Thursday, October 31, 2013

Final Day in the Bahamas

Well, we are off the boat-mostly. We built in today to take care of pesky last minute boat issues. Mike is currently researching o rings. We may not be the space shuttle, but even LUX can suffer from o ring issues.

We are staying at lovely villas across the way from the marina. It's close enough to walk back and forth. The Pelican Beach Villas are quite nice inside.

But what makes it really special is the view outside.

It has its own beach and area for snorkeling. The best thing, though, is that it gives us plenty of space to reorganize and pack for the trip home.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Vic's DC Electric Service: Alternator or Starter Repair

We were on our way down the ICW, just a few days from jumping off from Ft. Pierce to go to Marsh Harbor, Abaco, Bahamas, when the alternator on the port engine died. (Its death is another story...) I ordered a replacement from Marine Parts Express, a reputable Volvo Penta dealer that we've used before. I requested express shipping, which they said they could do directly from Volvo Penta, to be delivered to Ft. Pierce, where we were to arrive in 3 days.
When we arrive at HarborTown Marina in Ft. Pierce, there was no package there. A quick call to MPE and they found that the alternator was still sitting at Volvo. Not even a shipping label on it. We've heard that this is a common occurrence. Someone at Volvo Penta should pay attention to customer service.

Time for Plan B. I called one of the local marine service companies and asked about alternator service companies. I was given the name of Vic's DC Electric Service in Stuart, FL, south of Ft. Pierce. I called Vic and talked with him a bit. He had a Volvo alternator on the shelf, left over from another customer's repair. It was possible that we could buy it and he would be open til 5pm. Off to the car rental place, then to Vic's.

Vic's place is a single bay in an industrial building. There are hundreds of old alternators and starters throughout the space. A small space is reserved for "current projects". Vic was very helpful. The owner of the Volvo 60A alternator hadn't returned Vic's call, so he couldn't sell it to us. Parts were no longer available for the 90A Leece Neville alternator we had. After rummaging around in his stock, he came up with all the new parts needed to make a new 90A alternator. It would be ready about noon the next day. And the price was less than half of what MPE wanted for the 60A Volvo alternator. Yea! I had to pick up Tom & Linda at West Palm Beach, just south of Stuart, so it worked out. I cancelled the order with MPE.

Tom, Linda, and I arrive at Vic's about 1pm the next day and there is the new alternator, complete with the pulley removed from the old alternator, which means that the tachometer will indicate the correct RPM. Vic goes over the connections, we pay him for the work, and we head back to LUX. The installation goes smoothly and the new alternator works great.

If you're in Florida and need an alternator or starter serviced, Vic is the person to see. He also does work for racing cars and boats. He is friendly, knowledgeable, and prompt. He doesn't take credit cards, so be prepared to pay cash for his service.   772-220-8952 Stuart, FL


Waterproof Flashlight

Gee wrote about using a flashlight off the stern to attract fish, including two interesting squid. Last year, I decided that it made sense to have at least one good waterproof flashlight on board. A number of uses have come to my mind:
1. Spotting day marks or checking on the anchor bridle in heavy rain.
2. Checking the anchor set in water where we can see the bottom near or after dusk from the dinghy.
3. Checking the props at night, perhaps due to wrapping a crab pot line around one.
4. Inspecting the rigging at night, perhaps also in heavy rain or spray conditions that would affect a non-waterproof flashlight.
5. Shining into the water off the stern to attract marine life after dark.
I'm sure you can come up with some other uses.
I took a look around and finally found the Stanley Fat Max flashlight. It is an LED flashlight that puts out a powerful, concentrated beam of light. It was mentioned on a number of dive sites, so it is intended for depths beyond just a few feet. It is rechargeable, so you'll need to keep track of the charger and charge it from time to time. The on/off switch is a bit strange, but works reliably. It also features a dimming function in case you don't need the full strength beam. It ran for a couple of hours as our underwater light for attracting the squid.  I bought it from Amazon.
It worked really well as an underwater light off our stern, attracting small, fast-moving sea critters, which in turn attracted minnows, which in turn attracted the squid.


Anchor bridle chafe guards

I noticed a few weeks ago that the bridle rode was chafing against the bolts that connect the forward beam to the hulls. In my ditty bag I found a short length of leather left over from covering a helm wheel on a prior boat. There was just enough material, combined with a short time with needle, thread, and a sewing palm to produce a nicely secured guard on each thimble. When doing it, I needed to make sure that each guard is located to protect the line. I had to move one after discovering that the bolt head had worked its way under the edge of the guard. I also used the holes along the edge of the leather (the holes that were used for threading on a helm) to attach the leather to the rode so that it will stay in place. At least that's the intent. We'll see after some more miles under the keel.


Another HOB

We've spent the morning doing last minute repairs to LUX and packing up our cabins. In need of a last minute fix, Terry took off in the dingy. Meanwhile, Mike continued to work on little projects. Just then, a gust of wind took off his brand new hat! It went into the water. It sailed just beyond the reach of the boat hook. We thought it was gone forever. But no! It's Carol to the rescue. She came up from below. She took off her jewelry and watch. She jumped into the water and saved the hat!

And she was successful. One hat, rescued. And Carol got her swim for this trip.

She reported back that the water was just fine!

I Know It's Morning Because The Rooster Said So

At Hope Town Marina, Peggy complained about the local rooster. He did not know how to tell time. He just liked to crow morning, noon, and night. Last night, we were commenting on the lack of birds here at Dickie's Cay.We didn't see any birds- not even a seagull. And, we didn't hear any birds. It's now 7:30 AM, and I can testify to the fact that there are roosters here. And they know the difference between morning and night. That rooster's been crowing since 5:30 AM.

Once again, the sky is just spectacular here.

I must admit, though, the warning about red skies at morning is in my head right now. As you can see in the bottom two photos, there is a definite red tinge to the skies right now.

I would also like to add that the sailing people's idea of not rocking and rolling is really not the same as mine. It seems our acceptable minimum thresholds are VERY far apart. If you were to ask me, we did lots of bouncing last night. Mr. Cheerful (AKA Terry) started with, "Didn't you feel like rock-a-bye baby in the treetops?" He then went on to share that it was so rocky that water kept bouncing into the starboard engine compartment via the rudder shaft. As a result, the bilge pump kept going off. Mike asked if that wasn't really noisy because the bilge pump is right under their heads. "Oh yes," said Peggy. "It was sorta noisy." Hmmm... That would be today's understatement, I think.

As a side note, the SunSail boat that also anchored here last night is already up and on the move. I think someone said that they had better be finding somewhere with calmer waters NOW.

So, we are headed off on our last day of adventure on LUX somewhat tired from not enough sleep and too much bouncing on the waves. This afternoon we will be in Marsh Harbour to begin the process of packing up to go home.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Evening at Dickie's Cay

Our last anchorage for this year is drawing to a close. The evening skies are just beautiful.

For dinner, we worked on cleaning out our supplies. We had a stir fry using canned chicken and frozen veggies.  It was served over Carolina gold rice. 

Now, some of the crew are out trying for a second squid sighting. The flashlight is out and shining down off the back of the boat. But, they are now talking about the water not being as clear tonight. The wind and wave action has been working to try to hinder the squid viewing activities. So, they are busy enjoying the view.they're watching the Hope Town lighthouse light.

Meanwhile, poor Peggy soldiers on. She's doing the dishes.

She's the best when it comes to supporting the crew!

I Know What I Mean When I Say Not So Rolly

But, what do you mean by that? Yes, that would be today's question. After lunch, the sailors started talking about how we might want to move so that we would be in a place that was not so bouncy. They decided to move on to Man-O-War cay because it was. More protected anchorage. 

Up went the anchor. On went the motors. Off we went to the new anchorage. When we arrived, I asked the question, "So, what gauge do you measure this less bouncy by?" I was assured that the anchorage was so much better. Hmmmm. If you ask me, we are still rolling. We are still bouncing. All I can think is that if this is better, it's a good thing we moved!

Ad we won't be moving because we already celebrated our last night on the boat. All the leftover snacks came out. We made frozen drinks with the rest of the dark rum. We opened the last pack of party napkins. Unfortunately, the party is almost over....until the next time!

Morning in Baker's Bay...What's the beep, beep, beep?

It's a beautiful morning here in Baker's Bay.

Too bad it sounds like Ocean City! Yes, Dear Readers, the lovely high end planned resort over there has a truck out cleaning the sand this morning. It's the continual rumble of the truck with the occasional beeps from the back up alarm. But, the view is still spectacular.

From Hope Town to Baker's Bay

Monday, October 28

This morning, we took the shuttle ferry over to Hope Town proper for a walkabout. Surprisingly, several shops were open. Vernon's Grocery and Bakery was open, but no key lime pies until after 2 PM! Huh! He had freshly baked bread, but we really didn't need any bread on board. So, we left it all behind. I am still curious about the coconut bread. Next time.....

We had lunch at Captain Jack's. Not only do they have a lovely view, but they make a habit of throwing some of the kitchen scraps into the water.  As a result, it was like an aquarium when you looked over the side of the deck. We saw parrot fish, blue tangs, and other fish we didn't know- black fish, gray fish, and one with a black top and a yellow bottom. It was worth the price of admission- especially since the food was good as well. I tried the fried plantains for my Bahamas food of the day. They were very tasty!

When we got back to LUX, the decision was made to move on and try somewhere else for the evening. So, we are anchored off Great Guana Cay in Baker's Bay. Unfortunately, we had forgotten to get ice before we left. So Mike and Terry took off in the dingy to the upscale marina. When they returned, they had a large, black garbage bag! Seemed the only way to get ice was from the restaurant. So, we did have frozen drinks this evening. After all, we have to use up that rum! Oh well.... It's a hard life here in the islands.

For dinner, we had a favorite boat dish- stovetop lasagna. For an interesting twist, we used vegetarian Italian sausages. Yes, we had planned to use them when the vegetarian was on board, but Linda got away before we ate them. They turned out to be surprisingly good.

For dessert, we tried out a microwave recipe for blueberry cobbler-like dish. I read several recipes, and came up with this:

1 can blueberry pie filling
4 T almond butter
2 T butter, melted
2 T honey
1 cup granola

Put the blueberry pie filling in a microwave safe dish. Mix together the almond butter, honey, and melted butter. Add your favorite granola. Spread this mixture over the blueberry pie filling. Cook in the microwave until hot. The time is dependent on your microwave. Ours is a low powered microwave. We cooked it for 4 1/2 minutes. It was just barely hot. 

We served it with our almost melted ice cream. Terry tries to claim that it was twice frozen ice cream. But, it was more like soft serve...very soft serve. The crew of LUX is always willing to be self sacrificing. They ate the mostly melted ice cream on the blueberry stuff, and they actually said it was good.

In the meantime, Terry has lashed a flashlight to the back of the boat. And, he has attracted a squid. Most of the crew are out back watching squid antics. We haven't seen a squid before, so it's a new listing of cool things seen while sailing around. It's great that we are always seeing something new on these trips.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Morning in Hope Town

It's another beautiful day in the Bahamas! And, it's Monday. How do I know this? It's 7:55 AM, and there are worker bees already out and about! Sunday in the Bahamas is mostly like a ghost town. Even the tourist trap shops are closed when we are here. Since we are always here on the shoulders of the season, it makes us wonder what it's like at the height. Terry has mentioned coming down during the real season several times this trip. I guess we are all wondering what the places are like when they are really hopping.

Last night, the light house came on. Doesn't seem like a big deal until you realize that the light house here is a kerosene fired light house. And, they hand carry the kerosene all the way up to one floor below the light. They use 5 gallon jerry jugs. Amazing! It is the only one left in the world that is lit that way. We could see the lights come on in the windows on the way up. Then, the light at the top began to glow. Finally, the fresnel lens at the top began to rotate. The light house was in operation for the night.

You probably can't see it in this picture, but it also has another cool feature. There's a wind vane on top!

In other news-- we still haven't decided what to do today. It's great to be on vacation where the biggest decision for the day is what beautiful spot you'll see later in the day! Stay tuned, Dear Readers. There's bound to be more beautiful pictures!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dinner Was Just Yummy

Tonight we ate at the Hope Town Marina. The food was just so yummy. Take a look.

Yes, that is a Dark and Stormy in the left hand corner. We enjoyed everything. No leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

We're in Hope Town

Yes, indeed. We are at a lovely marina at a resort here in Hope Town. It offers two pools- one with a swim up bar. In keeping with our tradition of traveling during the off season, the swim up bar is closed. But we did sit in the lovely cabana overlooking the harbor. Some of the crew indulged in a Dark and Stormy. Yum! All of the crew took the afternoon off- reading, taking walks, playing with computers... We just lazed about. It is, as always, a great day here in the Bahamas.

