If you’re like me, it’s easy to lose pictures when you are using more than one camera. Some get transferred to the laptop and some don’t until much later. Our journey from Spanish Wells down to the Exumas was a couple of months back but I just now found the rest of our pictures from the beautiful sail across the Fleeming Channel.
The original post can be found ‘here‘ showing the pictures and story we posted around the time of the actual voyage. We kept a keen eye out for coral heads. As the sky turned gray with overcast the coral heads were a bit tricky to see until we were practically going over them. It was a beautiful and peaceful day sail and the stillness of this hop down to The Exumas was exactly what we had hoped for.
Before we left the Bahamas, it was imperative that we make a major repair. You may remember we had trouble with the main engine exhaust hose leaking into the engine room. It took awhile to pin point exactly where it was leaking from but we figured out the elbow only accessible from inside the cockpit locker was leaking in several places due to corrosion at the connections.
It took all day and many uncomfortable voyages into the line locker to be sure we had found the culprit. I had to stuff my whole body in there, hang my head over a wood divider upside down practically strangling myself to see what was going on. Bright flashlights and telescoping mirrors help tremendously!
Now, the Exumas are well traveled but very remote when it comes to supplies and marine parts. Virtually non-existent. We determined which parts we would need while in Black Point but there was no way we would find anything useful there. We could either trek back up to Staniel Cay to have parts flown in via Watermaker Air service, or we could scoot down to George Town where we hoped to find a few of the parts we needed.
Our friends on S/V Anneteak (another Whitby 42) helped us make a temporary repair moving the main engine exhaust discharge hose over to where the generator exhaust hose exits the boat on the port side. Although this is NOT recommended and creates quite a bit of exhaust fumes in the cockpit, it was really our only option. The leak was too severe to leave it as-is for the journey south. Although we hoped to sail most of it, we wanted to be prepared in case we had to motor most of the way south. We made the repair with the help of a few borrowed tools and limped down to George Town.
There are really only three stores in George Town that could have carried what we needed. Napa Auto Parts (north of George Town), Top II Bottom near town, and Brown’s Marine which is a pretty far dinghy ride south out of George Town. We tried all three and no one carried 2.5″ marine exhaust hose. Brown’s was the only place that was able to order anything in from the U.S. They would charge a 30% markup on the catalog price (ie. West Marine, Jerry’s Marine, etc.) plus freight charges and customs fees. Duty is free if the parts are essential for the propulsion of the engine. Disposable items such as oil don’t count as duty free.
While it would have been nice to just order the parts we need and be done with it, I couldn’t bring myself to pay 30% on top of all the other fees we would already be paying. Ordering parts from the U.S. and having them shipped to George Town via DHL was another option. We would still be paying freight charges, but atleast there wouldn’t be a 30% markup.
Just before we put in our order, we were told by a few people to try Reggie’s Express Services, Inc. which provides air freight services to and from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and George Town, Exuma. DHL may take up to a week and a half or even more (depending on how long it takes for the shipping of the parts to DHL stateside) to get any parts in since the freight is routed through Nassau for customs. Reggie’s flights leave Florida every Wednesday morning arriving directly in George Town later that day. The freight is cleared through customs at the airport by the next morning.
You can reach Regina at 954-583-8545 or firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate any shipments. She’ll need a pdf of your cruising permit as well as an invoice for the parts that you are having shipped to her in Florida. She charges $1.75/lb with a 5% fuel surcharge. Just make sure your packages are delivered to her by Tuesday morning.
Once the packages arrive in George Town, contact Dejuan at 242.544.9090 that Thursday morning. His office is at Doeboi Unlimited just across from the dinghy dock to the right. He is a customs broker who will handle all the paperwork for you on the Bahamas side of things. He charges $20 for delivery from the airport and $30 for his paperwork fees.
We had quite a few items shipped from Parker/Racor, Jamestown Distributors and a specialty store to get the exhaust tubing in time so it was much easier for us to have Dejuan bring it all back from the airport instead of us renting a car to go get everything. (p.s. if your iPhone cable breaks while you’re in the Bahamas, Doeboi carries some great knockoff cell phone accessories that have a flat cord which is way more durable than the regular round cords and he sells them for only $12. He’s got all kinds of other accessories like 12v plugs too.)
After our special-order fiberglass connector, fiberglass 90-degree exhaust elbow, 6′ of marine wet exhaust hose, a few extra hose clamps and some other miscellaneous parts arrived it was time to put it all back together the right way.
New friends on SV Dream Ketcher (another Whitby 42) came over to help with this major project. It’s always a puzzle trying to figure out the best way to pry off 30-some year old parts and replace them with new ones.
All Fixed! We connected new hose to old hose inside the lockers in the aft head with a straight fiberglass tube. The generator exhaust hose was fastened back to where we took it off inside the cockpit locker. Hose clamps were secured and we are BACK IN BUSINESS!!
