It just raises and lowers the anchor….how complex can it be ????

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…..

Winner winner ….Kalik beer fishing shirt….(I’m a terrible poet)

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 !!!

AND ……

Congratulations Dave !!!!

 

 

 

A season at the dock…..Part I

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.

http://www.steam-brite.com/shurflo-34007-heat-sink-cover-inch-continuous-pump-longer-life-cool-clip-p-11287.html

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

An interesting new product we discovered….”Sugru”

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 !!!

 

 

Dolphins !!!….and we’re back up and running !!! Just in time for NYE !!!

I started this post in the Bahamas and just realized I never finished it……I had intended to make a folder of dolphin pics but this seems to be the only one I saved…..

 

Here’s a Dolphin in our bow wake as we were leaving Bimini……he’s so close that the shadow of our anchor in on his back…..


 

 

 

 

 

 

Eleuthera…spiders and seaglass….and breaking stuff

After our harrowing experience at Little San Salvador we made our way to Rock Sound, Eleuthera later that day and anchored for a few weeks….it ended up being longer then anticipated due to some clumsiness on my part.

I had decided that we were due for an oil change.  We were way under on engine hours but over on the time frame for an oil change, so I decided to change the oil and filter while we were here.  Well, long story short, I pumped out the used oil, without spilling a drop (which I should have known was a bad sign) but couldn’t find my slimline strap wrench to remove the filter.  So, I went to the local NAPA and bought a slightly larger wrench that I hoped would work.  Unfortunately, the width of the new wrench snagged the oil cooler line and ruptured it….uh-oh…..bad weather was forecast for the upcoming weekend and after the Little San Salvador incident this was almost too much to deal with….essentially we were going to be without an engine until we received a new line….which in the Bahamas could take weeks……and it did…..we spent about three and a half weeks total and it turned out to be a good thing because we had time to see things and visit our favorite spots again and again.

Part of the moral to this story is ….take plenty of spare parts when you venture away from the U.S.  We have a cruiser’s kit onboard but it doesn’t include oil cooler lines.  I won’t make that mistake again……

 

here’s a satellite image of Eleuthera.  The pin is Rock Sound. The Glass Window Bridge is in the skinny part of the island just north of Gregory Town.
Image courtesy of Google Maps

We considered renting a car, but ran into the insurance issue again, so we hired a driver (Lyle) to give us a tour of the island.  He was a super nice guy and was full of knowledge about spots on the island.  The price wasn’t bad, eight hours for $125 plus he knew a great place for lunch.

The Glass Window bridge is in northern Eleuthera and is one of the few places you can see the Atlantic and the banks side of the ocean at the same time.  It’s more impressive when the weather is unsettled but still pretty cool.

The east side of the “glass window bridge” on the east side of Eleuthera see the video on my Facebook page….

 

the west side of the Glass Window….

 

 

Me at the cliffs….east side of northern Eleuthera

 

 

Long view of the Cotton(Ceiba) Silk Tree

 

A Cotton Silk or Ceiba tree

 

Cotton Silk Tree…upview

 

Beautiful beachfront church in Rock Sound

 

An abandoned 1950’s fire truck stored behind a Kalik beer warehouse….

 

In the spider cave….Kim doesn’t look worried at all….

 

We found this little guy dead on the side of the road….that’s about a 2″ Gatorade lid for scale…..maybe he was hit by a car…..I wonder how badly the car was damaged?

 

The “Boiling Hole” near the Spider Cave

The “boiling hole” is essentially a blue hole or a cave that is connected to the ocean.  At times, if the tide rises or falls rapidly, the water will churn and bubble. Many of the early residents believed these holes were homes to sea monsters.  Animal and fish carcasses would occasionally surface in these holes after hurricanes which only reinforced that belief.

Kim descends to her spidery doom….
The spiders are here !!!

Kim looks apprehensive …..

The beaches on the east side of Eleuthera were among some of the most beautiful and isolated….there was also a TON of seaglass…..

 

The spoils of a couple of hours of seaglass hunting…we found a few black pieces which are the third most rare ….
Believe it or not….that’s the moon

 

We found a great little restaurant and resort on the east side of Eleuthera across from Rock Sound.  It was owned by a wonderful lady named Rose Gibson. She was super friendly, would pick us up when she saw us walking around town, took us for an impromptu island tour one day while fish shopping and was a great cook !!! There are five cabins on her property that are on a hillside overlooking the ocean…..

Here’s a link to her website…..if you go tell her Brett and Kim sent you !!!

http://www.northsideinneleuthera.com


Remnants of the former Cotton growing industry spring up all over the island ……

There were thousands of these little land crabs running back and forth between the foliage and the surf….dropping off their eggs

 

A cropped version of this photo of Kim was used in Cruising Outpost Magazine’s weekly online photo collection….

