Thursday, January 18, 2018

Another Problem Solved

A few days ago we began having trouble with the dinghy outboard. It didn’t want to start and then ran really rough, with very little power even at full throttle. We thought we probably had water in the fuel, although we aren’t quite sure how it got there. Was it the gas we just got in George Town?  Did water somehow find it’s way in the tank or outboard during the torrential rains?  We may never know. In any case it was a problem that needed to be fixed. George spoke to a few friends and received some suggestions on how to fix it. Michael offered to bring his dinghy and gas tank over and hook it up to our outboard. The motor ran better but wasn’t quite cured. He drove George down to Long Island Peteroleum and they agreed to take the bad fuel that was in our tank, even though it didn’t come from there. George then filled it with new gas. He then put in some Sta-Bil additive and changed the spark plugs. Now it runs like a champ!
In the midst of all of the outboard issues we took our very slow dinghy over to Tiny’s Hurricane Hole yesterday for a late lunch. Tiny’s is an adorable open air bar and grill (with a few cottages) on the beach overlooking Thompson Bay.  This afternoon we came back with our laundry. Michelle (aka Tiny) allows the boaters to use her laundry room. There are now over 30 boats in the harbor and we were concerned the laundry room would be too busy. If we hadn’t been able to do it here our next option was to hitch hike 30 minutes south of here to a laundromat. So glad we could do it at Tiny’s. 



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Sun Came Out and the Autopilot is Fixed

The sun was shining for most of the day today. What a difference that makes. It seems like it has been so long since we have seen much sun. We had a few short squalls but not the hours and hours of rain that we had been experiencing. 
I didn’t mention it in yesterday’s post but we lost our autopilot about half way through our trip from Conception Island to Long Island.  We were reminded how much we have come to depend on it.  The autopilot failed when we were in very rough seas & 20+kt winds near the tip of Long Island. We were hit on the beam by one especially big wave and the boat rolled to port and then back to starboard.  The autopilot struggled to keep up and then it just gave up, the wheels spun and the boat turned up into the wind. George regained control of the boat, turned the autopilot off and then on again but it didn’t work. We hand steered the rest of the way and we both had to resist, many times, the urge to turn the autopilot on. Today we set about trying to fix it. George first removed the cockpit floor to check the autopilot motor and the arm that attaches the motor to the rudder.  Nothing looked amiss there. I found some information online written by other Hanse owners who had fixed autopilot problems by replacing a fuse between the autopilot computer and motor. The trick was to find the fuse. After much looking and rearranging of stuff (which we had to do anyway), George finally found it inside the port lazzarette. He replaced the fuse and, voila, the autopilot works! Phew. Neither one of us relished the idea of long passages home without an autopilot. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Conception Island/Thompson Bay, LI

Last year Conception Island was our favorite place in the Bahamas. The clarity of the water has to be seen to be believed. It is part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park system so there are no buildings or cell towers on the island. The beaches are pristine. It is a small island surrounded by deep water so it is best to visit only during relatively calm conditions. If there are a lot of waves it can get very uncomfortable. We thought we had good conditions for another visit to Conception Island.  Although a cold front was expected to bring a lot of wind to the northern part of the Bahamas it wasn’t expected to make it as far south as Conception Island. We left George Town two days ago to head to Conception.  We soon encountered a heavy thunderstorm that lasted three hours. There were several nearby lightning strikes. When we arrived at Conception the wind and the waves didn’t seem bad at all. After Jean and Michael arrived on Desiderata we invited them over for dinner. The waves picked up the next day and were downright uncomfortable. Most hit the boat on the beam and caused the boat to rock side to side dramatically. Several things inside the boat got knocked to the floor, including my full glass of lemonade. We took a chance getting into the dinghy to scout out a more favorable anchorage. We didn’t try to take the dinghy to the beach, it was just too rough and we could have easily capsized. We went back to the boat, moved north about 1/2 mile and eventually took the dinghy out of the water. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep due to the rolling. This morning we pulled up the anchor and left, without setting foot on the island or even going to a swim. Our mistake was to not consider the sea conditions surrounding the island.  Even if there isn’t a lot of wind right near the island, wind nearby can kick up the ocean swell which just wraps around the island. 
We sailed through some rough seas and yet another squall back to Long Island and were so happy to anchor in a very calm Thompson Bay. It just so happened a cruiser’s happy hour was planned at the beach tonight so we joined in and met some new people & saw some old friends.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Follow-ups: Engine Battery Switch & Rain Awnings

As we sit in George Town awaiting yet another squall I thought it might be a good time to write a follow-up on the engine battery switch and the awnings that I made. 

Engine Battery Switch
It is working like a charm. We have used the microwave a few times since George installed the switch. We have remembered to disconnect the engine battery before using the microwave and reconnect it immediately each time. Incidentally, we have not had any trouble starting the engine in several weeks. 

