10 February, 2016

Goood Morning Baahaamaas!

The pouring rain subsides, and we peek out of the pilothouse to see Aaron, the Dockmaster, standing in the shelter of the eaves in his office door, 10 feet away.  After exchanging the usual morning pleasantries, he lets us know that Customs and Immigration is just around the corner, but still within the harbor.  We’ll need to take the Girl over, but no need to rush, as the officers don’t arrive until 0930 (or so).  A guy walking the dock says “Hey, is that a Krogen?”  Conversation ensues, he tells us that he’s gettin’ a Krogen soon, as he’s tired of motoring about in his sailboat.  (Little known trivia-cruising sailboats motor about 70% of the time).  Anyway, he also asks us if we know the folks on the other Krogen, “Sweet Ride”, that is docked here.  We sure do, but are flabbergasted that they’re here.  They had left Sunset Bay in Stuart, heading south for a crossing to Bimini a week or so earlier, accompanied by our good friends, Jeff and Susie aboard “Idyll Time”, who were headed to the Keys.  How’d they get this far north?

At 0930, we head over to Port Lucaya to clear customs, and arrive at the dock just as the water taxi is coming in.  Christopher and Alexandra (“Sweet Ride”) are on board, and tell us that they did indeed go to South Bimini, but after a few days, had the urge to move.  Their destination, the Berry Islands was a two (daylight hours) day trip from Bimini, involving anchoring out on the Bank (recall our trip last year, anchoring with nothing but water to the horizon for 360 degrees). Basically, the weather was so unsettled that they decided to head way northeast to Grand Bahama, stay here for a few days, then head southeast to Great Harbour Cay, in the Berry’s.  That’s cruising-plans always written in sand.  We cleared Customs, plunked down our $300 (cash) for our cruising permit, and tooled back to the G.B. Yacht Club to wash our salt-encrusted little ship and get some rest.  The rest part didn’t happen.  We had some trouble getting our Bahamian SIM cards to function properly in our phone and IPad, so a trip to BaTelCo was in order.  Our new neighbor, Erick on his 65’ Hatteras, informed us that he had lived here for 6 years or so, and that he’d call his favorite taxi driver, Queenie, to drive us over.  She was a stitch, and entertained us both to and from the telephone office.  (She came in with us and waited while we took care of business-everybody that came in to the store knew her, it seemed).  That pretty much killed the day.  Saturday was bright and sunny, albeit very windy.  We took the water taxi over to Port Lucaya, cruised the market square (cruise ships take their passengers here, and there is a Ritz Hotel as well), then walked the deserted beach for a couple miles.  When we returned to the Girl, we dropped the tender in the water to explore the man-made waterways that twisted and turned for a couple of miles past the marina.  The depths through this maze of canals ran around 10’, the shores were bordered with seawalls, and the land about 40% developed with some pretty nice homes.  I’m sure there’s a story about its’ development-guess we’ll find out later.  At the other end of the canals, there was a narrow, shallow channel exiting to the sea.  It wasn’t big enough for “Alizann”, but no problem for small motor or sailboats at high tide.  Earlier in the day, we had arranged with Rochelle, (touted by Erick’s friend, Rhonda, as the best cook on the island) to cook a traditional Bahamian dinner for Christopher and Alexandra and us that evening.  We were running short on time, so I suggested running outside back to Bell’s Channel, and the marina.  Due to the high wind and seas, the Admiral nixed the idea, and said that if we were late for dinner, so be it.  How fortuitous that decision was!  About a mile from the marina, the motor in the dinghy just quit.  No warning, no sputtering, no nothing-just quit, like someone had flipped a switch.  The starter turned her over, but nothing.  About the same time as the motor quit, a small motor boat appeared coming toward us from the other direction (we hadn’t seen another boat underway the whole trip).  We hailed them, they grabbed our line, turned around and towed us back to the Girl.  We were only 15 minutes late for supper.  It was wonderful.  Over dinner, we learned that it was C & A’s second anniversary of their first date.  Wow!  From first date to owning a boat together in two years.  Christopher is quite the talker, and regaled us with story after story, much to our delight.

Most of Sunday was spent dinking around with the motor.  First, I went through the fuel system from the tank to the fuel pump.  Everything looked good.  Next, I pulled apart and cleaned all of the wiring harnesses, and checked continuity of switches from the helm to the motor.  Again, everything looked good to me.  This problem was above my pay grade, so I tossed in the towel for the day and got cleaned up to join Erick, his son Ian, and their friend Rhonda for dinner and Super Bowl on his boat.  A good time was had by all.  Erick cooked, and we all ate.  Salmon, black beans & rice, and sushi.  3-2-1, provided by Suz, topped off this eclectic menu as we all vegged in front of his hugescreen TV.

Monday morning, and we’re up before dawn to get “Sweet Ride” off the dock.  They’ll go to Great Harbour, and use the slip that we had reserved, as they were unable to get one at the full marina there.  We tell them to make sure and hook up with Bill & Lauren (our Canadian cruising buddies) on “Sea Star”, as they are already moored there.  At 0800, a call to OBS Marine in Freeport got a mechanic out by 1000.  Took him about a half hour to decide that a bad fuel pump was the problem.  A call to the shop revealed that there wasn’t a pump anywhere in the Bahamas.  One had to be ordered from the States.  ChaCh$ng!  The part that wholesaled out of the factory for $400, would run around $900 here.  Time to do some callin’.  Found it online for around $550, but nobody wanted to deliver to the Bahamas.  I took a flyer, and called several dealers in Miami and Lauderdale to see if they knew of any customers heading out. -A long shot, but hey, ya gotta try.  No Go.  Erick said that he had a buddy in Lauderdale who MIGHT be headed out in a few days, and would be happy to bring the pump.  Okay, so the pump MIGHT get to him before he leaves, and he MIGHT have good weather.  We checked with Customs.  Since we had paid for a cruising permit, if the part was sent to our boat, no 40% duty.  Talked with Jamie at OBS.  Yes, he could do that, but they would still have to add their markup.  If we didn’t have to get down to Georgetown by the first week in March for arriving company, we probably would have gone another route, but we had OBS order the pump and have it “emergency shipped” to Miami, where a freight expediter would pick it up and run it out to Freeport by Friday at the earliest.  Okay, here’s our credit card number……….No, they want cash.  Great, I hop on my bike and ride the 9.6 klicks to the shop so that we can get the order placed ASAP.  All good fun. I think that it may be the national sport here to get the passenger side mirror as close as you can to the bike rider as you pass.  Moving over a tad is not in the program.  Having dodged death (or at least severe impairment), I took the rest of the day off.  Suz and I broke out our newest crew member, “Little Scout”, a Phantom 3 drone, for her maiden flights.  She is equipped with GPS, and is gyro stabilized, making her super easy to fly.  Her underbelly camera pans and tilts, is capable of taking still or video images, and has a continuous feed back to our smartphone, which is attached to the control station.  I had to pry the stick out of the Admiral’s (I guess that now, as a flyer, she’ll have to be a part-time General as well) hands to get a little flight time in.  When we get a little more confidence, and when the wind isn’t blowing 20, we should be able to send L.S. up and out for some long-range recon.  (as always, major expenditures aboard are made in the name of SAFETY).

Tuesday was cleaning day.  The Admiral (now back on the boat) said that the place “looked like the bottom of a birdcage”.  We washed walls, ceilings, and floors.  Carpets and screens were taken out on the dock and scrubbed-you get the picture.  All the while, it was cloudy, cold, and blowing 20, a perfect day for cleaning.  When the Girl was standing tall and proud, we called it a day, had dinner, and settled in for “Movie Night”, featuring “The Bourne Legacy”.

It was still blowing this morning, but the sun was out.  Around 1030, when the thermometer cracked 60 degrees, we grabbed the backpack and power walked over to Taino Beach, a few miles away.  There, we walked the beach, then had lunch at “Sandbar”, the restaurant at the Taino Beach Club.  Erick, Rhonda, and Ian are coming over for dinner this evening.  Suzanne is cooking up some chili and cornbread-appropriate for this chilly, breezy weather.


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