George Town, Exumas

We had planned not to rush heading south thru the Exuma chain down to George Town, but a nasty approaching cold front had us speeding south.  Along the 150 miles, there are hardly any protected anchorages from high west to northwest winds, which were forecasted for 3 days & nights.  So other than a quick stop at Black Point for Mom’s famous coconut bread (which was a bust as she was unfortunately off island) off we went.

While much of the trip is fairly protected from (the then) east winds, the last 25 miles is offshore – on the Atlantic (open ocean) side.

Offshore winds of 16 knots aren’t horrible, but in our little boat, not especially pleasant either.  Going out “Rat Cay Cut”, it went from dead calm to 5 foot rollers, which settled into 3 foot seas the rest of the way. Unfortunately too rough for me to be standing on our stern trolling (fishing), so all the mahi-mahi were safe – for now.

The rains, complete with rainbow, started off the windy weather

Back in Spanish Wells, I had begun to troubleshoot our watermaker.  This nifty device converts seawater to drinking water.  Seawater is about 35,000 PPM (parts per million dissolved salts).  Drinking water has less than 300 PPM – quite an amazing feat!

Can you see the blinking “X” – I couldn’t either!

Lori was first to notice a bit of salty taste.  I measured the water & it read 129 PPM – fine – better than fine.  The next day, it tasted a little saltier – even I was noticing it!  Testing it again, I noticed a little “X” flashing on the display – what does that mean? Hmm … the instructions say to “multiply the reading by 10 when the “X” is blinking” – wait – that means our water is 1,290 PPM??  As usual, Lori was right!  Under 500 PPM is the usual U.S. limit & under 1,000 PPM is considered safe by international standards.  We had 1,290 PPM & rising – not good!  I checked a few things, but the reading kept rising – up & up to 3,600 PPM!  Days earlier, we stopped using this salty water, but our water tank was quickly becoming empty.  I phoned Spectra (the manufacturers) & checked various on-line sources.  I noticed a particular cruiser who often answered other cruiser’s questions … his boat name is … wait … he’s anchored 3 boats away!  A quick e-mail to see if I could pick his brain received a response minutes later, but said he was stuck on his own boat project, so how about in a few hours?  Five minutes later, a dinghy is roaring up to our stern & Paul jumps off!  While I had performed several watermaker repairs over the years, I had never removed the membrane, which the symptoms were pointing to.  Was one of the seals out of place?  Not quite sure …

Cocktails at sunset … not tonight

Fixed by sunset?  Almost!  While I had to take it out four more times the next morning to fix a stubborn leak, a few hours of running showed encouraging results.  The PPM reading plummeted down to 1,100, 800, 650, 480, 340 & eventually 288!  Success!

We will spend about a month here in George Town (with drinking water!) before beginning our (slower) trip back north.  George Town has several protected anchorages, a good grocery store, library & various friends arriving by both flying in & in their own boats.  Let the good times begin!

Happy New Year from the Bahamas!

We began New Year’s Day early – awake before dawn to head out the Fort Pierce Inlet at dawn.  We had to wait over 2 weeks for a good weather window but this is why we wait!

Our friend leading the way crossing to the Bahamas!
Next up was this guy – he circled around again & again until he too lost interest, so we had to find the rest of our way ourselves. Perfectly flat seas, considering this is the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
On this first day we continued an hour or so past sunset anchoring around 7 PM at Great Sale Cay.
Up anchor at dawn the next morning with continued beautiful, flat seas – just as we like it!

By the afternoon of day 2, we were safety docked at the Green Turtle Club on Green Turtle Cay, Abaco, Bahamas. We originally were going to have to wait & clear Customs the following day, as the Customs official usually leaves back to the mainland on the 1:30 ferry.  Our good luck was continuing as she was still there at 2:30 – I rushed up we & our boat were soon cleared into the Bahamas for another season.

Off to celebrate by golf-cart across island to the Tranquil Turtle Beach Bar as our friends on m/v Adventure (Gene & crew Maryella) had also arrived.
It was time for us to continue on – unlike this unlucky boater. This was near the “Don’t Rock” passage – a narrow, but deep-enough route past “The Whale” – apparently named as there can be large, whale-sized swells coming in from the ocean.  In fact, Disney built a small cruise ship stop on nearby Guana Cay in the ’80’s but had to abandon it was it was often too rough for the cruise ships to pass thru. We like it calm just like this so we don’t rock nor hit the rock!

We only spent a few days in Abaco before heading down to Spanish Wells, which is on Eleuthera, the next island 50 miles further south.

Along the way, my only catch while trolling was this barracuda which I threw back. They can have ciguatera, a serious toxin poison which may not kill you, but …
Spanish Wells has the most industrious waterfront you’ll see in the Bahamas. If you’ve ever had lobster at a Red Lobster restaurant, it probably came off one of these fishing vessels. Down here are Caribbean lobsters (no claws). They are loading concrete blocks which weigh down their “lobster condos” (which look like wooden pallets). The lobsters think they’ve discovered a good hiding spot … until divers tip the “condos” up & grab the surprised lobsters.  Each one of these boats will travel over a hundred miles, towing 4 – 5 smaller boats so that once at their “condos”, they can split up & cover more ground, meeting back every evening to unload & rest.

From here, we will continue down to the Exuma island chain to George Town where we’ll spend about a month.  On our return trip, we’ll take it slower, stopping at our favorite spots back along the way including more time in Abaco.