Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Georgetown! We made it.

April 6 - April 10 2007

Making it to Georgetown is one of those markers along the way right along with the Mackinac Bridge, Erie Canal, NYC, Portsmouth, Key West, Nassau. Now this is as far as we have planned. Now what?

One idea is to order some parts that we know we need, maybe get the outboard repaired or replaced then go to the east and explore Rum Cay, Conception, and Long and then back to Georgetown to pick up our parts. Nothing is open in Georgetown until Tuesday as Easter is a pretty darn big holiday down here. (The hardware store here had a special on Good Friday: Buy a hammer and get free nails!)

But I’m ahead of myself as usual. Let’s go back to the last leg of the trip to Georgetown. It was only about 10 miles from Emerald Bay to Georgetown. So on Friday 4/06 with winds to be around 15 knots we threw off the dock lines and headed out. The seas were flat and the wind was probably about 15 knots. But not for long. In the first half hour they probably built to 25 and gusty. Where’s this coming from? We are on a close reach and have main and genny reefed down. Still sticking the rail in the water on the gusts! Sheesh! At least we were fast! No problem getting sails down and motoring into Elizabeth Harbor where lies Georgetown.

There is about 5 miles to do once you are within the channel between Stocking Island to the east and Great Exuma Island to the west. It is a tricky little route with a few turns between the shallows but once again the Explorer Charts were dead on. There are lots of places to anchor in the lee of Stocking Island and then another large anchorage over near town. Since nothing is going to be open anyway we elect to anchor off of Stocking Island near ‘Volleyball Beach’(23 31.00 / 75 45.50). Lots of boats but we hear that it can get way more crowded like during the Cruisers Rendezvous in March. We missed that by plan. We didn’t even launch the dingy as it was still blowing and the sea was too rough.

On Saturday 4/07 things calmed down and we went exploring. Right up on the beach here is a little joint called the Chat and Chill (or Chew and Spew or Squat and Gobble. . .something like that). Very island-like bar with a grill. We had a beer and then went and checked out the other place over here called St. Francis. Funny name for a bar but oh well. Not as neat looking. Looked more like a double wide. We went back to the Chat and Chew and met up with Jay and Jen who had just arrived from Emerald Bay. Sure...anyone can make the run in 10 knots of wind! We had lunch at the Sit and Spit and then after naps had Jay and Jen and Kona the wonder dog over for dinner and dominoes. We are now hooked on dominoes. Kona even helped with the dishes! Very fun and lots of laughs until the evening was over and our guests went to get in their dingy...just the painter with an empty shackle on the end! This is about 10 pm and it is no moon dark. We called on the radio if anyone found a dingy (no answer) and then Jay and I headed out in our dingy with a flashlight. This was hopeless. Unluckily, the wind was blowing parallel to the channel so the dingy probably didn’t head for either shore. We made two passes about a half mile up and back but no luck. Back at Enee we loaned Jay and Jen our dingy since they’d need it to get Kona ashore and we weren't going anywhere anyway. They were anchored only about 100 yards from us. I felt bad for them as if the dingy is really lost it is going to be a big pain (and an expensive one) to replace dingy and motor.

The next day (Sunday 4/08) we both were scanning the harbor for the lost dingy but nothing. Then Jay hollered over, “I think I see it”! Sure enough it was tied to the stern if a large power yacht about a mile away. Even better than finding an easter egg! Jay and I dingied over and retrieved it. The guys on the power yacht said they spotted it cruising by around 10 pm and went out and got it. Actually they seemed a little disappointed that we found it but too bad!

I spent the rest of the day doing many little jobs that have been nagging me. I fixed a drawer that always slides out when we are on a starboard tack. Screwed the wastebasket to the bulkhead so it wouldn’t tip over. Fixed another drawer that tends to pop on port tack. We also wanted to improve Enee’s sailability. I always say that you should almost never have to operate something on a sailboat by sheer muscle power. Especially true on this boat since muscle power is hard to come by! There are two things that continually violate this rule. One is that it takes a mighty effort to roll up the genny with the roller furling line. Not sure why but it is. I have in mind to replace the line with a longer one so that the radius at which it pulls will be larger on average. There’s room on the can for more line. Even better is to be able to get the reefing line to a winch for some mechanical advantage. So I rigged a different block down at the rail to lead the roller furling line through a cam cleat and then to the other side of the boat to what I now call the “auxiliary” winch. This winch was originally supposed to be for the main sheet and we use it for that too. But, I’ve since put in a bottom block on the main sheet system with its own cleat so the main sheet doesn’t have to stay on the winch to be cleated as it used to be. There would never be an occasion to have to use this winch to trim the main AND reel in the genny.

