Cruising is... George Town, Exuma Bahamas 4/28-5/8-10
Hello again. When we left you, we'd been in George Town a week, and had just
finished watering and fueling our home, Flying Pig, as well as filling the
single gasoline can and single dinghy can which we'd used in the three or so
weeks we'd been in the Jumentos.
In all cases, we were pleased to have been very frugal with our usage,
encouraging for times when we'd be in remote places for extended periods of
time. We calculate with our current usage, we could go for nearly 3 months
before running out of water, and probably 6 months before running out of
Diesel. Depending on our dinghy usage, and the sun and wind state (which
drives how much we use our Honda Generator), we might find ourselve short of
gasoline. Accordingly, we're considering adding to our deck storage with a
couple more gasoline cans.
Our PortaBote is still our primary local travel vessel, as it continues to
prove itself in rough weather and as a suitable tanker (that's the one I
used to ferry the first - and several more times, too, as circumstances
warranted - 40 gallons [over 320 pounds] of water). Friends seeing us come
and go from their boat on visits usually comment that they had no idea that
these Botes were that fast. Indeed, when I'm alone, unless the water is
flat, I throttle back or risk going airborne, all on a 6hp engine.
After Regatta Week, internet connectivity did, indeed, return, and I caught
up on the various other places which have had to wait for all the cruising
logs that members of [email protected]
get in real time,
courtesy of my son's posting them after I'd mailed them over our winlink Ham
radio connection. I put them up at the rate of one a day so as to not
overwhelm the other lists and forums to which they went :**)) and have just
now gotten them up to our last post.
These last couple of weeks have been shuttle time, as the place we did our
watering is very convenient to town. However, we also went back and forth
to Volleyball Beach a few times, mostly to get together with other cruisers,
but, most importantly to Lydia, to avoid going aground. Actually, I'd have
welcomed it, as I needed (well, wanted) to clean our bottom, which had grown
a notable amount of what looked like frog spawn under it in the time since
we last intentionally grounded ourselves in Long Island.
The area is called Kidd's Cove, and a popular shelter from south through
west winds, so, frequently, in the usually crowded times, folks shuttle back
and forth for shelter from Volleyball (and, I presume, other of the beaches
on Stocking Island) during the clocking of the winds in the winter. Spring,
however, brings more consistent trade winds, mostly easterly, so there's no
real shelter there. So, when the fetch builds the waves, were we to be
aground, we'd bump in the waves, not comfortable sleeping.
Unfortunately for us, in one panic exit, just after we'd finished our
watering, we ran aground in the more-shallow-than-where-we-were area leading
into the channel. It was just after we'd finished, and, with our full load
of fuel and water, we probably accumulated another 4 inches of depth from
what we'd arrived with :**/). No problem, the winds were very light that day,
and we sat patiently until the next day's tide when we decamped again.
A couple of days later, it was a full moon, with the lowest and highest
tides, and we came back to do laundry, get the re-qualifying small Batelco
card which would give us another 90 days of connectivity for our Bahamas
cell phone, and reprovision. We're waiting for our friends who are on the
way from Puerto Rico to get to this neighborhood so we can join them on our
way north. They, sadly, are on their way north to get off the boat, having
run out of money (well, have depleted funds to the degree they feel they
need to go to work); they'll move to England, where he's a citizen, born
there; she's a qualified nurse with employment credentials there, and sell
the boat in the US.
Of course, it's our fervent hope that they earn enough to get back on,
should the boat not sell readily. They celebrated their 3 year anniversary
of leaving the dock a couple of days ago, and, I have to say, we're green
with envy at all they've accomplished in that time. Of course, they've not
had the time off the boat we have, but, still, though we left before them,
the first time (they left during our wreck rehab at the same marina where
we'd met), they've been many more places that we'd thought we'd get to, and
in the areas we HAVE gotten to, done more, seen more, and experienced more
than we did. Our kind of cruisers, it pains our hearts to see them get
During one of the days over on the Kidd's Cove side, we heard a panic call
from a boater whose engine wouldn't start. I, of course, jumped in my
dinghy to see what I might do in assistance, he being anchored not very far
from where we were. However, I'd heard another response to the chatter
around his call, saying he'd be right out. That turned out to be Alvin, on
whom more, anon. He's a diesel mechanic, and, since the boater was in good
hands, after my initial diagnosis, I left him and Alvin to return to Flying
Pig. Cruising is...