Mike arrives and brings a double rainbow….and has a Kalik !!

Since Hurricane Irma’s recent swing past the Bahamas you’ll be pleased to know that the islands here were largely untouched. We haven’t heard of any structural damage anywhere in Eleuthera.

Cat Island…near the Hermitage

Our next stop after our long stay in Long Island was for a short stay in Cat Island to the North.  Cat Island is typical for this stretch of the Bahamas, in that, it is a long, slightly curved piece of land that runs generally southeast to northwest and has little protection from the West and few or no anchorages on the east side.  That makes Cat Island a tough place to linger unless you don’t mind having some rough nights at anchor.

Cat Island has its share of “boiling holes” (lakes that connect to the ocean through a series of caves and caverns) the interesting thing about the lakes here is the variety of local superstitions and folklore about the denizens of these lakes.  One has been rumored to be the home of Mermaids, while another, home to a sea monster, due to bubbles and burping sounds caused by the tides. Dead animals dumped into the lake would also be drawn into the caverns by tidal changes and would sometimes wash up on the oceanside beach, which was credited as the activities of the sea monster.

We anchored in an area called the “New Bight” which is just south of the “Cat Island” label on the satellite image.

 

image courtesy of Google Maps

 

That area is well known for the Hermitage, a monastery designed and constructed by a Franciscan priest named John Cyril Hawes, (1876-1956).  Hawes, was an architect who designed and constructed church buildings in England.  Hawes became a Franciscan reverend and from 1903-1911 was posted to a church in the Bahamas.  Hawes left the Bahamas (and the Franciscan church) in 1911 and spent several years in the United States where he roamed the country and worked different jobs.  Hawes converted to Catholicism, studied to enter the Catholic priesthood in Rome and was ordained in 1915.  He worked in Australia until 1939, when he retired from the church, he returned to the Bahamas and constructed the Hermitage.  It is unclear why he was commonly referred there to as Brother Jerome. He was buried in a cave under the Hermitage following his death in 1956.

It is an impressive structure, located on a hill originally named “Como Hill”.  It was renamed Mt. Alvernia in honor of La Verna hill in Tuscany and is the highest point in the Bahamas.

The final path to the hermitage has several “stations”

If you look closely….you can see the blurry image of Kitty Hawk behind the white house…this was the view from the Hermitage.

The details of the stations are impressive…..even the model of the tomb of Jesus has a small enshrouded body within it.

The ceramic plaque on the outside of the remote kitchen……A rough translation…”praised my Lord through Brother Fire”

The small remote kitchen for the Hermitage.

We made a quick overnight stop at Fernandez Bay after two bouncy nights at the New Bight anchorage.  Fernandez is a small, somewhat more protected spot just around the point and a few miles North of the New Bight.  It is home to a small resort with a very nice restaurant.

Up next, don’t miss the horrors of Little San Salvador ……

Long Island…..and a long stay

On March 31st, we departed from Georgetown with our friends Bill and Judy, they were on their boat Whisper, and we covered the approximately 45 miles to Long Island.  For us that’s about a ten hour day.  We had heard a lot of good things about Long Island and they all turned out to be true!!

The red pin on the satellite image is Thompson Bay / Salt Pond where we were anchored for the bulk of our long stay in Long Island…..which ended up being about 16 days…..we made one aborted attempt to leave with another of our friends, Mark on Halo, but it turned out to just be too rough that day so we turned back and spent four more days waiting for the wind to die down some more……

 

 

Image courtesy of Google maps

We met a nice Canadian couple, who winter in Long Island, while we were at a local restaurant and we mentioned renting a car to see the island.  The husband said he knew a minister at a local Boys Club who would let him drive us around in their van if we wouldn’t mind making a donation to the organization.  Since we could fit three couples plus our tour guides in the van that was much cheaper than renting a car and we got a free tour guide !!

We have discovered that renting cars in the Bahamas can be problematic.  Bahamians don’t have insurance in the way that we are accustomed to thinking about it.  If they have a wreck and they are at fault, their insurance company won’t pay to fix their car unless they have what they call “comprehensive” coverage (apparently different from the comprehensive we have in the states that covers window glass etc etc)  but it is prohibitively expensive and none of the rental car businesses offer it.  On top of that most rental companies don’t take credit cards so you have trouble making sure you’re covered here.  Couple that condition with our friend’s George Town experience detailed below and you’ll understand why we went the van route.

