Jan 29

We spent most of the morning on the boat.  I enjoyed a good internet connection for the first time in a couple of weeks.  Barb enjoyed the free laundry.  Since we were here last year, they have completed two buildings that were under construction at the end of the dock we are on.  One building will be a yacht club upstairs, and the marina office and gift shop downstairs.  The current office and restrooms are in temporary buildings.  The second building will house a Customs office, and already has a new laundry room.  It's much closer than the one they had last year, and there are two washers and two dryers.

Mid-afternoon, we all took the free shuttle over to the Four Seasons Resort to show Milano Myst.  Since last year, the casino has opened there, but it is only open in the evenings, so we didn't have an opportunity to throw away any money.  We walked through the main lobby and out through the pool area to the beach.  The kids played on the beach while the adults stood talking and enjoying the view of Emerald Bay itself, a.k.a. Ocean Bight on the charts.  After a while, we walked the short distance across the street to the grocery store, liquor store, bank, and ice cream shop.  We did our shopping and then all got ice creams before calling the shuttle on the VHF to come pick us up.

Back at the boats, we had a simple dinner aboard.  The Milano Myst gang is getting a guest tonight, so they stayed up in the boater's lounge playing pool and watching TV until the cab brought him from the airport.  They then took the shuttle back over to the shopping center and the new pizza place for dinner.  We didn't hear from them again before we hit the sack.

GPS N 23-37.793 W 075-55.050  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8050.

Jan 30

We were up early, and are leaving today, but we're in no hurry for a change.  We are only going ten miles south to Georgetown.  Milano Myst is going thirty miles north to show their guest the Exumas.  The dock we were put on turned out not to have the utilities turned on.  Since we were here last year, they added another whole dock, and doubled the length of the one we are on.  The utilities are still awaiting inspection before they can use them.  So, instead of $2.25/ft, the cost was $.75/ft.  The only real hassle was we had to stop at the fuel dock on our way out to fill our water tanks.  We moved over to the fuel dock about 11:00, filled our tanks and gave the boat a quick rinse, since it hasn't rained in over a week and the salt is getting crusty on everything.  Milano Myst moved to the fuel dock about the time we finished to fill their tanks.  A couple other boats came into the marina about the time we needed the dockhand to come read the water meter, and he was the only one working, so we ended up waiting quite a while before we got checked out and on our way.

Our trip was seven miles in Exuma Sound and then another three miles inside Stocking Island to where we anchored just south of Volleyball Beach.  We are virtually in the same spot we were last year.  The boat count here a couple of days ago was only 224.  Last year just before the cruiser's regatta, there were about 450.  The regatta isn't for another four weeks, so it will be interesting to see how fast it fills up.

As soon as we were securely anchored, we launched the dinghy and headed over to Volleyball Beach and the Chat N Chill.  We quickly found Sol Y Mar who came in a couple days ago, and Barefootin' and Smiles, who we haven't seen since Charleston back in November.  We also met a number of other folks whom we met here last year, and Ben from Voyager, a large trawler that we met in Beaufort, NC last November.  He is a friend of another couple whom we met in the Abacos last year that live in Beaufort.  We had all had dinner together in Beaufort on our way south.

After visiting on the beach by the volleyball courts for a little while, we went in Chat N Chill to get something to eat.  Arlene is still behind the bar, but she was in a very good mood today.  The place was not extremely crowded, and we got cheeseburgers and fries in pretty quick order by Chat N Chill standards.

When we came out of the restaurant about forty-five minutes after going in, the beach was deserted.  There had been well over a hundred people there when we went in.  I guess they all split to get ready for the evening's party.  "Rockin" Ron from Sea Dancer carries DJ equipment and speakers onboard and sets up every couple of weeks on the deck at Chat N Chill for a dance.  We were back up there about 19:00 to visit and watch the crowd.  The deck and the bar were full.  There were several cruisers older than us who really got into the dancing and had some moves that would send me to the hospital.  We pretty much watched from the sidelines and enjoyed the show.

