Wednesday, May 6, 2015

When Life Gives You Lemons . . .

   During the last couple of weeks, we have seen some amazing sites; Iguanas, sharks, remote beaches, and ruins, just to name a few.  We have really enjoyed the time we've had exploring.  However, we have also seen, so we are told, some of the worst weather that the Bahamas has seen in quite a while.  Storms, high winds, downpours, and weird currents have been wreaking havoc for those of us that had been counting on the typically good weather that the Bahamas offers. So, along with the good, comes the bad.

Is Anyone Thinking Of The Theme From Gilligan's Island?
Iguana On Leaf Cay


LOTS Of Iguanas

Stairs Up To The Ruins On Leaf Cay

Anchorage Off Of Leaf Cay (We're The Boat
Closest To The Camera)

Tree Inside The Ruins

Interesting View From The
Window Of The Ruins


   Now, I know what you might be thinking.  A little rain and wind is no big deal.  Well, you'd be right if it was a little. Little does not describe this weather.  We've had LOTS of rain (sometimes for several days straight) and winds from 30 to 40 knots gusting to 50 knots. . . . Yesterday we even had hurricane-like conditions with waves coming over the bow (at anchor) and winds over 70 knots!  This was NOT what we were expecting!

Volcanic Formations Comprise A Lot Of The "Ground"
In The Land And Sea Park
These Rocks Are Actually Labeled With Notes But,
Are A Bit Out Of Tune
    As if these conditions weren't causing enough worries (Will the anchor drag?  Did we tie off the dinghy properly?  How long will the batteries last without solar power? . . . ), our engine decided that now was the time to have a major tantrum.  The day before we were supposed to leave our mooring in the north of the Exumas Land and Sea Park (a wildlife refuge open to visitors), we decided to run our engine for a bit to charge the batteries. We don't normally have to do this that often because our solar panels replenish the batteries wonderfully. However, bad weather means no sun.  No sun means no solar power. So, when Bill went to start the engine, it refused to actually charge. It would run but, there was no charge going into the batteries. It was then that we discovered that we were leaking diesel from the fuel injector pump. Ugh! Great! By the end of the day, after getting completely frustrated and making little progress, we figured we were just going to have to rely only on our sails until we could get this engine issue fixed. We were only able to charge the batteries because S/V Uplifting leant us their generator and some fuel for the night.  Thanks, guys!
Knotty Kat Walking With Us
Up to Boo Boo Hill

On Boo Boo Hill Wooden Plaques With
Your Boat Name Can Be Left; There Were
Quite A Few 

View From Boo Boo Hill
Another Awesome View

   Since we had to leave the next day for a place with more resources (a way to get engine parts, water, laundry, etc.), we decided to head for Black Point. Black Point doesn't have much but, the possibility of getting parts shipped in to us was something we couldn't pass up.  Once we knew where we needed to go, we needed a way out.  In open water a sailboat has room to actually sail but, in the close quarters of a mooring field, the more exact steering of an engine is needed. You don't want to run into another boat while you're trying to change a sail.

  So, what to do?  We again relied on our fellow cruisers. I have mentioned before the unspoken bond of cruisers; a camaraderie that you're accepted into with no prerequisites, just an understanding that you are now part of an extended family that takes care of each other.  Four other men from as many cruising boats came out in their dinghies to motor us out of the mooring field. With two dinghies tied to either side of us, we were able to steer while they provided the horsepower.  As we got closer to open water, one dinghy on each side left. This allowed the two remaining (and more powerful) dinghies to finish the job and then break away.  We made it into open water, got our sails up, and headed for Black Point. We are very thankful for the assistance these guys gave us.  I can't imagine what would have happened if we had had to sail out of there (Thank you to S/Vs Blue Moon, Knotty Kat, Cool Cat, and Cookie Monster Jr.).

   So, once we made it through more strong winds, we pulled into Black Point and anchored.  The weather hasn't let up but, the welcome we've received here helps to ease the sting of our problems.  Everyone here seems to be welcoming to visitors.  We've attended a service here at the Mission church and are planning on attending the Baptist church this Sunday.  The local grocery store has a little bit of everything from butter (measured in gram increments) to frozen meats to bug spray and even hair dye. Lorraine' s Cafe offers good food, free WiFi, and easy conversation. Lorraine is also the go to person; If you don't know where to turn here, check with her.  The free water and trash disposal are a plus, they only ask for a small monetary donation to help out the churches and school.

1st, 2nd, and 3rd Grades
   We are donating in a different manner.  I am volunteering at the school. Yes, there's only one.  With few teachers around, this means that three grade levels are combined into one class.  The teacher that I worked with on Monday has about 15 students in grades 1 through 3.  The teacher in the second half of the long open room we were in has grades 4 through 6. It was interesting to see a school dynamic so varried from U.S. schools.  The principal asked that I spread out my help by rotating between classes each day.  So, today I helped with pre-K and Kindergarten and tomorrow I'll switch to the upper elementary.  Given our engine issues and the horrible winds, I don't know how long we'll be here but, I plan on helping out as much as I can. One of my students yesterday told me the she didn't want me to "go away on the boat". . . I told here I wouldn't be leaving for at least a week. This seemed to make her happy.  Funny enough, the situation reminded me of the Mary Poppins books when she tells the children "I'll stay until the wind changes.".

   Bill has been running himself ragged trying to get the injector pump problem solved. He's made calls, sent emails, and checked websites trying to sort out a plan of attack to get our engine running again.  He thinks he's found a way to send the old pump off to the States, get it rebuilt, and sent back via the tiny airport here.  This is easier said than done though since the cost isn't cheap, it might take a few weeks, and actually getting the old pump off will be a royal pain.

The Screen "Door" In The Hatch
   We have, at least, been able to use our down time to make other improvements on the boat.  Bill installed a charging relay for the batteries so that, when we do get the engine going again, both battery banks will charge more efficiently.  He also made a screen door of sorts for the main hatch. This allows us to keep the bugs out and cats in at night and allows air to flow through the boat when all the other hatches and ports have to be shut due to rain.  I am working on making two removable panels for the life lines.  These are mainly to cover the gates on either side of the boat so that the cats can't escape or fall overboard. We do have safety netting up but, we haven't been able to find a  convenient way to attach it to the gates. These will solve that. I'm also putting a pocket on each one so we can store things that, right now, are cluttering up the cockpit.

   So, even though we're in a sticky situation with the engine and energy issues (we've had to resort to making our fridge/freezer into an old fashioned ice box), we're trying to make the best of things. Black Point is a nice little community to be "stuck" in. Our cruising family has come to the rescue when we needed them. We are dealing with the weather and slowly making our way through this "sour" time in paradise.

   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)

1 comment:

  1. Sorry for your troubles. Good luck with your repairs. Let us know if we can help in any way.


Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments.