Since we have been using marinas during hurricane season it occurred to us that we might want to consider some additional security measures since most marinas are easily accessed by the general public and with that comes the risk of theft or other crime. We already have sturdy locks, cables and other security items on board. I did some research and since we needed a system we could transport from location to location we decided to go with the Blink cameras.
The battery life was impressive (up to 2 years), they are wireless, easy to remove and install, WiFi compatible, have an app that goes on your phone, tablet or both…they have in app adjustable motion sensors, sensitivity, clip length adjustment ability and night vision.
These cameras can also operate off the hotspot on our phones while at anchor….although if we wanted to monitor them remotely we would have to leave one phone on board while we were gone. But they can add an extra sense of security at night if someone were to approach the boat as they camera will alert your phone almost immediately once the motion sensor is activated.
here’s a link if you’d like some for your boat or home !!!
There will come a time in every boaters life when the need to splice lines together or into a loop will come along. On our boat the lifelines are made of Dyneema which is a brand name for a synthetic, 12 strand, high strength line. Unfortunately, one of ours fell victim to some unexpected chafing and it broke while we were in the Bahamas. We managed to replace it with some spare Dyneema we had temporarily using two trucker’s hitch style knots. Once we returned we had to make a final repair. So I had to learn how……
I highly recommend buying some line with which to practice, preferably something with a slightly larger diameter to make the first attempts easier. At the end of making your loop you will need to bury the tail inside the line. You’ll find varying mathematical opinions on how long this tail should be. I usually use a length around 21 times the diameter of the line, which for a 3/8” line equals a tail of about 8”.
This method works well because you only need access to one end of the line since quite often the other end already has a loop in it and is attached to the boat.
Measure out your tail and make your loop…..
Next you’ll need to mark two spots on the line where the loop will come together….don’t make it too close to the loop because you’ll want to fit that metal thimble inside the loop when you’re done.
It helps to imagine 12 strand line like a Chinese finger puzzle. When you push the line together on either side of the mark it will bulge and open slightly. Slide the end of your line through mark 1. You can also work a smaller fid into the same hole and work the fids back and forth in a crossing fashion, to widen the hole.
Slide the marks together to form the loop and then work the thimble into the loop…..Dyneema will lengthen if you put some tension on it as the strands become compressed together…..be patient.
Next….at a point just beyond the length of the tail insert your D-splicer which you will use to pull the tail inside the line and “bury” it….pay close attention to the instructions for the D-splicer and only use the very end of the line in the splicer.
Separate the strands at the end and trim them into a taper to prevent any loss of strength in the outer line and work the end back inside the line to “bury” it…unfortunately the coloring on Dyneema isn’t a dye, just a surface color, so it will rub off…..
And you’re done ….
Here’s the line I replaced …….but since this was my first time I failed to account for the loss in line length due to the 12 strand being expanded by the tail being buried inside the line. I also never found any warning about this in the tutorials or videos I watched online. The rough math in that is you’ll need about 20% more length based on the length of the tail you bury, so make your loop about 2” longer if you’re using 3/8” line.
But at this point in my project, I had a thimble that wouldn’t reach the lifeline turnbuckle hardware……
Since I had read a few articles about life line stretch due to the compression of the line under tension (the opposite effect of the line being thickened when the tail is inside or the line is bunched up). I attached a ratchet strap and put the line under tension for a few hours.
Once the line was compressed it lengthened and the hardware was able to be attached…….don’t judge my hardware too harshly ….stainless polishing is next….
Purely for clarification purposes …..here’s a diagram of what our watermaker system is like….our current issue is the high pressure pump.
As you may, or may not recall, last year we had to replace our watermaker membranes. Prior to that, I had to rebuild our low pressure pump and design a new cooling system.
A lot of people ask “How do you make drinking water from seawater?”
The answer is astonishingly simple, even though the design of the system is somewhat complicated. Here’s the secret…..
