Sunday, April 23, 2017

Out of Nassau and Back

 April 20, 2017

Departure from the Harbor Club was scheduled for right after 0800.  We needed to pay out at the office when it opened.  Winds were still running out of the east at 18-22kts, but we all made the decision to go anyway.  Both Renne’ and I had a few misgivings, but we were going to go with the group to Norman Cay.  The winds were supposed to change by the 22nd, and we all wanted to be in the Exuma Land and Sea Park to be on the mooring balls as the wind changed.

Carpe Diem left the slip first to head for the fuel docks.  Then Flynnigan’s Wake, then Miss Piggy.  Scimitar and JonNe’ didn’t need fuel, so we were going to wait just outside the harbor for the others.  As usual, Renne’ was at the helm.  As she was backing us out, somehow the port jib sheet (line) dropped off of the boat, probably when we rubbed up against the piling in the slip.  We just didn’t notice it.  As she backed out of the slip, the bow began to fall off, and had we continued backing up, we would probably have had NO issues.  However, as the bow began to fall off, Renne’ shifted to forward, as we would normally do, to stay out of shallower water.  We just couldn’t get the boat around sharply enough and ended  up against the pilings, perpendicular to the slips with the winds blowing 20kts from our beam, pinning us.  In an effort to get us off, the dinghy, up on the davits, came in contact with a piling, just as the jib sheet was pulled into the prop.  At that point, Renne’ had NO thrust, and the engine shut down.  We had some dock hands who came over to assist, and a dock line was handed to them.

I went below and pulled my mask and fins out of the closet.  Before entering the water, I had to cut the rigidly taught jib sheet to allow me to untangle the anticipated mess in the prop.  This is the first time in 20 years of sailing I have had to do this, and I was NOT looking forward to it.  I donned the dive gear and jumped in the water with my pocket-knife.    Once in the water, I realized how little underwater practice I have had holding my breath.  It actually took four attempts to get the line off the prop, and fortunately, the shaft and prop were not damaged.

With that out of the way, I took the helm, and with the assistance of the dock hands, we were able to get the boat bow back in the slip and we were able to back into the anchoring field behind us.  We departed Nassau with our tails between our legs, headed for Norman Cay.

An hour after departing the harbor, and negotiating the mine field of coral heads marked on the charts, the engine quit.  We were surprised, as we only had a few hours on the new filter.  I quickly dropped below, picked up some tools and a new filter, and removed the lid to the filter housing.  I quickly noticed that was NOT the issue.  I have been using a squeeze-bulb in the fuel line to manually refill the filter housing after changing the filter itself.  It was sucked down completely, indicating a clog in the line somewhere.  I replaced the lid to the filter housing and moved to the selector valves.  When I closed the starboard tank feed valve and opened the center tank valve, the pressure was released and the engine started immediately.  So now, we were down to only one of three fuel tanks, and headed to the Exuma’s with no chance of repairing any of the valves or really discovering what the issues were.  I thought about the issue for an hour, and just before entering the Yellow Bank (another coral head mine field), I broached the subject to Renne’ of returning to Nassau to figure this out!  I didn’t like the odds of having a fuel issue with no options of changing to another tank once we were in the outback of the Exuma’s.  So we announced to the Armada we were turning back, and came about.  Immediately, winds and seas settled down for us as we were now going with the wind mostly.

Without warning, shortly after the decision to return was made, an alarm went off.  We both raced to find the source, and I noticed the bilge alarm going off.  This only occurs when the bilge pump is on for longer than 90 seconds, and is designed to inform the crew of a serious source of water flooding the bilge.  I quickly looked into the engine room at the bilge, and noticed at least 18 inches of water in the bilge.  I also noticed water flooding in from under the floor of the master stateroom.  I quickly got under the mattress of our bed, and opened the top board allowing me to inspect the storage area below there.  When I found the water flowing, I tasted it and found it to be fresh water rather than seawater.  I quickly realized there was a leak somewhere in the fresh water system, and the pressure pump was running.  I went to the circuit panel and secured the fresh water pump, and the bilge emptied and the alarm ceased.

