Chicken Harbor February 8, 2007
1/27 we were up early and got off the dock of Hawk's Nest in Cat Island and through the coral channel inlet at 8am. The winds were in our favor (holy cow - again?!) and we sailed the entire way back to George Town! Our fishing luck also seems to have changed as Barefeet caught a gorgeous 4 foot Wahoo. The seas were right on the beam as we flew at 8.5 knots...so we knocked him out (alcohol poured into gills), removed the hook and put him in a garbage bag and into the fridge until we were anchored in calmer conditions for Erin to do the cleaning and filleting. He made a wonderful meal and one in reserve...and the same for Andelen (without a freezer we are limited as to how much we can store). It is nice to have someone to share our catch with.
We are back in George Town and boy have we been busy; Erin sewing the Panama & Galapagos courtesy flags, Chris giving both the port and starboard engine a complete once over (adjusting valve clearances, belt tightness, etc.), getting the freezer part to us (taxi pick-up from the airport after an invoice was retrieved via email and printed, along with a copy of our cruising permit), main sail inspecting/patching and additional tell tales installed, improvements for Trouble (replaced fuel tank strap, wire coiling organizer and throttle extension), copies made of our renewed Coast Guard registration (for future immigration check-ins), Erin washed down Barefeet to remove salt from the passage (water and vinegar combo works like a dream), wrapping up administrative stuff from home via email/skype at Eddie's Edgewater Bar and Grill (they have free wifi...but stateside conversations are not met with much good humor when we try to explain that the tough connection is because we are in a bar in the Bahamas), laundry, mailing tax stuff, etc. documents and other odds and ends. We are dervishes in the hopes that we will be ready to head South when the next weather window arrives...as Mother Nature sees fit to provide it.
Thankfully the scales have now tipped - reduced boat projects have given way to increased relaxation. We have been reading, swimming and exploring more of the trails on the islands near George Town...and of course re-entering the social whirl. We hiked up to monument hill with Bill & Louise of Andelen (2/3). The views were amazing - and you could really see the varied water depths through the different shades of blue; the darker the blue...the deeper the depth of the water. Additionally, we can see that the George Town boat count is accurate - up to 233 boats ("normal" at this time of year is 400-500 - yikes). The trails to the monument were less groomed than on Sand Dollar beach...they required flip flops (boy are we spoiled?!).
Several more boats have arrived that we had previously met along the way...and we have met new friends anchored nearby. This has led to fun sundowners as we catch up and hear about journeys past and plans for the future...Alize, Moxy, Dover Dream Catcher, North Star, Seaquel, Island Siren and Maggie M. Plus, Chris has been playing tournament style Texas Hold 'Em...he won at the last game!! Awesome job!! But he misses the guys from EAPL every Tuesday night... Erin has been happily sampling goombay smashes along the way and now has a verbal recipe...portions are up to individual preference but gosh are they tasty; orange juice, pineapple juice, mango rum and dark rum. For an authentic serving presentation - combine in an old plastic juice container and keep it in the fridge for a quick shake and a cocktail always at the ready. Speaking of the fridge/freezer...alas, it looks like the freezer will remain an Igloo cooler/storage container. This is not optimal but the freezer was a luxury and now our solar panels can keep up with ALL of our power needs...sort of a good news/bad news thing it seems. Hold the phone - stop the presses - there has been a water shed event! The darn cooler is working (can we again call it a freezer?!)! Chris has again reinforced his miracle worker status and soldered a loose connection on the low tech circuit board (high tech circuit board that we had delivered appears fine...now we have a spare).