If you remember the membrane post, those membranes are some nifty little 40” long cylinders made by Dow Chemical, and when you place seawater under about 800psi, inside a housing, the water molecules are forced through the membranes and the salt molecules stay on the other side and can be discarded/flushed overboard. Many islands in the Caribbean, and elsewhere, use industrial scale water makers, the membranes come in a large variety of sizes, for domestic fresh water production. Some of these units make thousands or tens of thousands of gallons per day. Our watermaker is capable of making 50 gallons per hour. Dow also makes versions for brackish water and other types of contaminated water.
Here’s what the membranes look like in the wild……(outside the housing)….
Our current issue was that our high pressure pump (circled in the above diagram in red) was leaking, despite a recent rebuild. As it turns out, this pump ….(you can see the salt residue where it was leaking….)
is NOT designed for use with salt water…..which is kind of an important feature for a seawater to drinking water conversion system. This pump is designed for use in industrial fresh water pressure washing …..like in a car wash.
So, I had to research a new pump…..this one…..
A little pro tip…..if you need a pump for any application always check with the online company Kleen-Rite….. (https://www.kleen-ritecorp.com) even people who work in the pump repair and supply industry have trouble figuring out how they get their prices so low…..but it’s an advantage for the DIY’ers……
I saved about $1,000 by ordering it through them. It required a little more phone time, talking to them and General Pump, the manufacturer, to get the configuration correct but it was totally worth it. General Pump even installed the electric clutch and pulley at no charge. https://www.generalpump.com
Now the issue is getting a different pump to mount in the same place as the old pump. I’ve been working on fabricating a bracket that will adapt the old mount to the new pump…….but that’s for next time…..
So, the Coast Guard sent you the approval email…..how exciting !!! But now what ???
Don’t forget the clock is ticking and you probably only have a week, or less, before your approved departure date arrives.
Our courtesy flag flying !!
Hopefully, by the time the email arrives you will already have a Quarantine flag, a Cuban courtesy flag, a cruising guide or two, (I had read our cruising guide once or twice before we even applied) and charts. If not, you can order them here…..
In addition, you should have an appropriate supply of spare parts, provisions and done some sort of shakedown trip to bebug any known or unknown issues you might have. You can buy food in Cuba but it’s more fun to explore and try out the local spots than to have to shop, parts would be VERY difficult….parts from the US would be almost impossible.
First things first…..start checking the weather…..this will be the most limiting factor for your passage and may force you to adjust your departure date with the USCG, so watch it closely. Before we left for Cuba we met a nice gentleman in a local Marathon bar. We overheard him say he owned a Hunter 35 (which was the same model Mike previously owned) so a boat conversation promptly erupted. He asked where we here headed and we said “Hopefully Cuba!!” He said he planned to leave for Cuba and keep going south as his boat was his only possession and he had no family to keep him in the states. Since he didn’t plan on returning he wasn’t going to bother getting a permit from the Coast Guard. He planned to leave near the end of March and we told him we would see him there.
Once we arrived in Cuba there was an extended period of moderately heavy to heavy North wind. It was so bad that the St. Pete to Havana race was almost cancelled. They delayed the start of the race by a day and a record was set in the spinnaker class for completion of the trip. That boat shaved about seven hours off the old record if that gives you any idea what the winds were like.
Once the North winds exceed 15 knots for a certain amount of time the Hemingway Marina stops allowing boats to enter or exit as it becomes quite hazardous. The entry channel is bordered by shallow rocks on either side and between the countercurrents from the Gulfstream (which at the time was very close to the north shore of Cuba) and the wind it can be difficult to avoid broaching (being turned sideways from wind and waves on the stern) and crashing into the rocks. Plus the North shore of Cuba is mostly Reef, rocks and shoals, then add to that, the depth goes from 1000′ to about 50′ in less than half a mile and it can be very dicey.
