Saturday, June 23, 2018

Final post from the Bahamas

We are anchored in a familiar spot off the northeast corner of North Bimini Island (map). I had hoped to drop the hook on the west side, off the beach south of the resort, which would let us dinghy to Alice Town, but the wind and swell has been out of the south and west.

We enjoyed our night at Chub Cay. They did, in fact, complete the new clubhouse since our last visit, and the bar and dining room are quite nice. The food was tasty, if a bit expensive even for the Bahamas, and Louise was not the only woman in the room this time. In fact it was quite busy, in contrast to our earlier visit.

New clubhouse at Chub Cay. If you zoom in you can just see the pool area and tiki bar behind the beach.

By the time we made it outside to look at the infinity edge pool it was too dark to see it well. But several people were using it, no tile damage was visible, and the hot tub was filled and clean. The palapa bar looked to be in decent shape as well, but was not open.

If there is any downside to all this improvement, it's that they've piped music into both the pool and beach areas, and it went more or less all night. It was loud enough to hear it in the anchorage, which is across from the beach. Still, it was a very pleasant stop and we enjoyed dinner with the megayacht and sportfisher crowd. Lots more megayachts here now that the clubhouse is done.

Thursday we had a leisurely morning, weighing anchor at 9:15. We retraced our steps to the Northwest Channel onto the bank, and then turned somewhat north of west just past the Northwest Shoal. We ran until 4:30, when we reached a shallower spot of the bank known as the Mackie Shoal. We dropped the hook in 13' of water, some 30 nautical miles from the nearest land (map). On our way we crossed paths with an enormous sea turtle, but I was not quick enough to snap a photo.

We surfed the Internet right up until we ran out of coverage some dozen miles out of Chub, using up as much of our BTC data bucket as we could. That bucket expired at 3pm, even though we still had a couple of GB left. With just under $5 left on my prepaid BTC account, I figured I could buy a one-day pass as soon as we were back in coverage, and with that I could add some data to my Aliv SIM to take us up through departure.

Running gear looks fine. Water here is a murky green.

The water here is now 87°, and, it being the first day of summer, the outside air temperature was well into the 90s. Right after setting the hook and completing our shutdown checklist, we stripped down and jumped in the water. We had about a two foot swell (fortunately right on the nose), so Louise spent only a few minutes. I donned mask and snorkel and swam around the boat, checking on the anchor and the condition of the bottom and running gear.

The water in this part of the bank is a murky green, in sharp contrast to the crystal clear water we had in Chub and which we have here, where you can count every blade of grass from above the surface. My swim revealed we've developed a coat of flora growth, unsurprising since our commercial antifouling does not include the chemical that addresses that. I could easily remove it with a scrubby pad if I wanted to spend an hour down there on the hookah, but I'm inclined to just pay someone to do that instead. Our anchor was well buried, and I got a shot of our snubber and chain hook in action.

Well-set Bruce anchor. Grassy bottom here shows the angle of chain swing.

I had finished the book I was reading while still under way. With no working Internet, I knocked out a couple of boat projects with the parts I bought back from Dallas. That included replacing the dinghy prop nut, which had again managed to back itself out a few turns, and the rod-end joint on the dinghy throttle linkage that I'd been holding together with zip-ties. The more important project, replacing the motor brushes on the watermaker, would have to wait for a cooler engine room.

After dinner we sat on deck for quite a while enjoying the breeze. Once back inside, I spent perhaps fifteen minutes or more trying to get the salon TV to power up. Usually it starts up within a dozen or so tries, but I think it's done for good now and I will need to buy a new one. I ended up watching a couple of Science Channel programs in the pilothouse on the TV that normally serves as the chartplotter display. There's no really comfortable seating position for that, and I turned in early, around midnight.

What our snubber setup looks like in action.

It's now hot enough and still enough that we're having to run our free-standing room air conditioner, Mr. Roboto, in the stateroom overnight, and Meriwether, the pilothouse mini-split, during the day. That meant plenty of generator run time at anchor, and between that and the lack of Internet or convenient TV we got an early start Friday for the five hour run to Bimini.

We picked up cell coverage about two hours out, and I was able to buy another data package on my Aliv SIM that will cover us until we leave and perhaps an hour or so out of Bimini. We're planning on weighing anchor first thing tomorrow, putting us into Palm Beach around dinner time. Monday we will fuel up at an as yet undetermined dock -- I need to make a bunch of phone calls in the morning.

Today I replaced the motor brushes and springs in the watermaker pump, and then changed the main engine oil and filter. Sadly the brush replacement has not cured the lack of throughput, but I had to take that step to rule it out. I am starting to run out of things to try. The oil change was just a couple of hours from due, and the run to Palm Beach would have put us over.

The heat index is again in the 90s in warm water, and it's impossible to stay cool and comfortable on the boat without running the air conditioning periodically, as well as overnight. I jumped off the boat after finishing the watermaker and again after the oil change, and I will probably swim once or twice more before the day is out. If we were not already motivated to leave because of hurricane season, this alone would send us back to the States. When next you hear from me we will be back in the US.

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