Friday, June 1, 2018

Unplanned detour

I am typing under way across Exuma Sound, in a thousand fathoms of depth. We left cell coverage a short while ago, and will not have it back until later today when we get within a dozen miles of Cat Island. Seas are two feet on a short three second period off the starboard bow, a bit bouncy but tolerable.

The view over the harbor from the deck of the St. Francis at dinner Tuesday evening.

Wednesday evening we had a nice dinner on the aft deck, and then took one final tender ride, two miles across the harbor to the Augusta Bay Resort. The morning cruisers net had announced there would be music at the tiki bar, Frankie Bananas, on the dock there in the evening, following a bbq dinner. The dinner did not much interest us. We could see a line of rain storms in the distance, but they were passing behind the islands and it looked like we would stay dry.

We were a bit unnerved to arrive at the dock to find it empty. No dinghies except us and another couple who arrived at the same time. And the tiki bar was deserted. The bbq dinner was supposed to have started an hour earlier. I clambered onto the dock and headed ashore to figure out what was going on. It turned out they had relocated the event to inside the restaurant ashore, due to the threat of rain.

We spent a couple of hours sitting at the bar with a few Bahamian beers and listening to the music. It was mostly traditional rake-and-scrape with some mellow rock standards mixed in. We recognized some of the band from the last rake-and-scrape we attended at Eddie's Edgewater three years ago. It was an enjoyable evening.

The band at Augusta Bay. Note the gentleman at right, playing a saw with a screwdriver.

Arriving back at Vector we decided to deck the tender in case the weather called for a morning departure. Trying to lift the dinghy motor out of the water, the cowling that I had repaired in Fort Lauderdale with JB Weld came off in my hand. Nothing I tried could coax the motor back up out of the water until we finally resorted to using the crane. The corroded tilt tube is past due for replacement.

As if that was not trouble enough for one evening, we started the generator to charge the batteries only to find no water flow from the exhaust. Fortunately we noticed that and got it shut down quickly, before it had a chance to overheat. I spent the next 45 minutes replacing the impeller and getting all the shards out of the heat exchanger.

Thursday morning the forecast on the sound looked acceptable for a crossing, and so we said our goodbyes on the morning net, weighed anchor, and headed out. It takes a good hour just to get out of the harbor, which was more or less smooth as glass. That belies the conditions outside, and as soon as we cleared out of Conch Cay Cut we realized we had made a mistake.

Seas were a steep three to four feet on a short four second period, just forward of the starboard beam. We were slamming over them uncomfortably. We did press on into deep water, just to see if there was any real improvement, but there was not. Faced with the prospect of taking a beating for seven hours, we opted to change course. Our options were to turn around completely, or head northwest along the Exumas, putting the seas behind us, and coming back in either at Emerald Bay or at Lee Stocking Island.

At Emerald Bay, just about an hour away, our only option was a marina for $120 that we did not really need. We'd been there before and it was no great shakes.  Turning around would be a five mile trip back to a safe anchorage, and in hindsight this would have been the best option. Instead we elected to put the seas on the stern and head to Lee Stocking.

That decision had us arriving, some three hours later, at Adderly Cut right at the height of the ebb. As I have discussed here before, ebb tides in the Exumas oppose the easterly trades and cause "rage" conditions at the cuts, and, sure enough, I had to pilot my way in through some serious seas. Adderly is a wide and deep cut, however, and we made it in without incident. We came around the northwest point of the island and dropped the hook a half mile from the abandoned research station (map).

The concrete monument marker at Adderly Cay, on our way out this morning.

It was early in the day, so I spent an hour or so working on the dinghy motor. Copious amounts of WD-40 freed up the tilt tube somewhat, but it looks like I will be lifting the motor only after hoisting the dink on deck until I can replace that tube. I also re-attached the cowl latch and got the cowl back on properly. I finished in plenty of time to splash the tender and go ashore.

I had hoped to land at the old dock and stroll around the ghost town. But a note in the cruising database said there were newly erected no-trepass signs. I made a few inquiries and learned that the current owner of the island is adamant about keeping people out, and we respected that. The tender remained on deck. There are plenty of photos on the Internet, many on other cruising blogs, for those curious about the eerie post-apocalyptic nature of the abandoned station.

This morning we weighed anchor and headed back out the cut to try again. While seas are the same direction and even shorter period today, they are only half as tall. Once in deep water we opted to continue all the way to Cat. We'll make landfall near the New Bight settlement. There are three or four restaurants there, and we are hoping that at least one will be serving dinner, even though today is Labor Day here in the Bahamas. At least one is at a small resort, so if they have any guests they might be open.

Update: We are in sight of Cat Island and will be passing Hawk's Nest Point shortly. Anchor down in about two hours near the New Bight settlement.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!