GPS N 23-30.931 W 075-45.310  Nautical miles traveled today 10.  Total miles 8060.

Jan 31

We are getting back into the Georgetown routine.  I was up at 06:30 to listen to Chris Parker, the weather guy, on the SSB, then at 08:00 the local VHF net is on, then at 08:30, I checked in with Cruisehiemers on the SSB.  After all that, we dinghied into town.  We took a walk to see what had changed in Georgetown in the past year.  While that originally was thought to be a joke, we found a few things.  There is a new park and garden between the traffic circle and the basketball courts.  The bridge that carries the main street over the entrance to Lake Victoria was replaced.  The new one looks exactly the same, except the chunks of concrete aren't missing.  And Two Turtles, which was a bar, restaurant and small hotel is closed.  We enjoyed drinking there at their outside bar several times last year.

We hit Top To Bottom, the marine store and picked up a couple of things.  Then we hit the liquor store for a bottle of Peach Schnapps for our continued rum punch research.  Lastly it was into Exuma Market for a few things.  We loaded everything into the dinghy and made the quick run across Elizabeth Harbor to the boat to drop off the groceries. As soon as the cold things were stowed, we went north to The Peace and Plenty Beach Club on Hamburger Beach by the monument.  Today is the HAM luncheon, which is for people who are or want to be HAM radio operators.  The SSB radio also works on the HAM bands, and many boaters are HAM's.  The requirement to learn Morse code has just been dropped from the HAM licensing requirements, so I may take the test, but the real purpose of going was that a guy was going to speak about SSB antennas.  SSB antennas are one of those black art things that nobody really understands.  There are many "experts" with many differing opinions about how to make your antenna on a boat.  Even the information in the radio manufacturers literature is contradictory.  I installed my radio myself after reading many conflicting ideas of how to do it, and it seems to work well, but I wanted to hear what this guy said.  Basically, he agreed there is no one best way, and if mine installation works, don't mess with it.  Part of the HAM luncheon was, of course, lunch.  Dora was cooking burgers, chicken, or fish on the outdoor grill.  This place is more remote than Chat N Chill, but the food is better and Dora is a wonderfully pleasant woman compared to Arlene most days.

We got back to the boat in the mid afternoon, in time to rest a little before the next party.  This evening is the weekly meeting of ARG.  You may think ARG has something to do with pirates, but it doesn't.  ARG is the Alcohol Research Group.  It's a happy hour on the beach at the Queen's Dock, where everybody brings an appetizer and their drinks.  Last year this was called the AA meeting, standing for the Alcohol Appreciation meeting, but some overly sensitive people thought there might be some confusion between that and the real AA meetings which are held in town.  If you heard the announcements on the morning net, you would have to be really slow to mix the two up.  But, to be politically correct, they came up with the new name.  We stayed there until there was just a tiny bit of light remaining to see our way back to the boat.

The wind is building tonight, and coming more from the southeast, which makes the anchorage a little bouncy.  The anchor seems to be well set though, and it's not crowded around us at all, so we should be fine.  We played Sequence for a couple of hours and I won the most games for the evening.

GPS N 23-30.931 W 075-45.310  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8060.

Feb 1

The night was bouncy, but we slept pretty well.  It was nowhere near as rough as the night in Black Point last week, since the fetch for the waves to build is not as much.  It is still blowing hard, and is forecast to all day, so we will probably stay on the boat rather than have a wet dinghy ride somewhere.  It's a good excuse for me to attack the project of replacing the hoses between the motor and the water heater.

