14 February, 2016
It’s a dreary, windy day here in West Bay on New Providence Island. Oops, a little late for a spoiler alert. Now that you know that we got off the dock, let’s fill in the blanks.
Thursday, the 11th dawned bright and sunny, but still very windy with the temperatures promised to move in to the high 60-low 70 area. We got off a Happy Birthday email (voicemail on the phone call) to our son, Jeremy, then took the water taxi over to Port Lucaya. Over in the Market Square, we perused the goods at several of the shops before walking a couple miles down the beach. With no one in sight for a half mile in either direction, we found a spot in the lee of a small dune(let), where, out of the wind, it was actually warm. There, we luxuriated in the sun for a couple of hours, enjoying the noboatchores. On the way home, we stopped at “Agave” (which Aaron the Dockmaster had recommended) for a late lunch/early dinner. The Conch fritters, Mahi tacos, and Jerk chicken with peas and rice were washed down nicely with a cold Kalik (in the Admiral’s case, iced tea). Returning home, I called the marine supplier, who informed me that yes, the fuel pump was on its’ way, and no, they couldn’t be sure it would arrive tomorrow, but if it did, it wouldn’t be until after 1600. Okay……. the weather window looked fantastic for tomorrow, but still reasonable for Saturday. Suzanne’s turn to pick the movie, but she allowed me some input. “Magic Mike” could’ve/should’ve stayed unwatched in our humble opinions.
As promised, Friday morning dawned warm and bright with a few puffs of breeze. Man, did we have the urge to go. We kept telling ourselves that we were on “Island Time” and to relax. We had some nice “Face Time” with Jeremy, as he was taking the day off for his birthday. Afterwards, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I ripped into the outboard engine. I got the high pressure reservoir off, disassembled it, and removed the fuel pump. Lotsa dirty screens and filters. When I got the pump out, I hotwired it to a 12 volt source, and it popped on. What? I cleaned all of the components, installed new “O” rings, and put it back in the engine. Crank, crank, crank-nothin’. The motor was getting fuel, now what? I checked-no spark. Okay, so when I was cleaning up the wiring mess the other day, I bypassed the “Kill switch”. I undid my “fix”, cranked again, and Eureka! Eric, Rhonda & his girlfriend Sara stood on the dock and gave us a standing “O”. I called the marine supplier and Jamie, the boss, gave me the answer that I expected. It was a special order part, and I still needed to pay for it. He also assured me that once a fuel pump bound up once, it would most assuredly do it again. The good news was that the pump was on-island. The bad news was that it was hung up in Customs. It seems that the day before, a cache of guns was discovered in a shipment of “consumer goods”, and the guys were inspecting every box individually today. We kept the positive attitude, and called Queenie to drive us to the grocery store and OBS marine supply. When she picked us up 10 minutes later, 2 other folks were in the van, headed to the port to board “Balaeria”, a ferry headed to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. They had taken it several times in the past, and reported that the 3-hour trip could get kinda sloppy if the weather was bad. The price was right, however, at $200/per, and the schedule was fairly reliable, with a trip over and back on most weekdays. (we made a mental note). Now, it was getting late-1645, and OBS closed at 1700. “No worry” says Queenie. As we roll through the gate at 1657, she says “That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout!” Jamie says every part in his shipment has arrived but ours. He’d sent a guy back to the airport to look for it, but everyone would be headed home for the weekend soon. What a letdown. As I was walking out to the taxi to give Suz the update, Jamie’s truck rolled in, and a guy jumps out with a box in his hand. “You the guy waiting for a fuel pump”? Music to my ears. Jamie gave us some love on the price, foregoing his profit, it came through on our cruising permit (so no 30% duty) and, all in all we didn’t have to pay a lot more than we would’ve in the States. We dropped Suz off at the grocery store, and I went home to move the Girl over to the fuel dock to diesel up before the 1800 closing time. Back at the ranch, Eric and his crew were gone, so I pulled out of the slip and over to the fuel dock alone (a first for me-singlehanders do it all the time. ) She only took 75 gallons, but OCD me likes to start with full tanks. After filling, I hung at the fuel dock until Queenie got the Admiral back, then we moved back to the slip to fill the water tanks, stow groceries, and get dinner (homemade pizza) ready. Suz also fixed lunch and cut up veggies for our trip the next day. The pizza was almost done when Rhonda popped in, ordering us over for Shepherd’s pie, one of Eric’s specialties. Suz set the timer, and we were off to “Sweet Serenity” for comfort food and good company. We watched an episode of the TV show, “Wicked Tuna”, which we had never heard of, and got our fishin’ juices flowing. We excused ourselves at 2100, as we were planning an 0330 departure.
0315 came mighty quickly, but we were pumped. We got off the dock by 0336. As we passed the seabuoy outside Bell’s Channel, the seas and winds were higher than predicted, but no big deal (1’-3’ and 12 knots), as they were on our quarter. Breakfast of champions, pizza and coffee for me as I settled in for the first watch. Suz drifted off to bed, while I waited for sunrise. It did not disappoint. After sunup, I rigged a couple of lines, one with frozen Ballyhoo, one with a skirted cedar plug, and let ‘em out about 200 yards. No sooner than Suzanne took the wheel, one of the reels was screamin’ off line. Ran back to the cockpit as Suz slowed the Girl, and hooked up. A gorgeous Mahi leapt out of the water about 400 yards back, furiously trying to shake that hook. The bull jumped two more times, with me reeling in like a man possessed with each breach. With our little ship idling along on autopilot, Suz brought in the other line so that it wouldn’t get fouled. We got our prize alongside, where Suz deftly gaffed him on the first try-Yeah, Baby! Bled him out, snapped a pic and gotim on ice. Rebait and wait. Well……we got nothing else until I laid down for a nap a few hours later. I jumped up and hustled to the cockpit where one of the reels was winding out. I wasn’t patient enough, and started reeling in before he was hooked- my reward was a Ballyhooless hook-Oh well. As we neared Chubb Cay, our proposed destination, we rechecked the weather. Looked like we were in for a couple days of heavy winds, so we reevaluated our plans, and decided that West Bay, on New Providence Island might be a better place to hole up, so we altered course. Coming on to the shallow waters of the Bank, we hauled in our lines, and traded bait for bathing suits. With the Girl on autopilot, we basked in the sun on the bow, cruising over the aquamarine water listening to “The 60’s on Six”, courtesy of Sirius Radio. After an hour or so of subtropical sun, we had had enough, and our prize needed filleting. My new collapsible workbench provided a perfect platform for fish work, which yielded some gorgeous filets . As the sun dropped, it was evident that we were headed toward another “boating don’t”, entering a strange harbor after dark. We had no alternative, and the entry was very straightforward, so in we went, as the wind started to roar. By the time the anchor was down, we were too pooped for Mahi tacos, so we ate our lunch (Tunafish sammies and veggies) instead.