(Chris - Erin is missing the "pain" part of it all ... and Jeff - I know that is the only bit you want to hear. The original freezer was randomly turning off and randomly getting cold. After loosing $500 worth of meat, we call the manufacturer and they thought it must be the thermostat. Well, after $190 and 3 days on the dock in Nassau we got our freon level checked (its OK), and I bought a new thermostat that was almost, but not completely unlike the original. Chris installed said thermostat with much fear and trepidation. Fear that he would puncture the evaporator while pulling out the old thermostat (he didn't), and trepidation that it wouldn't work after it was all said and done (it didn't). We then called the manufacturer again, and they thought it might be the "control module". This is the computer that controls the compressor. Well, finding a source for the control module was difficult, because of course Weaco wouldn't sell us one directly, we had to go through a reseller. 7 Phone calls and 6 out of stock resellers later, (and $400 dollars, of course) west marine mailed one to "Reggie Express" in Florida. Reggie flew it over, we had a taxi pick it up. The taxi came back empty handed, because of course we needed a invoice or customs wouldn't release it - and no one put the invoice in the box. Back to west marine, "please send us an invoice!" Great, we have an invoice on e-mail, now we need to print it - give it back to the taxi guy, have him go back to the airport. OK, finally we have our control module. Now it is time to go under the deck back in the corner where the old one was. Nice that the original installers stripped the screw head holding it on. 2 hours later the old one it off! 1 hour later the new one is back on. Drum roll please .... and .... NO LOVE our freezer still sucks. I hate the damn thing and am starting to like the taste of canned meat. Obviously it wasn't the controller. I give up. 3 Days later, in a fit of anger and fury, I tear everything out - because I can't possibly break it any worse than it is already broken. What do I find, but a "brownish" solder joint on the PCB board. Hmmm. Get out the voltage/resistance meter and find a few Ohms of resistance over the joint. Pull out the propane fired soldering iron, re solder the joint and put all 15 wires back where I think the might go. Houston, we have lift off! The freezer works! Of course, the "new" thermostat only goes down to 20 degrees, but that is cold enough for me - I am not replacing it with the manufacturers original - even though they said I should. By the way, as an aside, making a "phone call" is buried deep in the above story. That entails getting in the dinghy, motoring 2 miles, often in 2 foot waves, getting soaking wet and trying not to destroy the laptop. We then try and find wifi that has a good enough connection to use skype (1 day out of 3 there is no internet anywhere and the trip is for nothing - or maybe there is a connection but no one can understand the other due to static). Great - a call made. Now go back to the boat - and realize you have one more little question .....
Now, back to Erin ....
We will watch it for another couple of days...then start adding food to it...we just might be back in the frozen food business.
(2/7) A front has passed through and once again we learned what to do and what not to do in strong winds while at anchor...reminders were necessary as we got lazy after a few calm days. What to do; clean inside, do some laundry, do some baking and read books. What not to do; eat cereal on the deck (Chris ended up wearing a spoonful of cereal), pour diesel from jerry jugs into main tanks (splatters galore) and rush into town for internet...because everyone else is there, too, using the same restricted pipe...ssslllooowww.
The George Town anchorage is a constant shuffle of cruisers...especially when the wind pipes up. Everyone has a preferred anchorage; Monument, Volleyball Beach, Sand Dollar or Red Shanks. However, these preferences are momentarily put on hold as folks often move about to be at the best spot for the particular wind direction. Because of such constancy we have enjoyed seeing the individual quirks of some cruisers (as we are sure they do of us). For example, there was this tuna tower power boat that literally moved their boat with a single rope (held by the woman) from one anchored spot to the next with only the dinghy as propellant (man was driving the dinghy)...quite literally like most people walk a dog...what could possibly go wrong here?! At least it was a calm day and they had their full head coverings on - something that seemed better suited to an African safari rather than a beach in the Bahamas. Later we noticed that at night they walked around inside this big boat with the only illumination coming from flash lights...okay, conserving batteries...until, that is, dinner guests arrived...at which time the boat looked like Time Square at Noon with lights galore. Another neighbor (more on the fun and friendly side) is a French Canadian couple (not a distinguishing characteristic here) with a small white dog. Tanned gentleman in his black speedo (smaller even than yours, Parker!) and tiny woman in her leopard print maillot with pink frosted hair enjoying the sun...until afternoon guests arrive and the little white dog goes positively crazy...yipping and yapping and eventually motivating the sunning lady to scamper about with a fly swatter that is meant to quiet the pooch down...not too successful but at least everyone was kept out of the water as the guests made their way aboard. Our own little floor show of quirks no doubt amuses others...but we will leave those particulars to those discreetly watching.