After the St. Pete racers arrived and departed the North winds again increased. We heard a story about a sailboat that had apparently exited the Gulfstream to the east of the marina channel and had attempted to work it’s way back West along the shoreline to the channel. The winds had again become pretty heavy, the swells out of the North were still very strong, the boat was unable to sail or power away and the boat was pushed up onto the Reef. Upon returning to Marathon in the Florida Keys we learned that it was the man we had met in the bar just before we left. His boat had been trapped on the Reef for a few days and then a series of heavier swells had pushed it into a deeper pocket between the outer and the inner Reef. Unfortunately, there isn’t a channel or passage out of this area so his boat was damaged and then trapped in a pocket of deep water inside the two Reef areas. We haven’t heard anymore updates but it seems his boat will be a complete loss. Even if he had insurance, American based insurance companies offer no coverage in Cuba. Until March of 2019, two companies had offered special riders for Cuba coverage but they ceased to offer that citing “declining diplomatic relations”. Just before we departed Cuba, a second boat, a catamaran enroute to Key West from Mexico, was forced into Havana harbor by rough seas and high winds and later relocated to Marina Hemingway once the winds subsided. So, it’s weather, weather, weather….and make sure your engine and drivetrain are up to the challenge should you end up with a Lee shore and need the power to make a getaway.
You hear a lot of odd stories about what to take to Cuba if you’re interested in giving gifts away. We have heard people say that “hygiene products” were popular gifts as they are difficult to obtain in Cuba….or some sort of perfumes or other toiletries for women were in demand……..we didn’t see, or hear of, that. Some of those stories also came with sort of an underlying, unseemly motive for those types of “gifts”, so avoid that.
Cuba has changed quite a bit. Cellphones and social media are common. Personal items may be slightly more expensive but are readily available. Wifi, while usually available at parks or restaurants by the hour, isn’t overly common at residences. Even at a park or other location with wifi you have to buy a wifi card and then it’s $1.50 CUC (the tourist currency) for an hour of usage. Funny side note…most Cubans pronounce it “wee-fee” so the traditional pronunciation can lead to some confused looks.
I asked a few people we befriended if there were any items that we, as Americans, might take for granted that were difficult to obtain in Cuba today and they said no. What we did find was that American products that don’t get imported to Cuba are interesting as a novelty. We took a few extra bottles of bourbon which we gave as gifts to some people, a case of Budweiser we traded for a case of Cristal beer and we had some baseball shirts and extra hats on board that we gave away to some of the people we met who had kids involved in baseball. They were very grateful for the gifts as they love American sports teams in Cuba.
this one’s for Barb Lienhard ….Happy Birthday !!!
There’s also a lot of talk about what kind of currency to take with you. People often exchange US dollars for Euros in the states to avoid some of the penalties charged at official outlets when exchanging US currency. Save your time and just take US dollars. You can tip in USD until you get your exchange finished. Take plenty of $5’s for the tips. Customs and Immigration won’t ask for a tip, or expect one, but the dockmaster, the electrician (who has to connect your shorepower), the agriculture officer and the health inspector will all say “the fee is $X and if you’d like to include a gift we would appreciate it”. Plenty of people laugh at them and give nothing but the goodwill was well worth the small price. We got plenty of visits from people asking if we wanted or needed anything and we saved about $300 on the stuff we bought to bring back (rum and cigars). In the next post we will tell you where to go to get the best exchange rates, pay 0 penalty AND get a better rate. Plus if you go to the right spots to eat you’ll be paying the lesser amount for food in pesos which is $1USD to $25CUP (the locals currency) as opposed to $.90 USD to $1CUC. Three of us had lunch and beers one day at a local place for $8USD.
What about the language barrier? English is taught in Cuban schools, but like any second language taught anywhere, if it goes unused it is lost. A lot of Cubans in the marina area speak English very well. Download an English to Spanish dictionary to your phone, buy a copy of Spanish for Cruisers and learn some key phrases. Almost every menu is in Spanish….it helps to know what Cerdo, a chuleta and a pescadore are and how to get directions helps……We made some cheat sheets to review and assist the crew. I had a few years of Spanish in high school and fortunately a lot of it stuck with me…comprehension is easier and after a few days I can carry out a decent conversation.
