Saturday, April 25, 2015

We are in da' Bahamas!!

We are in the Cays known as Abaco or "Near Bahamas"
Our 'Trip Tik'
Well we made it.  We left Tuesday April 21 at 6:30 am from Lake Worth Inlet with our friends Sue & John Mackie on their 37' Lord Nelson Tug the 'John William'.  Perfect sea conditions, pretty much flat with a slight swell.  We ran into a rain squall around 9 am and although the skies looked threatening all day that was the only rain we saw and no wind.  We made it to Great Sale Cay at 9:30 pm fell into an immediate deep sleep and left Wednesday morning for Green Turtle Cay.  Another long day, 9 hours with on and off sprinkles and gray skies but again perfect seas and hardly any wind.  The seas were dark blue in the Gulf Stream (piece of cake by the way) and a very gray blue most of the time because of the gray skies but when we arrived at Green Turtle the sun had come out and the water was gorgeous a pale emerald green and clear as a piece of tinted glass.  You can see the bottom clearly even in 20' of water.  

The small Bahamian Village on Green Turtle, New Plymouth, is what I expected in the way of colorful houses and friendly people but I was a bit surprised at the narrow 'golf cart' roads and lack of vegetation. My mistake, not knowing the Cay (pronounced Key) is mostly rock and the village is very tightly spaced sort of like a village in Europe.
Food is VERY expensive, in fact we wonder how they can do it, with no work to speak of. except tourism and that by boat.  Just a sampling, a quart of milk $6. a large head of broccoli $6. a medium zucchini $3. a can of green beans $2.79, a pound of ground beef over $8. and a half gallon of ice cream at $12.60! 

Yesterday we took our dinghies to the beach and snorkeled but it was shallow and we didn't see anything..  After we gave up snorkeling we did see a huge Sting least 3 feet across swimming in about 3 feet of water about 20 feet from us. That was pretty cool.

We on a mooring in Black Sound on Green Turtle and will stay here until at least Thursday waiting out the two predicted cold fronts with high winds and lumpy water.

New Plymouth Cemetery Very old crypts of piled stone mixed with the new poured ones.
This edition of the blog will be trial and error. Sending it may be a different issue altogether. Pictures will have to be at a minimum.
Bye for now from Green Turtle, Abaco

Sunday, April 12, 2015

So You Think You Want A Boat

After this post you may think again.  The last time Gary did this (port engine after buying the boat) our son Kent helped and it was a much more straight forward (pun intended) seems the path from that engine back was a much easier path.  Where were you KENT for this one??  ("at work Mom")  This time it took us two long sweaty days (the weather has suddenly become 'summer in Florida') to get the hose from the engine to the exhaust fitting on the transom of the boat.  Gary had his thinking cap on let me tell you.
The main hose section was 12 feet long keep that in mind when you see the pictures. The 'tunnel' back to the transom also holds electrical wiring and the water line from the water tanks under the berth (our bed for you landlubbers). Unfortunately when they build a boat they have open access to all of these "hidden obstacles" and don't bother to think ahead to someone who someday may have to repair or replace something.  
The biggest problem was getting the hose past the holes in the bulkheads with the water hose also in the space. We first tried to get it in through the bilge with Gary in the bilge pushing and me pulling from under the head sink but that was fruitless. We even tried a Bush Light box to cover the jagged edged hole in the bulkhead that was snagging the hose. The only option was through the sink. We fed it through but slowly as it kept catching on the water hose and wires and the bulkheads.  By the end of day one after about 6 hours of pushing & pulling we got it in.

Old hose at the transom

Old hose removed (in pieces) obviously way past its prime

New 12' hose piece

Grasping at straws, but hey.

Using a boat pole to try and guide the hose away from the water hose.
The beige section to the left is the bulkhead just before the storage drawers
with the water hose on the right.

12 feet of 'slightly' flexible heavy duty exhaust hose "goin' down the drain"

figuring out a solution to the hold up through the drawer locker

Progress made

Tight spaces

We had to pull it back far enough to get this end through the hole into the engine room
which was way under the sink.

A much needed bit of relaxation after day one
DAY 2......  we  (and yes I say we because I was the number 2 man on the job :-) and the photographer without which you would not have the proof we are surely crazy )  had to install the 4 foot hose section from the engine room bulkhead  (or wall)  to the engine.  This again did not go smoothly.   First we had to pull the twelve foot hose back into the bilge about a foot so we could attach the four foot piece.                                                          
Number one, the engine room although large by most standards has spaces that are only meant for midgets, not someone Gary's size.  It took him about four minutes just to get into position in 'the hole' and another four to get out....
The first time he had attached the elbow to the four foot hose piece that had to be attached to the twelve foot piece...because of that angle the twelve footer would not go back into place no matter how hard we pushed and tugged. So out he came, off came the elbow, which he then attached to the 4 foot piece.  I stood at the end of the hose and pushed while he tried to leverage it on...success.  For a minute..........he ended up having to take it all apart again because we had to pull the 12' piece back into the bilge again so that he could cut the aft bulkhead hole bigger to accommodate the hose and positioning it to the exhaust flange.  Talk about technicalities!!