Another of our new friends (I won’t mention his name here) rented a car in George Town.  He was pulled off to the side of the road trying to get his bearings when an intoxicated local guy hit his rental car head on.  When the police showed up they called the other driver by name and he quickly disappeared from the scene.  Our friend, however, was whisked away to the police station where he was cited.  The whole incident cost him about $300 out of pocket and cost his credit card company $5,000 for the rental car. One day while he was in town walking around he stopped by the police station to try and get a copy of the report for the his credit card company.  The officer, without warning, told him he had to appear in court immediately.  He was obviously not dressed for the occasion.  He was nearly fined for contempt for wearing swim trunks and a t-shirt to court.  Fortunately, he was able to explain he had been given no notice that he was to appear and the judge believed him. It was his intention to plead not guilty, but he was told he wouldn’t be allowed to leave the Bahamas until his trial day ….IN THREE MONTHS…which was beyond his visa expiration.  Thankfully, when he rented the car, he had found a place that took credit cards and they covered the rental car damage, or it could have been much, much worse.  So we decided to put a ban on renting cars in the Bahamas.

The “tour” took us to an old Spanish church with an interesting cave behind it…..the locals call it Shrimp Cave….

my apologies for the odd order of the photos ….they refused to let me rearrange them once I uploaded them this time.

A pink crab in Shrimp Cave….I wonder if he’s pink because of all the Shrimp he eats ? Like a flamingo ?

A stretch of beach on the west side just north of Thompson Bay….

Me hunting for Whelks……

 

This is the church from our tour …..

 

 

 

 

 

We also went down south a short way to a settlement called Dean’s.  Now here’s an interesting oddity.  In the Bahamas they say “down North” or “Up South”.  It was explained to me that because of the general orientation of the sunrise and sunset it appears to rise, or come “up” in a more southerly direction and go “down” in a more Northerly direction….rather than the map orientations where North is usually up and South is usually down.

Dean’s is the home to the aptly named “Dean’s Blue Hole”….. currently the second deepest documented Blue Hole in the world…..the current deepest known one was recently discovered in China…..at least it was discovered after the sign below was made…..

 

There were some free divers practicing for the upcoming competition.  It was interesting to watch them prepare for the practice dives……

 

 

Kim’s Manatee friend….

 

 

The east side beach scenes……the east side beach in Long Island was the first place we found seaglass in any quantity and Kim immediately started making charms …….

 

 

An interesting formation of seagulls….commonly called “gully’s” here in the Bahamas…..

About two thirds of the way as you go up Long Island, there is a resort community that was founded in the 60’s called Stella Maris.  The development was surveyed and subdivided but not much building ever occurred away from the main beach area.  There are a lot of empty lots and some nice isolated hilltop houses in the area.  They also have an interesting salt water pool….why build a pool with all those complicated pumps and filters when you can just cut a channel through the rock to the ocean???? This was one of three pools in the development.  If you own a house here you get resort privileges for about $300 a year.

 

 

One of our other stops during our tour was a second cave system called Hamilton Cave…..it is usually a guided tour but the guide was already inside with another group so we just wandered around the main entryway waiting…..we decided happy hour was fast approaching and decided not to wait for his return…..

The caves in the Bahamas are frequently more caverns than true caves as they are open in many places above.  This is generally caused by erosion and tree roots working their way through the ceilings looking for water……some of these tree roots look like bundles of telephone poles…..

Bats ….!!!!

 

 

Another shot of Dean’s Blue Hole

 

The below photos are actually Shrimp Cave but somehow they wouldn’t stay in order as I was writing this post…..

 

Here’s a shot of Kim to round out this blog entry lounging on a stone formation on Long Island’s east beach……

George Town, Great Exuma….there and back again

So, in early February we made the run from Little Farmers Cay to George Town to send Mike home from that airport.  We were sad to see Mike leave, but, he has a home and boat of his own. The palm fronds were taking over his yard and breaking out all of his windows (hahaha inside joke there)……

George Town is west of and adjacent to Elizabeth Harbor, which is bordered on its East side by Stocking Island.  Stocking is the home to a few interesting sights. Boats in George Town tend to do what they call the “George Town shuffle”.  As the wind changes directions the boats scurry from side to side of the harbor trying to hide from it to insure a smoother night’s sleep at anchor and a shorter, drier dinghy ride to shore.  We are fortunate enough to weigh in at about two to three to three times what the average sailboat weighs, so unless it’s blowing over 20 knots consistently and we are very exposed we sleep well at anchor no matter what.  That weight, coupled with our 85lb Mantus anchor and our inventory of 300′ of 3/8″ chain tends to keep us in place and peaceful once we set the hook.  It has the added bonus of allowing us to avoid anchoring close to the crowds all desperately seeking that protection.

