
some serious disassembly, as well as, ideally on the same day, but
with my vigorous rotation of the crankshaft pushing - at least, most
of - the water from the cylinder.
Will our dinghy motor recover? Will we get to go on more adventures
with it on our dinghy? Until next time, Stay Tuned!
Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
See our galleries at Web-Folio -- Your Portfolio on the Web
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"Believe me, my young friend, there is *nothing*-absolutely
nothing-half so much worth doing as simply messing,
messing-about-in-boats; messing about in boats Ė or
In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter,
that's the charm of it.
Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your
destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never
get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in
particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to
do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."