Spanish Wells and Meeks Patch

Spanish Wells, the island next to Royal Island, is a fishing town.  While that can be said about so many of the towns here, these guys are serious.  There is an immediate sense of industry when you dinghy or walk down the sea wall.  The people are friendly, the town is strikingly tidy, and it made for a good walking about day. 

^^ This was the coffee shop.  An open-front work bay with a single coffee pot and an assortment of seating in varying degrees of comfort.

^^ Want something more than coffee?  Budda’s food truck.  The sign by the wheel points to Budda’s liquor store.  The garage?

^^ I wonder who the guy in the red hat is and if he approved the mural before it was painted.

^^ Keith found the replacement spare seal to our water pump at the gas station-they do marine stuff there too. $37.75.  He practically skipped around town for the rest of the day! The mechanics at the shop said they didn’t have one but the old lady behind the counter said “gimme that, let me go look”.  Sure enough she found it.

^^ After picking up a few groceries and having lunch at the local diner with our friend Craig, we went out to the small cay, Meeks Patch.  It used by the Spanish Wellians as a local picnic spot.  It has several nice beaches, shady trees, and squishy grass.  The two pictures below were taken 10 years ago.  At that time it was painted up for quite a party.

^^This picture was taken now.  The colored tables and benches are all gone but under the bark of the trees you can still see where they were once painted. I had remembered the painted “furniture” and seeing the paint on the trees, told me I was right so I had to go look up our old photos.

^^ sandy nose, salty toes.  That is our boy!

^^ We also were finally able to get out to Egg Reef for some diving and conching. Ten years ago on our way back from the reefs we found this sunken tractor.  I’m not sure why, but it is still one of our most vivid memories from that trip, it had been just one part of an unusually special day.  We were pretty excited when we found it again.  The top picture was taken today, the bottom one ten years ago.  Looks the same.

 

 

 

Snorkle Treck

We found ourselves pinned in the harbor at Royal Island yesterday, the wind was too strong from the south to get out of harbor and we tried several times to land the dinghy on the reminants of the old pier in front of the ruins to take a walk but the swell made it untenable. Inside the protected harbor and on the other side of the island it was completely flat and knowing that we had a couple of days coming up that we would be stuck on the boat we were determined to get out and get in the water. Time to think out of the box.  Figuring if we could just get ashore somewhere we could lug our Snorkle gear over to the other side and maybe catch some dinner.

We dinghied around the entire shoreline and found a little spot on the rock shore that looked less sharp than the rest and climbed off the dinghy there.  It took a little brush beating at first but made it up to a cleared road from when the island was being prepped to become a resort.  It must have been used to drive prospective investors around to the available lots as the lot markers were still there.  We even found a lot that must have actually been purchased because there was an old dock overlooking the water, it even had a few steps carved into the rock to make it easier to get in.  It was the only lot that had any improvements on it and it became our little picnic spot for the day.  The reefs were not reachable from shore but we got lobster for dinner and had a great time enjoying someone’s long abandoned dream deck and nice teak chairs. 

^^ Happy we got off the boat when we could.

The other highlight was watching a mama dolphin swim with her newborn around the boat.  The baby still had stripes on it, sort of that newborn wrinkly look.  I don’t know if it just hadn’t figured out the surfacing thing yet or was playing but when it came up instead of arching it kind of bounced with its whole head out of the water, like they do at the sea parks.  I don’t know if it could see us at all, but it looked like it kept poking its head out to look at us.  Damn adorable.  Sorry, no pics.  I didn’t want to stop watching to go get the camera.

 

The Mythical Down Wind Sail

Wind on the nose.  No matter what direction we go it always seems to be on the nose.  But…. but, yesterday was different, refreshingly different.  Our 60ish mile jump from the Abacos to Eleuthera was all down wind.  A total treat.  The seas were slightly confused, two different swells from different directions but still on the stern making it comfortable.  No slapping and no splashing.  The best part was our speed! We got surfing a few times and saw 8.1k. (That is fast for this boat) We left Boat Harbor cut about 4:30 am to make sure we got through Egg Reef and into the easy but narrow Royal Island  entrance before dark.  We were anchors down by 2:30 in the afternoon. Guess we could have waited for sun up.  It was a fun, fast sail. We are still glad we left early though, at dusk and just after dark we saw the other boats coming into the dark anchorage, definitely not ever our preference.

Keith had been looking forward to trolling this passage for weeks and despite our new freezer situation we trolled a line hoping that if we caught something it wouldn’t be too big.  Probably should have clarified with Neptune about a minimum size requirement as well. We caught a baby Mahi-Mahi that was just too small, back to the sea she went to make more baby Mahis.  As we approached the wall right before Egg Reef something-something BIG-bit and ran.  I’ve never seen line fly off a reel so fast, it was almost all gone before Keith could get to the pole and just about then what ever it was bit through the leader and was gone.  Don’t know what it was but I don’t think we wanted on the boat-freezer situation or not!  Funny thing is, that is not the first time we’ve hit something big on that exact spot.  Years ago when we were sailing with our friends on Night Wind, they called back on the VHF and said get ready we just got spooled.  As we sailed up to where they had been, we too got spooled.  Last year as well, it is where we hooked something big enough we were glad it bit through the line.  Note to self-not a place to take a swim!  