The below image centers on Elizabeth Harbor…..with George Town in the lower left corner.  One of the interesting features of G-Town is Lake Victoria. That’s the small lake in the center of town that is open to the harbor via a small overpass/tunnel that makes you feel like you’re on a small water ride at Disney.  I could never get a straight answer from anyone about whether or not the lake access was manmade or natural and the bridge was simply added for vehicular access…..but my gut tells me the water access was cut for boats to enter and the bridge added afterward.

Satellite image courtesy of Google Maps

We spent ten days, a few before Mike’s flight and a few after.  We had to get away from G-Town though, as it is crowded and was becoming more so as the cruiser’s regatta approached. There were over 400 boats by some accountings.  Now, don’t get me wrong…it’s a huge harbor….but that’s still a lot of people and boats for a lifestyle we chose because of an ability to escape crowds….We met some great people in George Town, we just didn’t want to meet ALL of them in one week…..

We are asked about George Town a lot and the only way I can describe it is a “summercamp” (although technically in winter) for adult boaters.  There are quotidian activities that made it feel a bit like groundhog day, …..volley ball, yoga, art classes, water aerobics and so forth.  It’s ok in small doses for us, but that’s about it. Different strokes for different folks.  There were some people who stayed there for the whole season and it is their entire destination every year.

We went back to George Town a few weeks later when two of my childhood friends (Bob & Tom) came to visit for a week. That’s right..in the Bahamas it’s……Brett’s childhood friends 2 Kim’s childhood friends 0 ….hahaha

Swim faster Bob …..it’s coming …..

At Peace n Plenty ……

 

There was some decent hiking to be done, some spear fishing and snorkeling in the George Town area.  We even managed to get a dozen whelk (a catchall name for a variety of species snails) which we boiled, cleaned and dipped in garlic butter.  I thought they tasted like chewy lobster….Kim disagreed…..the parts we had to clean off made great bait though….

A whelk of the variety which we feasted upon…..

 

and Tom caught this …….he was kind enough to call it a team effort …..

Yes it was as big as it looks ….about 20 pounds…even the locals were jealous of this one

 

Tom and Bob looking for Atlantis…..on the east side of Stocking Island….

The stone monument on Stocking Island east of George Town……view from the bottom

The view from the top…..

Me…..one foot in the dark and one in the light …..as usual

Tom, me and Bob……at the Chat n’ Chill Beach

Cordell Thompson of the Exumas Historical Society giving a talk about the history of the Exumas…….

Mutton Snapper!!!! Caught during our first stay with Mike…

The famous Peace n Plenty hotel…..it became our favorite place due to Jamaro, Emmitt and Tim (plus his adorable son Mason) the bartenders !!!!

Where’s that stone monument ? It’s over there 💪👈

Rudder Cut Cay….creepy Nazi castle, Mermaids and caves !!!!

Leaving Little Farmers Cay was hard to do…..we made a quick hop down the Exuma chain and tucked in behind Rudder Cut Cay which is one of a few islands in the area owned by David Copperfield.

Image courtesy of Google Maps

This is a cave located on one of Copperfield’s islands…..we went in, shot some pics and “disappeared” before anyone noticed us…..Tada!!!! …….there were actually some security cameras on the hilltops nearby……interesting note….you can only own an island in the Bahamas down to the high tide line on the shore….so, technically anyone can walk the beach as long as your feet are in the water…..

Kim all up in David Copperfield’s cave…..

 

The famous Piano and Mermaid statue submerged just off Rudder Cut Cay… marked with the heart icon on the satellite image…..

A few Mermaid shots through our look bucket (a glass bottom bucket)….

Before and during WWII Darby Island was owned by a Nazi sympathizer and hotelier named Baxter.  He built an 8,000 square foot “castle” on the highest point of Darby Island in 1938.  I interviewed a few older locals and they reported seeing strange flashing lights during the war from the rooftop of the castle.  Later they discovered these were signals to U-Boats that would come to the large dredged channel and concrete dock on the east side of the island and reprovision.  Some of the people who worked on the plantation talked about seeing an elaborate radio and telegraph station inside the house.  Darby Island was reportedly one of the largest and most productive plantations in the islands at that time. Darby Island is currently for sale……

A long view of the Nazi castle…..

 

Closeup….and creepy ….

View from the balcony…..

Mike even found a Gordon’s gin bottle from the 1920’s buried in the sand !!!!

Snorkel towing the dinghy …..

 

 

A message in a bottle…..set adrift on our way to George Town the next day……