Wifi is a first-world problem. But its still a problem.
It has been tough to find a solid internet connection for the past several days. I’m not really complaining but have felt guilty about not posting anything for a while. Sometimes WordPress works over a weak cell connection and sometimes it doesn’t. Regardless, its been blowing like stink for almost a week and today is the first chance I’ve had to get ashore to an establishment with a fair internet connection. I’ll keep it short and let the photos speak for themselves.
Its hard to guess when I’ll have good wifi again so this may be the last post for a while. The plan for the next week or so is to head from Staniel Cay / Big Majors towards the settlement at Black Point a few hours south. Along the way I’m hoping to find some secluded anchorages and do a little snorkeling while the weather is nice.
Almost 75% of the Bahamian population lives on this one island — and there are hundreds of islands and thousands of small cays (always pronounced “keys” hereabouts) in the country. Temporarily add one person (and one boat): Andante and I arrived in West Bay, New Providence this afternoon after a nice sail from the Berry Islands.
West Bay is surrounded by a park, a golf course and the exclusive community of Lyford Cay. And a noisy and smelly power plant. But its still a pretty nice spot to spend a day or two and wait for northerly winds to head further south to the Exumas. Some folks have written about excessive surge and uncomfortable rolling at anchor here but with a 15 kt southeast wind we’re barely moving at all.
The first thing I did after anchoring was jump overboard. The water temperature was finally above 70 (yay) and I’d read accounts of poor holding (uh oh). So I dove in and gave the anchor a check to make sure it was set well.
While I was in the water I gave Andante an all-over bottom inspection. She looked good except that the prop zinc (the bit that I inspected in very cold water due to a mysterious vibration way back in Fisher Island, NY) was completely consumed. It didn’t fall off but rather completely corroded off. In less than 60 days. Hmm. Not sure why yet but went ahead and replaced it while I was wet. Will watch it carefully over the next few weeks. Hoping it has to do with the dockside 120V electrical system in Beaufort and not the 12V system onboard.
It rained last night in the Berrys – at 0230. I know this because my porthole was open and I got splashed in the face. This evening just before sunset it was obvious that a squall was coming our way so I closed everything up tight in advance.
The rain was hard and lasted more than an hour. But no complaints: Andante was covered in salt from today’s sail and always enjoys a good shower. I just wish it would rain soap briefly before the rinse cycle.
When I have a chance (and can find some fabric) I’d like to make some rain flys for at least one or two of Andante’s hatches so they can remain open in all weather. It gets a bit stuffy below with all the hatches and ports closed.
Anyway, the plan for now is to hang out here tomorrow and do boat jobs. Perhaps I’ll do a little more swimming and give Andante’s waterline a good scrub. Then on Thursday we’ll ride the north wind down to Highbourne Cay in the northern Exumas.
I didn’t have the bandwidth until today to upload these recent videos. Enjoy.
The other day as we were leaving Bimini a group of dolphins led me out of the harbor. One of them played on the bow for several minutes. Good fun.
And while dockside in Bimini I watched some fisherman throw scraps to a big group of nurse sharks. Pretty spectacular. I was actually more afraid of the greedy pelicans.
The initial to-do list created just after we brought Andante home was pretty overwhelming. The list was huge and there were numerous jobs that I didn’t yet know how to even begin. And just when it seemed like things were going well, tasks were added to the list faster than I could cross them off.
Over the past couple of months notable progress has been made. I’ve been able to complete most of the significant structural, mechanical and safety items. Now the focus can shift to helping Andante look her best and making her as comfortable and livable as possible. Fortunately most jobs of that flavor can be done away from the boatyard at a more leisurely pace. I’m looking forward to that.
Many of the remaining jobs can be divided into inside and outside work. So on a recent sunny day I stripped and sanded and varnished. And when it rained over the weekend I repaired some canvas and worked on a few galley projects. And I’m constantly rearranging things below to maximize storage space — and trying to keep a list of where I hid everything so I can find it again later.