After the morning radio stuff and coffee, I attacked the hoses.  I cut the old ones in a couple of places to make getting them out a little simpler.  I was surprised to find as I removed them that, unlike what the manual says, the hoses aren't 5/8 inch all the way.  They are 5/8 most of they way, and that's the size new hose I bought, but after I got them out of the crevice they were hidden in, I found that they had a reducer in-line and that the engine end needs 3/4 inch hose.  I don't have any 3/4 onboard, so I won't finish the project today.  I went ahead and got the old hose out and started pulling the new hose.  It has to pass under the floor in the aft cabin, for about two feet where there is no access.  By sticking an unfolded wire coat hanger in the space, I was able to hook the end of the hose and feed it through while Barb pulled on the hanger.  It wasn't a real easy job, but it turned out much better than I had feared it could.  Now tomorrow I'll have to go to town and hopefully get some hose to finish the job.

We had been looking forward to hot water for showers tonight, but had to settle for cool ones.  After dinner, we played Sequence again, and Barb kicked my ass.  Guess what goes around, comes around.  The wind is still blowing, but that means we are making electricity, so it's all a trade off.

GPS N 23-30.931 W 075-45.310  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8060.

Feb 2

We goofed around most of the morning, and then I decided to make my run to town to look for hose.  I hopped in the dinghy and ran full speed across Elizabeth Harbor towards Kitt Cove and town.  Once tied up at Exuma Market's dinghy dock, I walked to Top To Bottom, the pseudo marine store.  They did not have the hose I needed, nor engine coolant, but recommended the NAPA store, about two miles north of town.  Walking back to the dinghy, I called Pat on Sol Y Mar to see if he knew if the parts he is having shipped from the States were in yet.  He said the box should be at Exuma Markets, and if I could get it, it would save him the trip.  I popped into Exuma Markets, and there on the floor of the office was a box clearly marked Sol Y Mar.  I told them I was there to pick it up for them, and they said that "my wife" had just left with the paperwork for it, but the money due for the taxi driver who picked it up at the airport was $60.  I assumed "my wife" must be some other friend of Pat's who was going to check with him about the cost.  I called Pat on the radio and confirmed it was ok with him for me to pay the $60, and he said it was.  I went back in the store, gave them the money, and picked up the box.  The box weighed sixty pounds, so I was not wasting any time as I hustled it out to the dinghy and slid it aboard.

I hopped in the dinghy and headed north along the western shore of Elizabeth Harbor to a point where I could beach the dinghy and walk to the NAPA store.  I went to a place called the fish shacks, which is where there are about a dozen brightly painted shacks which are lunch restaurants.  It was about 11:30, so they were just getting open for business.  I passed one and said hello to the old woman who was sweeping the sidewalk outside her places door.  I asked her how far the NAPA store was and made sure I went the right direction.  I asked if it was too far to walk, and she said it would be for her, but it would be a good walk for a young man like me.  It turned out to be at least a mile, and I realized along the way that there were at least two places closer where I could have beached the dinghy.

As I was walking, I heard some chatter on the radio mentioning Exuma Markets.  The radio was in my pocket, so I didn't clearly hear what they said.  Then Barb hailed me on the radio.  I took it out and answered, and she said Exuma Markets was calling me because I had the wrong box.  I knew the box I had, had Sol Y Mar written on it, although I never got any paperwork, because the unknown woman picked it up before I got there.  I tried to call Exuma Markets but got no answer on the radio.  Somebody mentioned another boat name was involved, so I hailed them, also with no answer.  After several minutes of confusion, Pat hailed me and said it was straightened out.  I continued on my walk looking for NAPA.  I was about to give up, when I rounded a bend and there it was.  Inside, I quickly found the hose I needed and a gallon of engine coolant.

As I started walking back, I wasn't more than a few hundred feet from the store when a pickup stopped in the street and blew his horn at me.  He was offering me a ride.  I had been told that hitch-hiking is safe and easy here, but had never tried.  I figure I need the exercise.  I did accept the ride though and in just a few minutes was back at the fish shacks.  As I walked past the woman I had spoken with earlier, I stopped again and asked her if she had cold beer.  She did, so I got one for the ride back.  I told her she was right - it was a long walk.  I hopped in the dinghy and opened the box I had picked up, and confirmed it was indeed Pat's parts.  We're still confused about who has the paperwork, and where the other people's box is, but I got the right thing.  As I left the beach, I had to drag the dinghy out a ways since the tide has gone down since I parked.  Once I got underway, I was churning up some mud as I got to the deeper water, where I opened it up for the couple of miles back to the boat.