As to the title, as you've heard me say, cruising is boat repair in exotic
locations, including helping others, and this is no exception, though, we're
pleased to say, our "repairs" have been more on the line of ordinary
maintenance. The critical one for us was the reinstallation of our KISS
wind generator. As I didn't get it completed before the squall mentioned in
our last log, and the wind was very light, I was again frustrated that we'd
not had it in the Jumentos, where the wind blew steadily at 15-20 knots,
with higher gusts, just the right speed for this particular generator.
We were finally rewarded, however, with a couple of days of reasonable
breeze, and I'm thrilled to say we achieved energy independence about a week
ago, as, for a few days, the wind blew at 10 knots or better, sometimes
reaching close to 20 on occasion. Mostly, however, even the mostly 10-12
knots overnight more than kept up with our load, and, once the sun came out,
easily replenished our batteries. By the end of the brief period, our
batteries were entirely full, with our net amp-hour usage (we have a meter
which shows us the total deficit in our battery bank in amp-hours) in single
Unfortunately, that was short-lived, but, with the days growing longer, our
periods of 25 amps from our solar panels were also growing longer, and the
Honda gets little use. In particular, however, even though it's less than a
half hour each time, all that shuttling we've done, resulted in our
alternator picking up the slack, keeping us full, allowing Lydia to do her
bean polishing as well as me on the computer sourcing various parts we'll
order in during our trip to the states.
For those interested, Lydia's developed a different (well, more complex)
method for polishing her beans. She started with a Dremel with a scrubbie
wheel, and when that wasn't fast enough, I suggested a flap wheel in our
battery powered drill. That did a great job of knocking down the grunge and
weathering they pick up in their long journey to the shores, and while she
depleted one battery, another was charging, courtesy of the wind and sun.
The Dremel got the nooks and crannies, and the polishing wheel did the fine
Among the net-searching I've done is looking for something to passivate our
bow roller welds we had done in St. Augustine on the way to the Bahamas last
year. I stumbled on a product that I've followed up on with the owner; I'll
report on that when we get to use it, but for the moment, Lydia's doing the
usual scrub and polish routine aboard.
My major chore, and the purpose for going to the other side after we'd
finished our watering and fueling was to intentionally go aground so that I
could clean the bottom, again. However, aside from close to town, which
spot we chose based on our first time in that side, ironically, on our last
visit there, we were in deep enough water to not have a chance for
grounding. As Lydia's manic about not being "trapped" aground (the water
around where we'd anchor is lower, so getting to deeper water, should we be
bumping, is impossible), we were making the shuttle runs timed to the tides.
Going back to Stocking Island, thinking to ground ourselves on the sand bar
between Volleyball and Sand Dollar beaches, we couldn't get close enough to
assure not swinging into a reef should the wind change. So, we gave up and
anchored, again, off Chat 'n' Chill, enduring the endless (and repetitious -
I don't know how the help stands hearing the same thing 5 or more times each
day, every day) loud music while we traded dinners with some friends we'd
met in the yard in St. Pete. Her blister work on the bottom of her boat
emboldened Lydia to take on ours, with my grinding for the prep, before we
did our bottom painting...
With next to no wind, I took advantage of that opportunity to make some
changes to my PortaBote sculling oars. (I'd modified my Bote when I first
got it to allow the use of rowing sculls, 10' long oars normally used in
racing shells. You can see more on the PortaBote and its modifications in
my gallery by clicking this link: http://tinyurl.com/PortaBoteMods
These oars (sculls, as they're called) are made from carbon fiber, and, with
the weathering they'd experienced in our three years at sea, on deck, they'd
started to shed some of the carbon fibers. The reaction is about like
getting fiberglass on you - it itches and stings, so we needed a solution to
that, or we'd never be able to sit in the Bote after storing the oars
following a row.
The vendor told me that using bumper paint - the stuff auto guys use for the
rubber/plastic bumpers common on cars today - would not only seal that off,
but flex enough that they could be used in the normal fashion. A carbon
fiber oar, when pulled strongly, is designed to bend; it's the same stuff
pole vaulters' poles are made from. The strong pull's bend allows the force
to be gradual, and continuous, through the stroke, without shock to the
boat's system. So, it would have to be flexible.
It was blisteringly hot, so I was sweating to the degree that I had to go
back to Flying Pig for my sweatband when I got the second can of spray paint
(I'd purchased two cans at the NAPA in Marsh Harbour). I needed the
sweatband because I was dripping on the oars/shafts - not a great thing to
try to paint on or under... I needed the second can because, with all the
weathering, the carbon fiber shafts and blades soaked up the first coats
immediately. As it is, I'll buy two more, because it's BARELY covered; I
want a very thick coating on it to prevent migration of any other fibers.
This has been on our to-do list for a very long time, and I'm pleased to
have had the opportunity to at least address it, if not solve it. Cruising
As May 5th approached, the talk was all about Cinco de Mayo, so we decamped
on Wednesday afternoon to Hamburger Beach, north of Volleyball Beach. We
were pleased to see a variety of very strong internet signals, not found in
the hole where we'd parked in Volleyball, so our research into various
By 5 PM, dinghies were arriving in swarms. The same place where we attended
Ham Club lunches each Wednesday last year has been bought.and newly
renovated by the new owner (Alvin, the diesel mechanic mentioned above)
Peace and Plenty bar and grill (not related to or owned by Peace and Plenty
resort) on Hamburger Beach.
He's calling it the Sand Bar (old signage remains), and they have the best
burgers we've had on the island. The facility includes a covered pavilion
with a cooking area for outdoor events, and many picnic tables covered by
thatched roofs for folks wantng to be in the shade, as well. His deck next
to the bar-and-grill building (which also has tables inside) has tables and
chairs, as well.
We had a chance to chat him up during a quiet period, and learned that he'd
sent himself off to school in the US to get a marine technical degree. That
not being enough, his entrepreneurial spirit has led him to purchase this
facility. Last year, aside from the Wednesday Ham Club meetings during high
cruiser season, this facility was closed for lack of business.
Alvin's been a tireless, cheerful promoter, as well as a very busy renovator
while he's not ferrying guests. We're seeing vacationers from all the
various resorts coming to enjoy his quiet beaches, free lounge chairs, and
good food. We hailed him on one of his runs, headed into Great Exuma island
to ferry more guests, and found that he'll stay open all summer, every day,
closing only for August, and being available for the influx of cruisers
which starts in the fall. From all the signs, not only of the activity which
never happened before when we were here, but of the upgrades and
improvements he's doing, as well as the constant traffic we've seen, he'll
He sponsored the Cinco de Mayo bash, where folks brought pot luck, or bought
burgers or other stuff on the menu, and enjoyed 2-for-$6 12 oz. margaritas,
supplemented by his passing out free shots of tequila to any and all who
came - to the degree that folks on several different boats were impaired
enough to leave stuff behind, the subject of some amusement on the net
The anchorage here is stunningly quiet, and very well protected from the
predominantly east or northeast/southeast winds found at this time of year,
so we'll stay here while waiting for our friends to make it a bit further
north before we move on with them...
Meanwhile, even here has been a bit challenging to find the bottom, and my
first forays under the boat were all well over my head. In part, that's
because I was delayed getting into the water by a fellow cruiser asking, on
the morning net, after KISS repair parts, of which I have many, being a firm
believer in having spares for any major system which might need them, BEFORE
I need them.