An even bigger problem is that this big boat has no system for moving the traveller. There is a car and a track with two stoppers that can be moved but you’re on your own for moving the car. With any load at all on the main this is impossible. It is also a great way to either smash your fingers or push hard, have it give way and fall overboard. (I’ll take the smashed fingers please.) A new track, blocks and traveller system costs around $1000. I’m not spending that. This isn’t a racing boat. I don’t care how long it takes to complete a tack I just want some mechanical advantage to accomplish it and there’s that ‘auxiliary’ winch right at the port end of the track.

I attached a block to the car with a bit of wire. I then ran a line from a port side cleat through the block on the car, through another block and then around the winch. Now I can use the winch to pull the car to port. HA you do you pull it to starboard then? Remember, I don’t care if completing the tack takes a little doing. Just want to be able to do it safely. So, let’s say we are beating to windward and are on a port tack. The traveler is pulled to windward over to the port side of the track to center the boom. Now we want to tack. Ultimately, I want the traveler over on the other side but right now the wind can do that. I crank on the winch a little just to relieve the pressure on the stopper. Then I move the stopper over to starboard where I want to end up. Now I can ease the line and allow the traveler to slide over to starboard. We can run down a little now if we have to. Move the other stopper over and under the block and I’ve captured the traveler over to starboard. Now we come about. When we are on our starboard tack we can trim the main with the main sheet.

Now for the other tack. This time we tack first then move the traveler! Back on a port tack after coming about. Now I use the winch to drag the traveler over to port to again center the boom. Sweet and best of all the total cost was ZERO. Just used parts and stuff I had on board.

We went out sailing on Monday 4/09 just to try it all out. We reached back and forth in Elizabeth harbor and everything worked great! We reefed the genny. We tacked many times. We unfurled the genny again. It is a very workable system and just fine for cruising! After sailing about for awhile we moved to anchor nearer town. We have outboard issues and want to be near town in case it finally breaks down. Tomorrow I’ll look for an outboard guy and we’ll try to find or order some other small things we need for the boat.


We took dingy into town (still running...) to explore even though we knew nothing was open. What was happening was a local regatta featuring those bahamian sloops. We had to walk about a mile to get to the little beach area where they were starting from. Here they had set up some small shops with beer and snacks. (By the way, if you’re looking for a way to limit your beer consumption come to the Bahamas...$40 a case and $3.50 - $4.00 per bottle in the taverns! I”m down to about 120 lbs!) There were 3 boats (one more than the minimum) ready to race. The start is a riot and I’d love to see this with about 20 boats racing. All the boats anchor on the start line. Then, when the fat lady blows the conk shell (another phrase I thought I’d never write) the sailors start hauling on their anchor lines like crazy. As soon as the anchor is up they haul up the one huge triangle sail and head out on the windward leg of the race. What a fun way to start! No clocks...first one back wins! We walked back to town but kept our eyes on the racers. They hike WAY out on these things on little boards to keep them upright. The booms are about twice the length of the boats and the mast is set far forward to allow them to go to weather.

Back in town we located some places we want to check out tomorrow: Eddie’s bar and grill with free wifi (we hear), the Exuma Market where you can have a mailbox to receive mail for a time and a battery place! I’m thinking of re-doing my battery configuration to golf cart batteries for my house bank. I’ll get 50% more capacity in about the same space and these things are tough. We’ll see.


Anonymous said...

I'm still envious. Sitting here in SE Michigan on April 11th, it's 40 degrees out and snowing My boat is on the hard and a long way from launch. Enjoy for the rest of us.

LeahC said...

sounds like a fun trip

i am looking at ice pelt my window at work. i miss the bahamas weather!

Rich P said...

Yes, going in to work at Maine East was especially fun today, walking through about 5 inches of slush to get to the door! Believe me, I thought of you guys all morning!

It will be up in the 60's by Monday, they say, after one more miserable weekend. Let's hope!

Gracie Liberation Front said...

Expensive Beer a Problem?

I'm thinking about my boss, his running dog lackeys, the sad state of our military, the overall lack of good deli in Chicago and the hole in my left sock. Plus, there is no word on when Radiohead will release their next album and Neal quit as head of Apple. Also, I have this rotten taste in my mouth - like old cat.

Aside from that - I have nothing to complain about. Well, that's not really true - there is this little matter of Gonzales, Cheney and what's his name - the Once an Future Idiot-in-Chief.

Oh, and the Cubs.

Love - will send a proper e-mail soon!

Chairman Meow

Anonymous said...

Carnation here,really enjoyed your recent messages, the detail, the local color, the humor, the photos, keep up the good work, congrats on getting to Georgetown.
Stan & Judy, San Diego

Anonymous said...

Hey Scott and Sue,

Thanks again for helping us get our dinghy back- don't know what we would have done without it. Great blog. We miss the dominoes and rum and laughs we shared with you both. Have safe travels, fair winds, and following seas. And we will be sure to follow your progress south, and can't wait for our drunken reunion in the Caribbean next year!

The Rum Runners
aka your "buddies"