Saturday, February 15, 2014

We Made It...Now for an Update

Makin’ Water…that’s what I am doing right now.  Lynn is topside stripping the teak rails.  These are both mundane tasks that can occupy most of a cruiser’s day. Like doing the laundry or picking up groceries. But, hey, I am definitely not complaining. A day of chores in the Bahamas is just fine with me! 

It is a gorgeous, calm, sunny day. In fact that is what we have had for more than two weeks now…very uncommon for winter in the Abacos. Usually there is a cold front at least once a week and often more frequently. Again…no complaints here. I so feel for all our friends toughing it out through a record-breaking winter further north, both on boats and in dirt homes. I gotta hand it to the live-aboards though, Lynn and I agree that we would most certainly have bailed and moved ashore by now.

If anyone actually follows this blog anymore, I apologize to you for being so delinquent in my updates.  I seem to have lost some of my blog-writing initiative, plus we have more intermittent Internet access as we are just using it when we go to happy hours where they have wifi hot spots.

So…where did I leave off?  I’ll just gloss over the boring stuff. We left Beaufort SC and had an easy off shore hop around Georgia. Got to Vero Beach FL and waited less than a week to cross over to the Bahamas…all timing was perfect actually.  Just enough to do what we needed to do and no long waits.

Now, on to the fun stuff…Paul and Lee, our friends from Baltimore Marine Center, joined for two brilliant weeks. They arrived in Vero and helped us cross the Gulf Stream, which was fantastic as it makes a huge difference to have extra crew on board for overnight cruises. They were awesome crew too. Paul is a pilot so was a great help with weather decisions and navigating. And Lee, who came along despite feeling some trepidation about being out of site of land, turned out to have no worries and was ready and willing to help however she was needed. She and I handled the “waking-over-circadian-low” (WOCL) shift…a flying term Paul taught me that refers to the hours between 3 and 6 AM during which it is most difficult to stay awake.
We had quite a good crossing; just a little bumpy. As usual we motored the whole way since we were headed into wind, but, we weren’t going to pass up a good window as they come so infrequently during the winter. 

Approximately 26 hours after leaving Fort Pierce we arrived at Green Turtle Cay. After checking in with immigration we celebrated hoisting the Bahamas courtesy flag with a bottle of champagne.   We then headed into the Bluff House Marina for what we planned to be a one night stay to relax and then move on. 

Now, a bit of not-so-fun stuff…the next morning we heard a clunk when we tried to turn over the engine. “That didn’t sound good” I said to Lee. Well, it wasn’t. Engine wouldn’t start. The first mechanics thought it was a starter problem, but after a week waiting while they sent it to Florida to be rebuilt; we finally got our starter back and were told there was nothing wrong with it in the first place. At that point we determined that we should move on to a new mechanic. Every islander we told about our problem said, “have you called George?”…so, we called George.

Enter George Cross, The Engine Whisperer. He climbed into the engine room and literally touched, smelled, tasted and listened to the engine.  Within 20 minutes he had determined that we had water in the cylinders. Over the next week he solved the problem and we were underway. It turned out to be a perfect storm of small problems that led to water coming in through the exhaust (I won’t bore you with the details). This was much better than the other possible entry route through the head gasket.   George would arrive, determine the next action to take, and leave Lynn to do the work. He joked that we was sending Lynn back to college. The only problem with George was that he was definitely on island time and we never quite knew when he would appear again. But, he is an awesome mechanic and we are very grateful to him for helping us get going again.

The main frustration with our boat problem was that we were stuck in Green Turtle Cay. Albeit, this is not a bad place to be stuck; but we were disappointed to not be able to show Paul and Lee more of the Abacos. They of course were very happy and we did have a great time kicking around the island. We chartered a 26-foot center cockpit boat and cruised to Hopetown and Guana Cay, which was an awesome day.

Paul and Lee finally decided to leave on a Thursday morning when we still thought we were dealing with a head gasket problem and probably stuck for another few weeks. They left at 8 AM and by 11:30 AM George had fired up the engine.  Within a few hours the boat was better, the weather was better and my mood was definitely better.  A few days later we were headed for Hopetown. Lynn was going to kill me because I must have said “I wish Lee and Paul were here” about every 30 minutes, every time we would see something I wanted to show them.

But, they came back!! About a week after we got to Hopetown (feeling like we had finally arrived home) they hopped back on a plane and joined us for another few days. And it was as perfect as I had hoped. Paul is a blast. He is very much like a little boy who sees everything through joyful eyes and keeps us amused all day. And Lee is an absolute pleasure to be around. She is a calming influence who I think keeps us all grounded. Together they are wonderful cruising companions and we really miss having them here.

On our own now we have met up with some old and new friends, including John and Kathi on Makani. They prefer the more remote islands, but stopped off in Hopetown for a few days to visit with us.  It was nice to be back with our buddies again and eat good food and play a few rounds of euchre. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Lynn’s four kids, Traci, Kari, Jeff and Jami in one weeks. That is sure to be a crazy week that will definitely warrant a full blog!

In the meantime, we are in the Bahamas groove.  Our days are spent beach walking, reading (Beth) and crosswords (Lynn) on the boat, snorkeling, hunting conch and lobster, playing cards, cooking, eating, happy hours with friends and sometimes doing the aforementioned chores. Yes…I do know how lucky I am to be living this way for a few months.

Two hours and 80 gallons of water made…