28 January 2013

We are on the move again!!!

The blog has been pretty quiet for the last month and a half.  What have we been doing?

We did a lot of provisioning, we drank too much, we ate too much, we made some modifications to the boat, we fixed some things, we spent a little time in hospital for various reasons.  You know, boating stuff.

Honestly, this was before beers.  A flash flood in Jupiter led to this craziness...

My mom and dad were down just before Christmas and thanks goodness.  Kerri and I both took a horrible flu.  We needed some help.  It was a great visit just the same.  Albeit, a little more subdued.  Trip number one to the hospital.

Boats are just fancy 'porta potties'.  Well ours was not fancy enough.  The Coles Notes: we were not configured for long term cruising in the Bahamas.  Not enough pump-out stations.  I have had to fix a lot of things on this trip that I thought were beyond my level of expertise.  This was not one of them.  For those that know me, I hired this job out.

But, I did fix our A/C without James's help, for a change.

On that note, it was A/C repairs that also put me in the hospital.  Transferred to West Palm Beach on Advance Life Support no less.  Long story short... I had barnacles in my A/C cooling circuit which I attempted to dislodge with Barnacle Buster (phosphoric acid).  While attempting to flush the lines with municipal water, the acid ended up in my eye.  After a couple days I relented and went to the hospital in Stuart.  Ten hours later I left West Palm Beach hospital with a prescription for a tiny tube of antibiotic cream.  Even though the incident had occurred 2 days previous and I had already drove to Jupiter and back, as well as drove myself to the hospital, they decided that I needed an ambulance to transport me to West Palm Beach.  Two hulking EMS technicians come racing around the corner to aid some poor SOB that had acid in his eye, only to find me in the hall way reading my Waterway Guide.  "I am not getting in that", I said.  Note:  Patient is also belligerent.  (Apparently not due to this injury).  To add insult to injury, upon transport, they notify me that my transfer had been classified as Advanced Life Support requiring them to hook up probes and monitor my vital signs.  If they found anything abnormal, I didn't want to hear it.  Anyway, we had a great ride and a good chat.  One of their easier jobs of the night I was thinking.  If you ever end up in the ER in West Palm Beach on a Friday night, you had better be dying, or your number will never come up.  Four 'Code Blues', a stroke, and a ruptured aneurysm, puts a guy with red eye pretty low down the list.  I am sure my insurance company is doing cart wheels when they see this bill.

Costco has a lot of our money, but we have a lot of beer and red meat to show for it.  Both are expensive and hard to find in the Bahamas.

Finally, it was time to cut the umbilical cord from Stuart.  We turned in the keys to the Jeep that my cousin so graciously lent us.  Thanks Kim!!!  We said our goodbyes and off we went.

Not too far.  Lake Worth (West Palm Beach).  Only to meet up with friends from our home marina.  We had a great little visit with Old Rosie, albeit all too short.  Hopefully, we will get more time to visit in the spring, in the Abacos.

Off to Ft. Lauderdale.  What an embarrassment of riches that place is!  All that money spent on those massive places, yet we were travelling on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and hardly a soul in sight.

Finding an affordable marina close to the inlet in Ft. Lauderdale is no easy task.  We found ourselves in the very marina that we bought our boat out of.  Only a few slips away,  Eery.

Finally... in the Bahamas!!!  Bimini Sands Marina, South Bimini.

Macara has been a spinning top since making our final approach to the island.  Simply blown away by the amazing colours in the water.  Then by all the fish in the marina.  Soon she is screaming "SHARK, SHARK, SHARK"!!!  I am thinking, come on kid, simmer down.  But, I stroll over to explain to her that what she was seeing isn't really a shark.  Nope, underneath our dock is a Nurse shark.  I guess the kid is learning something after all.

For me the Bahamas is a lot of things, but first things first.  I need some conch fritters and a Kalik.  Out for dinner we go.

Wow!  Now a week has gone by in Bimini.  Our new found friends that we crossed over with are now back in the USA.  Others have come and went.

Me, I have spent more time fixing things.  On the way across from Florida, the impeller went on our generator.  A must in the Bahamas, without refrigeration, we might as well go home.  There is no longer a Westmarine on every corner, it is time to prove my self-reliance.  More good fortune than good planning this time, I found a spare impeller in my cruising kit, left over from the previous owner.  And there was a good reason that this impeller probably hasn't been changed for a while.  Tuck into a corner and on the far side of the generator it took 2 of us about three hours to get the job down.

Remember that head system job that I contracted out back in Stuart.  That one line in the sand that I will not cross.  Well suck it up butter cup, cause guess what, your holding tank is full and our boat has 'stage fright', she can't go.  It is standard procedure for cruisers and other boats to drop the contents of their holding tank overboard once achieving 3nm offshore.  This was our maiden voyage for what we call, "taking the dog for a walk".  Kerri eagerly offered to go down below and begin the process, unfortunately, she got a little ahead of herself and started the pump with the thru hull valve still closed.  Positive displacement pumps do not like this.  In our case, it inverted the rubber check valves (duck bills).  Our last boat had a very similar pump, so I took to trouble shooting.  Being newly installed, the downstream side of the pump is still very clean.  Hesitantly, I began cracking fittings and discover the discharge check valve almost completely inverted.  I fold it back to its proper orientation and pray that that is all that it will take.  NOTHING!  OH NO!  THIS IS NOT GOOD!  There is 3ft of 1-1/2" hose that I have to disconnect.  All the contents of my holding tank are in there.  I am somewhat amazed to report that I got the job done and our constipation has been cured.

After a day like that, I needed a 'me' day.  We took the boat out for a day of fun.  I dove the wreck of the Sapona, then cruised a little further south to Gun Cay were we found our own beach.  Picked up our limit of Conch and then fished our way back to the end the day.  I had a local teach me how to clean Conch, I pounded it to the point that it was almost unrecognizable, battered and deep fried it... fantastic.  I am looking forward to more days like this.

One of the joys of cruising and home schooling are the field trips.  We have been to National Aquariums, we have walked the steps of Blackbeard, this time Shark Lab.  Macara has asked a lot of questions about sharks since long before this trip started.  We have done our best to put her fears at rest.  Still, a little more education was necessary.  On South Bimini are a small group of hard working doctors, graduate students and volunteers doing their best to make sure the world knows what sharks are really about.  Lucky for us, they took a little time out of their day to give us a tour.  Admittedly, in my case, they were preaching to the choir.  I am a shark lover, too.  But, I think Macara got a lot out of it as well.  The proof came a few days latter.  The beach that we went to on Gun Cay is a known bay where local fisherman clean their catch.  The stingrays have become habituated to this.  So much so, that the tourists have begun showing up in snorkel gear and handfuls of squid.  We had plans to do the same, except our first two beggars were nurse sharks.  With much pride I watched my daughter wade into the water, "where dad, I want to see".  Thanks again to the gang at Bimini Biological Field Station - Shark Lab!
Lauran, who is working on her PhD at Shark Lab, holds out a juvenile Lemon shark for us to see.
Well, that is enough for now.  Tomorrow we are off across the Great Bahamas Bank and headed for Chub Cay.  We will hold up there for a couple days before moving on to Nassau.  Now that we are cruising again, expect more regular updates.  And pictures too.

EDIT:  Just a few more pictures from since the last post.

While I was explaining how much money we would save, my buddy says "imagine if you didn't drink beer".
18 cases in the engine room. 10 more beside the bed.  A couple more, here and there.
The beach on North Bimini.
A little irony.
Cleaning our first conch.