Crawling out 

The mechanics go to formula....wipe that on the flange and you are
assured success.

Putting the elbow on....once again!!

Back in 'the hole' with a new set of clothes....1st set looked like he fell overboard

Re-attaching the elbow and the final push to the exhaust flange....
him pushing from below and me 'weakly' pulling from above.  Not easy
to move that which doesn't want to be moved.

Final torquing of the clamp holding the hose to the engine


Gary's "that was easy" button courtesy of daughter in law Jessica.
I always give it to him at the end of one of these "EASY" jobs!
The sun sets on another day aboard Tie A Knot

Like an old sailor once told us  "if it was easy everybody would be doing it"....

Aborted Plans

                                          Does this look like the Bahamas ????'s downtown Miami

I had totally expected to be sending my next blog from Bimini, but it seems that of late my expectations are being sorely tested!  It started out well enough....we left Marathon on Wednesday, dallied in Islamorada on Thursday, planned to get fuel on Friday and head to Rodriguez Key to meet the other boats.  As the Merrill luck (or lack of lately) would have it, when we fired the engines up on Friday to head in for fuel I went below and immediately smelled exhaust fumes in the aft cabin.  I ran up to the bridge and sent Gary to investigate.  Sure enough, the starboard engine exhaust hose had started leaking my first expressed thought was "this is fricking it!"!!!!!!  
So we spent an hour going over options... head back to the boat yard and call it quits for now? (I don't have a lot of patience as some of you may have ascertained) or head somewhere on the water where we can get the new hose and fix the problem.  Obviously the keys is not the place as we would be backtracking to find a mooring field.  We then came up with the plan to go to Stuart on the East Coast, a boating Mecca of sorts. They have a mooring field where we can stay for $20 a day, fix the exhaust, and hopefully continue on our Bahamas track.  Once I got over my initial "I CAN'T TAKE THIS",.... logic prevailed and that seemed to be the best course of action. Since Sue and John are heading over soon we could tag along with them instead of meeting them.

So we have spent the last 2 days going through the weekend mania of Miami through Jupiter on the water on a weekend.   A trip I recommended for the first 6 hours. Miami wasn't bad, it was before noon, I was like "the East Coast is so energizing isn't it, all the people out enjoying the day", but Lauderdale was a nightmare  (one every sail boat should experience :-), but can't :-( )  Between looking at the enormous display of extreme wealth and watching behind us at umpteen bridge openings for the "crazies" ...we were totally exhausted last night...Gary fought the wheel (and his shoulders are not thanking him) all day travelling on one engine, only starting the leaking one if he absolutely had to at a bridge opening gone nuts.  

The thirty some miles between Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach is called 'the canyon'.  It gets the name aptly as it is a narrow, 150-200' canal, with cement sea walls on both sides where the wakes reverberate from one side to another.  The speed is mostly "go as fast as you can" tempered with "slow the hell down" every once in a while.  Picture downtown Atlanta at rush hour only with boats. There are trawlers (not many, we are forewarned to stay away from weekends, but our repair window negates our common sense), lots of small weekend boaters, the fishing boats with three or four 250 HP engines seeing just how fast they can torque them to max speed (aren't they supposed to be out in the ocean fishing, for cripes sake), the pontoon boats....and lets not forget the Jet Ski's!  It was literally wall to wall boats for most of the day.  I couldn't take pictures because I was too busy looking behind us to tell Gary what was coming from the rear!!

AND YES...I WAS YOUNG ONCE!!!!  Have I become a crotchety old person?

Today was a little better until we hit Jupiter then it was again a free for all. We are anchored in Peck Lake (not really a LAKE but an indentation in the Intracoastal) and the traffic is dying down. There is a great ocean breeze and we sleep well.  Tomorrow a short trip to Stuart and on with the business at hand.

So there you have it, our woes and triumphs over life aboard.  (This week anyway!)

Can't leave out the pictures while I can send them.....

Five cruise ships at the Port of Miami
with an additional one on the other of six

South Florida's "boat beaches" a shallow spot at low tide

Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale) Cruise ships
there were 5 in port and I 'Googled' it, they were all headed out yesterday
Panama and the that many people go on cruises every week?  Six in Miami, five in Lauderdale?

Then there are the Port Everglades mega yacht marinas...most of them were flying British Flags
and were probably charter boats.

