May 1. We were safely tied up at the Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina as the wind blew and the rain fell all day. The storm had popped up out of nowhere and we had folks in the US contacting us to make sure that we were OK, as the weather had been on their news. We chatted to people on the docks, including a young couple who were in a catamaran called Sea Monster (which we later found out was the name of their on board dog!). It was their first boat and they had taken a few months off work to cruise the islands, learning as they went! Later we went back up the the marina restaurant for a beverage, Paul looking forward to the Sky Juice in a coconut he was promised – but sadly, still no coconut!
May 2. We were still tied up in Cape Eleuthera. We again walked the four mile loop which we measured via phone GPS and found was really 4.4 miles! The wind was still howling but the forecast was for calming the next day. So, knowing that we would be leaving and would be at anchorage for the next week or so, we had another nice dinner up at the Harbour Pointe restaurant.
May 3. We finally left Cape Eleuthera and headed into the anchorage at New Bight just to the north. We wanted to get some fresh fruit and veggies from the supermarket there so dinghy’d ashore, tying up at the dock at The Frigate restaurant for lunch before groceries. A elderly Bahamian gentleman greeted us and introduced himself as Smooth Groove, who played the guitar for tips. We met two other couples, one staying at a place further up the coast called Ten Bay. After getting our groceries we decided that New Bight wasn’t the nicest of anchorage as it did not have a beach. So we upped anchor and headed up the coast to the pretty fishing village of Tarpum.
We went ashore and walked the colorful village. We found a little church called St Columba’s. St Columba founded a monastery in Derry, N.Ireland, where Paul comes from, before setting out to bring religion to the Scots and further afield.
We saw a man cracking conch on the beach, with a pile of about 60 shells to work on. Further along we watched at the fish table as the local fishermen prepared their very extensive catch for sale.
May 4. We set off after breakfast for our lunch stop at Ten Bay. We had read that this remote village had a great beach. After a slow two hour cruise up the coast we turned into the picturesque town, with its long sandy beach. As soon as we had the anchor down and shut down the engines, Sian had the paddle board ready off our stern! She paddled into the beach as Paul followed along in the dinghy. We then walked the long beach, and met the couple that we had talked to at The Frigate restaurant in New Bight yesterday, their vacation cottage was right on the beach!
After lunch we headed further up the coast as we wanted to visit Governors Harbour, the first capital of the Bahamas. Reading the charts and cruising guides we learned that the harbour itself is not a great anchorage because of the grass on the seabed. So we stopped just short of the harbour and pulled into Long Point behind Pigeon Cay. We found a calm spot right up against the rocky south shore.
We now had to go outside and around a headland to get into the harbour, so we put on our PFDs and ran the dinghy around. We found a half dozen boats in the anchorage and spoke to a couple about the holding, which they said was “OK.” We anchored the dinghy off the beach and walked through the small town. We had a couple of Sands beers and a conch salad at the Buccaneer Club, chatting to a pilot who had flown in a group for a location wedding.
May 5. We were out of the anchorage early and on our heading to Current Cut. This very narrow cut joins the Eleuthera bight to the bay south of Royal and Russell Islands, and the current really rips through there. It is best to be there at slack tide, and if not make sure to have the current with you. We got there with the current pushing us along and we pulled the throttles well back but still went through there at eleven and a half knots (our normal cruising speed at cruising RPM is between eight and nine knots).
We then headed across the shallow bay towards Spanish Wells. This village got its name from the time Spanish galleons plied back and forth between the New World and Spain. They had dug fresh water wells on the island to put fresh water on board the ships before crossing the Atlantic. We entered the narrow channel and tied up at Yacht Haven Marina. After a quick swim in the marina pool we went for a walk along the waterfront to the west of town. As we walked along we noticed how very well maintained the large fishing fleet was, comparing them to the sometimes rusty vessels we see around Mayport and Fernandina back home.
Later that evening we walked along the waterfront to the East and had dinner at the Shipyard restaurant. At first we sat on the deck but as soon as the food arrived so did dozens of flies! So we scurried back inside to finish our seafood dinner! Back at the marina bar we had a night cap, with Paul deciding on a frozen margarita to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!.
May 6. We were leaving Spanish wells this morning via the east, which entailed going through the fishing fleet and then following waypoints that took us through a very narrow gap in the shallow reefs to the north. In fact the cruising notes said to only try this in good weather conditions with good visibility, and we had both this morning. Getting through the reef we pointed our bow towards Abaco – 45 miles and six hours away. We entered through North Bar cut and headed around Tilloo Bank, anchoring in Tilloo Pond right by our sister ship Nagari, and were invited over for dinner.
Later in the afternoon we went to start the generator to launch our dinghy and found that the generator was not pumping cooling water and the exhaust was dry. We quickly turned it off before it could overheat and Paul checked raw water strainer and found some weeds. He cleaned that out and checked that there was good flow from the through hull. Next to look at is the the impeller in the raw water pump. That takes some time and our concern was if we found that was not the problem we would have lost daylight and would be sitting all night without any way to charge our batteries. So before looking at the impeller we decided to head to the nearest marina, where we could plug into shore power, and get everything right with the generator.
So we started the engines, the starboard started fine and the port would not start at all! We had just run fine from Spanish Wells and the engine ran fine until we shut it down on anchoring, so this was really confusing. So we went over to Boat Harbour Marina on one engine, where they were helpful in getting us onto a T-Head using the one engine and bow thruster. Paul immediately put a new impeller on the generator and that ran fine.