After a frustrating attempt to find the elusive 2.5″ exhaust hose and elbow we desperately need, we decided to head back up to Emerald Bay Marina, just north of George Town, to catch up on some chores last week. Peter’s birthday was March 30th so we splurged and spent a good 6 days at the dock.
There was a special for $1/foot per night if you stay three days minimum on their “no power” dock. It’s $2.25 otherwise. Water is .40/gal and power is .85/kw on the power docks. Pump out is $25 and available anytime you want. Diesel was $5.73 with a nice long dock to pull up to on your way out. We managed just fine with solar alone especially since we were using much less water on board with free showers on shore. This means we didn’t need to run the watermaker, which is one of our biggest power draws. The showers were the nicest we’ve seen since arriving in the Bahamas. The water was hot and there was never a wait for an empty stall. The second night we were there the hot water heater for the facilities died but they got a new one installed within two days. The laundry is free with four HUGE new front-load washers and dryers. Wifi was free though the connection was never very good. Coffee was provided in the office every morning and the lounge felt like a huge house. Monday evenings the Harbormaster puts on a “happier hour” where they serve conch fritters, sandwich bites, fruit, and homemade rum punch. All these perks are free, but when you check out, they do add a 10% service charge to the bill to recoup some of the costs for the free services.
The no-see-ums got us bad at night. The breeze inside the marina just isn’t enough to keep them at bay. Those little suckers inflict a wicked itch from the very second they begin their feast and the itch lasts about a week. Peter and I can’t help scratching all the time and even the creams don’t help. Let me just tell you… shaving your legs with 30 bug bites per leg is NOT fun!! Near impossible without further damage to my poor skin. It could be worse though… at least we didn’t have any other critters welcoming themselves aboard. We were lucky to have a slip at the end of the dock because the boats closest to land were getting ants blown off the trees into their boat!
There was a resident turtle that swam around the marina. He spent the majority of the time at our dock.
Gunner sure wishes he could swim as fast as the turtles!
For us, staying in a marina isn’t a vacation. It means double the work while taking advantage of a still boat, hookups for power and water, and access to facilities on land. We probably did 10 loads of laundry during our entire stay, from clothes to towels, to sheets to cockpit cushion covers. Not only was it SO nice to be able to wash all the salt out of every piece of fabric on the boat, but we had access to DRYERS that made everything soft again! I really don’t mind the crisp air-dried and sun-baked effect when we do laundry at anchor. There sure is something satisfying about not relying on machines and doing chores the way our grandparents did. Every once in a while, though, it’s pretty wonderful to have soft towels and sheets again ;)
The huge concrete floating docks served as an excellent workspace for servicing our 12′ dinghy. The aluminum floor boards needed to be removed and cleaned while a bit of 5200 was applied to some areas needing reinforcement. Peter didn’t worry too much about making a mess in hopes of making the dink look a little run down and less desirable to any potential thieves. Who would want a dinghy that’s been patched up a few times? We haven’t heard of any theft in the Bahamas but as we travel south into the Caribbean we’ve been warned to make sure to remove and lock the outboard back on the big boat every night.
Another bonus of coming to Emerald Bay? We finally got to meet Rebecca and Brian (and Lucie and Stevie) of SV Summertime Rolls!! These guys are awesome. It was so nice to finally meet them in person after getting to know them in the blog world for several months. One of our favorite parts of being in the cruiser community is that everyone is so kind and always helps out wherever they can. I believe in Karma and it’s always such a gift when someone helps you out. Rebecca knew I didn’t have any cake mix or eggs to bake for Peter’s birthday so she offered us some peanut butter brownie mix that she had on board. We thought we were going to be able to go to the store a few days back but the weather wasn’t cooperating and we decided to just head up to the marina instead. Many of you know how much I like to bake and a few of you know how important it is to me to stick to tradition and make sure there is always a cake or baked treat on birthdays. Rebecca, I can’t thank you enough for helping make Peter’s birthday a special one. Now that we are living on a boat in the islands, we have to make due with what we have and get creative to keep special traditions. Finding a substitute for birthday cake turned out much better than we could have ever imagined!
