Swing Set

Aug 21, 201312:55 PM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Finding It Hard to Leave Staniel Cay

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We had a good time snorkeling in the Thunderball Grotto just off of Staniel Cay. Some may remember the James Bond movie from the 1960s, “Thunderball.” Some of the scenes were filmed in the grotto. In the picture above, Rosie had a hard time getting down from the roof of the cave to pose for the picture, and I was helping her get further down beneath the surface. I swear.

That evening, we had dinner at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, or rather, we ate something at the bar after a few Bud Lights at happy hour. That night, I got sick as a dog, and we decided it had to be the hamburger I ate, as it was the only thing that no one else had. (Who passes around their hamburger for others to take bites out of?) The whole experience left me a little peevish, and in the morning, things got worse.

In my last post, I mentioned our generator overheating, and I thought I had things figured out by cleaning our sea strainer; not the contents of it, but the outside screen, which had accumulated some scale deposits that could have been blocking proper water flow. Since the last episode when the cooling water was not flowing from the exhaust, I’ve been dutifully checking the flow each time I start the generator, to confirm there is raw water flowing. On this morning, again the raw water pump was running dry, so I shut down the generator.

I have another impeller for our generator, but the issue is access. The raw-water pump on our Westerbeke is on the backside of the generator and is not impossible to get to, but it isn’t easy. I’ve watched two mechanics over the years change out the impeller on this unit, and I can attest to the degree of difficulty. Both of my hands are still healing from the cuts I got when I tightened up the water pump belt on our port engine, and I was not ready to engage in warfare again, so soon anyway, with the iron of our Westerbeke. Maybe it was time to throw in the towel and head for Miami.

Our main engines are overheating at cruising speed, so we already have a reason to head home, but other than the consideration of the weather, we have to travel back to the U.S. at a slow speed, whether it’s now our later, but the generator is another matter. Yes, we have our wind generators, but as I’ve been saying, they supplement our power needs but don’t provide them. Existing on the hook without our diesel generator is nearly impossible, unless we wanted to empty out the refrigerator and subsist on crackers for the next few weeks.

I poked around on the generator, not doing anything to it of any significance, just checking things out, and then I decided to try it again. This time the raw water flowed out the exhaust like it’s supposed to. That was well over a week ago, and the generator has been running properly ever since then. A mystery that we’ll solve stateside.

Mark and Debbie, if that is in fact their real names, left on one day, and another “old friend” arrived the next. Linda, on the 37 foot Nordic Tug Mercy, chugged into the anchorage with a friend that used to live next to her on Ramrod Key, near Big Pine. Linda publishes a blog occasionally. Her link is on this blog site.

I’m not here to tell Linda’s story as I have enough trouble telling our own, but she is an old salt, used to pilot supply ships, and knows her way around an engine room. I told Linda the story about the generator, and she has some theories that seem plausible to me. The bottom line, and we agree on this, is that you don’t mess with success. It’s best to leave things alone until we get back to the U.S., where we can find someone suitable to look at it and where we can get any parts we need. No telling what can go wrong when you tear into something. I’ve always liked it when one of my choices was to do nothing.

One of the things we have learned about the Bahamas is that there are few people around that know how to do anything that may be required in the mechanical department. We know this not only from personal experience but from polling other cruisers. The big yachts regularly go back to Miami, or some such place, for overhauls, and it’s not unusual for mechanics to be flown in to fix things. This is why most of the vessels you see in the size range of Swing Set are sailboats. Lots of things on sailboats can break, but they can still go. As far as the creature comforts are concerned, sailors don’t need them because they are nuts.

Everyday we think about when we will head back to Florida. I figure it will take about a week, and we want to be in Key West by October, so we have time. We do want to arrive in Miami, in order to check out Dinner Key Marina, and Coconut Grove, and also to stop in Marathon to visit Holly’s veterinarian and our dentist, but we don’t need many extra days to do those things.

While we really like Georgetown better than Staniel Cay, we can travel on the banks all the way to Nassau from Staniel Cay, so weather will not play as much of a role when we decide to head out. We have a nice protected anchorage here at Big Majors Spot, as least from the prevailing easterly winds, and we have stores in Staniel, and the Staniel Cay Yacht Club is the best place to go and meet folks that we have been to, but the field is a close one.

Last Sunday night, we left Holly on the boat and went to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. The marina was full, which doesn’t take much, but they were turning away big yachts. We met a crewmember from a 95-foot wooden sailing yacht, Mestre Belo, an absolutely beautiful vessel. (Currently for sale at $2.5 million.) Mark, not sure if he was the captain or not, keeps his personal boat near Coconut Grove, and he had lots of valuable information for us in regard to Dinner Key Marina and the area in general. He also discussed the life on a big yacht. If you think catering to owners of a huge megayacht sounds appealing to you, consider having a 7 year old, maybe the granddaughter of a guest, or worse, the owner, tell you to “Hurry up, I want to go to the beach now.”

Mark’s ever-present VHF radio squawked. Some of the owner’s guest and family wanted to change the reservations for dinner, and that chore was left to Mark at the last minute. They beacon, he answers. He is a better man than me.

We were left alone with David, the excellent bartender, for only a minute when Catherine and Peter came in and took seats near us. They are from Charlotte, N.C., and as friendly as you would imagine folks would be from that part of the country, and we had a great time talking to them.

By the time the evening was over, we met a Mike and Lee, a Brian and Jen and a handsome woman named Lucy, who we did a good turn at the Grotto earlier that day. She came over to thank us. Rosie thought she looked like some actress, but couldn’t remember who. She was a guest on Mestre Belo, so who knows who she was?

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