Swing Set

Aug 14, 201309:08 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Some Mechanical Issues and a Staniel Cay Redux

(page 1 of 3)

We left the sanctuary of Elizabeth Harbour a week ago yesterday, but before we left we had a mission to find two bilge blowers to replace the two on the boat that had begun to act up. It proved to be yet another one of our minor adventures.

First we went to Top II Bottom, the hardware/miscellaneous store in the heart of Georgetown. I could have sworn I saw a box with the word “blower” on it during one of our visits. (One thing we always do, when we visit a new town or settlement, is to browse through stores' inventories and make mental notes of what they have to offer.) One of the girls in Top II Bottom, as is usually her custom, asked us what it was we were looking for. When I told her that we needed one or two blowers for our engine room, she was perplexed. She asked the woman at the checkout counter if they had any engine room blowers, and the woman said she would have to order it. While those two were talking, I was looking. I then said we wouldn’t order anything as we were leaving the area, so she called a marine outfitter nearby called Perry Brown’s. She got off the phone and said they didn’t answer, and then asked me again what it was we were after.

As good naturedly as I good manage, I asked her why she immediately said she would have to order the blowers if she didn’t know what they were? I then spied a box on a shelf marked “blower,” and was somewhat relieved until I saw no markings on the box except a price of over $176. I know what the price of such blowers are in the U.S., and even with the typical 50-percent markup in the Bahamas, no engine room blower that I had ever seen was going to cost $176. I needed to open the box to satisfy my curiosity, if nothing else.

You would have thought I had threatened to kill a puppy, judging from the look I got when I asked to open the box! “You got tape,” I asked, as I whipped out my knife and slit the box open. The older woman wasn’t as horrified at my actions as the younger one was, but even if the item packed into the box was exactly what I was after, I wasn’t going to pay what was marked on the outside. It turned out to be a blower for a small air conditioner of some sort and wasn’t the right size anyway. I thanked them for their help and left before they had any chance of making a complaint.

We walked over to ask Clavon, over at the Exuma Yacht Club, if he knew where we could get a couple of blowers. He mentioned Perry Brown’s, too, but wasn’t sure about giving us directions on how to get there by dinghy. Clavon suggested we ask one of the local charter boat operators, who just happened to be pulling up at the dock.

My eyes glazed over as the nice young Rastifarian was explaining the route in a language that was a mix of one I could understand and one that I couldn’t, but eventually I gathered that Perry Brown’s was located between the bridge to Crab Cay and the Georgetown Marina, two places I knew how to get to, but unaware as to the maze of mangroves and shallow reefs that marked the way. “When you pass unda de bridge, you make a right. Go aroun’ da bar, but it’s high tide, mon, so you can probally go straight ova da bar. Go round de island. It’s back behind dat island.”

I was going to take Rosie back to the boat and then call Perry Brown’s on the phone to see if they even had what we needed before setting out on a mission to somewhere that I wasn’t sure I could find, but the sky was darkening and a rainstorm was brewing. Perfect time to head for parts unknown. So, I pointed the dinghy in the direction of the Crab Cay bridge, throwing caution to the wind.

I evidently made a wrong turn or two, and we found ourselves on a flat that I thought I would have to drag the dinghy across, but in the distance I saw the tops of some saiboat masts and a parking area with several boats on trailers. Then, we saw buoys marking a narrow channel into what turned out to be the hard-to-find Perry Brown’s.

The store was well stocked, for the Bahamas, and Perry himself waited on me. He had two engine room blowers in stock, a brand that I was familiar with. One was the 4-inch model that I needed, and one was a 3-inch model that would need to be adapted. I’m a firm believer in the old “bird in the hand” adage, so I plunked down two $50 bills, got my $2 in change and returned back to Rosie waiting in the dinghy. “Let’s get back to the boat before this storm rolls in,” I said, and away we went.

I have been using duct tape for years. Motorcycle racers back in the ’70s always had a roll or two in their arsenal, and the habit is hard to die. Swing Set is even equipped with three rolls. One black, one white and one of the classic silver. That day was probably the first time I ever used duct tape for the manufacturer’s original intended use of taping a duct. I taped the 3-inch blower to the 4-inch air duct on the starboard side of the engine room, and installed the 4-inch blower on the port side. Not a perfect setup, but one that will work. Probably for years.

By the time I finished my chore, the sun had popped out, and we were on our way. We passed over Conch Cut and were making way northwest on a flat Exuma Sound. A boat approached on our port side, and it turned out to be Dave, a fella originally from England who works in Houston and lives part time on Long Island. He was out lobster hunting with his friends, Pierre and Antonia, from Germany, who were visiting Stella Maris. He just buzzed by to tell us goodbye and to have a safe trip. You never know where you’re going to meet the next person who can turn out to be a friend.

Our bright day soon had a pall cast over it as I spooled up the Cats to see if replacing the impeller on our port engine solved the overheating issue on that engine. When we got on plane, both engines exceeded the maximum 195 degree operating temperature by several degrees, and then the high temperature alarm for the port engine sounded. I slowed us down to our typical displacement speed at 1200 rpm, and the temperatures quickly dropped back to an optimum 180 degrees. I wasn’t quite fuming, no sense in that, but I was racking my brain trying to figure out what my next move was going to be regarding the overheating issue.

Rosie remained silent as I mentally scrolled through our options. I was getting nowhere without consulting Mr. Google, or my service manuals, so I decided to focus on other matters. I asked Rosie to call the Conch Marina in Key West. Maybe we would get a good word regarding our chances of getting a slip in Key West Bight for the months of October and November.

Rosie went down to make the call, but my need for some good news was not to be. The harbormaster at the Conch Marina was perplexed that the young girl we had been communicating with regarding the possible slip had not contacted us. It turns out the slip in question was going up for sale, and it wouldn’t be available for us. I know B.S. when I hear it, but if they wanted to give the slip to someone else, for perhaps more money, what were we to do about it?

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