Apr 27, 201308:27 AM
Swing Set: Cruising Full Time
A Couple of Stops and Then Green Turtle Cay
Seven or eight miles to the southeast from Allans-Pennsecola Cay was Crab Cay, or one of them. There are at least a couple of Crab Cays on the charts for this area. We took a slow cruise to this Crab Cay and anchored in a calm spot within view of the first beach lined with palm trees that we've seen occurring naturally since we've arrived in the Bahamas.
Between Crab Cay and Great Abacos Island was a small inlet leading to the Sea of Abaco. In our anchorage, we had a view through the cut, where we could watch boats travel from the Sea of Abaco into the Little Bahama Bank.
We took the dinghy out to explore but were soon battling a strong outgoing tide as we were making our way into a creek system leading into the island of Little Abacos, which is adjacent to Great Abacos Island. A combination of enough throttle to keep forward momentum, plus shallower and shallower water, with a rocky bottom, was not my idea of a good thing to be doing, so we turned around and headed for some calm water just inside the inlet leading out to the sea.
I donned my snorkel gear and spear to inspect an area below a rock shelf in very shallow water and found an abundance of snapper. I speared a larger one on the first try and proudly took it back to the dinghy where Rosie and Holly were waiting. I put it in a bucket that I had brought along for this very purpose.
My activity in the shallow water stirred up the fine sand, or mud, so seeing more fish became a problem. I tried to spear another one but missed him, when I saw a nice sized "summer crab" and nabbed him, cleaned him, and added him to the bucket. Two sea creatures in one day is a record for me, so we high tailed it back to the boat to get my catch in the fridge and away from any prying eyes.
I placed the snapper on my cutting board and it took one flip and went right back into the water and swam away. It took me a few moments to reflect on this event. No tears were shed, although tears were warranted.
Still not believing my misfortune, I decided to snorkel around the boat after checking to confirm our anchor holding. I swam back behind the boat, and there was my snapper, resting on the bottom, or better put, sitting on the seabed waiting to die. It didn't get a chance. I speared it again and brought it to the boat. I didn't waste any time in cleaning the snapper this time and putting two small fillets in the refrigerator.
Later, with my eye on more dinner supplies, I got back into the water for some more snorkeling. I was swimming away from the boat when I realized I was cooking along at a pretty good rate. In no time at all, the incoming tide had me pulling fast away from the boat. I honestly had all I could do to swim back to the boat while holding my spear in my right hand. Lesson learned there. Rosie did get a funny look in her eye when I asked her if she would've been able to come after me in the dinghy if I needed her to. OK, two lessons learned.
Our plans for the evening were to have our fresh fare for dinner, along with a grilled sirloin roast. When I went to light the Magma Grill, it wouldn't light. I'd filled the tank up in Marathon and hadn't used it yet, and it indeed felt like it was full, but no propane would come from the tank. There's a little screw valve on the tank valve that was closed tight, not allowing the propane to come out. I backed off the screw as the attendant at the propane supply store was supposed to have done, and a grillin' we went.
We had snapper with lemon pepper, steamed along with the "crab," with our grilled sirloin. We added a box of macaroni and cheese and ate good that night. Livin' off the fat a da land!
The next morning, we left Crab Cay and headed for Coopers Town and the anchorage across the Sea of Abacos at Powell Cay. We anchored up close to a beautiful beach, just north of a rock bluff that was sandwiched between another long white beach to the south.
Once I made sure we had a good anchor set, we took Holly and the dinghy to the beach, marveling at the abundance of starfish lining the sea floor. We let the dinghy float at anchor just offshore and went for a walk. In the picture, I'm wearing my dive knife on my right leg. I was no boy scout, but I come prepared.
Holly got to run free along the water's edge on our walk, and she was in heaven. She would only run part way ahead and then turn around to make certain we were behind her. She'd wait for us a bit until she would run ahead again. At one point, she made a dash for the water for a brief swim, and then back to land she came. It may have been her finest moment.
We got back to the dinghy as some other boaters were coming to shore, thus we were able to get a picture of us together.
That afternoon, we took the dinghy to the southern beach, but we left Holly on the boat to rest. We met some folks under some palm trees attempting to clean a few conch they'd gathered. On a makeshift table nailed up between two trees, they had several knives, two hammers, a pair of pliers, a screw driver and a mallet, all laid out. The scene looked like a surgeons table in Negril. The only interest they had in us was whether we had any ideas about how to get the conch extricated from the shell. I only offered as to how I'd watched a Bahamian in Bimini do several of them just by knocking a hole in the end and waiting until they crawled out, their home having been ruined. The conch hunters didn't want to wait that long, so pounding and digging away, they continued.
