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!


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