George Town

January 22, 2008

We just put Lyle and Shannon on a water taxi. They’re going home after a nearly two-week visit. It was great fun, although the weather wasn’t always so great (thank God we had the entire run of Seinfeld on DVD for them to watch on bad [and even good] days).

Last night a stalled norther spun off a huge squall during the night, lasting several hours, with 35 knots of wind and a deluge of rain. Antares dragged about 200 feet, right into the shipping channel, so we had to re-anchor at 1AM (that was fun). Today, of course, it’s gorgeous.

I was right about the water in the engine problem. It was not coming from the engine heat exchanger (goodbye several thousand dollars, hello brand new heat exchanger), but from the hot water heater. I fixed it by isolating the hot water heater from the engine with a $2.00 hose splice. We still get hot water electrically from running the generator, or shore power.

The interesting thing is that the antifreeze (a deadly kidney toxin) was mixing with the fresh water system, and thus, we were drinking it. Luckily, the antidote for antifreeze (ethylene glycol) poisoning is ethyl alcohol (otherwise known as Bombay Safire Gin), which is generally consumed in considerable quantities aboard Antares. We lived to tell the tale, except that now, I have to pee sitting down, and Phyllis standing up.

We had to rush down here to meet Lyle and Shannon, who had long standing reservations. We made it the day before they arrived. So much for long range planning, which is never easy on a boat.

Ray Eaton (who’s picture painted by Phyllis appears in the blog) has been our mechanical and spiritual guru. He’s been extraordinarily helpful in getting us through some mechanical jams from afar. He’s an Aussie who doesn’t drink (probably the only one) who says things like “how are things aboard your fine vessel?” (in Aussie, of course). Thanks, Ray.

George Town, where we spent quite a bit of time 20 years ago, is sort of the cruising hub of the southern Bahamas. There are currently about 140 boats here, with many more to come as the season progresses. Many simply stay here for the whole winter, so a floating little community has developed. Each morning, there is a VHF radio net, where announcements of events, weather, etc, are made. Such activities as basket weaving, bible studies, wife swapping, etc., are constantly going on. It’s a bit much for us; we’re looking forward to the first opportunity to get away, probably to Cat Island (great diving), as soon as we (which generally means Phyllis, who is still a wonderful clean freak), get the boat back in order, after Lyle’s tour of destruction and mayhem.

We’ve booked a trip back to the States for about 3 weeks starting late February. The first thing on the agenda is to get cold, so we’re going skiing at Heavenly (we need the vacation from the vacation). We hope to see many of you then.

jeff.jpgGetting the internet is not easy. Jeff looks like he’s trying to contact alien’s from outer space.

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Shannon’s birthday on the boat

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Painting on the boat…..I comb my hair ….sometimes

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Shannon and Lyle on Stocking Island

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Lyle

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Sunset in Great Exuma

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At last…..the Bahamas

January 9, 2008

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Seven Year Apples….why….because its takes seven years to forget what they tasted like

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Curly tailed lizard on Warderick Wells Cay

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Yellow Finches

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On a mooring in Warderick Wells Cay. Warderick wells is the most popular cay in the Exuma Land and Sea Park. The park is protected from poaching

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We arrive in Nassau the day after Christmas. Stayed at the Hurricane Hole Marina for a couple of days. Ate dinner at one of the restaurant in the Atlantis Hotel.

Ray

January 4, 2008

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January 1, 2008

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No name harbor

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Miami River, a bit of old Miami

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Miami river

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Bascule bridges on the Miami river

Arrived in Miami sailed the whole way from Ft. Lauderdale. It took about 5 hours.

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Abstract photos of Christmas boat parade

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Boat Parade at Key Biscayne

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Cape Florida Lighthouse……off to the Bahamas

Nassau Tales from Jeff

January 1, 2008

We finally were able to escape from Fort Lauderdale mid December. Although we had a lot of fun there, it was mostly hard work (can I have my job back, Charlie?) It’s a real undertaking trying to get a complicated machine like Antares ready to go in such a short time.  However, we were able to play quite a bit, with good friends (and yacht broker) Joel and Vela (thanks for the many free dinners at the Lauderdale Yacht Club), my mother, who lives nearby, and my whole family, who came down for Thanksgiving.