Last, but not least, is route planning. Hopefully, you’ll have moderate east or west winds, we had light south winds, in between bouts of heavy north winds, so we ended up motoring the whole way. If you have the time, or the inclination, I would go as far West as you can before leaving the Keys. If your weather window is big enough, go to Dry Tortugas for a day or two. There’s a blog post for Dry Tortugas for any newbies. That way you will already have made some distance to the west and then join the flow of the Gulfstream, rather than fighting it, and make your final part of the ride smoother and faster. When we left, we left from Key West and we planned to turn at N24.95.840/W082.34.186 to a course of 177 degrees T and then end up about 6 miles east of the Marina entrance, turning back along the coast outside of the Gulfstream. Once we got out there the Gulfstream was further south so we got an extra ten miles West before turning south and were able to head straight for the marina entrance avoiding the risks of the north shore arrival and subsequent westerly backtrack. The Gulfstream was VERY close to the north coast of Cuba at that time. It was about a 25 hour crossing.
Next time…..how to get the “hook up” in Cuba for currency exchange, tours, rum, cigars and more…….
It recently occurred to me that our windlass could probably use some attention. After all, it has served us well for a few seasons and hasn’t received any TLC. Our prior boat was much smaller and didn’t have a windlass. Since I didn’t have any experience with any sort of windlass maintenance, I turned to YouTube. Imtra, the company that manufacters the Lofrans Tigres Windlass we have, has a channel with a detailed six step maintenance tutorial. All seven videos were a total of about 30 minutes….easy peasy, right ?
It seemed simple enough, so the next day I dove into the disassembly, cleaning and regreasing. In the far left side of the diagram, on the end, you can see the Circlips, which are small circular washer type safety stops to prevent an item on a threaded shaft from falling off if you loosen it too much or it vibrates loose. Those were missing, so I found and ordered some from Grainger. It seemed that the end of the driveshaft had been damaged at some point and the slot for the clips was bent closed……40 minutes of filing later, the groove was fixed.
So, working our way inward, once the clutch release is spun off you can remove the outer clutch cone, lower the chain stripper out of the way by removing the aft mounting bolt, remove the chain gypsy and the inner clutch cone. Our inner clutch cone was deformed and jammed on the driveshaft.
So, our inner clutch cone wouldn’t come off. In the video it slipped right off for cleaning, greasing and replacement, not so much in the real world. At some point in the history of our windlass it must have had a lot of stress on the chain without a snubber line to absorb the force. It was bent and slightly split where the keystock fits into the driveshaft. The stainless steel shaft was also slightly bulged, deformed and the keystock was bent. So…out comes the Dremel….90 minutes of careful cutting and the clutch cone was off…..plus ordering a new one for $74 and waiting for delivery…..plus a new gasket for the motor housing $22….
I found a great new source for parts…. https://www.pleasureboatmarine.com they were quick to respond and the parts arrived in two days.
Once the new inner clutch cone arrived I had to file the driveshaft to remove the bulges. That was another hour of fitting the bronze cone, and filing and fitting, since bronze is softer than stainless it made yellow marks on the shaft where it made contact which made it easier to know where to file.
After that was greased and installed the rest went back together pretty easily with the addition of the safety clips on the driveshaft.
Next, I removed the motor housing cover. This is held in place by two threaded rods that fit into the main body of the windlass secured by acorn, or cap nuts on the outside of the cover. Our cover however, had a bead of caulk around the edge making it extra difficult to remove….so add forty minutes to the process…….
It appeared this caulk was necessary because the nitrile cord gasket had been installed backward and the raised edge was in the groove of the cover rather than facing outward toward the main body of the unit. This removal process was made slightly more difficult by the proximity of the standing rigging for the staysail. I had to loosen the acorn nuts, pry the cover loose, then remove the rods and then take the cover off at an angle and use a rubber mallet to “encourage” it.
