Swing Set

Aug 14, 201309:08 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Some Mechanical Issues and a Staniel Cay Redux

(page 3 of 3)

During our meal, and all during the night, all I could think about was returning to the engine room. My hands had cramped up, both of them were more cut up than when I replaced our steering cylinder in Nassau, and I constantly wondered why I had replaced that belt guard before testing my work.

The next morning, I had the demeanor of a soldier facing a march to war, and not a brave soldier either. I wanted to cry. But armed with some new tricks, I got the guard off a little easier and loosened the water pump belt a tiny bit. I started the engine to make sure it had stopped squealing, and decided to forgo installing the belt guard again, as I want all of our belts inspected and possibly replaced when we get back to the U.S. One and a half days of hard work, and I felt it would only be a miracle if it resulted in solving our overheating problem on the port engine.

We spent the next two nights visiting with Mark and Debbie. They came to Swing Set on Saturday night, and we went to their boat again on Sunday night. During this time, Mark had planted a seed in our minds about considering a stay at a marina in the Coconut Grove area of south Miami, near the popular boating of Biscayne Bay. We are considering this move after spending our time in Key West this fall, and have started inquiring about slip or mooring availability.

We all decided to cruise back to Staniel Cay on Monday. I wouldn’t agree on traveling together, and that wasn’t their cup of tea either. We left as soon as the tide would allow, and as soon as we got past the skinny areas of Musha Cay, I gave Swing Set a try out on plane. Ten minutes past arriving on plane at 25 miles per hour, both engines exceeded 200 degrees, in fact the starboard engine approached 210 degrees without sounding an alarm, and the port engine protested at 205 degrees, so I shut them both down, where they quickly cooled to 180 degrees. Looks like it will be a slow ride back to the States, but that’s the way we came, and it’s still faster than most trawlers.

We arrived at Big Majors Spot, near Staniel Cay Yacht Club, and found several megayachts at anchor. We nestled in just off of “Pig Beach,” happy to be surrounded by other boaters. Not too long after, Mark and Debbie arrived. They came by to say hello but had plans to get a slip at the Yacht Club, so we said we’d see them the next day. Our plans for dinner included a scrumptious roast we had been cooking in the crock pot all day, smothered in cream of potato soup and beef boullion. It was falling apart when we ladeled it over the two packages of Ramen noodles we had prepared. Egg noodles are usually what we use, but the Ramen were getting some whiskers, and we wanted to use them up. Delicious!

Yesterday, we went to town to visit the library and to take our trash. We found the library closed, with no sign on the door to inform us to get the key next door “at de brown house,” which we later learned was the custom. On our return to Staniel Cay Yacht Club, we ran into MP, or Marie Pierre, our friend from Nassau who works as a mate on Island Time, a yacht that was visiting the area. We stopped to visit with MP at the Yacht Club, and when she left, we ran into Mark and Debbie and chatted with them awhile, promising to return for dinner at 6 p.m.

Rosie and I returned to the boat to rest up, and when I fired up the generator for our afternoon charge, the generator shut down on us for high temperature. Boo. Cussing ensued, with promises to leave the next morning, taking the quickest and fastest route to the nearest MarineMax location in Miami. My hands were too cut up from my latest mechanical episode to attempt replacement of the generator water pump impeller. The pump sits on the backside of our Westerbeke, nearly impossible to get to. Only the experience of doing this chore blind will allow most mechanics to accomplish the fete, and I have had zero.

But if nothing, I am tenacious. Because it’s easy, I pulled the sea strainer out. I know I had pulled it out just a few weeks ago and didn’t expect to see much, but you never know when you are going to pick up a plastic bag that will clog up the works. Water flowed through the hull fitting with the strainer removed, but there was a great deal of scale deposits on the exterior of the strainer. I took my wire brush and cleaned the strainer, replaced it, made a quick inspection of the inlet by diving under the boat, and then fired the generator back up. Water flowed, and the temperature stayed at the recommended 180 degrees. I was happy, with reservations.

As I was buttoning up things, I heard Rosie talking to someone, and when I took a look I found a young couple pulled up alongside Swing Set in a small skiff. I turns out that this young couple from Fair Hope, Ala., was researching Staniel Cay on the Internet as a place to visit and ran across our blog, and began to read it regularly. They had just arrived and were taking a ride in the rented skiff and saw our boat and came over to say hello and to say how much they have been enjoying the blog. The very pretty girl also wanted to see Holly. Holly is a babe magnet. They were staying at the Yacht Club and said they’d see us later in the bar. We were going there for happy hour and to meet Mark and Debbie. Makin’ friends.

We left Holly alone for four hours again while we had beers and dinner at the Yacht Club last night. Holly was pouting and not speaking when we got back to the boat at nearly 10 o’clock, but she forgave us after a half hour and commenced to lick us to death. We love this dog, and really don’t want to let her out of our sight, but we can’t take her everywhere. She just hasn’t learned to appreciate “alone time.”

This afternoon, we are going snorkeling at the Thunderball Grotto with Mark and Debbie. There is lots of activity here in Staniel Cay, and if our boat holds together, we’ll stay here a few days, but probably won’t dally too much on our return back to civilization.

We’re approximately 250 miles from Miami at the moment, and given our usual cruising speed, we’re looking at several days of travel, maybe 10 or more. We can make longer days if we have to, but what’s the hurry? We can have our engine work done while we’re sitting in Key West this fall.

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