Water In The Bulkhead, Part 2

After a lot of online research and some phone calls, we've decided to continue with the epoxy and microballoons approach. Here's the reasoning behind our choice, not in any particular order.

1. Microballoons are relatively easy to replace, so if a different repair is required, it isn't too difficult to attack the filler with a grinder to remove them. Yes, it is messy. However, it is a doable job.

2. I talked with the Gougeon tech support staff about our proposed approach and they didn't see any problem with it. That's not to say that they are the definitive source of good advice. I was particularly interested in any studies and testing that they may have done regarding the strength of panels in which the balsa core was replaced with epoxy/microballoons. The person I talked with wasn't aware of any specific tests. So while this isn't really a reason to use epoxy/microballoons; it is more like disclosure of what we found in our research.

3. If the repair were made with anything but more balsa, it would result in butt splices at the edges. I don't think that it is possible to do a good scarf joint to the exiting balsa core as the repair approaches the center vertical support beam without affecting the integrity of the structural connection of the bulkhead to the main the support beam. I'm an electrical engineer, not a structural engineer, so this is my impression based on my past experience and is not based on specific technical knowledge of the materials and structure.

4. There was some discussion about the use of  different core materials that have different tensile, sheer, and compression characteristics than that of balsa. CoreCell foam could be used (5lb/cu-ft density) as the core, but would have butt-joint problems as well as getting it to adhere to the existing panels. The existing fiberglass panel on the locker side of the bulkhead could be cut out and re-used by a tapered fiberglass joint around the edge. Or the panel could be cut out and replaced with new layup of fiberglass and unidirectional glass. I can't comment on which might be better.

5. We were told that polyester won't adhere well to epoxy, suggesting that gelcoat (a polyester) won't adhere to epoxy. Gougeon has done some testing that indicates that gelcoat adheres well to epoxy when compared with gelcoat adhesion to polyester fiberglass panels.
The contrary argument appears here:
For our purposes, in the forward locker, we can do the necessary preparation to assure a good bond. It doesn't have to be the same kind of finish as if the repair would be on the exterior.

6. Epoxy has great adhesive properties, about 10x that of polyester resin, according to the WEST epoxy site. Now I can't find the reference I read. I'll edit this if I find it.

7. Epoxy will elongate up to 4% (polyester is about 1%), allowing the core material to flex somewhat in use without collapsing.

Finally, LUX is about to start the winter charter season and we need to do something now. Since we can change it in the future (see #1), it makes sense to use epoxy and microballoons while we collect more information.

A useful reference is Fiberglass Boat Repair and Maintenance:

I find their testing reports more useful though, because they tend to have more pure test results.

The repair went well, taking all afternoon. We mixed about 6 oz of epoxy at a time and applied it with a caulk gun and an empty caulk tube. We cut the caulk tube down to just hold 6 oz, making it easier (less distance) to force the plunger back out of the tube. The small amount also reduced the exothermic reaction, preventing overheating. We waited 20 minutes between applications to allow the heat to dissipate. One of our portable fans (see Ceiling Fans!) was used to blow air onto the panel, which helped remove the heat. It was a messy job, but we eventually finished it just after dinner. We were able to drill the holes for the fresh water feed-through fitting and get water running again before retiring for the night. Gee and Peggy did a great job of fixing and cleaning up dinner with water from several pitchers. 


We Say Goodbye to Tom and Linda

Today is a sad day on LUX. Tom and Linda leave us today. Their bags are packed. They're ready to go. It seems that their clothes don't want to leave, though. Linda keeps yelling up from the cabin that she has found yet something else. Now Peggy has gone down to check, and she found 2 more shirts. Those pieces of luggage may actually explode just like the cartoons! It seems that all the stuff they packed to bring to LUX didn't fit back into the bags. And, they actually only bought 2 t-shirts. How is it that your luggage always shrinks when you get ready to pack to go home?

And so they are on their way home.

Several of our crew went up to help them to the car. They may need a porter or two at the airport, though. Terry wanted to know if Linda had gold bricks in her case!

Today, we'll be heading off to Hope Town. It's another beautiful day...all the prettier since Tomand Linda's departure reminds us that ours is imminent as well.