By nightfall, we'd been joined by a dozen other boats, all sailboats, except one. We had a very calm night and decided to leave first thing in the morning, but we had a glitch. When I went to start the starboard engine, it wouldn't start. The port engine and the generator are on a dedicated battery and the port engine cranked right up. I used the jumper switch to start the other engine. I know our house bank of batteries are on borrowed time. Normally, we run the genset for a couple of hours in the morning to bring everything back up, but on the previous night, we'd had no wind, and since we were leaving right away, there was no reason to run the generator. This is the same scenario we had on the morning we left for Bimini. We now will have to ratchet up our power management a little.
As we cruised to Green Turtle Cay, we ran the watermaker, the generator and the wind generators. We fully intended to arrive with charged batteries and a good supply of water in case we anchored in either White Sound or Black Sound, places where I'd suspect the water supply to be questionable.
Upon arriving at New Plymouth, an old English settlement on Green Turtle Cay, we decided to set anchor just west of the government dock, outside of either of the two harbors, and we're glad we did. We later took the dinghy into both harbors and didn't find the views as nice as we had outside. Several other boats must have decided the same thing, as we were joined by a few other boats throughout the day.
The harbor for New Plymouth is separate from White or Black Sound, and is pictured above. There's a very nice dinghy dock for the public, and we tied up to it and dumped some trash in a nice, big, stainless-steel dumpster right on the dock. We walked into town and were impressed with the clean concrete streets and tidy painted homes.
The town has been in existence since the 1800s. There are two hardware stores and three small grocery stores, and several restaurants and few bars. We made note of one of them and decided to come back later. One of the bars, I mean. We did buy a few things from Sid's, what we thought to be the best-stocked grocery store.
Back at the boat, I decided to run the generator for a couple of hours, because we would be gone to dinner, the time we'd usually run the gen while we cooked. The generator refused to start.
The truest thing about a diesel engine is that it has to get fuel. Well, any engine is like that, but diesels are relatively simple in that fuel flow is the usual cause of an engine not starting. The one thing I know how to do is change a fuel filter. I hadn't changed the Racor filter since last August, so even if it wasn't the cause, it sure wouldn't hurt. Trouble is, I thought I had two extra filters for the smaller Racor unit on the generator, but I was down to our last one.
After the filter change, the generator still wouldn't start. While operating the preheater, I noticed that the fuel flow solenoid wasn't activating, so I gave it a little nudge while holding the preheater on. The solenoid clicked into place, and the engine started right up. I still wasn't sure of the root cause of our generator not starting, but one thing I knew was that I was out of spare filters, the easiest thing to fix.
Later, we went to Sundowners for some beers and dinner. On our way into the dock, we stopped and talked to the German couple who we'd met in South Bimini and were about to head back to Florida. It was nice to see them again.
Once we arrived at Sundowners and had ordered two Kalik's, I got to talking to the owner, and I asked him who might have some Racor filter elements. He asked another patron at the bar the same question, the patron got on the phone to his brother-in-law, and a short time later, a fella pulled up in his golf cart, long hair, dirty T-shirt, no shoes, but with two Racor filter elements for our Racor 500 fuel filter. The price was high, but gladly paid, along with a tip and a beer for George, the owner of Roberts Marina in Black Sound. That was service.
We had a nice time at Sundowners. They have free WiFi, so I tried to call my dad. Magic Jack may be free, but the connection was horrible. I'm glad we kept a small roaming plan with AT&T.
This morning, I went to start the generator again and it wouldn't start. I gave the fuel flow solenoid another kick in the ribs, and the engine fired right up. We ran the generator for a couple of hours while we had breakfast and did some route planning for our trip south. I shut down the generator and did some diagnostics on the fuel flow solenoid. I was getting proper voltage at the solenoid once the preheater was activated, just like it's supposed to, so the problem isn't a bad connection to the solenoid. I did some random activation of the preheater, and the solenoid did activate sporadically, so it will work, just not dependably. Our mission has become to either get this solenoid fixed, or buy a new one, and Marsh Harbor is the place to do either.
Rosie and I went back into New Plymouth for lunch and to pick up anything we might have missed at the grocery. In Black Sound, we stopped to talk to a sailor that was familiar with the area, and he suggested Marsh Harbor Boat Yard for our generator repair, and also suggested an electrician in Marsh Harbor who probably could fix the solenoid. Bill Raynor was full of other useful information, and we were glad we stopped to talk with him. One thing he told us was to check our passports to make sure the amount of time on them was stamped 180 days, like our cruising permit is. We did check later and all was fine.
Once leaving Green Turtle Cay heading south, cruisers need to either pass through "The Whale," a cut out to the ocean, and come back in again a few miles south at the Loggerhead Channel, or take an inside passage through "Don't Rock Channel," a shallow and treacherous route. The outside route seems to be the no-brainer approach, but breaking surf makes the Whale Cut even more treacherous than the twisty Don't Rock Channel. Bill Raynor told us that we should have no problem going through Don't Rock, especially at high tide, so we're giving it a shot tomorrow. We'll let you know how it goes.