I went to Sol Y Mar and unloaded the box.  As I left Sol Y Mar, I gunned the motor to get up on a plane, and it started making a very ugly noise.  I immediately stopped, thinking maybe I have picked something up on the prop.  I tilted the motor to look, but nothing was there.  I accelerated again and it made the noise again.  Just what I need.  Something else to fix.  I got back to MoonSail at just above idle speed.  Barb had noticed me coming slow and looked at me through the binoculars and saw I was not looking happy, so she knew something was wrong.  Once aboard, I had a bite eat and a beer to help me sort out the priorities of fixing things.  I decided to finish fixing the big boat first, so we could run the engine and make hot water and have nice hot showers again.

I hooked up the hoses, and filed the engine with plain water to make sure everything was ok before putting in the coolant.  We ran the motor for a while, and nothing leaked, and it didn't overheat.  But, even after running half an hour, the sink water was not warm at all.  I checked the hoses at the water heater, and they were not hot.  It didn't seem the engine water was circulating through the water heater as it should.  I disconnected the hoses and ran water through them from the hose on the sink, and it passed through just fine, indicating there is no blockage or kinks on the hoses.  Leaving them full of water to avoid an airlock, I reconnected them.  I checked the diverter gadget that makes the water go through the water heater to make sure I installed it right, since I had replaced it along with all the hoses and the heat exchanger back in Marsh Harbor.  Everything looked fine, but after another hour of messing with it, I still had no hot water.  I'm afraid there must be an airlock in the water heater, and it will just have to work it's way out when we bounce along underway someday as it did last year.  So, I drained the water, added the coolant and buttoned it up.  We will just have to deal with no hot water for a while.  In reality, the water for showering is not that cold and it feels good since it's getting warm here, and Barb boils a small amount as she needs to for doing dishes.

Next I attacked the dinghy motor.  I took it off the dinghy and attached it to the rear rail where it normally travels.  I'll have better access to it here.  I started it on the rail and revved it up, and it did not make the noise.  This leads me to believe perhaps I spun the prop.  The prop has a center shaft which slides over the engines output shaft, and then a rubber bushing, and then the prop itself.  The rubber bushing is there to give if you jam the prop into rocks or something, rather than bending something in the engine.  My thought is that without the prop in the water, there is no resistance on it, so it doesn't make the noise.  Just this morning I was talking to a buddy about spinning props, and how I heard several people down here last year who had done it, so I had purchased a spare prop this past summer.  Well, here I was a few hours later needing the spare prop.  Barb dug the spare out of the depths of the storage area while I removed the old one.  I found bits of rubber on the inside of the prop hub when I removed it, so I think I'm on the right trail.  Of course, I dropped the washer from the prop in the water as I removed it, so I'll have to dig through my containers of nuts and bolts to see if I have one like it.  After going through all four containers, which of course are in no organized order, I found exactly one washer that would fit.  With the new prop installed, I remounted the motor on the dinghy and gave it a try.  It did not make the noise and got up on a plane just fine.  It did make a different new noise as I slowed down which worries me though, and it seemed to want to stall when I came down from a high-speed run, which it didn't used to do.

While relaxing before the next party, I got hailed on the radio by a boat I didn't recognize.  The man said that he saw by our flags that we were from the great state of Texas.  I said yes we were and expected him to be a fellow Texan introducing himself.  Instead he proceeded to tell me that where I was flying my American flag was disrespectful.  In the States, I fly the American flag above the Texas flag on my starboard side flag halyard.  When in a foreign country, you have to fly that countries courtesy flag from the starboard flag halyard, so I move the American and Texas flags to the port side flag halyard.  Technically, the preferred place to fly the American flag is from the stern, but with large davits, antennas, and a wind generator back there, that just isn't practical.  Chapman's Guide to Piloting, the boating bible, says that the port side flag halyard is an acceptable alternate place to fly the American flag.  The flag Nazi pointed out that he didn't fly any flags at all to solve the problem.  Seems to me he's being a lot more disrespectful to his home country and the country he is visiting by flying none, than I could be by possibly flying the flag in the wrong place.  I managed to stay calm and polite with him on the radio.