With that “emergency” averted, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed at that point.  Renne’ and I spoke at length about what we want to do from here, and frankly, having lived aboard JonNe’ now for almost 10 years, we have come to the conclusion this will probably be our last cruise on this boat.  We returned to Nassau Harbor Club Marina without further issue.  Immediately upon securing the boat in the same slip, I went looking for the issue in the fresh water.  The rest could wait until tomorrow.  Going back under the bed, I found the accumulator tank that pressurizes the fresh water system had rusted through and now had two holes in it.  It was going to have to be replaced or we weren’t going to have ANY fresh water.  I pulled one of the bikes stored on the deck off and went in search of a new accumulator tank.  I found one at the second store I stopped at, fortunately!  I bought it for $335 (wow!) and returned to the boat.  With the help of Renne’, we were able to get it replaced in about 15 minutes, and we had fresh water available once again.

In all, the fuel tank wasn’t the stopper.  We could have continued, but for safety’s sake, and as a retired Naval Aviator, safety always comes first, we made the decision to abort the day’s trip.  The water was actually the stopper.  So we will focus on the other issues over the next few days, and hope we are ready to head out soon.

In the meantime, I am having ANOTHER Dark and Stormy.  My psychy really needs the support!!

Easter in Nassau

April 14-19, 2017

If we had realized that the Easter Celebration in Nassau would consume Friday-Monday, and NO stores were open, we probably would had done some exploring Thursday afternoon.  As a result, we weren’t able to do anything constructive.  Thankfully, what we had was pretty much just normal maintenance.  Flynnigan’s Wake on the other hand had to figure out what was going on with the engine.  Whatever it was, Art and Bill came to the conclusion that replacing the entire fuel line with new hose was probably best.  They had to wait until Tuesday for them to purchase the 25 feet of Nitrile fuel hose to do the job.  They were able to resolve the issue by Tuesday mid afternoon.  Temperatures sat at about 78 degrees the entire time during the day, and we were actually surprised we had to wear jackets during the evening.

The last time we were in Nassau, four years ago, was with our friends, Ed and Claudia Davis, who were traveling with us in much the same way we are traveling this year.  Two boats rather than five however, made things a bit simpler.  We just happened to be here for Easter Sunday.  So this was the second Easter we were going to be here.

That first Easter Sunday, the four of us walked the ¾ mile to the St. Matthews Anglican Episcopal Church.  This is the oldest church in the Bahamas and we thought it would be a kick to attend services there.  However, we were met outside, and told we really needed to attend the Catholic Church across the street and not at St. Matthews.  We were shocked!  In fact, Renne’ was quite upset that we were being kicked out of church without even attending!!  We attended the Catholic services, and were amazed to find a congregation of probably 400 people.  It was standing room only!!  We actually made it quite the topic of conversation with each local we met.  To a person, people in Nassau were appalled we were treated that way. 

So update for 2017.  Easter morning, we walked back to St. Matthews, and found we were very warmly welcomed to the church.  Although mostly black, we were impressed by the inner beauty of the sanctuary, and the bright Spring colors everyone wore.  It was quite refreshing, and we were welcomed with open arms this time.

On Wednesday, April 19, we went grocery shopping and prepped the boat for departure. 

The Berry's to Nassau

12 April, 2017

We departed Great Harbor after waiting out the weather.  We headed southwest on the Great Bahama Bank for the Northwest Channel leading into the Tongue of the Ocean.  We continue to fight the Northeasterly winds at 20+ kts.  Once enroute, as the winds were on our stern, we set the jib and stays’l and actually ran with the wind Wing-on-Wing!  Wow!  We were running downwind at 6.2kts.  Wing-on-Wing is when the jib is one one side of the bow, and the stays’l is on the other.  Neither of us has ever experienced the speed nor the length of time we were able to sail in this capacity.  It was pretty awesome to say the least!