We sailed for No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne, Miami (remember Nixon? He lived there), thinking we had it all together. It was a glorious first trip. Unfortunately (this word will appear frequently), we discovered a problem with, what we thought was the heat exchanger on the engine, across Biscayne Bay (no technical explanations here, unless they add to the narrative). It was getting close to Christmas, when the whole boating supply, repair, and extortion industry shuts down for 2 weeks. Also, we had to leave the state by Jan 1, to avoid the 10% sales tax (mucho dineros), and, Lyle and Shannon were scheduled to fly to Georgetown, Great Exuma to meet us early in January. Pressure! On vacation! Oy!

What followed was a hilarious (if you weren’t there, and paying for it), series of events. We found a wonderful mechanic (Mike), known all over the Yanmar (our engine) world, who did everything he could to fix our heat exchanger, which ultimately was replaced (mucho dineros). Unfortunately, it turned out that the heat exchanger wasn’t the problem, although this was no fault of Mike’s. We did, in the process, discover other hidden demons, so all was not in vain. The process involved numerous round trips from No Name Harbor, across Biscayne Bay, and up the Miami River to Mike’s place (Anchor Marine). The Miami River is a somewhat decrepit but otherwise very cool place (old Miami). It was on the Miami Rive that we first spotted our stowaway, an adorable little gecko named Gary Fausone (really). I fed Gary flies that I caught, or hamburger meat when we ran out of flies. I finally had to let him go in Nassau; I couldn’t stand his constant chattering. Last seen, he was headed to the Atlantis hotel, to check out the action.

I have another theory about what’s wrong with the engine, but I’m not saying what it is, until I turn out to be right. The good thing is that unlike before (a few hours ago), I’m not worrying about it.

We have some other problems (they’re known as boat gremlins), but, we’re going forward.

We departed Miami for the Bahamas 12/23/07. We made it across the dreaded Gulf Stream, and anchored out on the Great Bahamas Banks just north of Bimini.  This is quite an experience. The Bahamas are basically a huge underwater mountainous plateau, rising abruptly from thousands of feet depth, which, in most places, doesn’t reach the surface (it is generally about 10 to 20 feet below the surface). In a few places (the Cays), the land rises above the water. This system was designed to support the Bahamas boating and hotel industry. Anchoring on the banks is a wondrous (to some of the crew) or terrifying experience (to others of the crew). One is literally anchored all alone in 15 feet of water in the middle of the ocean, with no land in site. Not many are dumb enough to try this, nor live to escape the wrath of the admiral for doing so.

We crossed the banks in three legs, anchoring out each night. Then we crossed the NW Providence Channel to Nassau, where we cleared in to Customs and Immigration, proudly raising our Bahamas courtesy flag (even though we cheated a little by not clearing in immediately upon entering Bahamian waters). In Nassau, we did some boat chores, cancelled our Blue Shield insurance, and saw Atlantis, a truly extraordinarily something hotel (mucho dineros).

The highlights so far are how well the boat sails (9 plus knots under sale in 15 knots of wind, 7 knots at cruising rpm’s under power), how comfortable and beautiful she is below, the amazing water maker (180 liters per hour; Phyllis can clean and shower as much as she likes). The electric sails make it easy, and the dishwasher is very cute. We have yet to use the microwave or clothes washer. The admiral is a wonderful cook, producing gourmet meals nightly (although she’d rather go out to eat someone else’s gourmet meals.)

As I write this, we’re anchored off Highborne Cay in the Exumas. It’s perfect. The anchor is dug in (I know, because I dived on it). The water is, as they say, gin clear (an appropriate expression for this boat.) The sky is full of stars; the wind is blowing softly at 12 knots.

Yesterday, we looked around and had an odd feeling. Twenty plus years ago, we were on essentially the same boat (although a little smaller and less complicated), doing the same thing. It’s as if no time has passed, although for some reason, the skipper has less hair.

More to come.