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Old May 24th 09, 08:19 PM posted to
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Default Warderick Wells Cay, Exumas to Cabbage Cay Berries April 13-16 2009

Warderick Wells Cay, Exumas to Cabbage Cay Berries April 13-16 2009

Our weather window to Cabbage Cay, in the Berries, called for an overnight
sail so as to not arrive too early, due to the tricky entrance, and to have
a preferred tide on the expected wind. As always, Chris Parker is our
weather guide, so we did our planning on his advice.

Before we left, I did my usual engine checks, which showed the alternator
belt being a bit loose, so I tightened it. More than 200 hours on this belt,
a real relief compared to our excitements a couple of summers ago! In
addition, however, our great Internet connection had allowed me to do some
checking about our exhaust kludge I'd made up. I was nervous about water
intrusion to the engine, not having that sump which the muffler provided,
and my checking confirmed that I'd be well to prove our engine's integrity
after our exhaust bypass. I unhooked the exhaust line from the downhill end
of the PVC pipe I'd used, and a fair amount of water came out.

Thus warned, I turned the engine over by hand (using a very large
screwdriver against the bolts holding the drive pulleys, and the stub for
another set of pulleys to go on which we'd taken off when we redid the
refrigeration) two full revolutions. That's because a 4-cycle engine goes
through two revolutions for a complete combustion cycle, and doing that
would allow for each cylinder's valves to be closed at some point along the
way. If there were any water in any of the cylinders, being incompressible,
it would have stopped.

There was no undue resistance, however, and so emboldened, after I
reconnected the PVC pipe which had bypassed the muffler, we cranked her up
without incident, and shut it down again once we saw that it was working
properly. I'm also glad to say that my having taken it apart and then put it
back together, but this time applying more force on the clamps, cured the
tiny leak we'd had when it was first used.

We sailed off our anchor at 12:15, following our route out the way we came
in. When we turned the corner to head 269*, the wind was such that we put
out the asymmetrical spinnaker and the main in about 8-12 knots of wind.
Because we were making such nice time, when the wind shifted a bit at 1:30,
becoming more southeast, and continuing to shift further south, we made a
gentle curve. This kept the wind in the proper quarter, going further west
than we needed to in order to make the turn we'd scheduled, but still making
progress to the north. Our route called for another starboard adjustment
later, and with this westing, we'd not need that.

Eventually, at 7:15, so we wouldn't have to deal with doing it in the dark,
we struck the spinnaker. However, the sock wouldn't come down, no matter how
hard I pulled on the downhaul line. It would go up, and come down a bit, but
at a certain point very close to the top, it stuck. So, we did what I
referred to as a "dirty drop" - Lydia blanketed the spinnaker with the main,
since we had lots of maneuvering room, and I corralled the spinnaker folds
as Lydia gently let out the halyard. Once I'd twisted it up enough to take
the wind out of it, we laid it down a little at a time, on the deck.

We found that the sock had torn - wear, probably - fouling the downhaul
line. Once the sail was fully on the deck, though, we manually pulled it
through the sock and stowed it in the bag. Another sewing project! That was
resolved by 8PM and we enjoyed dinner in the cockpit, prepared as we labored
on deck, by our constant servant, Louise. Good thing she really gets off on
cooking and cleaning - we'll miss her terribly when she leaves in a month!

The wind started to die as we turned on our course of 343* and the swells
and waves on our beam caused a lot of rock and roll, given the small force
the wind put on the sails, not making for much stiffening effect on our
relatively downwind progress of 3.5 knots, half of what we'd been making
under the spinnaker. However, by the watch change, when I went down to
sleep, at 9PM, the wind had stiffened, and so did the boat. By 11:30, we
were making over 7 knots to as much as 8.3 knots as we headed to the west
end of New Providence Island.

