Feb 09 to Feb 16 2012

February 09, 2012 

Birthday Announcement!! It is my very good friend Sean’s Birthday today!!

Feb_09_Seans_Bday_Message_with_Amanda_RESIZED.jpg

“George Town, Exuma - Happy Birthday Sean! – 30 Something”

I got up early to hit the pavement. I had a nice long run and felt amazing. I have run in every Island chain in the Bahamas so far (Bimini, Berry Islands, Nassau and now Exumas) J

Steve stayed back to check out the Cruiser Net which is a forum on the VHF radio where announcements are made with up-coming events. We found out yesterday that there is The Sea and Land Exuma Film Festival going on at the community center tonight. They will be showing several short films and a feature film about living in the Andros. All films were shot in the Bahamas. Being film buffs, we cannot wait to check it out!!

Once I was back at the boat and cleaned up, we packed our computers and headed for the JK computer shop. For 15 dollars we have unlimited internet access for the week J It’s a cozy little place where we can plug in our machines to keep them charged while we are using them and we have unlimited bandwidth. We like it here. If we can’t get access from the boat  this is the next best thing.

We checked email, skyped and I registered and set up my KINDLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Feb_09_Amanda_and_Kindle_resized.jpg

Happy Manda!! I was even able to pull the skin off the broken on and put in on the new one – it’s like the “incident” never happened J

Hungry and thirsty we headed over to the infamous Chat N Chill for dinner and drinks before heading to the Land and Sea Exuma Film Festival.

Feb_09_Chat_n_Chill_Dignies_resized.jpg

Chat ‘N Chill Dinghy area

Feb_09_Chat_n_Chill_and_Amanda_resized.jpg

Entrance to the Chat ‘N Chill

Feb_09_Chat_n_Chill_Sign_post_with_Steve_and_Amanda_resized.jpg

Sign Post indicating "distance from" major cities from around the World located on the Volleyball beach at the Chat ‘N Chill

The Today Show did a broadcast from there this morning, so they added their sign to the post.

Feb_09_Chat_n_Chill_Sign_post_Ottawa_resized.jpg

Ottawa is 1316nm for here – we are a long way from home!

It was a quiet evening at the Chat ‘n Chill with just a few people at the bar. It was good for us as we got a chance to look around and chit chat with the bar tender.

Feb_09_Chat_n_Chill_Diana_on_the_Bar_resized.jpg

We left our mark on the bar…it’s ok – everyone else does it too ;)

Feb_09_Chat_n_Chill_Inside_with_Steve_resized.jpg

Steve at the Bar with his Gumba Punch!

The traditional drink here is a Gumba Punch – and boy does it pack a punch!! After my first drink my face was numb – it was delicious so I had another J The food was ok. Steve said the ribs were good, my fish was drenched in oil but it hit the spot. After dinner we headed to the St. Andrews Community Centre for the film festival. We saw two good films; the first was Bag it – a documentary about plastic by a guy from Colorado – do check it out – it’s excellent. The second feature was about the Andros. It is the island we will not see on this trip. We were happy to see the film. It described the Andros with its lush forests, fresh water sources, sports fishing and crabbing – we would have really enjoyed a visit. Anyone who loves diving should seriously think about vacationing here – Andros has over 140 miles of barrier reefs to explore. It’s just beautiful. We also realized that all the birds and wildlife are here. This was definitely a stop we have regretted not making. It gives us an excuse to come back J

Exhausted by 2130hrs, we made our way back to the boat for some much needed sleep as we were up way past our bedtime ;) 2100hrs is midnight to us now lol!!

February 10, 2012

Today is a provisioning day so after my run, I took stock of our provisions then Steve and I went into town to do some shopping. We got groceries, rum and sent my broken Kindle back to Amazon. It was a productive day.

While we were at the beach, Steve noticed a plane flying overhead and out of the port side window, we think it was aisle 16 of the plane, he saw someone waving at us...

Feb_10_Is_that_you_Phil_resizsed.jpg

“Is that U Phil?” Steve instinctively waved back ;)

We then headed to Two Turtles Inn for some conch and grouper fingers – delicious!! We checked email then made our way back to the boat for a relaxing evening.

February 11, 2012

Chore Day!!

After my run, Steve and I went to work. I did the rather boring and tedious job of cleaning the hull and deck while Steve got the brains job of engine maintenance.