My favorite "Aquila" , they were asking 12 million for this
50 meter yacht.  It sold in February.

Then their are the Mansions....WHERE do these people get the dough????

"Let the fuel come to you"!!
                                This one just thrown in for a little levity....some of us are
                                 just average joes....if you enlarge you can see the guy in the
                                 green shirt waving at me....maybe he though I was famous??

This yard art was a bit "what are they thinking"
                                      And then this.............
The Hillsboro Inlet mansion that has been under construction for seven years, still not finished
now for sale...for $139 MILLION....the most expensive listing in the U.S.
evidently you lose interest after seven years....that is if you aren't getting a divorce
Palm Beach (one of the) mega-yacht centrals.

So it's time to call it a day and gear up for tomorrow's new delights.  I am sure I will have more fuel for the fire coming up this week, if you can stand it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bahamas Bound

It is hard to believe we have been in Marathon for three weeks. The time has flown by as usual and we have had a VERY active social life this time around!  Six of the boats from Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage were here and we got together often.   Tie A Knot and Heart Breaker are the tail end of the mass exodus.  Tie A Knot is leaving today as soon as I finish posting this (my data is zippo until tomorrow)  I have to use the wi-fi at the marina and as usual put it off until the last minute. Slow learner.

                                         The Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage Group

You may remember "Captain Jack" from our stop here 2 years ago. He celebrated his 93rd birthday this year and his only nod to aging is that he now uses a shopping cart for balance.  He said he couldn't use one of those walker things. He still lives on his sailboat but on the dock not on a mooring ball.  His daily entertainment is passing out Hibiscus flowers to whichever ladies he fancies that day.  Quite a character and a sweetie.

The Boot Key Harbor Pine Needle Basket Group.  Expanding every year.  Lots of beautiful baskets being produced.

                                         Night shot on the harbor with a full moon.

              The last get together on Easter.  Three more of our friends left Monday.

A spotted Ray that was cruising along our boat yesterday.  He hung out long enough for me to take several pictures....I think he was posing for the camera.  Or waiting for something to drop off of the grill  :-)

Another "poser" this one was definitely not camera shy....he sat there looking at us until I put my camera away.  Actually there are a LOT more Iguanas here this year.  They are taking over the streets, just like the roosters in Key West.

Since I mentioned Key West I may as well fill you in on the rest of our plans.  We went to Key West last week to get cards that allow us to check into the States (after visiting a foreign country) by phone. We finalized our plan to go to the Bahamas. Bahamas you say "we haven't heard that one yet" .  Well it has been on the table for a while and there is no time like the present. We found a group of power boats in nearby Sombrero Marina and they are going over as soon as a weather window opens up.  The winds have been non stop since the first week we were here when we should have just jumped over....pretty flat calm for an entire week but I wanted to wait until we found boats to go with since we have never done it before.  Just like with the Gulf crossing Dec. 2013 from Carrabelle, I am a scardy cat!  That was a 23 hour trip and this is only 5 from Key Largo area to Bimini.
Anyway...we have been provisioning on our 'bike' (lost one of our bikes to the junk pile last week) and have made umpteen trips to Publix and K Mart about a mile from here.  Schlepping I like to call it.  We have had numerous ride offers but we are stubborn people I guess and just do not like to inconvenience others.  Besides walking with weights is GOOD excercise and so is riding a bike against 15 mph winds.
This was just the start after the big shopping day (when we did acquiesce and get a cab back from Publix).  We have since filled up the other side of the "garage" too.  Lots of canned goods, bagged potatoes, rice paper products, and of course beer and wine. Everything is more expensive there because they have to have everything shipped in so you stock up before you go. I am a shop as you go gal so buying two months worth of food is a very traumatic experience!!!
We have been warned that beer is 50 bucks a case (you read that right) in the Bahamas and Gary is not taking any chances of running out! 
Our current plan is to be there for a least 6 weeks.  Anyway with a freezer full of meat a frig full of perishables we won't starve as long as we don't have to eat it all here while waiting to go over!  We leave today to head East to Islamorada to anchor for the night and then fuel tomorrow and head a little farther north to wait for the other boats that plan to head up maybe Friday.  Saturday is a POSSIBLE crossing day according to one of the group but I am not sure about that.  I don't think we will know until the day before.  It is a waiting game this Bahama thing.  Our friends Gwen and Walter have been in the Exumas all winter and now sit in Abaco waiting for the winds to die so they can cross back to the States.
We all have a dream and this is the last thing on our boating list that we really wanted to accomplish.  The only Bahama trip we have made was a trip to Freeport back in the late 60's. I guess if it is to be it will be. If we do get over we hope to meet Sue and John Mackie who are headed over to the Abacos the first of May. 
I have heard that wi-fi coverage is costly over there so my posts may be infrequent and short but I will try my best.