Bye, bye Abacos.  Hello Eleuthera!

Also, a little thanks out to the universe for such a beautiful sail—–without anything breaking! 

 

High Protein Diet

We’ve had a streak of malfunctions lately. It started small, a plastic fitting off the water maker discharge busted causing a leak uncomfortably close to the AC electrical panel.  It was the one fitting we got from Home Depot instead of with the Cruise RO kit.  Looking at it, it was broken in three places, sort of like someone stepped on it and threw it back in the bin. It was an easy fix if we had a spare, but we didn’t- hence the Hope Depot fitting in the first place.  Keith went to shore hopeful, but the hardware store at Man-O-War didn’t have anything that would work.  On his way back to the boat he stopped by another boat that he recognized from our anchorage in Satellite Beach to say Hi.  To our luck they had extra fittings on their boat.  We were all fixed up by the end of the day. Sweet.

Things did not stay sweet the next morning. We pulled anchor as normal but when I pushed the throttle up not a thing happened.  We both looked at each other with one of those silent “uh-oh” looks.  Keith grabbed the throttle to try.  It came off in his hand. Uh-oh for real.  I think around this time the silence was broken by an explicative.  We were barely above idle and in forward so we had plenty of time to discuss our options.  We decided to sail/idle over to Marsh Harbor (the largest town around and also only a few miles away) figuring it would be the easiest place to work on it.  On the way Keith tried to get a temporary fix, but couldn’t.  Instead he adjusted the throttle directly on the engine.  You know the cartoon of one child steering a car while another child is on the floorboard pushing the peddles?  That is how our boat operated. Not as funny as the cartoon, really. I steered into the harbor while Keith adjusted our speed from down in the engine room.  It sounds more dramatic than it actually was, it was a rainy morning and we didn’t  run into any traffic-shipping, or fishing, or pleasure.  He didn’t have to actually make any adjustments till we idled down to drop the anchor. All went well with that part.  The whole reason the throttle broke at the helm station was actually due to a damaged shifter cable so off Keith went to town to find something that would hopefully work.  The part in the States would probably be about forty dollars.  I handed Keith a hundred.  Then asked if he thought he needed another. He muttered that he would fix it with a rope before he paid that much. You never know over here. Less than an hour later he was back with the exact part we needed- not just something that we could make work.  To boot, it cost only $37.50.  Woohoo!  We were all fixed up and running by the end of the day.  Our throttle is smoother than it’s ever been.

Two broken things in two days does not make a trend.  The trend started when we heard the bilge pump running intermittently and found our bilge in the engine room filled with sea water (not high enough to come close to the engine). There is usually  no water at all in the engine room bilge. Uh, oh! We try to keep the saltwater on the outside of the boat. We had sailed/motored down to Lynyard Cay after fixing the throttle and everything had been dry on Keith’s pre-checks.  The seal on the diesel seawater pump was now leaking.  For this we carry spares, actually a spare seal kit and a whole new pump.  We dug out the spare kit to find that I had very neatly labeled it “Incomplete kit-parts used”.  Guess what part was used?  Uh-huh….THAT one.  Keith was still able to get it fixed and serviced but now we have no back-up seals.  Though we still have the whole new pump, we wanted extra seals since we seem to go through them.  Back to Marsh Harbour we sailed.  Keith walked from one end of town to the other twice- and almost found a replacement, but didn’t.  We then tried Man-O-War.  They had the seal, unfortunately it was in a kit.  The seal is about a five dollar part.  The whole kit (States prices) is about seventy dollars.  The whole kit here was one hundred forty dollars.  Hope we make it to Puerto Rico before we go through what we have onboard because we didn’t pay that!  Still, we are all fixed up and running fine.

This, now identified, trend took a decided turn for the worse three days ago when I heard our freezer (which is normally quiet) cycling on and off several times in a minute.  Please, no.  We pulled it out and sat on the floor in our pajamas and poked and prodded at if for a while.  We used a bunch of data trying to download a service manual but got no where.  The food was still frozen, but without a fix fast we were about to lose all of our meat provisions.  Of course it was at night so no businesses were open, instead I looked up a friendly looking Australian company (business hours there) and shot them an email describing our situation and asking if they could go through some troubleshooting with us.  They, very kindly, replied and provided some very definitive troubleshooting.  It is the compressor.  There is nothing we can do on the boat to fix it.  It is dead.  Dead, dead.  No went-to-town-and-fixed-it story going to happen here.  We wrapped the dead freezer in blankets and kept things frozen till morning.  We then took some items over to a friend’s freezer, donated the seafood to some locals, and then tried to pack as much of the remaining meats into our refrigerator and it’s teeny-tiny freezer compartment. We never stored food in that freezer before, instead we used it to fast-cool drinks.  It fits two beers and a soda can. Or at least it used to.