Our engine is working great other than the little trouble we had at the beginning but since we added the strainer – all is well. Steve checks the oil and surveys the engine for any potential problems or wear every time before departure. It just so happened that Steve decided to check on the motor mounts while doing an oil change today. To Steve’s horror, he discovered two pins from separate motor mounts were sheared off.

Motor Mount System Description:

Our motor sits on four Flex Motor Mounts that are secured to pins that are fiberglassed into a platform in the engine compartment (engine bed). There are eight pins in total – two for each mount. The mounts fit over the pins and the motor is lowered onto the mounts and bolted onto the pins - securing the motor in place. Two of the four mounts are missing one pin. This is extremely discouraging given all the work we put into the motor before we left. The potential for a catastrophic accident if this issue were ignored is extremely high. If we leave the motor as is and one of the mounts with one pins gives out then the motor can potentially move out of place, pulling out the shaft then sinking the boat. Or as a fellow cruiser said, we do not know how long these pins have been sheared off so it could be just fine for the rest of the trip. Steve and I are not comfortable with this thought. We know this is a problem so we need to address it now.

We have a few options:

1.    We leave it as is and take our chances. Sail as much as possible and only use the engine when absolutely necessary. But if the engine shakes free, the boat sinks.

2.    We find a mechanic/boat yard in town to see what they can do, price the cost of a haul out, engine out, new shaft, build a new bed for the motor to sit on etc..basically do the full repair… $$$

3.    Go back to Florida and get it repaired there with a certified Yanmar mechanic.

4.    Figure out a band aid solution to secure the mounts to get us through the rest of the trip.

There is a front moving in tonight and we have decided to stay at this anchorage. It could get a little rolly with the wind direction but we are holding well so we will stay put.

Discouraged we had supper and a couple of rums then hit the sack.

February 12, 2012

The front brought in gusts up to 50knts from the NNW moving to N then to NE and as a result we were up most of the night with a very rolly boat. We are getting used to this and weren’t worried but it was not a comfortable night sleep.

We spent today relaxing, reading and sleeping…and Steve thinking hard to figure out solutions to our engine problem. He is amazing as he has already come up with a couple of ideas so far that make sense but he needs to consult with a boat yard. The only yard in George Town is George Town Marina and Repair – when the weather improves we will take a ride to check them out.

We winds are still blowing about 25kts so we moved to the west side of Elizabeth Harbour to anchor for the night. What a difference!!!

February 13, 2012

It is laundry and Internet Day – yippee!!

We moved the boat back to our original anchorage as the distance to town is much smaller. I got to work on the laundry and website stuff while Steve did some research.

While Steve was at the internet café he ran into Bruce and Jan from Celtic Rover. Bruce was going to check out a potential anchorage near the boat yard and offered to take us for a ride so we could talk to them.

George Town Marina and Repair is about 4 nm from George Town. We met Enoch who is the yard manager. Steve explained our problem and he agreed to come by in the morning to take a look at the mounts.

Once back on Diana, Steve and I had a serious conversation about what this all means. We decided that if Enoch could do a band aid repair to bring strength back into mounts then we agreed to continue onto the Ragged Islands and proceed with our trip as planned but baby the engine as much as possible. Then on our way home, we would have the complete repair done, new bed, new pins, new shaft done either in the Chesepeake Bay area or in Whitby, Ontario; where the boat was built.

If we cannot get a “band aid” done here, we would make our way back to Florida, sailing as much as possible, where we could get the repair done, then, if time permitted cross back into the Bahamas to explore the Abacos.  This is not the preferred option so we will see what tomorrow brings.

Oh and Otto died today. We heard its call of death – a long continuous BEEP - this morning when we turned on the engine. When Steve pulled the plug apart it was corroded to mush even though we had caulked it…well. Steve tried to revive him with a little re-wiring but to no avail. So, to top it all off we have no more auto-helm. Otto was certainly on his ninth life but we were hoping he would make it through this year. Oh well, this is turning out to be a great week!

On a brighter note - Wildlife sighting today!!!! Steve and I just told Bruce how we have not seen any dolphins in the Bahamas. When we got back to the boat…as Steve was working on Otto, he called me to the cockpit – TWO dolphins; a mother and baby hung out around our boat for about 45 minutes!! They swam around and around Diana doing little flips and digging in the sand. The little one appeared to be doing a head stand for quite a long time. We later found out that it was digging for sand fish. Very cool!! They were just what we needed to brighten our day J

Feb_13_dolphin_resized.jpg

The little one doing some flips for us

We had two rums in Otto’s honor tonight J J

February 14, 2012

Enoch, as promised called out on the VHF by 0800hrs and was aboard by 0930hrs. He suggested he could use lag bolts to do a secure the mounts in place with the engine in place but needed to return his to his shop for some tools. Excellent!! This was one of the ideas Steve had come up with so we are feeling good about this so far.

