Mar 9, 201309:51 AM
Swing Set: Cruising Full Time
It's All Coming Together
We went to the Bahamas seminar last Wednesday and did get some useful information, as well as meeting some other boaters here in the harbor who we've only heard on the cruiser's net in the morning but haven't met yet. There were at least 50 people at the seminar, some who have been planning on "making the jump" for years and haven't done it yet anbd some who are going in just a few weeks or so. We hope to be in the latter group.
We were happy to learn that we at least had all of the equipment that is usually recommended for the trip, plus some. We are also on the right track as far as what we need for paperwork when we visit the Bahamas Customs and Immigration Office, plus a valuable tip in regard to how to list everything aboard the boat, which is one of the requirements. We can condense the list to "usual ships stores" and be done with it.
One big reservation we have is the ability to get our weather information when we are in the Bahamas. We still aren't sure if our XM Weather for our Garmin GPS unit will work, so we'll need a back-up plan. We bought a small SSB receiver, but we still need to practice using it and program some regular weather channels on it, particularly the channel that Chris Parker broadcasts on at 6 a.m. each morning. Most of the marinas have WiFi, but we don't want to have to stay at marinas, naturally wanting to stay on the hook. We'll look into purchasing Internet service when we check in, but will have to see how that goes.
We've pretty much decided to check in at Alice Town in North Bimini. From Angelfish Cut, just south of Key Biscayne, it's only about 50 miles to Bimini, which we'll do at cruising speed or close to it. From there, we'll try to go to the Berry Islands if the weather permits; otherwise we can go further south to Andros or north to Grand Bahama. But for now, a loosely formulating plan is to take us through the Berry Islands, maybe stop at Nassau and then on to the Exumas. But we'll take it one day at a time like we've done every day so far.
We've decided to get Holly her examination on April 1, which is required for her entry into the Bahamas. This gives us a day to run up the coast to Angelfish Cut, stay overnight and then cross the Gulf Stream on April 2, fulfilling the ridiculous 48-hour Bahamian requirement to have a pet examined and get a certification no longer than that time period before entering customs. We understand there may be wiggle room, but we'll try to adhere to the law. This will put us in Bimini on a weekday, so we don't have to ask a customs official to come in special on a weekend. I would think this would make them crabby and therefore more scrutinizing, just in case we have some loose ends.
But we're going nowhere if the wind generator isn't fixed. But...we have hope! SALT has ordered two circuit boards from E Marine in Fort Lauderdale and now has them at their facility here in Marathon. We are scheduled to have one of them installed on Monday morning and will keep the other for a spare. SALT tacked on a healthy markup, but with a little negotiating on my part, we were able to get the circuit boards without feeling entirely robbed. The key here is whether the new board will work or not. I'm having SALT install the board, just to remove any doubt about the installation if the board doesn't work. It would be easy for them to blame it on me. We'll just remove that aspect from the equation.
Last Thursday, it was cool and breezy, so we decided to check out a place called The Hurricane for happy hour. We walked there from the marina, got there at 3 p.m., and it was deserted, so we called a cab and went to Sparky's Landing. The cab ride over the Vaca Cut cost $2 more than regular, but it was worth it. It was standing room only around the bar, but we did find one chair, which I of course, gave to Rosie. Chivalry is not dead. We struck up a conversation with two couples from Delaware, and when they left, we both were able to have a seat. Chicken wings and peel and eat shrimp were both .25 cents each. Now that's a good happy hour price for appetizers! We had a good time there. The bartender was on her game, and we plan on going back soon. The only down side was that we had to wait outside in the "cold" for nearly a half hour before the cab came to take us back to the City Marina.
We go to bed early and get up early, usually before the sun comes up, like this predawn photo from Friday morning. The view is to the west, with most of the mooring field in view. It is required for everyone to have an anchor light on at night, and with all the vessels in the harbor right now, it looks like lots of twinkling stars close to the water. The predawn light is just beginning to shine on the boats.
We have ordered some DVDs from Amazon and now have a movie library of 26 good movies. Watching streaming videos takes up too much data transfer space, and we always run out before the end of the month and have to pay extra. If we really get sick of a certain movie, we'll use it for bartering to get something later that we haven't seen yet, or are willing to see again. Normally, we don't watch a movie more than once. I mean, "Gone With the Wind" was a great movie, but we've only seen it once. Isn't that the one where everyone dies at the end?
Our Eva-Dry dehumidifier that we bought on Amazon in Key West is really doing a good job of eliminating mildew in the boat. It has really been effective, and I would recommend to anyone living in Florida, on a boat or a home, to be using a dehumidifier. Ours doesn't use much power; in fact, it doesn't even register on our Magna Inverter control panel when it is on.
Holly got a haircut yesterday morning, a chore that we try to do once a month or so. She still fidgets some, and I'm still afraid I'll nick her. We may forgo as many haircuts while we are in the Bahamas. Veterinarians to repair clipper damage will be nearly impossible to find.
Yesterday, while waiting for SALT to call, I tried to run an antenna wire to the bridge from the salon and was unsuccessful. For two hours, I tried everything I could think of, using my arms and a steel fish tape, to run a wire but just couldn't do it. I buttoned up everything and decided to approach it at a later time. About an hour later, we were enjoying the late afternoon sun and I wanted to listen to some music and our outside speakers wouldn't come on. I took the panel apart behind the stereo and luckily found a loose wire, but where was it supposed to be attached? We have a switch near the stereo, so we can either have sound on the outside of the boat, or not, and this is where I found where that loose wire was supposed to be attached. I plugged it on the terminal, cable tied it for security in the future, and we were in business. I mention this for a couple of reasons, but one is to say how having a switch to turn off the outside speakers comes in handy when you want to listen to surround sound for a movie or listen to the stereo inside the boat and not disturb your neighbors at a harbor or at a dock.
The other day, we found a canvas bag floating in the harbor and it turned out to be something resembling a pillow, but had two vest-type life jackets inside of it. It took us a couple of days to locate the rightful owner, and when they came by to pick it up, they left us a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio in way of appreciation. What better to have with wine than a nice Italian dish?
With the help of Chef Bar Ardee, we made lasagna for our dinner on Friday night, along with some garlic bread, the last of the loaf of Cuban bread we bought earlier in the week. The lasagna was made mostly entirely from canned goods. In a glass dish, we layered some canned beef ravioli, then some canned spinach and cottage cheese. Then, another layer of ravioli, spinach, cottage cheese, until we got to the top, and used some mozzarella too. Sliced egg on top is something my mother always did, and I'm not sure how Italian this part is, but we like it. Baked in our convection oven for about 30 minutes, sprinkled with Parmesan, and served with the bread and the wine made for a delicious, quick meal.
Today, we have friends arriving and staying at a nearby resort for the next week. The annual Seafood Festival is being held at the City Park right next door, so we'll go to that this afternoon. The event is billed as the largest "happening" in the keys, second only to Fantasy Fest, which is held in Key West in the fall. I suspect this event is quite a bit different from Fantasy Fest, however. Sadly different, I may add.
We did get the results back from my physical the other day, and the nurse said "everything was normal." I don't know how broad their definition of "normal" is, but I guess I'd rather hear that than anything else.
We are also waiting to get our eyeglasses that we ordered, and we have a dental appointment on Tuesday morning. It seems like the longer you stay in one spot, the more things you find that you need to have done. We aren't sure how long we'll be in the Bahamas, so we're trying to tie up as many loose ends as possible. But when you think about it, life is nothing but a succession of loose ends isn't it?