Now, the proper thing to do would have been to host one hell of a cook out and invite the entire anchorage, but we just didn’t have it in us to clean up, make sides, and start grilling.  Plus, we were way too frustrated/disappointed to do the mingling scene. So for the last few days we have been on a very high protein diet. And, unfortunately, it’s about to be followed by a very low protein diet. We are not even considering trying to replace the freezer here in the Bahamas, maybe when we get to Puerto Rico.  And probably not with another Engel, it should have lasted for years more. Stupid thing.

Today we are spending some time on preventative maintenance chores and doing our best to break this streak. Keith is currently doing maintenance on the head (toilet).  Start with the highest priorities-right? 

 

 

Little Behind, Huh?

 

I’m a little behind on writing and when I get this far behind I don’t even know where to begin-so I don’t.  It snowballs. I don’t like snow and snowballs make my fingers cold. I am a tropical girl. My solution tonight? Here are some photos and a sentence. We been having fun, a bunch of crap broke (hope that is a trend that in itself breaks), I have become obsessed with finding sea glass, we’ve shared some amazing meals with friends-including an epic Thanksgiving feast and a beautiful bonfire night, Kai has been obsessed with a milk jug for weeks, we’ve taken a lot of walks, we are happy to be back out here, and we are headed for Eleuthera tomorrow. 

Real posts to resume tomorrow-or the day after depending on the sailing conditions for the crossing.

Happy Place

We are in our happy place.  We stayed two days at Great Sail Cay waiting for the winds to let up before moving further.  Actually we stuck our nose out the next day and turned right back around-sound familiar?! We had never really got ashore here before as we’ve only used it as a stopping place to stage for a crossing so we went exploring.  Our friend played tour guide. It’s a rather large island and uninhabited except for the wild pigs.  It used to be home to a US missile tracking station.  The foundations and bases for some tanks are all that are left. There is a long secluded beach so Kai was thrilled. Two days later we poked out again, it really wasn’t much better so we had a sporty ride down to Crab Cay.  We enjoyed the sail more than expected.  From there, you guessed it…….Manjack!  Our happy place!

 

We arrived at Manjack just in time for the weather to turn delightful and to help welcome the two newest inhabitant of the island, Daisy and Mae, two girl goats.  You know I just adore goats and was thrilled to lend a hand.  Actually I didn’t do much but escort them from the boat to the tractor to the new pen and tell them how sweet they were.  Keith, who actually used to have two pet goats, Dollar and Mischief, took one look at the pen and said they are were going to jump out.  The little one did. They have new and improved quarters now.

^^Any fresh fruit over here is a treat, getting a chance to pick some star fruit has to top the list.  Per a recommendation, I am planning on an upside down cake with a few of mine.  

On the topic of cooking, we of course got in some diving and have found the lobsters to be plentiful at the moment.  We keep saying we don’t care for lobster, but while in Florida we had lobster hot pot and changed our minds.  Lobster hot pot, the best as I can describe it, is like a Chinese fondue but with a spicy, chili broth for both veggies and lobster-and other meats.  You dump your veggies and meats in, let them cook in the boiling broth and then retrieve them back out with chop sticks to eat over rice. Friends had us over for dinner for this amazing experience and I can’t wait to have it again! Unfortunately it is an involved meal and quite a production so I decided to finally find some recipes that worked for the everyday and decided to experiment while we were not trying to serve guests. My undertaking has resulted in our own version of Bubba Gump on board. We’ve had: lobster and grits, lobster Mac-n-cheese, steamed lobster, lobster egg rolls, pan seared lobster, lobster buffalo dip, fried lobster with four dipping sauces, and lobster salad. All in the last 2 1/2 days! To be fair (and so you might not judge so harshly) I did reduce all the recipe sizes by half or more. We still prefer conch but the egg rolls and fried lobster are keepers.  We will leave the lobster Mac-n-cheese and pan seared.  I wish I had taken some photos of our experiments-you would have seen one messy galley in the background! Tonight Keith asked for anything but lobster for dinner.  We had grouper piccata.

Besides diving and cooking, we’ve been enjoying the beaches, trails, and mangrove creeks filled with baby sea turtles.  The plan had been to shoot threw the Abacos quickly this year, but why-it’s our happy place.  We are going to give ourselves a few more days of the diving we know we will want for later and then we will start putting some miles in.  The water is already cold so it’s time to get south.  Besides we are eager to go beyond the Bahamas this winter.

 

^^baby turtle in the turtle grass.