He returned by 1130hrs with tools. I went to town to get beer and lunch. Upon my return, Steve and Enoch were sitting in the cockpit with slightly discouraged looks on their faces. They were unable to put the lag bolts in with the engine in place. The engine needs to be pulled in order to dig out the existing pins and install the lag bolts. That means Enoch and his crew – who we have to trust that they know what they are doing to detach the motor from the shaft and pull it out so Enoch can do the work on the mounts –eeks!

Or we could leave it as is and risk it.

Steve and I are not the gambling type so we have chosen the lesser of the two risks. We will take Diana to Enoch in the morning to have the work done and take our chances that these guys know what they are doing.

Well, there is nothing more we can do to fix this problem so we got cleaned up and headed to a dance!! The Chat ‘n Chill is hosting a Valentine’s Day dance and it’s supposed to be fun. We could use a little decompression at the moment.

February 15, 2012

The dance was fun!! Lots of people, lots of music, lots of beers, lots of dancing and we were in bed before midnight…like every other cruiser there lol!!!

We made our way to George Town Marina and Repair by 1100hrs.

Feb_15_George_Town_Marina_1_resized.jpg

George Town Marina and Repair

We got the boat there by 1200hrs. While the guys had lunch Steve went to work detaching the many wires and hoses from the engine…I helped.

Feb_15_George_Town_Marina_Diana_on_the_Dock_resized.jpg

Diana on the dock at George Town Marina and Repair getting fixed…it sure is pretty here – lots of turtles in this area.

Enoch’s crew got to work around 1300hrs. He had two big guys working for him; one went to work taking the shaft off and prepping what was left prior to the lift then Enoch called the second guy in. With a rope they lifted the engine out and onto Diana’s floor without incident.

Enoch then drilled out the two holes where the pins broke and prepped the area for the lag bolts. After a quick trip into town for the right lag bolt size he drilled them in. The mounts are secured!! The repair is MUCH better than a band aid J These mounts are not going anywhere!!!  He called his two helpers back in to put the engine back on the mounts, then reattached the shaft. By 1630hrs they were all done! Steve went to work re-attaching all the wires and hoses while I settled up with Enoch. The total cost including yesterday’s work was 350$! Not bad at all. If it all works, this is a cheap repair – fingers crossed!!

It was dark before the boat was back in order so we staying on the dock for the night. The engine started right away – good sign J We won’t know the full extent of the repair until we can take it for a test run tomorrow.

Exhausted, we had a quick supper of rice and rum, then fell quickly to sleep!!

February 16, 2012

Up early as usual, we got sorted out and made our way back to the anchorage close to George Town…AND so far so good!!! There is no more vibration than before. In fact, I think I’ve noticed a little less. The Ragged Islands are well in our sights now J

Once re-anchored, we headed into to town to get water, propane and check internet. We still have an Auto Pilot issue we need to remedy.

We checked our budget and with the savings we had on the engine repair we can afford a new basic Auto-Pilot. We just need to get it here in a timely fashion. We ran into our friends Bruce and Jan from Celtic Rover and they suggested we have it sent to Long Island Resort. They accept packages there for cruisers and the island is our next stop. If we order it by tomorrow, it could very well be there in a week. We plan on waiting out the next weather front there anyway so realistically we could have the new Auto Pilot before we go to the Raggeds.

We celebrated with fish burgers and Kaliks at the Exuma Yacht Club!!

Feb_16_Exuma_Yacht_Club_reszied.jpg

View from Exuma Yacht Club of Elizabeth Harbour – Diana is one of the last boats at the back on the left

Feb_16_Exuma_Yacht_Club_Amanda_and_Jan_resized.jpg

Me and Jan having beers before lunch J

After lunch, we headed back to the Internet café to send an email to the Defender; who we are buying the Auto Pilot from to inquire about shipping and timeframe.

We then headed back to the boat for much needed showers, rums, supper and a movie J

__

If the weather holds, we will leave George Town on Saturday for Long Island. There we will hang out till the weather passes and our new Auto Helm arrives. Then we make our way to the furthest southern point on our trip - the Ragged Islands AKA The Jumentos!!