Peter and I had a nice dinner at a restaurant inside the neighboring resort for his birthday. We treated ourselves to a few meals there and sucked up the island vacation feeling while we had it :) After a bit of R&R we got back to chores. Peter had to go up the mast to retrieve one of our halyards. The mizzen halyard (attached to the smaller mast in the back – for the non-sailor readers) wasn’t fastened all the way during our trip down to George Town. Peter intended on greasing up the threads but forgot it wasn’t attached all the way to the sail when he attempted to raise the mizzen last time. The halyard popped off and immediately pulled to the top of the mast 35′ in the air. While we were in still water at the marina we were able to get some help from one of the neighbors who winched Peter up the main mast with the main halyard. He then had to clip on to the triadic stay (49′ in the air) connecting the top of the main mast to the mizzen mast, and SHIMMY DOWN the stay to the top of the mizzen mast where he clipped onto the lost halyard. Then I slowly lowered him down the mizzen mast, bringing both halyards with him. There were no photos of this ordeal – we were a little busy :)
While finishing up our laundry, we decided to move over to the dock with power hook-ups to top off our batteries. Without shore power its pretty difficult for us to get above an 80% charge. When we do connect to shore power we always take full advantage of the power to charge up our electronics and make microwave popcorn! Unlimited electricity is a luxury we don’t get often. The most important cleaning task on the agenda was using our shopvac to get in all the nooks and crannies of the entire boat. Having two dogs on board really isn’t too much of a hassle but it is challenging to keep up on all the shedding. Both Betsy and Gunner are short-haired dogs and they shed significantly less than some, but it still needs to be kept up on. Since our generator isn’t connected right now, we can only run the vacuum when connected to shore power. It was so nice to have a sparkling clean boat again!!
The marina landscapers were harvesting coconuts and cleaning up the palm trees. One man stabilized the ladder, one went up with a machete and began chucking the coconuts back into the truck while a third man picked up the branches and coconuts that had fallen to the ground. They kindly offered to cut open a few coconuts for us and Peter filled our Bubba (52oz insulated mug) with fresh coconut water. The men scraped out the jelly from inside the coconut to infuse our water a bit more. The jelly sits at the bottom inside young green coconuts where the meat starts to form. Wow was that a treat!! Coconuts were EVERYWHERE! There were several floating by in many of the slips and they were littered on the ground everywhere we went.
The other great part about staying at the marina last week was talking to the girls at the reception desk who suggested we use Reggie Express Services to ship the parts we need from the U.S. to George Town. The air freight service receives packages at their Ft Lauderdale address and puts them on a plane every Wednesday heading to George Town. We spent a few days finding the parts we needed and lined them up for shipping.
We left the marina Saturday April 5th and headed back down to anchor in Elizabeth Harbor while we wait for our parts. The plane arrived today 4.9 and everything should clear through customs by tomorrow morning. We’ll make a trip in to town and get started on our exhaust system repair along with a few other installations of replacement parts!
As everyone says, Cruising really means fixing your boat in exotic places… we fully understand the meaning of it now :)
Limping along from Black Point, we made it down into Elizabeth Harbor problem-free. The jury-rigged exhaust hose worked well and helped us get to a place that has a few options for marine hardware and parts. It might have been just as easy to leave Black Point and sail back north to Staniel Cay where there is an airline service, Watermakers, that will carry parts from Florida. Instead of backtracking and dancing around Staniel as the winds shift, we opted to continue south to a larger town.
George Town was bustling with cruisers all over the place when we arrived a little over a week ago. Maybe two hundred boats were anchored in the popular areas: Monument, Volleyball Beach, Sand Dollar Beach and Kidd Cove.
We nestled in between Monument and Volleyball Beach where there were only a small handful of boats. We like to be close enough to the places we want to go, but far away enough from everyone else so it’s not a total zoo.
Anchoring on the west side of the harbor would have been closer to Lake Victoria in town, but the winds were coming out of the east so it was better to anchor where we did. We braved the soaking-wet ride across and found the small cut to Lake Victoria where the dinghy dock is. Timing is critical to make sure other boats aren’t trying to exit at the same time. The tides and chop made it feel like a gauntlet as we blasted through. Much easier going in than coming out!
While searching for marine stores, refilling our 10lb propane tank for the BBQ was high on the to-do list. Peter is the kind of man that needs meat with every meal. Our marine BBQ may be small but we rely on it daily for grilling up steak, fish, chicken or pork.
The morning cruisers net on VHF 72 announced the propane guy was going to be there Wednesday morning across the parking lot from the dinghy dock, but Wednesday wasn’t good for us. If you want to get propane on a day other than Wednesday, the power plant is a great option. There is a cut in the trees looking west from the harbor, north of Lake Victoria, where you can go by dinghy. There are small buoys marking a mini channel that leads to a restaurant dock and resort. Across the street from there is a hill that leads to the power plant. As soon as we came down the other side of the hill, a nice man came out to greet us and took the propane tanks. We had brought along one of SV Baccalieu’s tanks to fill as well so we both didn’t have to make the trek. A 10lb tank costs $11 to fill, which isn’t bad at all, and it takes less than 5 minutes. Not sure what it costs at the guy who is in town on Wednesdays but I’ll bet it takes longer than this place does!
