Instalment 12 - February 2, 2001 - George Town
"Trouble in Paradise."©
- Jim Laverdiere (Formally Scurvy Dog #6)
- Janette (she who is to be obeyed)
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(Occasionally, editorial comments from Don of S/V Destiny Calls, host of this web site and southern waters frequenter, will appear in green italic)
There is a saying here in the Bahamas if you dont move mon, you cant hurt yourself.
That saying can apply to boats also. It seems that every time we go somewhere something breaks down. Janette and I had left Georgetown about two weeks ago,and headed to Calabash Bay and then onto Rum Cay. The trip to Calabash was pretty uneventful. we stayed 2 days . The weather was from the south -south east but fairly light,so we decided we would go to Rum Cay.
Entering the cut to the Marina in Rum can only be done during the day, as the reef extends fairly far off shore. It is a well marked entrance but it has a couple of twist and turns where the water shallows rapidly. Some boats can only enter, as a Beneteau found out by running aground, by waiting for high tide.
Rum Cay is a small island with a population of less that 100 people. Its claim to fame among these beautiful islands is that it is home to Delores Wilson, who along with her daughter run Kays place, a local bar and eatery. Delores has written a couple of books about life on Rum Cay and is a personal friend of Sidney Poitier, who happened to call while we were there for her 86th birthday.
There aint a whole lot to do here. Except maybe a little snorkeling, sit on the beach or have a beer at Kays place (NOT!). Upon our arrival I went out to the BATELCO station to find the operator fast asleep and not to be woken. So I trudged back in the heat, beating dogs back with a stick (here they aren't as docile as in the rest of the Islands). I deserved a beer so into Kays I went, a quaint place with a sand floor, only to have the very last beer in the bar. It seems the mailboat had not arrived as it was broken down in San Salvador. (See it isnt only me) The generators had to be repaired before they could go onto Rum Cay. Its endemic here everything breaks down (unless you dont move).
Now let me tell you a bar without beer aint much fun and the locals were getting might thirsty (good thing I didnt let them know I still had about 20 cases of beer left on the boat or I would have been party central).
Now the arrival of the mailboat usually brings a crowd out, but I believe everyone was there when the Lady Francis finally docked and yes when she got there her freezers were not working anymore. All the meat had to be sent back as it had gone bad. Cartons of foodstuff were being brought ashore all sodden and breaking apart as they were soaked through.
People in these little communities are solely dependent on these mailboats, and if they are late or have other troubles like broken freezers, they must fish for food and supplement that with what they can find in the local store. Incidentally this little store is called Last Chance and is typical of the smaller Islands. Any depanneur in the poorest section of Montreal is better stocked than these are at the best of times. Fruits and vegetables that would usually find themselves in a dumpster are proudly put on display for sale to locals and cruisers alike.
One young mom waited for her delivery of pampers for her 2 month old. Others waited for their propane tanks to be returned filled. I suppose mail arrives too. We have even seen a car being delivered on one. Note cars and trucks are very costly - even used ones. And the salt air does them a lot of harm. Rust every where.
Well back to our breakdowns. When we got to Rum cay our engine decided it didn't want to co-operate anymore and died when we got to the dock. But changing the fuel filter seemed to do the trick. Later Janette noticed that the refrigerator would not shut off and the temperature was actually going up, not a good thing if you like your beer cold.
We had to wait 5 days for a weather window to head back to Georgetown . Since we couldn't make it back in one day we made a stop at Joes Sound on Long Island. This has to be the most dangerous cut I have ever attempted here in the Bahamas. Luckily someone who was already at anchor saw us approaching and offered to guide us in.