Friday, October 25, 2013

HOB today

Most every boater is encouraged to practice a Man Overboard Drill - fondly known as a MOB. Today, we had a HOB. Long time boaters know that's a Hat Overboard Drill! Yes, today someone who will remain nameless lost a hat. Lucky for this crew member, it was before the really great sailing began. In fact, we were just leaving Treasure Cay. So, it was the perfect time to practice. And so we did. The call went out for a spotter to watch the hat. The boat hooks came out. The helmsman started the appropriate maneuvers. The crew members fished with the boat hooks. And one fine hat was rescued.

FYI- the crew member holding the soggy hat is not the owner. And, the hat is still drying.

Afternoon in Marsh Harbour

Today, we headed off to Marsh Harbour. Terry needed a base for doing some repairs to the fiberglass. There's a market in town tomorrow morning. And, Tom and Linda need to fly out Sunday morning. So, Marsh Harbour seemed like the best spot all around. So, we headed out.

Big news for the day- the sailors did not mention that it was going to be a really great day for sailing. And, according to them, it really was a wheeeee doggy day. They had a great couple of hours. They probably only came in because they needed the time to get the repairs done.

Once we got in, we took a break and had lunch at Snappas Grill & Chill. We had a nice leisurely lunch, and then the worker bees headed back to the boat. Others of the crew walked around town. And still others spent time in the marina lounge.

Breakfast in Treasure Cay

One major reason for visiting Treasure Cay is that there is a fantastic bakery here! Boy, can they bake. The cinnamon rolls are so yummy.

Yes, they are as good as they look.

Morning in Treasure Cay

The skies are amazing this morning. No matter where you look, the sky is amazing and different. 

New Additions in Our Cabins

As nice as it would be to say that an addition was BUILT onto my cabin, that's not what happened. What did happen was very nice, though. Terry added hooks!

It seems like such a little thing, but it is just great. You may not be able to tell, but there is now a hook on each side of the cabin. Great addition to the decor. Thanks, Terry. I am the only one that thinks it would be better if the hooks were mermaids!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dinner at the Bar

We had a good time at Pizza Night at the bar.

As you see, can't beat dinner outside overlooking the pool which overlooks the our short sleeves! Yes, another great ending to another great day in the Abacos.

We're still here...I'm Playing Around With Apps!

Our day has turned gray and rainy. But how bad can that be in the islands?

Good news from LUX. We think the leak that put water in the port bilge is fixed. We think the leak in the water tank is fixed. It's always a good day when repairs work. It's an even better day when the free wifi works!

Crossing the Whale

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, crossing the Whale is always an adventure. It's especially so on a day when the weather is not the best. Today, the weather was difficult. But, it was not impossible.

But, the sailors had a great time!

In Treasure Cay

We had a leisurely breakfast this morning, and then we headed out. Because I have such picky eaters on board, I have taken to serving up a buffet for both breakfast and lunch. In other words, it's every man(and woman) for himself until dinner time. This is especially true in the mornings. Some members of the crew love oatmeal most every day. Some prefer yogurt and fruit. So, I just say have at it. And they do. At lunch, I usually offer a special dish or sandwich. Those not interested are free to fix something for themselves.

Today's special sandwich was turkey salad made with turkey(canned, of course), pecans and cranberries. It was served with a topping of mincemeat- Cross and Blackwell, of course! You could have that on whole wheat or as a wrap.

But, before we could get to lunch, we had to cross the Whale. Whale Cut is famous in the Bahamas. The Cruising Guide to the Bahamas says that it is the most difficult and treacherous part of the Abacos. You have to go through the cut, out into the ocean and back around due to shallow waters. Although the Whale Cut is wide, it is also shallow. That makes it susceptible to breaking waves all the way across when ocean swells come from the northeast. In fact, boats thinking about crossing the Whale often call out on the VHF in the morning for any boats in the area that can give an update on the Whale!

Our intel said it would be a rough passage, but waiting a day would show it getting worse! So, we left. Since we were headed to Treasure Cay, it was a short trip- lucky for us. It was rough.

But, now, we are in Treasure Cay for the night. It's quiet here because the season has not started. In fact, the restaurant is not open yet. You can only get food from the bar on the beach across the road.

It's probably crazy in the season, but right now you can see that there are few boats. The dock hand was quick to tell us that they are going to feature PIZZA tonight. It appears that pizza is an exciting food here in the islands. Oh well, can't have fish every night.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Afternoon of October 23- We're Just Sailing Along

It's quiet on board! The engines are off because we are sailing. And look:

The spinnaker is flying. Tom got us up to 7.8 knots. We have sunshine and blue skies before us, behind us, and to the port side. Those three sides look like this:

But, on the starboard side, it's a different story.

