A Travellerspoint blog

Riding the Storm Out

sunny 75 °F

Coming here, actually going anywhere that did not involve being at anchor, was a great idea. Sunday afternoon turned calm, what little breeze there was shifted through south to west. The air got hot, muggy, still, heavy and oppressive. The bugs took advantage of the calm, maybe sensing the coming weather to seek some shelter. First came the flies, annoying but livable. Then came the no see-ums, aggravating to the max. They must have some sort of collective intelligence that suggests body targeting strategies; they seem to have a preternatural affinity for ankles and their bites itch like crazy. And, most of our screens for the port holes have a weave that will not keep them out. By sundown, heavy weather was looking very welcome as a means of pest control.

Of course, when the weather arrived, about 0300 on Monday, the bugs didn't seem so bad. The wind generator needs to be shut down at about 25 knots. It was going so hard that the noise woke us both up. To shut down the wind generator the thing has to be pulled away from the wind; when it is 90o to 180o from the wind the blades stop and the brake can be applied without burning up.

Just for the information, we turned on the wind gauge: 35 knots, a full force 7. My job is to climb up the back of the boat and to pull the generator around by a piece of line. Did it but didn't do it well, getting my right index finger in harms way. The blade is not sharp, but it does have corners. This was more like getting hit by a hammer than cut by a knife. The cut was ugly but I was more concerned about a broken bone; I don't think that it is. After several years with two lathes, I doubt that it will make my top 10 hand injuries, but it might be a contender. It seems to be healing OK, but I think that it could have used three stitches, had there been a clinic available.


We have spent a lot of time moving fenders and changing the lines, trying to keep the boat mostly stable and secure. The wind has been unrelenting. We have been through a force 8 gale, but it only lasted a couple of hours and blew by the boat. These winds are forecast to stay above 25 knots for a week, maybe longer. it is unusual for this place, I think. Even hurricanes go by in a few days. We had replaced some of our fenders last year and I tried a West Marine plastic holder to secure the lines. They worked pretty well until we hit this wind and boat movement. Three of the four just disintegrated under the pressure of boat against dock. Fortunately for us, the wind blew them into the dock in front of the boat where we were able to recover them. So now it's back to the old standard: fender washers and stopper knots. They always work all the time.

So then the wind gauge stopped working, not a problem now but it would be a major issue later. Knowing the wind is a huge safety issue. Of course the depth gauge stopped working too, along with the autopilot. I love being on the boat but dealing with these things fills me with dread. If I cannot fix it, what do we do? We are not good enough at this sailing thing to try it a la square riggers.

Tore apart the binnacle and checked the connections there. Nothing made a difference. Went into the cabin and opened up the electrical panel to check the circuit breaker with my brand new continuity tester. It worked. Checked all nine of the old time glass fuses, which are almost always the problem except this time they were not. Being out of good ideas, I started on the bad ones having remembered that when I sent parts of the auto pilot off to RayMarine last May that all the gauges stopped working. So, down into the lazarette to check the course computer. Voila! A good fuse but it just needed to be re-seated, maybe there was some corrosion on the contacts although it is in a marine fuse holder.

Carol had her birthday present today having asked for a spa treatment of some sort, exfoliation, defenestration, or whatever. It's always helpful when a man knows exactly what gift a woman wants, in this case my contribution was a simple yes. So, now Carol will feel and look great when she turns 66, just like the route on which you get your kicks, on March 25th. I'm sure that there will be an add on pedicure or some such thing.

We watched a 140-ft. boat come into the marina on Monday, when things were really bad. The boat almost slammed into the wall of the cut but had enough power to regain control of the boat. They did, however, wipe out two or three buoys, green it seemed. The power of wind and sea should be humbling to any one who observes it.

The next day was another crisis: the fans stopped working. Carol, of course, believes that if every port and hatch are not open and every fan not blowing directly onto her, that she will immediately perish from spontaneous asphyxiation. This demanded immediate attention, from me. Long story short, after pulling apart the wiring on the starboard side of the boat, it was, this time, one of those nine G.D. glass fuses, not burned through as fuses should. It was simply passing through 6vDC instead of 12vDC, not enough to power the fans. More stuff I do not understand.

The three boats from Cave Cay got together to rent a car for 24 hours. All of us needed to hit a grocery store along with other sundry shopping requirements. We elected Michael to drive, figuring that, at maybe 30, his brain was less hard wired to driving on the right hand side of the road. He did well, only having an issue once or twice and neither was serious. It was a longer drive down to George Town that I had thought that it would be and George Town is only of middling size but it does have two grocery stores and two banks. There is little other competition in the retail sector except for liquor stores; there must be more than a dozen of those in the immediate area and many more on the entire island. After a busy afternoon shopping we headed to Big D's Conch House for a conch dinner; I had chicken. We went back the next morning, not sure exactly why, returning the car at noon. It was good to see the anchorages and the approaches to the dinghy dock. While in George Town we ran into Ken, who we met in Nassau. He and Kathy stayed there during the worst weather and said that on a few boats had anchor problems but that they had not braved the dinghy ride until Friday.

We are undecided what to do. Most of these windy days the idea of heading out through the channel/cut seems impossible with 6-ft. to 8-ft. waves breaking across the axis of travel. And even if we could get out safely there is the prospect of being stuck on the boat during many more days of high winds or of having a very wet and bumpy dinghy ride across a mile, or so, of open water. The weather forecast offers up an occasional day when things are "normal" sandwiched between long stretches of very unpleasantly windy days.


Even when the weather is bad nature provides small vignettes of a softer side.


Posted by sailziveli 19:26 Archived in Bahamas Tagged boating bahamas

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