Friday, January 30, 2009

We're stuck - Part 2

Well, weather is not cooperating with us, so we're stuck in Nassau until at least Sunday. We had planned to head for Allens Cay this morning, but the route requires bottom reading, which requires good sunlight. Not happening today.

Monday, January 26, 2009

We're stuck... in Nassau

Ok, there are certainly worse places to be stuck right now... We're not in Chicago. :)

We had a huge list of things to get done and haven't gotten to half of it since we've been here, so even if we could wrap everything up in a day or so, the weather window for our next sail closed with the setting of the sun today. Our next shot to leave looks like Friday.

Oh well. Off I go to make a Bahama Mama.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How hard do you work?

We have seen this guy twice now. The first time was during our dinghy ride into the village a couple days ago. We saw what looked like a fast-moving float that maybe a large fish had got caught in and was pulling. As we got closer, we noticed arms, a head and flippers. So, this guy swims out to at least 200 yards off shore (by law) to spearfish. At the time I was taking these photos (for larger images, see our homepage), the wind was blowing around 15 knots with gusts to 25.

Our current plans are to leave West End on Tuesday. We have been weathered in with strong winds from the N-NE (wrong direction for where we're going next). Gregg chatted up a neighbor on the dock, Mike from Cgull Seeker. Mike has been cruising for somewhere in the vicinity of 30 years and he's going the same way we are. We're going to leave when he does.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I love the Bahamas

Today, we resolved numerous issues. We have the part on order for the wind instrument, we procured rum (involving a long, wet and salty dinghy ride into the village), we downloaded more calypso music, and very important, we figured out where we're going next. Additionally, I have quickly become proficient at making a fabulous Bahama Mama. A local fisherman came and knocked on the hull tonight with lobsters - 4 for $20. Dinner is set for tomorrow night.

The rum is not gone. Visitors welcome.

Crisis Averted

Ok, “crisis” might be a bit strong, but as a good friend likes to say… Thirst is a dangerous thing!

I finally resolved our electronics problem after 3 days screwing around with the navigation system wiring and many emails back and forth with RayMarine Customer Support. Apparently, we’re lucky enough to get 2 bad wind instrument pods in a row.

In between the emails with RayMarine, I’ve been busy rewiring and rerouting our SeaTalk communications cables in every possible configuration. It seems the SeaTalk networks (we have three on board… SeaTalk, SeaTalkNG and SeaTalk Express) require very exact wiring procedures that are not well documented, and even when wired correctly some talent in wizardry doesn’t hurt when dealing with communication problems. Having tried every possible combination of connections, RayMarine determined that the new wind pod is indeed a POS and needs to be replaced. The standard RayMarine warranty policy is: you ship us yours and we’ll send you ours…in about 3 to 5 weeks. With only moderate pleading and emphasis on our plight of being cruisers in the Bahamas relying heavily on our wind instrument, they agreed to ship us an advance replacement with my promise (and credit card number) that I will ship the offending pod back to them within 30 days. Thank you RayMarine!!!

The only problem now is how to get the replacement into the Bahamas without paying the 50% VAT tax on it. This is a significant cost as the retail price of this pod is $350. Replacement parts for vessels in Bahamas waters are exempted from VAT, but you have to have the right mix of paperwork and voodoo to pull it off. Enter our mail forwarding company, St. Brendan’s Isle. They advertise that they are experts on getting mail, etc delivered anywhere in the world, and with dealing with import/export issues. I gave them a call and they quickly outlined what we needed to do and how it would work. So, I had RayMarine ship the pod to St. Brendan’s Isle and when they receive it we’ll get it shipped to us in the Bahamas. We’re not sure where in the Bahamas, but we’ll figure that out soon. We have at least until Monday to figure it out.

Oh, I mentioned a crisis being averted. Now that I’m not waist-deep in navigation system wiring, we took the dingy out for a ride to the nearest town and replenished our rum supply. The rum is no longer gone :)

I love it when a plan comes together!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why is the rum gone?!?!?!

"Why?", indeed! I blame everyone who told us in the states "don't provision liquor here - wait until you get to the Bahamas. It's cheaper there." Ok. True enough. If you can find it.

Today, I trekked two miles each way (uphill, barefoot in the snow... ok, not so much, but definitely 2 miles) to find the liquor store in West End Village. Well, I was successful. I found the store. However, when I arrived at around 3:15 p.m., I was greeted by a sign on the door that said "out to lunch, back at 4". Everything I have read in cruising articles about this type of sign in the islands said that "back at 4" was merely a possible return time, if there was a return time at all, i.e., don't expect promptness. So, being that I was alone and it was getting late in the day, I returned to the boat with only a loaf of fresh, locally baked bread (yummy, by the way). Ok, so the bread was kind of worth the trip... but the liquor cabinet is still basically empty save the remaining third of a bottle of Sauza Conmemorativo.

The rum is still gone.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

What I do with my time...

...or lately, "Provisioning, provisioning & more provisioning".

I'm going to start this by saying that I am not complaining, just describing.

Since I am the cook on board, I am charged with provisioning the boat. This has been my responsibility since we moved on the boat, but never to this extreme. We are preparing for up to 16 weeks in the Bahamas. Yes, there are grocery stores there, but you're not going to find Jewel or Dominick's on the Exumas anywhere. According to cruising cookbooks, sailing magazine articles and word of mouth, you're more likely to find something more like a shop the size of a cubicle that might have condiments, frozen bread, Velveeta and one refrigerator containing very limited produce (if you're lucky).

Beer is available, but VERY expensive - to the tune of $60/case. Liquor, however, is available and cheap, so I don't have to worry about that. Paper products, when available, are also very expensive, as is just about everything else you might need. Needless to say, I've been loading up the boat as much as possible. Further complicate this with the fact that the fridge and freezer on the boat are each about the size of a med-large cooler. Most of the things I bring on board cannot require refridgeration. Like milk. There's a 3-year-old on board. We have to carry lots of milk. Fortunately, I've been able to find UHT milk. We are currently holding about 8 gallons worth. We probably have around 60 juice boxes, 20 or so boxes of mac & cheese, 60 individual cups of applesauce, and among other things, probably in the neighborhood of around 4 cases of canned vegetables.

Now, let's tack on that I no longer have a car. I did have the benefit of one major trip to the store with the use of Gregg's parents' jeep. The reciept from that trip was around 5 feet long. But now I am sans auto and walking to the store, which is about 6 blocks away, with a West Marine wheeled cart, which is slightly larger than a milk crate. Since I can only carry so much at a time, I have been to the grocery every day for the last two weeks. I'm still not finished. How much food, beer, milk, paper products, etc., would you go through in 4 months?

One more thing. Food in cardboard is bad. Bugs, moisture, etc. So, every food item that comes in a cardboard box must be repackaged in some type of plastic - be it just a ziploc, an airtight container, or actually vacuum sealed (items like coffee, flour, sugar, salt, rice, etc.). This and stowing adds about 1-4 hours to every trip to the grocery. All meats to be frozen have to be vacuum sealed as well. This eliminates the risk of freezer burn and reduces the amount of waste from packaging on board later (important also because some places charge per bag for garbage disposal).

On top of provisioning, I do the laundry (via the hauling the filled wagon to the laundromat), keep the inside of the boat pretty clean, teach school for Quinn, and do all the cooking.

There ya go. I've been a little busy. At least I'm not freezing my butt off in Chicago.

Gotta go. I'm off to the store again.