Yes, a thunderstorm can be seen over there. We're hoping it stays over there!

So far, it's a beautiful day. We wouldn't mind if it stayed that way. If you're following the journey, we're on our way to Green Turtle Cay. Meanwhile, the parrots are resting up- conserving energy for our next port.

October 23- Anchored Off Fox Town

We started the morning with the Move It drill- a sudden rain shower sent everyone scattering to shut all the hatches. The hatch above the port shower did not get shut, so it got a nice clean rinsing. But, the rainbow at the end was worth it!

Yes, yet again Dear Readers, the IPad camera did not do well. But, I did label the rainbow for you!

Now, it's raining all around us. But here, in the isle of LUX, the sun is shining. And, we'll have sweet potato pancakes for breakfast. Our absolutely favorite mix is Bruce's Sweet Potato Pancake Mix. If you can find it, give it a try. They are so yummy!

Last night, we had quite the light show. Lightning was going on all around us. Luckily, the thunder storms didn't find us.

Meanwhile, we had a lovely dinner last night. I found an interesting recipe on the Betty Crocker website. It was for Sauerbraten meatballs! Check it out here:

But, as you know, nothing can be simple on LUX. We have a vegetarian on board. So, I made some meatballs out of Bob's Red Mill TVP. We have folks avoiding red meat. So, I substituted ground turkey for the ground beef. It's too hot here in the islands ( sorry, our Maryland friends) to bake, so we microwaved the lot. And, we served it over mashed potatoes instead of noodles. It was delicious! No pictures, though. We ate it too fast. We were all so hungry after a great day of sailing. Those earlier snacks only cut the edge of the hunger. We were ready for those meatballs.

A final note on the vegetarian meatballs. I stuck close to the original recipe- just substituting TVP for the meat. But, it really needs more egg as a binding agent. I'll need to work on that. However, our own vegetarian did say it was a total yum.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Parrots Gone Wild

Yes, the anchor was in by 5 so that we could have cocktails in the beautiful area just off Fox Town. Everyone enjoyed the conviviality after a wonderful SAIL to get here! Yes, Dear Readers, we sailed today. And Carol won the speed contest. She got LUX up to 6.3 knots. She could have gone faster, but Mike was dragging his feet in the water. Here's a great shot of the afternoon treats.

Notice that the parrots got there first. Yes, Susan, the parrots are having a great time. We didn't let them have too much of the frozen peach daiquiris - no sense in really corrupting them.....yet!

After our afternoon snack, Terry and Linda took off for dingy adventures.

They're off to explore while we prepare dinner.

Who Let the Parrots Out?

So, Peggy's head (bathroom, not body part) has a leak. Today, they washed out the rug. Peggy really wanted to hang it up to dry- as opposed to the Terry method of leaving it lying around on the dingy. But, her first try broke the clothes pins. It is, after all, one of those really nice memory foam rugs. Did you know that they get really heavy when they get wet?

Then, in a flash of brilliance, Gee remembered that Susan left parrots on board! So, the parrots came out to play.

Yes, they are those clips for holding your towel on the beach chair. But, they really work well on the lifelines! We need them! Never fear, Susan. We will return your parrots. But we really want some of our own.

More Musings on Unusual Things ... This Time, in the Islands

More mysteries as we travel.

What are those boxes on the sea floor? Yes, we have seen two boxes so far. Terry said that the boxes look like an upside down u. These boxes do not have floats. One just had a brick on top to hold it down. What's with these boxes?

Terry is theorizing that these are lobster Hotel Californias - the lobsters check in but they don't check out. At least, until the lobster guy comes. Then, they REALLY check out!

Other members of the crew think that's not exciting enough. We're going for contraband hidden for later pick up. 

And, this morning, a big, red freighter came in to the entrance and parked itself out there. Hmmm.... Now, a smaller boat has gone out to meet it. Some of the crew think it's a regular delivery and pick up. I think it's the daily drop off. But, it might be smugglers. 

And then there the problem that LUX has picked- LUX visits closed everything! Two of the marinas we visited had broken pump out stations. And now, here at Spanish Cay, the restaurant is closed. Good grief! However, the laundry is open...if you wish to spend $10 per load of laundry. Yes, $5 for the washer and $5 for the dryer. Luckily, the laundry was not a necessity at this point. Hopefully, we'll find something cheaper as we go along.