Since the housing is aluminum and the bolts and acorn nuts are stainless the cover should have plastic “Delrin” washers to keep the metals from touching as they will interact and cause corrosion. Those washers were also missing.
The motor housing was in good shape, the wiring was run properly under the motor and the terminals were clean and secure. I cleaned the motor and applied a light coat of oil to inhibit corrosion.
Once it was reassembled, I tested the rope rode drum side (far right in the diagram), the manual override (where the vertical handle is) and we loaded our new, 250′ of anchor chain into the boat.
need one ?
The 30 minute videos turned into about 4 hours of actual labor and a few days of waiting for parts…boat life !!!
As an added bonus, our windlass remote control has stopped functioning in reverse mode so that’s next on the list…..
Congratulations to our most recent prize winner….and long time subscriber, Dave Uhles !!!!! Dave is an extraordinary pilot and was the best sailing student I’ve ever had the privilege to teach….what a natural !!! He piloted the boat all day on Brookville Lake while I drank beer…..Dave likes to fly fish so I hope this shirt saves his skin from any unwanted sunburns……
Dave won this prize for correctly identifying the corresponding crew member based on our Jaws themed monogrammed custom napkins quiz on Facebook this last June.
Don’t forget to encourage friends to subscribe….any month we add ten or more subscribers we have a random prize giveaway…..it’s like automatically increasing your chances to win !!! And your odds are MUCH better than with the powerball.
On an unrelated note……Christmas is coming…..a lot of people use online shopping these days for that……I received a few questions on how the program we advertise in posts works …… if you use our links to access their site and you order anything or buy a video or music, or sign up for a prime or kindle trial we get a small commission and that doesn’t increase your cost at all…..I hope that helps answer any questions…..thanks !!!
We were hoping to make a late December getaway to the Bahamas since November was preempted by some return trips to visit and support family, but on December 26th I was paid a visit by the kidney stone fairy. I’m very glad we weren’t in the Bahamas as this was my first time dealing with one of these. On the pain scale of one to ten I’d give that experience a 12…..I was told by the doctor that I had two more waiting in the wings so we thought it might be a good idea to take this opportunity to fix some things that we had been putting off while we were staying put for a while.
We had a few projects……..Our watermaker had stopped working in the Bahamas, and that required diagnosis and repair…..we had some wood work that needed repair from some very old water damage,……our alternator needed a rebuild and realignment……the adjacent engine driven, high pressure watermaker pump also needed to be realigned……our refrigerator and freezer compressor had originally been wired in the same circuit which I thought was interfering with the performance when both units tried to start up at the same time,….. our wifi range extender was on the fritz,…… our new outboard was due for it’s ten hour service and our backup, new to us, outboard needed some work as well, and our masthead wind instruments (which supply the wind speed and direction to our instruments) stopped sending data to our cockpit display for some reason and finally our refrigerator evaporator plate needed to be replaced. Keep in mind these projects were tempered by trips to the beach, happy hours and visiting friends !!!!
First a quick tutorial on watermaker function. We take in seawater and filter it to remove any large contaminants. Then the water is pressurized using a “low pressure” pump at about 17psi. That pump maintains the pressure to the high pressure pump which operates at hundreds of pounds of pressure. The water then travels through two tubular membranes (filters). The seawater is highly pressurized and travels along the outside of the membrane and the freshwater is pushed through to the inside of the membrane “cylinder”. That freshwater goes to our tanks and the remaining briny seawater goes overboard. Sounds simple right ? Here’s a diagram ……
Our watermaker was a two fold issue. Our low pressure pump, which feeds the high pressure pump wasn’t moving any water. It is an intermittent duty (i.e. 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off) pump and required a cooling coil to keep the temperature down and extend the duty cycle. Unfortunately, the cooling coil couldn’t make 100% contact with the motor so it suffered from some efficiency issues.