Rain Awnings
The awnings are still a work in progress. The awning over the v-berth hatch stayed secure even during the 50 knot winds we had the other night. That is the good news. The bad news is the stainless steel rings on the corners of the awning were banging on the deck during the worst of the wind.  They were banging so hard I was afraid they were damaging the deck. We have found that the awning needs to be close to the deck to keep water from entering the hatch due to rain splashing on the deck. However, when it is attached close to the deck and starts flapping in the strong wind, the rings bang on the deck. We are thinking of removing the rings and either sewing dyneema (a very strong type of line) rings in or just attaching the bungees directly to the webbing loops that held the rings. Also, the awning is too small. I wish I had not followed the recommendation to cut down the size to allow for stretching. I plan to make a larger awning once we return home. 
The two awnings used to cover the salon hatch and which were attached to the main sail cover ended up being a total bust. The Velcro that attached the awnings to the main sail cover came undone in just a moderate amount of wind. I am redesigning the awnings to make one larger awning that will be attached under the boom. I suspect that when I finally get this done we will not have another rain storm for the rest of our time here. 

Yesterday we had a long enough break in the rain to dinghy into town to visit Exuma Market and Top to Bottom hardware store. After we dropped the fresh vegetables off at the boat we dinghied over to Lumina Point for lunch. What a treat to be off of the boat for a few hours!  The skies looked threatening by the time we finished lunch and passed by Chat n’ Chill so we opted not to stop and socialize with other cruisers on the beach. There didn’t appear to be many other people there, anyway. 



Thursday, January 11, 2018

George Town

We made the trip from Lee Stocking Island to George Town two days ago. The wind was on our nose so we had to motor through lumpy seas all the way. Just as we were approaching the harbor at George Town the skies opened up with a very heavy thunderstorm. We slowed our speed in hopes that it would let up in by the time we reached our anchorage. Fortunately, we could follow the tracks from one of last year’s trips to George Town. The rain did indeed let up by the time we dropped the anchor. We were grateful for that but especially grateful not to have been hit by lightning. It is a little unnerving to be the tallest thing around during a thunderstorm. There was an even heavier thunderstorm at midnight. Lots of wind and rain. George stayed up for a few hours, watching the tracks of the boat on the anchor alarm iPad app. It turned 360 degrees a few times as the wind changed directions. We heard on the radio net the next morning that the wind had gusted as high at 50 knots. Yesterday it continued to rain off and on all day. We did have enough of a break in the morning that we were able to go into town and do a few loads of laundry. It was raining by the time we returned but our huge plastic zippered laundry bag (that I purchased here in George Town last year) kept everything dry. Our very first glimpse of the sun yesterday was at sunset, leading to a beautiful double rainbow. 
If the rain lets up today we will venture back into town for a bit of shopping and maybe a haircut for George. 




Monday, January 8, 2018

Lee Stocking Island

The squalls stopped and the sun came out, allowing us to get off of the boat for the first time in five days.  Hallelujah!  It was such a pleasure to go out for a walk and appreciate the beautiful surroundings. We dinghied a short distance south to coconut beach and hiked to the top of Perry’s Peak. As an added bonus we encountered Nancy, from Blue Bay, and her friend, Lois, sitting near the trail head. I was able to get my “social fix” for the day. 
The night before last we were anchored at Twin Beaches. It is a lovely anchorage but was way too shallow for our comfort. We were checking the depth several times an hour as the tide went out. At one point we saw 5.7 feet on the depth sounder. It is a wonder we weren’t thumping on the bottom. We believe that the strong east wind might have been pushing the water out of the anchorage, making it much more shallow than we remembered from last year.  In any case, yesterday morning we moved to the anchorage known as the Marine Center.  There used to be a marine research center located here, the empty buildings still remain. We had hoped to get an additional foot of depth here but ended up with more like 6”. Every little bit helps. There were three other boats here when we arrived but still enough room for us. 



Saturday, January 6, 2018

Wanderlust

Our sister-in-law once said that George and I have wanderlust. I suppose it is true since we moved five times in four states in our first eight years of marriage. We did finally settle down, living seven years in NY and 22 in CT. Now it seems like the wanderlust has kicked in again. We have found that when we are cruising we like to move about every four days or so. We had been anchored in Thompson Bay, Long Island for a week so it was time to move on. Yesterday we raised the anchor just before dawn and sailed/motorsailed 60 miles to the Lee Stocking Island area. It was one of our favorites last year. We entered Rat Cay Cut and anchored at Children’s Bay last night. We had to wait for a higher tide this morning to move on to Lee Stocking Island. We visited this area twice last year and each time there were several other boats anchored. This time we are the only boat, aside from the tours boats which continue to stop at a nearby beach. It is cloudy, windy, cool and raw right now.  I know we won’t get any sympathy from the people up north, but we are wearing long pants, long sleeves and even jackets at times. I suspect we might remain the only boat anchored here until the weather improves. The forecast suggests that might not be for a while.