So, onward to today's project. That would be the water tanks. Yet again, the water is trying to escape from LUX. It's really not a good thing here in the Bahamas where water retails for $.25 a gallon. But, the guys are out there working on one of the tanks.

Morning in Spanish Cay

It's 8:02 AM, and the fun has already begun on LUX.

Today, Terry has torn apart the settee in order to work on the air conditioner filter- it needed to be cleaned. He was also working to pull wires for his latest electrical project- a monitor for the water tanks- both fresh and holding.

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew hides out on the porch.

As you can see, it's a beautiful day. What you can't see is that every pole in the background has a seagull on it. Yes, it is the daily bird sighting.

We're in the Middle of Nowhere

Our trip out of Ft. Pierce would have made amusement parks jealous! Yes, indeed, the weather people lead us astray once again. The forecasters overlooked those pesky pop up thunderstorms. Technically, they were to the north of us at Jacksonville. However, they were still able to give us strong winds and lots of wave action. Yes, Dear Readers, LUX was pitching and pounding her way out of Ft. Pierce. Some members of the crew went straight to their bunks. The true sailors stood on the deck admiring the moon. And LUX sailed on through the night.

Now, it's mid morning. The skies are clear. It's warm. The water is a gorgeous blue green. All around. From horizon to horizon. Yes, we are far enough away from everything so that the only thing you see is water. Here's the view from the back of the boat.

Here's the view from the starboard side of the boat.

I don't think it's necessary to continue the pictures. Believe me, it all looks the same. Gorgeous, but the same all around the boat. And, finally, not even any birds for Susan! We are already close enough to the Bahamas that we are only in 22 feet of water. 

OMG! Today's Bird Sighting is Unbelieveable!

So, most of the crew was sitting after breakfast...finishing up coffees and teas....telling salty tales... When the strangest thing happened.

A little bird about the size of a wren flew in, and it landed on Tom's head! No pictures because Tom shooed that bird away immediately before it had any thoughts of making a deposit! Now, we're busy staring at Tom waiting for the bird to return!

But, through the magic of editing software, we were able to recreate the moment.

Yes, I totally recommend Snapseed and Over if you want to play with pictures. Snapseed gives you lots of editing power on the IPad- at least enough for an amateur like me. You can straighten the photos, increase the contrast, add frames.... And lots of other fun applications. Over has built-in icons,, words and phrases. It also lets you add your own text. And, voila, you end up with a picture of Tom with a cool t-shirt and a bird on his head!

It's the Simple Things...

One of the necessities of any galley is a hand towel. And, the most obvious place to put that hand towel is on the oven handle. At least, that's where ours lives most often.

The oven handle is just the right size to support the average dish towel, as you can see in the photo.

Unfortunately, the smallest bump or bounce ends up with the towel looking like this:

Not only does it end up on the floor, but everyone steps on it before it gets noticed. Not good. Not good at all. So, I started investigating methods to keep the towel on the rack. I started with what I know best- sewing. I searched the web for hanging dish towels, and I started sewing.

My first trial was the traditional towel with a fabric top that looped over the oven handle. The directions wanted a buttonhole, but I opted for Velcro. Unfortunately, I made the fabric top too small. It seems that our oven handle is bigger than a standard oven handle. That resulted with a sewing project while we were underway. Yes, I had to move the Velcro.

My next trial was an interesting idea. The suggestion was that a tie be made for the top of the towel.

It really looks cute, but tying it and untying turned out to be more trouble than it was worth. We now bring it out for display when we expect company. But, we don't use it regularly. Seriously, though, a decorative towel is not useful on a boat. It will soon go home with me.

Meanwhile, I spent a lot of time shopping in preparation for this trip. At one point, I was in 5 Below. Inspiration struck. Why not just use a slap bracelet? And, they had the cutest one in 5 Below.

Okay, it is black and white checked. No, it is not the official LUX color- dark blue. No, it does not have a cute sailing/boating theme. So, you ask, what makes it cute? Take a look:

It has a ruler on the inside! How many times has someone on the boat asked for a ruler? It's our favorite- a twofer! Cute and useful!

Ad, it works like a charm. It holds the towel just tight enough so that it does not slide off the handle. It's easy to take on and off. It's easy to get to the towel.