However, the corner of New Providence Island not only stopped channeling the
tidal current, which probably had helped, but it blanketed some of the wind,
as well, and when we turned the corner, our speed dropped to only about 6
knots in a broad to beam reach. By the time of our watch change, when I took
over at 2:45AM there were following seas at very close to our speed. The
effect was to make them equivalent to very long-period waves, and the motion
was quite comfortable.

Later, the wind built again to 15-20, and once clear of the blocking effect
of New Providence Island, the ocean swells kicked in again, the wind
clocking, becoming South to Southeast by 4AM, which made for some rolling
around. By 5AM, the wind built a bit, along with the waves, and we were
making high 6 to low 7 knots progress on a broad reach with the now-usual
rock and roll. The waves continued to build, and the SE swell was augmented
by the southerly wind-driven waves, which made it pretty lumpy due to the
prevailing 6-8' swell meeting the 3-5' wind waves. The effect was to have
occasional - let's just say - "interesting" waves. None of them boarded, but
it made for a somewhat uneven ride by 6AM with our mid-6 knot progress.

I checked in with Chris Parker at 7 AM who confirmed that the weather would
have produced those conditions. Knowing I was right in my estimations didn't
make me feel any better :{)) However, the wind and the tide were cooperating
as we turned the corner for Little Harbour a little after noon under close
to a beam reach. The guidebook comments about the cut through from the ocean
had lots of little encouraging comments about avoiding the rock awash, and
the nasty water in certain tide and wind conditions, but it was full
daylight, with the tide to our advantage, and we made it through without any
excitement. The entrance to Little Harbour was a bit daunting according to
the charts, so we elected to go around to the far side of Cabbage Cay, the
adjoining little island to the west.

Unfortunately, about the only good holding was awfully close to the very
shallow stuff, and after three tries without success in 15 feet of water, we
elected for Little Harbour after all. The charts showed a rather convoluted
path, with lots of shallow stuff around us, but we saw that there were a
couple of ideal locations not too far in, and nobody home there. So, we
picked our way in, with an eagle eye on both of the depth finders, and after
wandering around a bit to get the lay of the land, we chose our spot.

Sure enough, the holding was excellent. Since there was some heavy weather
forecast for the following day, with 30-40 knot squalls, along with
significant tidal current through the cut where we chose our spot, we double
anchored at about 5 PM on the 14th, and settled in for dinner.

There's about one place left on Little Harbour, the island having fallen
into ruin with the decline of the prior fishing/sponge-gathering industry
and a few hurricanes, a somewhat famous eat-and-drinkery. They require three
hours notice of your intent to eat there, with a pre-selection of what you'll
have, as they want to make sure you're happy. Flo's Conch House, we
discovered when we went ashore to explore on the 15th, is well named. I
imagine, as well, that if it's burgers you want, they'll want time for the
meat to thaw! There were literally walls of conch shell for hundreds of feet
on both sides of their dock. I can't imagine how many thousands of shells
there were, but it was very impressive to say the least.

We came ashore at their dock after first hailing for permission as
recommended in the guidebooks, and chatted up the owner, who, one might say,
is "older than dirt" and has seen it all. Some of that included a very
serious hurricane during which time she hid under the over-200# commercial
baker's mixing bowl she uses to make her bread dough and listened to the
destruction around her. Her son does the cooking now, and as we returned
from an excursion to the beach, showed us how he prepares conch, which was
not only interesting but instructional for our future use with what we may
harvest. I have to say, though, for all the various sizes of conch shell we
saw, many of which were of the size we harvested, there were also some
monsters which must have been nearly half again the dimension of our

They directed us to the only path we could see, leading to the beach. From
the harbor side to the Atlantic wasn't much of a walk, but there was no road
intersecting it, which meant that they were the only ones out here, and
that, like so many places in the Bahamas, whatever they sold, it would have
to come in by boat. And, being the only place, and with a very shallow
approach from the north, the usual path for supplies, it would have to come
in a very small boat. For all that, their prices were very reasonable by
Bahamian standards. Like all establishments of this sort, washing and
non-eating water came from a cistern, and a generator provided electrical
power. Chickens roamed the yard, along with an unfriendly (but not in any
way aggressive) dog.