We were invited to a beach happy hour down at Sand Dollar Beach, where Sol Y Mar and several other friends are anchored.  We went down there about 16:30 and enjoyed chatting with several folks whom we hear on the radio but had never met.  Several of our friends there had heard the radio conversation with the flag Nazi, and wagged there fingers at me in jest as if I had been bad.  They also all agreed I should have told him where he could stick his opinion.  After the beach group started to disperse, we stopped at Sol Y Mar and had a couple more beers while visiting with them.  The dinghy got us back home ok, although again it stalled when I slowed down to approach the boat.

GPS N 23-30.931 W 075-45.310  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8060.

Feb 3

We made a quick run to town today.  We took a bag of garbage in to the free dumpsters at Exuma Markets, grabbed a bag of ice, and filled our two seven-gallon jerry jugs of free R/O water at the dinghy dock.  I never left the dinghy as Barb took the garbage in and got the ice while I filled the jugs.  It was like a cruisers NASCAR pit-stop and we were back at the boat about fifteen minutes after we left.  I dumped the water into the boat's tank.  The dinghy idled perfectly at the town end of the ride, but then pulled it's stalling trick upon returning to the boat.

We spent the rest of the day reading and being lazy.  I have been reading The Gentleman's Guide to Passages South, which gives a route and methods of transiting the so-called Thorny Path south and east from here to the Virgin Islands in a thorn-less way.  I should have read it over the summer, but now that we are getting to where we need the advice, I have to get through it.  While most people agree that the info in the book is valid and valuable, the author is very full of himself and sometimes his style of writing makes it hard to take.

GPS N 23-30.931 W 075-45.310  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8060.

Feb 4

Today is Super Bowl Sunday.  We spent most of the early part of the day reading.  I finished the Gentleman's Guide and started playing with making routes in the charting software to estimate lengths of legs and get a visual picture of where we're going.  Barb went ashore to hike to the east side of Stocking Island and explore the beaches there with several other ladies. 

About 17:00, we headed over to St. Francis to watch the game.  St. Francis is a bar and restaurant right around the corner from Chat N Chill.  They opened just a couple of weeks before we left here last year.  They had placed two TV's out on their deck and had two more inside at the bar.  We sat on the deck with lots of folks we know.  We had a good view of one of the TV's, and could even hear pretty well over the crowd noise.  The evening got off to a contentious start when a table of French Canadians next to us wouldn't stop talking nor stand up during the national anthem.  Some non-French Canadians at the table on the other side of us yelled at them to shut up, which resulted in a small shouting match about the non-French people being racist.  And we figured the rivalries would be between the Bears or Colts fans.  We have noticed more tension between the French Canadians and everybody else this year than last year.  Another good reason not to stay here too long.

The game turned out to be pretty good and we enjoyed the commercials.  Last year we could only listen to the game on Sirius radio, so we didn't get to enjoy the commercials.  At the game it was pouring rain most of he time.  In the fourth quarter, it started to rain lightly here.  The first shower was light and brief, but then a heavier shower came, chasing everybody inside.  Fortunately enough people had left by then that there was room for everybody to stand in the bar and watch the end of the game.  We knew we had two hatches open slightly, but hoped not too much rain would get in the boat.  With about two minutes to go and the game decided, we left to beat the dinghy traffic rush and returned to the boat.  We found the v-berth stuff had gotten fairly wet, and my pillow had a small wet spot on it, but nothing really damaged.  At least it's rain water and not salt water, which never really dries.

GPS N 23-30.931 W 075-45.310  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8060.

