Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Simple Life

A simple life is definitely a life of hard work.  A little elbow grease and the reward is totally worth it.  Everything we do is done with purpose.  I try to only do the dishes once a day to conserve water, and if you know me a sink with dishes in it drives me nuts.  But around here water is gold.  I have started baking our bread as to not spend unnecessary money.  More work? Yes, but the ending result is better than any store bought bread.  I also estimate that one batch that makes two 2 lb. loaves cost about $1.50-2.00 and bread here is $3.00-8.00 per loaf.  Not only bread, but I make every meal on the boat which saves a ton of money on eating out.  Once the boys start catching some fish we will almost be self sufficient.  Which reminds me the local neighbors of the marina have come by every night and morning to make sure everything is okay and we have everything we need.  One in particular, Finley, will be taking us out to catch some conch and show us how to cook it.  This morning he showed us how to gut, fillet, steak, and marinate a barracuda.  We will be frying it up tomorrow with the other neighbors.  He also plays in a band and has invited us to go see his show on New Year's Eve.  When I do the laundry it is done with as little water and detergent as possible.  I have found that my clothes smell better and are more fresh washed by hand.  It could also be the fresh, non polluted air that dries them.  Another thing we do a little differently is the use of paper towels.  They are definitely a luxury and rags are used more on our boat.  This makes for more laundry, but less garbage and garbage is hard to get rid of unless you are tied to a marina.  We wake when the sun comes up and find ourselves tired at around 8:00pm.  This is very unusual for us.  I  have never considered myself a morning person and have always stayed up till around midnight.  Last night we had to put a hold on our game of gin rummy as we were too tired to play another round.  There are a few small items I sill am trying to find a place for on the boat, but other than that we are adjusting fairly easily to the small space.

Beach Days

Is there anything better than spending the day at the beach with nothing else to do?  Joe, Preston's dad, told us before we left that the Bahamas have the softest white sand beaches, and we all agree.  We had more fun playing in the sand on the beach than the waves in the ocean!  The sand here is so fine it feels like fluffy, warm clouds beneath your feet.  Layla was the old grandma at the beach.  She zonked out and was soon buried in a warm blanket of sand.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Every Day is Different

Here are some pictures from our Christmas brunch and the day after Christmas when we cleaned under the fuel tank.  Also before we noticed the fuel was gone Dan changed the prop on one of the engines because it had been acting up.  He dropped a tool in the water and I had no problem finding it in the clear water.  On Christmas day I cooked brunch as the boys navigated us on the bow to Mangrove Cay.  We ended up eating enroute and let Herbie, our autopilot, steer the way.  The day after Christmas when our tank was empty we cleaned all the junk out from under the tank before putting it back.

Island Time

Today we were waiting for some guy that the office girl knows with a truck to pick us up from the marina with our fuel tank and take us 5 miles to the repair shop.  This day started when the courtesy van the marina has would not run and so the office girls started looking for an another mode of transportation for us.  She came down to the boat and told me the taxi ride is $25 each way and another $20 to stop by the grocery store.  She said, "I don't know about you guys but $70 is a lot of money to me."  I assured her that was way too much money for us and we would walk the aluminum tank 5 miles.  She then told me she has a friend with a truck that will take us to the repair shop, the store, and anywhere else we want to go for $20.  Around 12:00 he showed up, on his lunch break, and took us to the shop and the store.  When we tried to pay him he refused and was very stern about us not paying until after we pick up the tank in a few days.  Now to explain his truck may be difficult.  A blue and rust colored pickup with a bench seat in the front.  The seat is more springs than material, the door panels are missing on the inside, with the window lever on the floor to be put on the knob when rolling down the window then placed back on the floor.  The doors must be opened from the outside and the tailgate not to be closed.  Oops!!  Naturally we shut it after we loaded the tank.   Now we wait to hear anything about our tank.  Not sure yet if they can weld it or if a new one is our best option, and with the weekend approaching we probably won't know anything until Monday.  Our plan is to spend the weekend on the beach, kayaking, fishing, and enjoying the Bahamian sun.

Everything we do is decided by how much it will cost, so the marina we are staying at is the cheapest so far.  Daily rate $45.00, weekly rate $175, and monthly rate $210.  This includes power, water, laundry, showers, wifi, and a courtesy van (the one that doesn't run and looks like it hasn't run in years.)  Hopefully we will only be here a week, but have decided it isn't that bad of a place.  The main office girl goes out of her way to help us and there is a huge grassy area that the dogs LOVE.  We are the only boat here other than a monohull that looks like it hasn't moved it 8 years,  The docks are a little iffy and the restrooms....well the restrooms serve their purpose.