I had initially assumed that the motor was burned up. I removed the pump and was about to order a new one. I had hoped there had been some advancement in pump design and we could get a continuous duty pump, but apparently there haven’t been any advancements in this type of pump design. I thought we were destined to replace the pump for $395. As I was taking the pump to the trash, I decided to try something and I attached the leads to the battery in our van and the pump ran !! So, I found a local pump repair shop and got it rebuilt for $65…although, it took over two weeks to get the parts.
Once the pump was rebuilt I began to investigate other ways to cool the pump and extend the duty cycle. I discovered that Shur Flo pumps makes a 5″ heat sink that fits the motors on a variety of other manufacturers pumps. I get the feeling the motors are all made by the same company and relabeled for the “manufacturers”. I consulted with a friend who was an aerospace engineer for ideas in cooling the pump motor and he recommended “Thermal Grease” under the heat sink. This makes the contact between the sink and the motor housing 100% by removing air gaps and the grease has metal particles in it to transmit heat more efficiently.
I added a 138cfm cooling fan like you’d have on a large computer and fabricated a support from a PVC bus hub and a rubber reducer coupling and ended up with this …..we flushed the system and the motor was as cool as a cucumber !!!
The “woodwork” turned into tearing out 60% of our port settee and replacing the entire seat and a small section of the outboard bulkhead that separates the storage area. I used marine grade plywood and treated it with Copper Coat which is a 9% copper solution that prevents future mold, mildew, rot and insect infestation. I also increased the size of the access hatches so we can store dive tanks under the settee. The biggest challenge was matching the shape of the board that was glassed into that area which would not come out in one piece…or even six !! A lot of the outer edge had to be ground out of the fiberglass. I took this opportunity to run some extra 0 gauge wire forward for the addition of some electrical items down the road. I was tempted to remove the washing machine during this process, but decided we could do that later.
Next time…alternator….masthead instruments…..pump alignment….fridge/freezer…..etc….etc….etc
On our boat we have a lot of essential electronic equipment. Some of these devices have remote handsets you can use to control and/or monitor the device like the Autopilot, VHF radio or windlass. These handsets have coiled, rubber coated cables that run from the control head to the plug.
Recently, our autopilot control head cable began to deteriorate. This was pretty concerning since our autopilot was manufactured by a European company called “Cetrek” and they have been out of business for a few years. Since a new autopilot would be around $1500 for just the equipment, we were tying to come up with a way to repair this, and future, cables.
I found a product online called “Sugru” and it is described as a “moldable glue”. It is billed as being waterproof (including salt water), UV resistant, flexible, electrically insulating, heat/cold resistant and shock / vibration resistant. This was readily available on Amazon so I ordered a multi pack. It comes in various colors but for our purposes black matches our cords.
I applied the first section as a test and in 24 hours it was fully cured and seemed to live up to it’s sales pitch. I plan to cover the rest of the deteriorating cord and we will post an update in a few months when we can fully evaluate the wear it stands up to during our travels. I also suspect that Sugru will be a good replacement for caulking around spaces like those around our chainplate through hull openings on the deck combing which need to be recaulked every few years or they leak. This may be a permanent fix for that issue!!! It was a great improvement over the electrical tape wrapping I was trying to use on the cord. It was easy to use and not messy at all.
The new Sugru wrapping …..
The old, ugly, sticky tape wrapping ……
You can get some Sugru for yourself right here using this link !!!
We departed Fernandez Bay and made our way to Half Moon Harbor at Little San Salvador, which is also known as Half Moon Cay. Little San Salvador is a private Island owned by Carnival Cruise Line. As such, it has a fake beachside village, what appaeared to be a fake pirate ship, a real water park, and one or two cruise ship priced restaurants. As a cruising boat, you can visit the island once the cruise ship has departed, as long as you radio ahead and get clearance from the island manager. Some reviews also mention visiting the bar if you get in before the staff leaves. They bring the staffing in every morning from Eleuthera and take all but the resident employees home every evening.