As morning clocked into early afternoon, we made the turn through the Northwest Channel.  The seas were becoming very lumpy as we moved from 20 foot depths to 1,000+feet.  I would have expected the period between waves to have lengthened as we got deeper, but that never happened. 

It was just a constant banging into the waves.  It was not a comfortable ride.

An hour after passing through the Northwest Channel, the fuel filter clogged, and the engine shut down.  We set the jib to maintain any speed.  I am quite comfortable changing this filter, but chose to change the fuel tank feeding the engine.  There are two valves for each of the three fuel tanks.  One is the fuel feed to the fuel filter and on to both the engine and the generator.  The second valve is for the return fuel line.  Diesels do not burn all of the fuel fed to them, so the excess fuel is returned to the same fuel tank.  I chose the port tank to replace the center tank, but the return valve handle had frozen in place, and could not be moved by hand.  Actually the handle was so corroded, the handle actually bent when I tried to move it.  I have known these return valves needed to be changed, but I wasn’t going to attempt it any time soon.  With both the starboard and center tanks available, I figured I would just let the port one rest.   So I chose the use the starboard tank, and we were off again under power and sail.

We arrived at Chubb Cay at about 1600 (4:00pm).  Hurricane Matthew last year took out the marina there, and still has not been repaired.  The only structure for the marina operating is the fueling dock.  We anchored outside the marina and just to the east of the channel going into the marina.  It took 7-8 attempts before we were able to get a moderately stable anchorage.  Miss Piggy ventured to the other side of the island, and ran up Frazier Hog Cay and took a mooring ball.  Flynnigan’s Wake followed them, but was limping in because of an engine issue.  They had also broken a chain plate on the port side. Sailing for them was not an option.  They arrived just as dark came, and Bill and Harriet (Miss Piggy) met them in the dinghy to assist tying onto the mooring ball.

13 April, 2017

We weighed anchor at 0710, winds were 16kts, but the forecast was for an increase in wind speed.  When we set the mains’l, we took in a reef and shortened the sail to prevent overpowering the boat.  We were glad that occurred.  We were met with 3-5’ seas all of the way into Nassau.  I threw out a green and white lure, simulating a mahi, however, in three hours we didn’t chatch anything.  John and Terry caught two mahi, so we changed to a frozen ballyhoo, and within the hour, landed a 42” Mahi.  What a beautiful fish!  I fileted the fish on the deck.  It is a narrow area, and consequently, I could not do the finest job.  But that is my excuse, and I am sticking to it!!

We arrived at Nassau Harbor Club Marina and having made reservations for the five boats, we docked in slips assigned to us.  We were fortunate to find a marina that could take all of us.  This is a pretty busy place.  As there was weather continuing to build, we all wanted to be in safe and sound.

So we will be here until after Easter, so come down to the docks while we are hear and share some “Dark and Stormy’s”.  In the meantime, we hope you are doing well!!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Great Harbor in the Berry's

Great Harbor

Sunday, 09 April 2017

I hate to admit it, especially after really looking forward to the hype, but we were a bit disappointed in Great Harbor.

We arrived second, behind Miss Piggy.  She was already anchored at Rat Cay, near the Government Docks when we pulled in.  There were 5 other sailboats anchored outside the main harbor.  We could have gone in to Great Harbor Marina, but decided we didn’t want to spend the money.  So we found a place to drop anchor about 100 yards south of Miss Piggy.  Anchoring went easily, and we were sitting in 10 or so feet of water, but for safety sake, I still ran 125’ of chain out, and felt comfortable with the hook in place.

We were tired, so we just fixed dinner, started the generator, and watched a movie, then retired from a long day in 3-4’s on the nose about 2030 (8:30pm).