Feb 5

Today Sol Y Mar is going to Georgetown Marine to be hauled out so he can replaced his broken through-hull.  We are going along to help him get into the Travelift.  He needs to back in, so I'm going to hop in the dinghy before we get there and play tugboat if necessary to get in the slip.  It about a forty-five minute ride from the anchorage to Georgetown Marine.  Once we got near, I hopped in my dinghy and towed Sol Y Mar's dinghy and went ahead to the Travelift slip.  I tied Sol Y Mar's dinghy to the dock and got ready to push if required.  He got it backed in as far as he could before they had to stop him and lower the Travelift slings, and I held the bow from blowing sideways until they could pull the boat further in.  All in all, it went quite well.  They hauled the boat out and got it blocked.

We headed back to Georgetown in our dinghy, taking the four mile route through Red Shanks and around February Point.  Boats anchor back in the Red Shanks area, particularly to avoid bad weather or just to avoid the crowd of the main Stocking Island anchorage.  Your Georgetown experience is probably very different if you spent all your time here.  We went to the Shell station dock first to fill the dinghy's gas tank, then moved over to the Exuma Market dock.  Our first stop was Mom's Bakery.  Mom's Bakery is actually way down on the southern end of Great Exuma, but every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, she drives a mini-van full of bread and other baked goods up to Georgetown.  We were after one of her rum cakes.  And of course a hug.  Every purchase from Mom comes with a hug.  We got the last rum cake she had.  I'm sure it wasn't her last hug.

From there we went to Eddie's Edgewater Grill for lunch.  We had heard on their morning radio announcement that today's lunch special was meatloaf, which they are known for.  We both had the meatloaf with peas & rice and mac & cheese.  Eddie's also offers free wireless internet, but we hadn't planned on coming here, so we don't have the computer.  Just as well it turned out because the internet connection was down.  After lunch we went to Top To Bottom and bought a solar shower.  Since we don't currently have hot water, we'll give one of these black plastic bags a chance.  Personally I think they are more trouble than they are worth, but we'll see.

The wind is picking up from the northeast as forecast.  Several boats have moved from the Kitt Cove area to our area late in the afternoon to have better protection from the wind.  Two French Canadian boats came and anchored very close to us.  We were watching them skeptically.  One was behind us, so we weren't worried about him, but the other was close on our side and they put down two anchors, which nobody else has, meaning they will swing differently from all the other boats if the wind changes.  The boat on the other side of them wasn't happy either, and he said something to them, so they moved.  They circled around like they were going to try it again even closer to us, but then finally moved to the back of the pack.  French Canadian boats anchoring too close is one of the common complaints in any anchorage in the Bahamas, especially in Georgetown.  While some of the complaints about the French Canadians are probably not deserved, this one is.

We settled in for a bouncy night with the high winds.  We are pretty close to shore in the direction the wind is coming from, so we hope to not have it too bad.

GPS N 23-30.931 W 075-45.310  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8060.

Feb 6

Not much to report today.  It has been very windy all night and the wind is supposed to continue all day, so the anchorage is quite choppy.  We are not too far from the shore, so our ride isn't all that uncomfortable.  We still have the plastic sides on the cockpit enclosure, so we were able to sit out there all day and read despite the cool breeze and the off and on rain showers.  Reading was pretty much all we did.  Another French Canadian boat came and tried to anchor very close to us again.  His anchoring technique sucked, so the anchor didn't grab at all, and he almost drifted into the boat behind us before he gave it up and moved further back in the group.  Even there, it took him a good half hour before he finally got the anchor set, again due to bad technique I think. 

A little after dark we tried our new solar shower.  We will need to refine the placement of the bag and the length of the hose to make it useable.  We also found that since it had been overcast most of the day, it hadn't warmed up significantly.  So we ended up doing the cold shower thing with the regular shower.  Our "cold" water is probably about seventy degrees, so while it's cool enough to get your attention, it's not really frigid.

GPS N 23-30.931 W 075-45.310  Nautical miles traveled today 0.  Total miles 8060.