As it turned out, as so often, and so frustratingly, happens, I couldn't put
my hands on the item he needed, so, instead, I sourced it from the local
NAPA store while he was aboard, courtesy of a local-info call over the VHF
on the hailing channel for this area, channel 68, uncovering the phone
number for the store, and a call over my newly-renewed Bahamas phone.
Of course, the usual WiFi discussion (I've had 15 visitors to the boat, each
staying a half-hour or more, since the announcement over the morning net
mentioned in my last!) also ensued. By the time I actually got in the
water, it was nearly high tide. So, I concentrated on the prop and keel
During my first immersion, Lydia went exploring on the north end of Stocking
Island. She's done the south end several times, including the day when I was
working on the oars, so this was new territory for her. I'll let her tell
the story in her log (the google group log in my signature), but it suffices
to say that it's enchanting and beautiful.
This fuzz is pretty aggressive, it turns out, and takes a great deal of
effort with a brush to remove. However, the first efforts were reasonably
successful, so I resolved to go back in the next day. Early (well, early by
our standards - it was 8:30) on, I pulled in some of the anchor chain in
order to get us into slightly shallower water. With the still airs (under 10
and usually less than 5 knots) coming from over the hill, there was little
concern for dragging at the remaining 4-1 scope, but we never actually got
to touch, at any time in the day.
The air and water are very warm, so I was able to stay under most of the day
without becoming chilled. The bottom here is very soft sand, and, at least
to me, very curious, in that it's a bunch of conical hills, some at least 2'
high. So, in the instances where the boat swung, or, just by where I was
along the length, when I was atop a hill, I could easily reach the
Fortunately, I was able to finish most of the boat. I say "most" because
every time I'd look at an area I thought I'd done, when sighting along the
hull, I'd see another patch of fuzz. I attacked each in turn, and THINK I
have it done; I'll check again in the morning at, again, low tide. In any
event, I know I'll have to do a light brushing, probably on the entire boat,
as, where I'd cleaned the first day, already, a day later, there were very
fine white strings everywhere.
They come off very easily, but, none the less, apparently, this is a very
fecund area for marine growth, because, despite my vigorous scrubbing, which
not only got off the original fuzz, but activated the next layer of ablative
paint (the water was filled with paint scrubs turbidity, making visibility
even worse than all the fuzz I was dislodging), which should have
discouraged such growth.
Some of our internet usage has been related to future projects, among them
fabrication of custom wind scoops. Lydia's been luxuriating in the
connectivity to keep up with her family on Skype, over video calls, and to
search out ripstop nylon, our various versions of wind-catchers all having
fallen to tearing under the strain. Mine was to source the many projects I
have going, including replacing the pelican hooks which looked so good on
paper, but which, without over-center engagement and latching pins, came
open in use, not a good thing when you need them for security at the gates
when under way!
Others include getting more rouge blocks for polishing chores of various
kinds, a new outboard fuel line fitting, a manual bilge pump for the
PortaBote (being collapsible and flexible HDPE, it has no practical way to
fit a bung for under-way emptying as our inflatable does), a replacement
switch for our mini-shop vac, new spark plugs for the Honda generator
(recall I sold mine a few months ago, ironically to the guy who'd captained
this very boat for the family who owned it before us), replacement bulbs for
the large battery powered hand-held trouble light, batteries for my digital
caliper, additional non-spill spouts for our fuel cans (one broke; others
may), metal slides for the new zippers installed in our bimini and enclosure
during our refit in Saint Simons Island, GA, and a host of miscellaneous
hardware, some of which is difficult to find in regular retail outlets.
I've also been in contact with a distributor of a promising stainless steel
rust remover and preventative, as well as a troubleshooting call to the
distributor of my hookah rig, today, when it appeared to fail to start.