Monday, 10 April 2017

I was up at 0630, put coffee on, and tuned the Single Side Band to listen to Chris Parker Weather at 0640.  We were grateful for being in place, as winds and sea-state were going to be high for the two day crossing to Nassau, on New Providence Island.  We had some minor repairs to accomplish, so we didn’t get off the boat until about 1030.  We drove the dinghy over to Government Docks then on over to the cut channel into Great Harbor looking for the marina.  There were two sailboats anchored inside the channel, but it looked as though it would be crowded to add any additional boats there.  We found the marina, and tied to one of the few ladders.  The water level required a 4 foot climb to the docks. 

As we were walking down the docks, we had noticed a Crealock 37 from Kemah, Texas (our home port).  We knocked on the boat and the owners came out.  We announced we were from Kemah!  They announced they weren’t, and they were from Austin.  They had bought the boat in North Carolina, and rather than redoing the hull to reflect Austin, they chose to just keep Kemah.  We were disappointed, but immediately,  heard someone call, “Jon and Renne’!”  It turns out we ran into John and Wendy from TMCA.  We don’t know them well, but they had attended our presentation on our trip to CUBA a year ago this month.  We talked with them for 15 or 20 minutes getting reacquainted.  You JUST NEVER KNOW where you will find people you know.

We were starting to get hungry, so inquiring on the docks for someplace to eat, we were given directions to the East side of the cay to The New Beach Club.  We were told it would be a 15 or so minute walk.  It turned out to be 1-1/2 miles up and down a few hills.  We ended up getting a ride in a pickup for the last 150 yards.  Wish it had been farther!!  But we needed the exercise anyway.  So we ordered drinks and lunch, and left two hours later.  No credit cards are accepted, so we were grateful we had the $53 in our pocket that lunch cost us.  A cheeseburger and three beers for me, a piece of grilled fish and some veggies and a mixed drink for Renne’.  What an expensive LUNCH!!  Renne’ knows no strangers in the world, and Laura, from the States, gave us a ride back to the marina. 

On our run out to the boat, we ran aground, and tore up the prop to our 15hp Yamaha engine.  What happened to shear pins????  Without them, when you run aground, you tear up the pressed rubber and bonze core, and you have to replace the prop!!!  ARGHHHH!!  So fortunately, with a little throttle, we were still able to make some way, so we made it back to the boat.  I just took us a while! 

Dinner back aboard JonNe’ was excellent, but the shroud of what we were going to do on Tuesday to get in to Great Harbor was on my mind.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Others were having some issues aboard their boats, and weather reports showed Wednesday and Thursday the best to make the transit to Nassau, so we were able to get a dinghy ride in from our friends, Scott, Annie, and Val.  I was hunting a new prop!!  So with two hundred in cash in our pockets, Renne’ and I were off to Great Harbor again.  We had purchased a brand new Uniden Hand Held radio from Amazon before we left Key West.  It was on my belt when we got to the marina.  Same ladder, same four feet climb, and as I was getting off the dinghy,  the radio on my belt got caught in the painter (line from the dinghy for tie up), and flipped in to 10 feet of water!  Sometimes you wonder when it will end!!!  So we went searching for someone to recover it.  A local store manager, Elorn, arranged for the diver, and arranged for someone to bring over a used prop.  $20 for Elorn for the favor, $20 to the diver, and $60 for a badly worn, corroded, chipped and bent prop, and four hours later we were on our way back to the boat!!!  Ah the life of cruisers!!!!

On our way back, we had joined Terry and John Hagerty, from Scimitar, and of course, Scott, Annie, and Val, and decided to return to Government Dock to find a restaurant they had heard about.  What a huge surprise!!!  Delicious huge lobster for Renne’ ($15), two huge pork chops for Jon ($10) and two beers and a mixed drink for Renne, and we were out of there for a total of $46 including tax and gratuity!!  Pretty cool!

But that was all we got to see of Great Harbor!

Pictures when we get to free internet somewhere!!!!!