We had researched the cruise ship schedule and we knew that a cruise ship was leaving around 3:30pm on the day we arrived and that another would be arriving around 9am the next day. This wasn’t going to be an issue since we were planning to be underway at 6:30am. We had a very smooth trip to LSS and the cruise ship departed just as we were approaching the anchorage. We had seen some forecast chatter about scattered squalls, but in the Bahamas it seems like if you let that stop you, you’ll never go anywhere.
In the below image you can see a closeup of the anchorage and the pin is approximately where we were anchored, about 300′ off the beach in 12′ of water. When we are in an uncrowded anchorage, or alone in one, we always put out 10 or even 15:1 scope (that’s the length of chain in relation to the depth of the water in which you are anchored.) Thank goodness for that habit….we have 300′ of 3/8″ G43 chain on our primary Mantus 85 pound anchor……we went a couple of sizes over what’s recommended on the anchor and thank God we did.
It was a little bouncy overnight as the actual wind was more southerly than the forecast wind was anticipated to be, so the wave action was a little choppier than what is comfortable.
Around 5:30am I was awakened by some thunder and the feeling of the wind rising. At about 6:30 the wind was rapidly increasing, rain began to fall, and the wind had reached about 40 knots and was gusting to just above 45kts. This was NOT going to be fun…..
The wind was coming out of the West-Southwest so there was nothing to reduce the wave action being generated by the wind. We usually count on an island, shoal, reef or other shallow feature to diminish the waves. There seemed to be two cells moving southeast and we were catching the edge of the first one and we got the brunt of the second one as it passed.
After the first hour, I had sent out a few text messages to let people know we were in a potentially bad circumstance. In the second hour, I knew we were in a bad spot but I wasn’t sure how bad it was going to be. We began taking 10-12′ waves and some of them were breaking over the bow of the boat. We were riding up 10-12′ waves and then crashing into the trough behind the wave, then taking the ride up the next wave which would drive the swim platform down into the back of the passing wave and it hit hard, sounding like a bomb every 10-15 seconds. Kim was motion sick and in the aft cabin. I was sitting in the cockpit waiting for the anchor to drag and to be forced to decide if we were going to hope it reset before we grounded on the beach, or fire up the diesel and try to power beyond the waves and into deeper water pulling up the anchor as we went and maybe get broached by an incoming wave and still end up on the beach. Either choice had its risks. Even if the anchor held, we had to be worried about an unusually deep wave trough slamming the keel on the bottom and possibly damaging the rudder. We had anchored in 12′ feet of water but didn’t anticipate 10-12′ waves which could have included troughs deep enough to make our rudder reach the bottom. We were lucky that didn’t happen.
We had recently purchased a new 15hp outboard in George Town ($2500) and since it had been very calm the prior day and evening we towed the dinghy with the outboard still attached. That proved to be a slight error in judgement. I’ve read many stories about people who have towed their dinghies with outboards around the world with no issues….just our luck we wouldn’t make it through one season in the Bahamas towing ours.
Around 8:30am, during a few particularly violent and shifting waves, our dinghy flipped over……our dinghy anchor, one oar, a dinghy pump were adrift and our dinghy chaps (material coverings designed to reduce the UV damage to the inflatable tubes), were ripped.
Around 9:30 the second of the cells moved off a little to the southeast. Kim rallied and we managed to go out onto the swim platform and flip the dinghy over. It was a momentous piece of teamwork. I donned my snorkel gear and recovered our anchor, but the pump and the oar were long gone.
Shortly after that, the waves subsided and we were in the lee of the arriving cruise ship. We started the diesel, raised the anchor and motored out of the anchorage and were on our way to Eleuthera after about four hours of the worst time on a boat that we have ever experienced…….wondering “why, exactly, are we doing this?”