We met a couple of folks there who were finishing their lunches and walked
with us to the ocean. Not surprisingly, in this ever-shrinking world,
despite one of them being from Sweden, one of her best buddies was one of
the administrators of the Ham test I took in Georgetown. It had been 9 years
since she'd seen him, so couldn't quite recall the boat name, but with the
hint of what he did, and a name of "Bob" (she also couldn't recall his last
name), I triangulated on his and his boat's name. Small world.

When we got to the ocean side, it was unbelievably rugged, and massive
boulders had been thrown up on the shore, obviously, from their position
(basically flat limestone, sitting askew on other rocks) not where they
were, or in that attitude, from erosion, nor, from the terrain, having
fallen from someplace higher. It's difficult to imagine the force of the sea
needed to do that!

A walk along a path which had been developed by those before us, picking our
way along the limestone and boulders, brought us to a beach where Lydia
hoped to find more hamburger beans, but, alas, no such luck. Other small
finds, including what looked to be a NEW ping-pong ball (what sort and size
of boat would have a ping-pong table, apparently up on deck [else, how would
it have made it overboard?]), made it interesting, though. After a couple of
hours of marveling at mother nature's work (I also found the stern
platform/engine cover/dinghy mount to a major fiberglass power boat thrown
up on the beach, the presumed remains of a total wreck), we made our way
back over the hill and down to the dock to our dinghy for our return home.

Once I'd delivered Lydia to Flying Pig, as it was nearly low tide, but still
plenty of daylight, I took the hand-held depth sounder and went exploring to
see what sort of depth we could expect on the way out. During our stay
there, two other boats had anchored out toward the entrance, where we'd
expected some potential excitement on the way in, and another was anchored
well to our stern. Going over to a very shallow area, I confirmed the
readings I was getting, just in case the sounder wasn't correct. We were in
about 15 feet of water, and with all the wandering about that I did on the
exit route, despite getting quite close to both shorelines, I saw nothing
less than 8 feet on the way out, and usually more like 9-12 feet. That was
very reassuring, of course, so we relaxed a good deal about our exit the
next day.

When I was out, I noted that our anchor lines were crossed. Dang! We must
have swung around with the current overnight. Oh, well, no big deal, as it
was pretty light wind at the time. I used the dinghy to push the boat
around, untangling the lines. Oops. They hadn't tangled, after all. After
doing that, using my dinghy to block the small waves, and seeing the bottom
in the calm slick behind it, I saw that, instead, with one line shorter than
the other, the longer had merely swung over the line, not crossed. So, I
repeated my tugboat imitation and put them back the way they were :{))

As tonight was the forecasted blow, we settled in to enjoy another marvelous
dinner courtesy of the ministrations of Lydia's mother, watched a movie and
had an early night. However, the expected blow passed us by, and we passed a
peaceful, relaxed evening.

As we got up the next morning, the 16th, and we started our coffee water, I
noticed that it seemed to be taking an inordinately long time to boil.
What?? No flame?? Dang. Some problem with the electricals controlling the
solenoid? A quickie troubleshoot showed we had power, so I went aft and
checked. Sure enough, we'd eaten (pardon the expression) our way through the
second of our 10# cooking tanks of propane. Fortunately, we had our spare,
the fiberglass 17# unit I'd bought the last time we were ashore in GA. I
took out the two smaller empty tanks, replacing them with the single larger
one in the propane locker, and we finished boiling our water, enjoying our
morning coffee and breakfast. All this breadmaking is sure demanding on the

Well, I see that I've run my mouth/fingers again, so we'll leave you here
for the moment. See you next time.

Stay tuned!



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"Believe me, my young friend, there is *nothing*-absolutely nothing-half so
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boats-or *with* boats.
In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that's
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Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your
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anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in
particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and
you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."

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