Swing Set

May 14, 201308:37 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Harbour Island

(page 1 of 3)

We survived our first night on our mooring ball with nary a mishap, with nature or with the sailboat next to us. The view above is of Spanish Wells from our mooring ball.

"Bandit" came by Monday morning to collect our $20 fee. His real name is Jock Morgan, and he is a local pilot and probably jack of all trades if he needs to be. I asked him how much he charges to pilot one's vessel through the perilous Devil's Backbone on over to Harbour Island. He smiled and said "A hunnerd dollars." I nodded in reply and only offered that we had some business to attend to before we could start thinking about a trip over to the famous Harbour Island and the town of Dunmore.

We have no less than four printed guidebooks, or chartbooks, plus the advantage of Active Captain on our Garmin Bluechart app on the iPad, so we have lots of information to sift through when it comes to local knowledge and inside tips. For instance, all the info we have on the mooring we are on says that the charge is $15 per night. Bandit says $20, so you don't argue with Bandit, you just pay and hope he isn't cheating you. The piloting charges are reported to be $70 for a local pilot to take your boat through the Devil's Backbone. The price goes up per foot over 70 feet. Bandit says he charges $100, so that's what you expect to pay if you want his services.

My point is that with all the information at our disposal, we still know little going into any area as far as to what things cost. We can never get a handle on fuel costs or dockage costs. We only find out by asking in person. It makes it hard to make some of our decisions, as a lot of them are budget-based. We do feel, for the most part, that the locals need to make money off of us, and the prices are consistent with everyone. It's not like they see a "live one" and gouge them. Their future business depends on their friendliness, honesty, and reputations, and they usually are smart enough to not ruin it for a quick buck.

Rosie and I left Holly on the boat in search of the local BTC office, or Bahamas Telecommunications Company. We docked the dinghy at the dock in front of Pinder's Market, after going in and asking if it was all right to do so. We promised to come back in on our way out to buy a few things when they told us it was fine to park where we were.

At BTC, we signed up, and paid for, 90 more days of Internet service on our iPad. The young man behind the glass booth in the very small office re-entered all of our information and said we should be able to access our account to see the status, but we still wouldn't be able to add onto our Internet via their online system. They don't work that way. One must take the SIM card out of the iPad, put it into an unlocked phone and then use some screwy phone number to activate more data usage. He agreed with my assessment of their system as being more than confusing for the average customer. But if all I need to do is visit any local BTC office every 30 days for the next three months to keep a very inexpensive data plan active on the iPad, I'll do it. We're getting 1 gig of data for 30 days at the sale price of $20. We're paying AT&T $120 for 800 MB of data per month, but luckily we don't have to visit a local office.

We popped in Pinder's and picked up a few things. We got bread, eggs, some pork chops, tomatoes and some lettuce. All expensive, but necessary. The Food Fair, owned by the town, was too far of a walk, but we hear their prices are good and the selection is better.

Spanish Wells saw the need a few years ago for some services that their town was lacking, so they banded together and pooled resources and built their own grocery store, and some other things. Most of the goods from the Bahamas come through Spanish Wells, and a lot of the lobster and stone crab claws are processed here as well. It's a nice little blue collar town, and the people are incredibly friendly and helpful, which I'll come to next.

Back at the boat, I commenced to investigate the overheating problem we've been having on our starboard engine. The first thing I did was check the sea strainer. I'd cleaned it in Port Lucaya, and upon checking it again, it was clean as it could be.

A check of the water pump belt revealed nothing out of order, so it was on to the raw water impeller. I pulled the three half-inch bolts out and took the cover off and found that our impeller was toast, missing at least five blades. The good news was that I'd found our problem, the bad news was that I'd failed to obtain the needed impeller puller used to pull a usually recalcitrant raw water impeller from its housing. I knew I could probably get the thing out, but only by destroying it, and for the time being, I could still run the engine as I had been, just not at higher speeds. An impeller puller is nothing but a bolt with a T-handle on the end, and a regular bolt will do, if you can find the right bolt. I grabbed the new impeller and took off in the dinghy in search of either a proper bolt, or an official impeller puller, if I could find one.

I mention that Spanish Wells is a blue collar town. So, that means they use heavy equipment, and that equipment breaks, and they need to have the means to fix it. So, that also means they have a better selection of parts, and people to do the work, than most of tourist type towns a cruiser may travel to. We came to Spanish Wells for a particular reason, and that was to check out a local boatyard, R&B. R&B had a bolt that would have done double duty as an impeller puller, but as I found out, our impeller utilized a fine thread, and most bolts you might find in a hardware, or marine store, will be course thread.

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