Both of these were a consequence of having a great internet connection
allowing us to use our Vonage telephone system (same phone number I've had
for 30 years). When we move into the boonies again, soon, all those
luxuries will go away...
Annnnd.... I finally finished diving the boat. I don't know what's in the
water here, but it almost grows faster than I can keep up with it. I found
some areas of frog spawn, presumably missed in all the turbid water created
by my stomping around on the bottom and all the stuff coming off the boat,
but everywhere else had a light film of long, white strands.
Fortunately, those came off with just a swish, and because I wasn't making
such a commotion down there, I was able to see all the missed green areas.
I'll have to do some of the waterline areas (1/2-1" of height growth) which
wouldn't succumb to the relatively soft and long bristled brust, using a
much stiffer, hand (vs on an extension pole to give me more sweep, pardon
the expression) brush. However, case in point on how fast this stuff
attaches, I redid the prop when I entered the water and had to do it again
less than 3 hours later when I came out.
My last little chore for the day was to climb up to the wind generator in
the zero-knot conditions. It sticks slightly, such that it won't rotate in
less than 10 or more knots once it gets stuck in the 30*-to-starboard
position, so I lifted it the 1/4 or so inch that is available between the
collar which secures it to the housing on the pole, and the screws which
hold in the pole cap, the bearing on which the unit rotates as the wind
changes, and forced teflon pool grease into the crevice between the collar
Whether that serves the purpose, or I have to disassemble it and hone out
the collar slightly remains to be seen, but it seemed to turn easier as I
rotated it on the pole. At this particular point, it's not very important,
as there's not enough wind to generate electricity, but next week will have
us back to energy independence, as we're in for an entire week of, depending
on the forecasting source, either high teens or 20-25 knots of wind, just
perfect for the KISS, and, as well, plenty to make it face into the wind.
For right now, I'm recovering from the chill from being under the boat all
day (well, it seemed like that), and looking forward to the arrival in a few
days of our friends from New Zealand, mentioned above. He's asked me to
delay putting away our hookah rig so that he can clean the bottom of his
boat, as well, while we wait for the winds to quiet down a bit before
heading off to other places.
My final 1-2-3 for this week (well, technically, most folks consider Sunday
to be a new week, so perhaps the first for next week?) will be to defrost
our refrigerator. As I use a heat gun to accelerate that process, and it
has a high amperage load, we run the generator for that. Since we run that
during my diving (to support its amp load, too), and I've been too chilled
when I've gotten out of the water to even think about it, we'll save that
Oh, yah, related, I'll do an oil change on the Honda when I'm finished.
These marvelous little machines will run forever (many enthusiasts, using
hour meters for monitoring oil change intervals, report 10,000 hour lives on
theirs) if you're religious about changing the oil. This tiny engine has no
filter, so it's important in that regard, but in particular (or particulate,
if you prefer), since the cams are plastic, little bits of junk in the oil
will cause them to wear prematurely.
So, well fed by the local bananas we picked up earlier this week (very
strange for Americans, they're fully ripe while still green, and you
wouldn't believe how sweet they are in comparison for the gas-ripened excuse
for bananas found in most grocery stores in the US) and peanut butter, on a
lovely rye bread, I'm going to head to bed, early this time. Too many late
nights and early mornings (necessary if you want to hear Chris Parker in
this part of the world, as propagation worsens at the distance he is from
here, on the frequencies he uses, as the morning wears on) and all my
exertions for the last three days under water have about worn this soon (in
three days)-to-be-65-year-old man out :**))
So, until next time, Stay Tuned!
Skip and crew
Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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Follow us at TheFlyingPigLog : Morgan 461 Hull #2, Flying Pig
and/or Flying Pig Log | Google Groups
"You are never given a wish without also being given the power to
make it come true. You may have to work for it however."
"There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in
its hand. You seek problems because you need their gifts."
(Richard Bach, in Illusions - The Reluctant Messiah)