Friday, March 13, 2015

February 12, 2015 Spanish Wells

About four days ago we left the relative comfort of Marsh Harbour to continue our journey south. An early afternoon departure led to a windy motor down the coast of Great Abaco Island to anchor at Lynyard Cay by early evening. The anchorage was very pleasant and well sheltered from the northeast wind and high waves that were battering the other side of the island by the open Atlantic Ocean.
Six am came early and when we looked out the window, the two other sailboats that were in the anchorage with us were departing. It was still quite dark and I called the lead boat “GRACE” and asked Peter for a report on sea conditions once he cleared the reef just north of Little Harbour. Right on schedule at 6:45 we received a call that the pass was easily doable with about a four foot swell breaking on the surrounding reef.
At 7:15 Jan & I raised our 45 pound Bruce anchor and headed out with an expected 50 mile run ahead down to the entrance to Spanish Wells on the north tip of Eleuthera.
The crossing was uneventful and as we neared Spanish Wells the long northeasterly swell gradually reduced to about three feet from the 4-6 feet we had earlier. The test on this crossing was to avoid the numerous ship traffic that was transiting the New Providence Channel. Our AIS worked wonderfully and alerted us to crossing traffic even before these monster ships were visible on the on the horizon.
About ten miles out of Spanish Wells we were greeted by about ten small dolphins as they frolicked in our bow waves and did a great job entertaining us as they jumped and spun around clear of the water.
The entrance at Ridley Head through the crashing waves of the reef was pretty easy. The plotter was bang on and with the sun high in the sky the reef was very easily seen. After clearing in through the reef and rounding Ridley Head the waters took on that spectacular aquamarine colour the Bahamas is known for. We followed the channel past Gun Point and made our entrance into Spanish Wells.

 We tied to one of the mooring balls owned by Joch Morgan, the local harbour pilot. What a well deserved rest we were about to get on that evening.
This quaint little village is full of pastel coloured homes. Some big and some small.
The main docks are full of offshore fishing boats painted in the same pastel colours as the houses.
Yesterday, Saturday, saw continued 25-30 knot NE winds. Boy did it blow hard and it continued all night and all day today. Wait…….. I hear nothing ! After three days of high winds it has finally stopped. However, we have today to contend with first.
We watch daily as the fast ferry BO HENGY II passes through Spanish wells enroute to Harbour Island and again on the return trip to Nassau.
Sunday February 2nd – Superbowl Sunday
After sporadically sleeping last night with continuous high winds I awoke this morning at 8am to the thumping on the hull and that unforgettable voice of Joch  calling “GOOD MORNING….. I’M HERE TO COLLECT MY MONEY”!! With that I jumped up out of bed and answered. I didn’t expect him that early….. Oh well, such is life in the Bahamas. I got up and paid the man his $20 per day for four nights.
This morning I went about doing a few chores while Jan relaxed a little. She’s been sick since we left Marsh Harbour. Noon came and I told Jan that I’d had enough of working today and was going to take the dinghy down the main channel and check out the beach at the far end of town. On the way I visited the Stirlings of Wolfville. You might know them better for their Stirling apples and the infamous corn maze back home. We had a great chat for 20 minutes then I continued on out by the huge white sand beach and flats. The 6-8 foot surf could well be seen breaking on the outer reef so I headed back to the boat.
By 3 pm I was getting a little bored when suddenly a man on a 45 foot Beneteau  moored ahead of us, came running out into the cockpit and yelling help me, I’m sinking! Jan & I had earlier noticed that the boat was definitely a lot lower in the bow than it should have been. The bilge pump came on and pumped, and pumped, and pumped.
Ron immediately dropped what he was doing and went over to help out. After ripping up the floorboards and checking that all thru hulls were closed and not leaking, Jim said he was going over the side to look for a crack in the hull. I quickly suggested that he’d better have someone keep an eye on him. He quickly agreed and took his dinghy ashore to retrieve his wife while I continued the search for the ingress of water.
During the mayhem, I noticed that his wife had returned to the interior of the boat, climbed over Jim and started putting away all the hoses and such that we had removed from various parts of the bilge looking for the dreaded leak. As Jim quickly looked up, he whacked his head on the settee, he spouted out “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” The answer was simple…. “I’M CLEANING UP THE MESS YOU GUYS ARE MAKING”. Jim’s answer to that cannot be stated in this family orientated email.
With that, what is the next logical thing for every good wife to do ...... ??
That’s easy, turn on the tap and start making a cup of tea. She just didn’t clue in. I needn’t go on from here.
Well, two hours of working frantically to find the leak the ingress was still there and it was starting to get dark. I called the Harbour Pilot for local information on a possible dock with a depth of less than six feet at low tide. The plan was to take the boat to the dock, tie it securely and sit her on her keel at low tide. That way Jim could walk around the boat and look for the source.  The pilot was ABSOLUTELY USELESS and after complaining that the radio transmission was poor he went on to say that there is no way we were going to get help as this was SUPERBOWL SUNDAY…… EMERGENCY OR NOT. Thanks Pilot. Maybe it's just that I'm used to the harbour pilots at home that know every inch of our harbour.
Time to take matters into our own hands. We tried a few docks but the water was too shallow to get in. Finally, Brucefrom R&B Boat Yard came down in his golf cart and suggested that we head down and tie up at the dock outside of Pinder’s store and right beside the marine railway. I went on ahead in our dinghy to sound out the depth of water…… Geesh,  it was fifteen feet deep. The point of all this was to ground the boat on the bottom at low tide. NOT SINK IT AT THE DOCK!! Well, Bruce took over and explained that he had many pumps and the boat would not sink. He would haul it out of the water on Monday if need be.
On that note, with Bruce in charge I decided I’d done all I could to help out and went back to Wind Warrior in the dark. Jan had supper ready and I was beat.
As we ate, I jumped up and said “SHIT – WE CHECKED EVERYTHING EXCEPT THE STUFFING BOX”….. That gland in the back of the boat that with the proper packing and tightness is designed to lubricate the shaft and at the same time, KEEP WATER FROM COMING INTO THE BOAT !! In all the confusion, we’d forgotten to check that vital piece of equipment.
Well, Bruce is a salvage expert and I’m sure he’ll think of that. I felt stupid and tried to call Jim but his VHF must be turned off……. Or they sank at the dock. I’ll run down there in the morning to see how they made out.
Well, so much for being bored. It’s now 8:30pm and I’m telling you all about it.
Time for a nice glass of wine and a little relaxation before bed.
The saga continues tomorrow.
Addendum:  A bad situation had a happy ending. It’s 9:15 and Jim just came over to say that they found the leak. The threads on the toilet outflow had stripped and when he moved the fitting water came gushing in. The problem is now fixed and tomorrow a permanent fix will take place.
The End


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