Swing Set

Jul 9, 201309:58 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Salt Pond Is A Dud

After our lengthy and bumpy crossing to Long Island yesterday, we didn't feel like exploring the town and thought we would wait until today. Wish we would have done it yesterday.

But first, I'll back up. Leaving Elizabeth Harbour yesterday morning, the forward bilge pump came on, evident by it's warning light at the helm. Each pump has one. This was odd, and when odd things happen on a boat, it's best to find out the "root cause," because it means something isn't right. The forward pump coming on without the aft pump coming on means a problem. An unusual problem.

Another thing that hasn't been right is the amount of water our watermaker has been making, or how much our tank has been holding overnight. I do believe in coincidences, and when problem solving, coincidences confuse the issue. I also believe in getting lucky.

I had mentioned yesterday that the stern harness on the dinghy failed. I was able to rig up some more strapping to keep the harness intact long enough to lower the dinghy and make a repair. What I rigged up yesterday with what I found on board is better than what broke, so I think we'll be keeping it. In regard to the dinghy davits, what I haven't mentioned is that one of the welds that my Cuban buddy Rudy re-welded in Bimini is cracking again. The extra gussets that he welded alongside the original strut are helping keep the davit from failing, but either I need to find another welder, or some material to brace up the davit myself. I have some ideas, but I need to find material. Salt Pond will not be the place to find the material.

I saved the investigation of the bilge pump until this morning. There was water in the bilge again, deep enough for the pump to come on, but I had to switch in on manually. The pump worked, so the problem would be the float switch, or the wiring. The float switch was only a few months old, so I suspected a bad connection, and I found one. A cut in the wire insulation let saltwater corrode the copper wire inside, turning it to dust. I spliced in a new connection and confirmed the proper operation of the switch. Great!

But where was the water coming from? It rained really hard last night, so I suspected rain water, although rain water really doesn't get in the bilges, or it isn't supposed to. I have known about a fitting on the drain for our watermaker, way in the deep corners of the engine room, that has been leaking. Just a little drip drip drip, not enough to make that much water buildup, but conditions change. But that water has a high salt content, and the bilge water was freshwater. I tasted it.

I saw a tiny stream of water sneaking along a stringer, so I grabbed my worklight, looked for the source and found it! A fitting on the inlet to one of our freshwater pumps was leaking like a sieve. Not only did I find the reason for the water in the bilge, but also discovered why it seemed like our water maker output has been reduced, or not as much water remained in the tank overnight. So, it was a good thing that the bilge pump switch failed.

What is not a good thing was coming to Salt Pond. All the boats we saw off in the distance are not fellow cruisers here to weather out Tropical Storm Chantal. Upon closer inspection in the dinghy this morning, we found out that most, if not all, of the vessels laying in Salt Pond Harbor are derelicts. The rest are sinking. We are here alone.

The places touted in the cruising guides -- you know, the guide that lured us here in the first place -- are closed. Out of business. The fuel dock is in such bad repair that I wouldn't take our boat near it, and I'm not sure if any fuel pumps work anyway. There is nothing in Salt Pond to keep us here, except for the approaching storm, and the storm track did change. We are now smack in Chantal's path, but the path might change again when Chantal crosses over Haiti and the Dominican Republic. She'll be here on Thursday.

Early tomorrow morning, we'll be heading up the coast about 14 miles to Stella Maris. There is a hurricane hole there of sorts, plus a marina. Or so the guidebooks say.

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