We got to really see the neighborhood today as we decided to walk to 2 miles home from the store.  We got lost and ended up walking more of a big 4 mile loop holding all the groceries.  It wasn't half bad and we saw a lot of interesting homes, kids, and culture.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fuel Spill Mangrove Cay, Bahamas

Turns out we were not out of the clear.  Last you heard we were fueling up and leaving West End headed into the Little Bahama Bank.  We made it to Mangrove Cay 23 miles Northeast anchored there and spent the night.  Woke up to the faint smell of fuel and an almost empty 55 gallon tank.  When we left West End we filled the tank which only needed 15 gallons and motor sailed the 23 miles to Mangrove Cay.  This would have only used a few gallons.  Confused and not sure if we were siphoned we decided to take the cover off the tank and flip the tank over.

Hmmmmmmmm seems this could be the problem.  Sorry to all the little fishes below us  55gallons of fuel literally down the drain.  Dan and Preston had cleaned around the tank in Fort Pierce before we even hit the water and it was very gunky and smelled like fuel for a few days after they cleaned it.  We didn't feel the need to unhook all the fuel lines and ground wires because it was still half full of fuel.  Now sitting in the middle of nowhere with an empty fuel tank we feel otherwise.  Good thing this boat was made for sailing and not motoring!

Back to Grand Bahama island we go.  Freeport to be exact, a huge import city where we will be able to A: have our tank welded and reinforced or B: order in a new tank.  For novice sailors we were cooking yesterday against the wind going an average of 8 knots.  We were even keeling over in our 18'-3" beam catamaran.  I was too nervous to let the boys go any faster, but we were all grinning ear to ear.  Nothing like flying across the ocean in silence.  The closer we got to the deep seas of the Atlantic the rougher it got and of course the sun was setting right as we were approaching the thin channel out of the bank.  We decided not to try and cross the 6 foot shallow channel at night and anchored in the rough seas all night.  Our anchor held very well and our GPS fix stayed the same throughout the night. That doesn't mean we all weren't up 77 times checking it.  Not that we could sleep anyway as the waves slammed into the bottom of the boat.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"Merry Christmas" Spoken in a Queen Elizabeth English Accent

Woke up Christmas Eve at 4:45am unhooked from the dock and off we went.  Leaving officially at 5:54am out of Port Everglade and into the wide open blue.  When I say blue I mean BLUE.  I have never seen water so blue in my life.  It reminds me of my favorite color crayon when I was little, Azul was the color name.  As we were leaving port a cruise ship was entering and we got the feeling of what an ant must feel like every day.

We took our heading at 89 degrees East Northeast and before we new it we could no longer see the skyline of Fort Lauderdale.  Ocean all around, no other ships on the horizon, and our GPS lost its signal.  I suppose it was a good thing that we didn't know how to use the GPS yet and I had done all the navigation mathematically already.  So we kept our heading and adjusted as the winds picked up.  All day we had winds coming from the East Southeast at 6-13 knots.  This made for perfect sailing and we put both sails up almost immediately after the sun came up.  They both stayed up until we reached West End, Bahamas at 5:23pm, right as the sun was going down.

Layla was acting very stressed and anxious so I gave her half a pill the vet gave us to sedate her.  Well she fought so hard all day to stay awake here eyelids were drooping half and inch.  She was out of it the rest of the day, confused and loopy.  Lucy on the other hand took to the rough seas and wanted to be outside in the cockpit all day.  She has this new thing that if any lines are out on the deck that is where she is going to sleep.  As for us, nobody got sick and everyone was exhausted by the time we got to West End.  Throughout the day the GPS picked up a signal again and we figured out how to use that, the chart plotter, and Herbie, our autopilot.  All in all it was a fairly rough ride with 4-6 feet seas.  If we hit a wave wrong you could feel the whole floor beneath your feet "bounce" up.  I had to rearrange a few things in the cabin as they were flying around and falling on the floor.  Other than that I spent the majority of my day making the Bahamas courtesy flag that we will fly while we are in the Bahamas.  I had decided I would just sew all the courtesy flags as each can run $20-40.  I bought a book with all the patterns and enough material for under $100.  When I bought a thimble at Walmart a few days ago the checkout lady said, "WOW! A thimble, I haven't sold one of these in probably 8 years."

As I write the boys are cleaning the salt off the boat and I have the Christmas Brunch Sweedish T-ring rising in the galley.  We will be leaving in a few minutes to find a lone anchorage on a private beach to spend the rest of Christmas and probably the week.  We hope you all enjoy your snowy, cold Christmas while we sip Piña Coladas on the beach!!!