He next reached over and took photos of the outside of the port engine, which is hard to get at. Looking at the photos he found that the wiring for the engine starter solenoid/relay was all salt corroded and it seemed to be from a leaking exchanger drain right above it. So we are hopeful that correcting the leak and then getting all of the corrosion off the starter relay wiring tomorrow morning will resolve the issue without needing to call the yard.
May 7. immediately after breakfast Paul got into the engine room and started cleaning up the mess that was the solenoid. He made sure the leaking hose was well secured by adding a second clamp. He then started brushing the solenoid connectors to get rid of the rust and corrosion. Unfortunately the solenoid was too far gone and the connector posts were ruined.
So Paul called Marsh Harbour Boat Yard. Their mechanic was backed up but they gave Paul the name of someone else who could do the job. Paul called him and he asked for photos. Paul sent off the photos – and then we heard nothing from him, even after some text follow up. After lunch we called the local parts store who said they had some 24V solenoids and we could come see if one would work. We walked the mile and a half into town and found that the solenoids they had were all 12v. Sigh. We tried a couple of other places with no luck. More sighing.
Pul then called our Mechanic back home in the US. He had previously told us that he would be able to ship us anything we might need to where ever we were cruising.. He said he would get on it and to call him back first thing in the morning to arrange shipping. After that conversation the local mechanic called back and told us that he had these in his inventory. He was going to come by first thing in the morning to have a look and let us know (hooray).
We went over to the Abaco Beach Resort restaurant for a couple of black fin grouper dinners – just to help us relax!
May 8. The local mechanic came by, looked at the problem and told us he did have the part we needed in stock. We told him we would motor around to Marsh Harbour on the one engine rather than stay at the marina and would let him know when we are there. Once in the harbour we called him and he said he had a restaurant generator problem he was working on and would come to us once he was finished. And so we waited. Sigh
Of course hie generator problem lasted all day and he called to say he would not be able to make us today, but by 11 am tomorrow! Sigh and hooray!
During the day we watched some folks on a sailboat struggling to raise their anchor. After a while it became clear that they had an issue. Paul jumped into the dinghy to see if he could help. When he got there he found that they were an elderly cruising trio. Their anchor had been fouled. At first Paul couldn’t see what it was fouled on, so was careful in case it was a power cable. He got them to raise it enough that he saw it was an abandoned mooring chain. He got a rope from the boat with a shackle on the end for weight, and dropped it through the back of the anchor and grabbed it on the other side with their boat hook. Now he could lift it backwards off the chain. As it came towards the surface Paul was able to grab the back of the anchor and after three or four tugs the chain fell off the anchor. and off they went!
We went ashore and grabbed some fresh produce at the very well stocked Maxwell supermarket, which is pretty similar to a supermarket in the states. They even had diet tonic water, which we had not been able to find anywhere else in the Bahamas!
May 9. Basil Wilmore, the mechanic came along this morning and installed the new starter relay. He also found the source of the leak that corroded the old relay, it was a hairline crack on a heat exchanger drain pipe. So he also took that off and took it back to his shop and put epoxy on it. That will be fine until Sonas goes into the yard this fall when I will have them replace that drain pipe in both engines.
After seeing Basil back to shore Paul went into town for a couple of things. On his way back a young man on the dinghy dock asked him if we had any spare fishing line. When Paul told him that we could probably find him some, he then asked if we had any hooks and lures we could give him! Paul came back to the boat and went down to where we store the fishing gear. We have two heavy offshore Penn rods and reels on board but also two light combos that we had probably bought at Wal-Mart. Paul grabbed one of the light rod and reel combos and a small tackle box that we had with a decent number of hooks and suitable small plastic lures, and took them ashore and presented them to the boy, whose eyes lit up.
As Paul left the dinghy dock some larger boys came over and looked like they were going to take the rod. So Paul turned around and read them the riot act. Back on Sonas he watched through the binoculars and saw one of the bigger kids casting with the rod. So back into the dinghy he went and after getting the rod back to the kid he reamed the others out – to the extent that another boater at the dingy dock looked a bit shocked, until Paul explained what was happening. In a short while the boy trotted off home with his prize.
While all this was happening Paul and Michelle on Nagari, our sister ship, had anchored beside us and invited us over for dinner. We met Michelle’s sister Deb and had a lovely grilled steak dinner and some beverages on board.
May 10. Now that the part had been replaced on the engine we were finally ready to move on. We were going to nip around the corner to snorkel on Mermaid Reef before heading to Hope Town for the night.
Sian we up on the foredeck to retrieve the snubber using the windlass, while Paul nipped down below to use the toilet. Hmmmm, Paul heard an engine running! He opened the engine room door and sure enough the port engine, the one we had just been working on, was running without us starting it. Paul told Sian to stop with the windlass and went up and turned the engine off at the helm.
He then went into the engine room and asked Sian to run the windlass again and sure enough the relay got power from the windlass operation and started the engine! We got everything shut down and left a message for the mechanic to call us back. Meanwhile Paul called our mechanic in the US and chatted to Paul on Nagari, bouncing ideas around as to what might be happening.
Basil the mechanic finally called us back saying that he would finish up the job he was currently doing at a nearby marina and come right over. However he again called late in the day to say he wouldn’t be making it and we were first on his list tomorrow at 8:30am. Frustrating to say the least!
We will cover what happened in the next blog entry, we are currently on our way back to Florida early, but safely!