The cut is only 16 feet wide and zig zags with a very rocky shelf to starboard but once inside it is flat calm in any weather. Here again the engine decided to play games and as we were entering the revolutions on the engine would go up and down causing us to lose power at the most inopportune times (maybe this trip is a test of my nerves)
The next day we motor sailed to Georgetown only to have the engine act up losing revs once again. With the wind blowing about 20 knots from the north we entered through the cut and proceeded to the harbour. As we passed Fowl Cay the engine decided to QUIT. Now anyone who has come in this way knows that it can be tricky at best of times. We were between a reef and a hard place with no motor. We pulled some of the jib out, with the sheet getting caught on a forward cleat we just managed to get some steerage way so as not to end up on a reef or a hard place, then we got back winded. We sailed back and forth trying to figure out what we could do. A short while later I tried the engine and it started up so we were finally able to nurse our way back to Kidds Cove and drop the anchor.
The next few days were devoted once again to repairs. It seems (we havent tested this theory yet) that the engine dying was due to excessive back pressure caused by a faulty vent in the anti siphon (if you really want to know email me and I will answer).
A fellow boater offered to fix the refrigerator and did. I installed a new sump pump for the shower and we emptied the fuel tank to get at the sludge at the bottom, which is also suspect in my engine problem. This job is probably one of the worst ones as my friend Marek Parnell will attest to. It requires you going into a very small locker and removing (in my case) the fuel tank gauge, inserting a piece of copper piping and siphoning out with a hand pump the sludge at the bottom of the tank. The very next day the wind generator decided it needed some attention, so I had to take it down and rewire it. When we get back we should have enough material to write a trouble shooting and repair guide.
Some may ask if we were well prepared for all these problems. No one can be totally prepared but we thought we were and we still do.
Are we still in paradise? YES we are. All the problems and troubles are challenges that we have overcome and dealt with in a timely manner. Will this happen again? Most probably. Everyone here has a story to tell about their problems, but, they are all here in PARADISE.
Hey, what can I say. Sh__ happens. So Borean's having minor break downs at best, a nasty engine problem at worst. It's pretty damn typical for the Bahamas cruiser.
The fuel problem is something that I've seen a few times down south. As hard as you try, keeping crap out of the fuel tank is all but impossible.
Sourcing your fuel source carefully is the most important thing, but often there's not much choice. In George Town there's two places to buy diesel, Exuma Dock Services, and the Shell station. Both get their fuel from the same fuel boat that arrives every month or so. Locals don't buy fuel immediately after a new shipment of fuel arrives, because the tanks (the dock services is new as of 1998) get all stirred up.
Baja filters (a series of mess screens in increasingly fine weaves) to strain out particles and even water from fuel help. We used a method where we'd always jerry can fuel to the boat and allow it to settle in the can a day or two, Then we'd pour it through cheese cloth and into the main tank. There was always some crud in the cheese cloth, and scum in the bottom of the jerry can using this method.
But even with all the care in the world to see that only clean fuel gets added, the residual crap that's built up over the years in the main fuel tank will often haunt.The crap that's stuck to the sides and bottom has lay'd nice and dormant for the past twenty years when suddenly it gets the shaking of it's life as you head south. Filters clog, line congest, injectors die.
A well known friend of ours; a former member of Buffalo Bills coaching staff; Dave Smith winters in St. Croix on his sailboat Sea Home each year since retiring. Dave had a great way of avoiding the residual tank crap problem. He mounted a self-priming 12 volt fuel pump beside an oversized filter. A long hose which he'd push into the far corners of his fuel tank fed the pump, and another hose at the clean end of the filter went back to the tank. The pump was a big one and when he ran it it really circulated the fuel around the tank, effectively scouring the sides and bottom every time he ran it, which he did for half and hour or so after re-feuling. All of this was particularly important on Sea Home since it was a big boat and had hundreds of gallons fuel capacity, making jerry canning it a non-option.
Dave has never had a feul related problem of Sea Home. His "filter-matic" needed it's fuel filter changed all the time, and the primary and fine filters on the boat were changed regularly, almost always tossed out in nearly spotless condition.
I'd mentioned Dave's system to Jim before they left, but you can't do everything i guess. Bet Jim wishes he'd built a tank cleaner now.
Guess what my winter project is for my boats fuel tank?
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