The Napa store was a good mile and a half walk north from where the power plant was. It was recommended to see if they have the parts we need but there were far more household and automotive items there than marine supplies. Turns out they had nothing useful to us, and they had no way to order any of the parts we need. Go figure.
Next, we took a LONG dinghy ride to Brown’s Marine, south of George Town. They could order pretty much anything we needed out of a marine catalog but their markup from the catalog price was 25-30%. We would need to find a customs broker (more fees) to handle the paperwork and pay the freight charges on top of that! Even though we can import the parts duty-free with proof of our cruising permit, the customs fee still applies. It was still an option, but getting parts through this shop would surely cost an arm and a leg.
Of course it was the weekend again which makes it harder to find parts or any mechanical help whatsoever. There was one store left that we didn’t check out, Top 2 Bottom. The word on the street is that they didn’t have 2.5″ exhaust hose and we knew we’d have to order the exhaust elbow regardless. Time to do a little more research on the best way to ship parts to Georgetown. Patience is the key to our success… good thing we’re not in a hurry!
Meanwhile, we enjoyed the scenery. Volleyball Beach is where the Chat n Chill bar is. It’s a sandy, barefoot, slow service beach bar with a great vibe. There are posts for tying up your dinghy on the beach and picnic tables in the sand. A cheeseburger, fries and a diet coke has become our staple meal here :)
Gunner’s birthday was March 28th and he got to celebrate in style running on the beaches in the Exumas!! Our sweet boy is 13 now and he’s doing great. Instead of being home alone while I’m at work, he gets to hang out with his mommy and daddy and sister all day everyday and run like crazy up and down the beaches in one of the most beautiful places on earth! What a nice way to enjoy his old age. Lucky dog.
It’s the little things in life that bring us joy. Even though we are having a few issues with the boat, our home is in paradise. There is beauty all around us and we wouldn’t trade this life for anything!
Two weeks ago we made our way down the Central Exumas to Black Point Settlement. It can be a little tedious to pack up our entire home and stow away all loose belongings when traveling to a new anchorage but we find it more exciting than anything. Travel days are when the trolling lines come out! Peter can hardly resist throwing in a line, despite how rough the seas may be. We’ve done fairly well in the fishing department which makes me and the dogs happy campers! I think Peter has more interest in catching fish than he does eating them :)
Each new place we travel to is an adventure. You could easily spend several years exploring all of the islands of the Bahamas and still not see everything, which is why many cruisers return season after season to their favorite anchorages in the Bahamas, exploring new areas along the way.
Peter and I are traveling through the Bahamas for the first time and there is much that we’ll miss. Knowing this, we make the best of the areas we do get to see and we enjoy seeing all of the blog posts and pictures from our friends that are exploring the rest. Be sure to check out some of the great blogs we’ve listed on our website.
Black Point was recommended as a “must-see” anchorage. Even though we didn’t need to do laundry, we were told this is THE place to get it done! There are a ton of machines. We attempted taking some bedding to the laundry facility during our stay but our Island Time brains didn’t realize it was Sunday until we got to shore. The machines take tokens only and you can only purchase them Monday through Saturday. Most of the local stores all through the Bahamas are closed on Sunday. We still keep forgetting though.
Black Point also has free garbage at the city dock (although a small donation is recommended) and across the main road is a faucet for RO (reverse osmosis) water. It’s the local water supply for the whole island so they prefer if the cruisers don’t use it to fill their water tanks, but it’s perfectly fine to take some jerry jugs there to fill up your drinking water. If you have a wifi booster it’s pretty easy to pick up an open signal from anywhere in the anchorage as well :)
We spent a few days in Black Point until the weather clocked around and another westerly was going to be upon us. It’s the only direction you do not want wind coming from here. The chop and swells become pretty uncomfortable to say the least.
Before continuing south, our leaking engine exhaust problem had become much more critical than before. The leaking hose and elbow for our main engine exhaust was now seeping at an alarming rate, pouring salt water into our engine room on top of the port fuel tank, over the ledge and down beneath the generator. Swapping out sopping-wet towels had worked for a while but we were afraid we wouldn’t make it all the way to Georgetown the way it was.
Amazingly, we met 4 or 5 other Whitby 42s and a Brewer 12.8 while we were anchored at Black Point. They had all just traveled up from Georgetown. Anne and Brad on S/V Anneteak (Whitby 42) were so helpful! We had been in communication with them via Facebook before they arrived and it was so nice to finally meet them. Brad helped Peter disconnect the generator exhaust hose where it discharges overboard on the port side, and then reconnect the main engine exhaust hose in its place. This is by no means a “good” fix, but it was necessary to get us to Georgetown to find a new exhaust elbow and new exhaust hose to fix the job properly.
Black Point was a nice quiet little town but there were no marine parts available and that means it was time to keep moving south.