From Flying Pig@21:1/5 to All on Thu Sep 8 14:42:43 2016
Breakout, Part 2 1/2 - September 8, 2016
We left you expecting a stiff blow (30-40 knots, gusts to 50 knots) in the Marsh Harbour, Abaco Bahamas area, for which we'd tucked into a place we previously thought we couldn't access due to our draft (7' deep keel).
Because so much has happened in between Breakout, Part 1 and now, I'm going
to jump over that segment (thus the 2 1/2 - there won't be a standalone Part
2) with little sound bites:
The blow was not as severe as potentially it could have been, and the
anchorage was just fine. We'll know about that for future nervous times;
it's very well sheltered.
I did, in fact, successfully shoot my first two lobsters under the location expertise of our friends Sam and Janet aboard Flyingfish. My problem is
more one of finding them than shooting them; they don't run away, much. A secondary problem was that my mask, which I've had for more than 20 years, apparently is losing its flexibility; I continually get water into it. So,
I bought a new one for our trip to the Bahamas late this summer.
But we missed our window, on which more later. Those paying attention will recall that our first breakout was delayed by having to wait for some parts made necessary by repairs which we'd done - but which exposed other issues.
The passage over was ideal. The passage back was pretty good, too, albeit
very rock-and-roll, which is uncomfortable for some. Normally it would be
the Admiral, but this time it was my youngest son.
And therein lies the tale of the trip we're not really covering. We'd done
our usual exploring and diving and otherwise loving the Abacos. A couple of weeks before we expected to leave to come back to the US, we sailed to
Treasure Cay's outside anchorage under, as usual, autopilot. We noticed,
when we anchored (manual steering) that we had a very delayed and wimpy response to the wheel. Uh-oh.
Inspection revealed that our hydraulic pump had worked loose, allowing hydraulic fluid to escape, leading to no pressure. A VERY extended search
led to a solution involving a year-old post to a Raymarine (our autopilot maker) tech forum - where I found someone who had the exact same problem,
but had the original markings on the seal identified, the original maker of
the pump in England who provided technical drawings and advice, and the supplier the maker had used for a seal.
Once identified and cross referenced to a variety of other manufacturers' product numbers, it was simple to get another seal. Well, it was SUPPOSED
to be simple...
A call to the various places automotive in the Marsh Harbour area (Treasure
Cay is only 12 miles from MH, but a $50 cab ride...) had none which had it - but one which said that, while it wasn't in stock, it would be here in two
days if ordered now. So we did. But...
Meanwhile, we preferred to be in Marsh Harbour, because there's lots of
stuff to do and if we need provisions, places to get them within walking distance, and protection from a blow. So, being unlimited members of TowBoatUS, which has recently expanded to the Bahamas, I got on the horn to them, and a two-day dance to find one they'd be happy with eventually
resulted in a tow to Marsh Harbour.
Which involved the tow boat (which was a standard power catamaran, NOT a tow vessel) running over the tow line; an emergency stop saved us from running
him down (we're 40,000 pounds of momentum!), and it got resolved and we were under way again.
Once in Marsh Harbour, everybody else knew we were coming apparently, as it
was very crowded. The first place they tried to drop me we were aground (we arrived at low tide). The next place we dropped turned out to be OK, but
we'd drifted back on our anchor chain to stop, aground (we swung away from
them as we floated off as the tide came in) uncomfortably close to a large power boat. In the end, it was all good. TowBoatUS reimbursed us the $2300 tow (two captains, one of which was a friend, who came aboard our boat, and
a helper on the tow vessel), and in the end, it was just another of our adventures. But...
A comedy of errors ensued; to shorten the story, it took 4 weeks for our US $3.64/Bahamas $7 small seal to arrive. It had been so entirely frustrating that I finally ordered one, along with a new pump (in case the seal wasn't sufficient/the right answer; I'd gotten confirmation that I could send it
back if it turned out I didn't need it), to be sent to my son (you knew I'd
get there eventually, didn't you?), which he left at home after I'd
installed the seal and proven it. He did bring the seal, which I now have
What's he doing there, you ask, and why is it that the Admiral isn't? Well, all the delay in getting the seal locally meant that we missed our
requirement to be back ashore for Lydia to do some babysitting. She had to
fly back; fortunately, Delta had just introduced $ervice directly to Mar$h Harbour from Atlanta, so it was a quick and ea$y flight.
I could have single handed it, or hired a captain, but my son jumped at the offer to come crew and have several days of bonding time with me. So, in
the end, we continue to be blessed; we COULD have had our steering fail
BEFORE we were at anchor, we COULD have not been insured for the tow, the weather COULD have prevented our departure in a safe way through a cut which
is very dangerous in adverse winds, and the wind could have been entirely
wrong for the passage. Instead, all worked out well, and we arrived in Ft. Pierce with enough daylight, and at just after low tide, making it easy to
just keep on going to Vero Beach. There, we did laundry and had showers, courtesy of our aunt Louise, who lives in that area (the reason we're
seemingly stuck in Velcro Beach), and were on the road to Michael's home the next day.
So, having jumped to the present, we had several very significant repairs/upgrades to do aboard in the last couple of months. All of those
went well, albeit somewhat nail-bitingly due to the very precise
measurements and drilling needed on the one involving the windlass (the
motor which brings up our heavy chain and heavier anchor). We kept an eye
on the weather for our next opportunity to head ANYWHERE (sitting in Vero
Beach is not remotely 'cruising' - even though those using the Intra-Coastal Waterway like it as a stopping point).
Our preference was to go to the Bahamas - but the wind was persistently
either north (extremely lumpy, and potentially dangerous, due to the north-flowing current in the Gulf Stream, which we have to cross to get
there), or east (classic cruiser wind; either too much, too little, or from right where you want to go - which means motoring, something we do as little
as possible). We considered going south, as we've never really explored the Florida Keys. But there was never any north wind by the time we were ready
Then there was an ideal window to the Bahamas; the not-ready-for-prime-time players weren't QUITE finished, and passed on the window in favor of not rushing and perhaps overlooking something, or going out tired, or whatever
else might get us in trouble.
So, as I write, it appears that it is POSSIBLE for us to go, instead, to Charleston SC, riding the Gulf Stream north most of the way. There is
family and a dear friend in that area, and there's always exploration to do
in that historic city. Wind, of course, doesn't cooperate very often, and
so we're currently parked near the Coast Guard station in the Ft. Pierce
inlet, following a lovely sail south on the Intra-Coastal from Vero Beach, awaiting a shift in direction which will allow us to head out Northeast. We could go straight east, to get into the Gulf Stream more quickly, but as the Gulf Stream is 37 miles from Ft. Pierce, that would eat up a significant
amount of time, at 6 miles per hour or so, which we'd not gain back by using the lift provided by the north-flowing current.
Winds are currently forecast to be benign (well, we'd prefer it to be 12-15, but that's ok, too), if, sometimes, almost nonexistent, on our course up; barring any unexpected changes, we'll be in Charleston either Saturday or Sunday.
So, in an unexpectedly brief encounter, we'll leave you here. If you'd like
to follow us in whatever happens, go to www.tinyurl.com/flyingpigspotwalla. That will show you where the boat is at the time you visit, or where it was,
if you don't look at it until we've stopped somewhere.