I do my best to take care of Andante because I’m counting on her to take care of me. For whatever reason not every boat receives the same level of care and attention. In fact, walking around the boatyard can be a bit depressing sometimes. Mixed in with boats that are clearly headed for sea are an astounding number likely headed for the scrapyard. I’m not one to get emotional over a junkyard full of cars — but its sad to think that each of these old boats was once somebody’s dream.
I’ve been terrible about posting while ashore. Perhaps its because I don’t anticipate the mundane yard work is of general interest. Or maybe I’m just exhausted every evening. Regardless, I haven’t been doing a very good job of sharing information.
I could probably fill you in on everything that has happened until now but that would be too much information. So this entry will share a few highlights from the past month and I’ll do my best to post more frequently going forward.
Probably the biggest highlight for me was flying home for Thanksgiving. It was nice to see Nicholas and those other people. I was particularly thankful this year for carbohydrates and cranberry sauce.
Much has been going on in the boatyard over the past month. The removal and application of bottom paint went smoothly. A full strip to bare gelcoat and epoxy barrier coat and fairing may still be in Andante’s future but that would have been overkill this year. Thanks for your input on colors: She looks great with her new green bottom.
The two other big jobs I was looking forward to were the replacement of the steering chain and cable (and two worn sheaves) and installation of new engine control cables. The steering work was much easier to accomplish on land than in the water. But boy was it messy. And cramped. And did I mention messy?
But after dreading it for months it was strangely enjoyable to do and very satisfying to complete. And given the critical importance of both steering and engine control and the unknowns of 30+ years of stainless steel crevice corrosion, getting these jobs done is a real confidence boost as I contemplate heading further offshore.
Every day here is full of little jobs too numerous to relate. For example, today I climbed the mast (twice) to fix a navigation light that was acting erratically. And replaced screws in the starboard chainplate covers. And prepared to sew new zippers on the bimini. And inventoried the supply of flares and smoke canisters.
A few of the more notable jobs over the past month (defined as those for which I took photos) included removal of a 25 gallon water tank to free up some prime storage space, cleaning and polishing the prop, and installing a new seawater foot pump in the galley to save water when washing dishes.
Schedule update: I’ll be in NC until a few days before Christmas and will return to NC a few days after Christmas. Weather permitting, I hope to cast off and begin heading south again shortly thereafter. There will be a few days of fueling and watering and provisioning in Beaufort before we head out into the Atlantic.
We’ve been at Bock Marine in Beaufort for a week now and are feeling pretty settled. Life in the yard at the top of a 12 ft ladder is not as enjoyable as life at sea — but its still fun and very satisfying to see progress on many different projects.
The yard provides a nice clean lounge with showers and laundry facilities.
Outside the lounge everything is dirty. The ground in the yard is not gravel or crushed stone. It is a mixture of sand and mud and the detritus of years of sanding fiberglass and wood and paint. Also, coastal North Carolina is pretty low and flat. Drainage is not really a thing here. The ground stays soft and squishy for days after a big rain.
In the last few days I’ve cleaned and repitched the prop, end-for-ended and repainted the anchor chain, repaired some hull dings gifted by the previous owner, sealed the deck and stripped varnish from the toe rail, handrails and eyebrow.
The biggest job so far has been removing as much of the old crusty bottom paint as time and budget allows. Two young men from the yard spent yesterday sanding and chipping.
I applied the first of 2-3 coats of Petitt Hydrocoat antifouling bottom paint earlier today. The stuff is water based so cleanup is easy and it doesn’t smell (or melt your brain) like most solvent-based paints. And it sticks to everything so there is no need to remove all of the underlying paint.
The weather looks great this week so expecting to do more painting tomorrow and Thursday. Then on to seacock maintenance, more varnish stripping and sanding and some preliminary work under the cockpit to prepare for running new steering and engine control cables. Good fun.