Swing Set

Jul 17, 201310:19 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Decision Time

Rosie and I were definitely disappointed in Rum Cay and Port Nelson, and certainly in Sumner Point Marina. We had traveled over 35 miles in rough seas, believing the guidebooks about everything that Rum Cay had to offer. What if we traveled another 35 miles to Cockburn in San Salvador, only to be disappointed again? There are no anchorages around San Salvador unless the wind is coming from the east, which it usually is, but there are no guarantees. When we travel to any island, I usually have anchorages in mind for any weather situation, because you never know.

At issue was also the current wind situation. Winds were continuing from the east, which would put us on a beam sea heading to San Salvador, something that is not pleasant at all. We made a decision to head back to Long Island at the crack of dawn and take advantage of a following sea to scoot us along. Our decision was a fortuitous one.

At 6 a.m. on Monday morning, Rosie had the coffee going and I was untying our lines. The sun was just coming over the horizon as we made our way through the maze of coral heads back out to our route west to Cape Santa Maria.

We hadn't had much experience with a following sea since we began our adventure, and what we soon learned was that unless one wanted to fight the helm all day, the boat will do better if it is going faster than the waves, otherwise the waves overtake the vessel, pushing the stern around as they gain purchase on the rudders. As the stern tries to come around, one can steer "into the skid" as one does when sliding on ice. Real havoc occurs when a vessel is running in a surf into an inlet and the waves push the vessel sideways. In a big enough surf, this is when the boat will broach and possibly roll over. The seas we were in were not big enough to roll us over, but I quickly tired of fighting the wheel. This is where autopilot comes in handy.

But we don't have autopilot, but we do have horsepower, so I put Swing Set on plane and we ran along with the waves, gently coasting over them with no spray on us at all. Until the temperature alarm on the port engine sounded.

I really wasn't taken by surprise, because when we are running at our cruising speed of 25 miles per hour, I always have a close eye on the temperature gauges. I had replaced the raw water pump on the starboard engine, and we were on borrowed time with the impeller on the port engine, and now payment was due. I slowed us down to 1500 rpms, not a very efficient speed, but the added miles per hour gave me better steering, but still not enough to stay ahead of the waves coming at our stern quarter. So, I fought the wheel for three hours back to Long Island until we rounded the tip of the island and happily found ourselves back in Calabash Bay and Cape Santa Maria Resort.

We anchored in the exact spot we had been in before leaving for Rum Cay, close enough to Cape Santa Maria Resort to keep an eye on the boat, but far enough out of the way of their two fishing boats that travel to and from the beach resort several times per day. We were also as far north into the bay that we could be to avoid any swells from the ocean. With the prevailing easterly winds, the anchorage is a really calm spot.


We took the dinghy over to the beach and found the couple from Springfield, Missouri, just taking off on a beach hike. Dana and Brady had wondered where we had gone off to, so we invited them to come out to the boat for a beer and we'd tell them. They had been wondering if they could see the boat, so they piled in the dinghy and we went out and spent the rest of the afternoon getting to know each other. They each nursed one beer each. I wasn't sure if they were being polite, and didn't want to drink all of our beer, or they just weren't beer drinkers. As the afternoon wore on, we discovered many things that we didn't have in common. Not long after, Dana mentioned their pastor twice in about five minutes, I figured it was time to take them back to the safety of their resort, even if we agreed with Dana's taste in skimpy bikinis.

We did meet them in the bar later for happy hour. The bar/restaurant at Cape Santa Maria Resort is very nice, and they have affordable happy hour specials and a very affordable bar menu. Dana and Brady left to honor their dinner reservations, and we made ourselves at home at the bar, meeting the staff and some other vacationers while sampling some chicken wings and a very good pizza. The $12 Bud Light buckets were icing on the cake. We stopped at two.

It was rainy the next day, so I spent time checking coolant in both engines and cleaned the sea strainers. Even though high temperatures usually mean it's time for an impeller replacement, I always check these two things first because it's easy to do. I like easy.

There was a break in the clouds be 3 p.m., which coincidentally was the start of happy hour at the resort. The special between 3 and 5 p.m. is not only the $12 buckets, but they serve complimentary conch fritters. Andy, our bartender, brought us out four large fritters each, which were a nice addition to the Bud Light buckets. We only had two.

By the time the few folks with dinner reservations began to file into the restaurant, we left our famiilar spot at the bar and joined Holly back aboard Swing Set for a delicious dinner of grilled pork chops and yellow rice, and then topped off our evening with a couple games of gin rummy.

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