Different Day. Same Shot.

Once again, we start our day with someone in the engine compartment. Today, it's possible that we have some build up in the raw water intake for cooling the engine. It seems that barnacles like us. The port one has already been cleaned. Now, it's starboard's side.

But, as you know, the definition of cruising is boat repair or boat maintenance in exotic locations.

In the background you can see beautiful tropical waters and a lovely spit of land. According to those who can't stand ambiguity, that little spit of land is Great Sale Cay on the Little Bahamas Bank. In the foreground, you see our usual shot of guys doing maintenance. Ah, the cruising life!

Pancakes for Breakfast

Having pancakes on a boat makes any day special. Fruity pancakes just make it even nicer! Today, we went for the simple way to make really great fruit pancakes. We made pancakes out of Martha White's peach cobbler muffin mix. According to the Martha White website, it's easy to do with any of the available muffin mixes. Here's Martha's recipe:

Fruit Muffin Mix Pancakes

1 large egg
2/3 cup milk
1 (7 ounce package) Martha White fruit flavored muffin mix of your choice

Beat the egg in a medium sized bowl. Add milk and muffin mix. Stir until the larger lumps disappear. Add more milk for thinner pancakes.

It makes 8 pancakes.

As you can see, the recipe just says it makes 8 pancakes. It does not mention that it makes 8 delicious pancakes that disappear instantly. At least I can say that about the peach cobbler muffin mix. No leftovers. One happy crew. It's already a great day.

Monday, October 21

Good morning, Dear Readers. Yes, I know it may not be morning when you read this. But, for me, it is 6:37 AM somewhere in the Bahamas. The rest of the crew sleeps on, but I couldn't stay in bed any longer. When I look out behind the boat, the full moon is still shining bright.

But, when I look to the starboard side, the sun is working on getting up this morning.

She appears to be taking it slowly. Could that be because she worked so hard to make a spectacular sunset for us last night?

It was a glorious end to a lovely day on the water. We made it to the Bahamas by 3 PM, and anchored. We celebrated our arrival with the first frozen drink of this trip. It was a lovely peach drink made with frozen peaches, peach schnapps, and peach juice. We also had a lovely cheese board with a selection of cheeses and crackers as well as some hummus and carrots.

Most of the crew then spent quality time staring at the water or their pillow. Terry went off exploring in the dingy.

For dinner, we had a shrimp and broccoli stir fry served over Carolina gold rice. My latest personal discovery is that precooked and totally peeled shrimp are so great to use on a boat. As any boater will tell you, trash is one of the top five issues. But, in today's world, most everything comes over-packaged. Now, shrimp solve that problem for the seafood houses by coming with a shell. Instant packaging at no extra cost. But, I still have to dispose of that stuff. Not easy to do when you might not be in port for a day or two. So, I am experimenting with precooked shrimp with no shells or tails. To date, my experiments appear to be unqualified successes. Last night, for instance, all the stir fry disappeared in no time at all.

Wait...attention span happening... I was distracted by the water. It is so many shades and colors right now at the edge of sunrise.

It's just amazing.

Anyway, back to the shrimp.... Another great thing about using the cooked shrimp is that it obviously also cuts down on the cooking time. I used fresh broccoli, so it started cooking first. Then, I added a bag of frozen Asian vegetables. Finally, I added the frozen shrimp. I had given them a shot a water in the sink to get them into individual shrimp instead of one massive shrimp ball, so they entered the stir fry as happy singles. As soon as they were hot, dinner was ready. And, no stinky leftover shrimp shells!

And, we also celebrated pumpkin cheesecake day! We had the best cookies from Pepperidge Farms. Yes, they were pumpkin cheesecake cookies! Boy, were they good!

I appear to have blogged just long enough. All members of the crew are on deck. And, they are beginning to make noises about breakfast. It's been too warm to bake, so today we will use muffin mix to make pancakes. Hope it's as yummy as it sounds. We'll let you know.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

We're Off!

Preparations are under way for our departure. We'll be leaving for the Bahamas tonight. So, Dear Readers, you won't hear from us for a couple of days. Until then, wish our fair winds and following seas.

Today's ICW Mystery

So, we've gone from electric poles standing in marshes to this:

Yes, BIG poles in the water!

And, just for Susan, the black dots on the wire between the poles are ducks!

Morning, Ft. Pierce!

I am sure that you immediately noticed that I did not say GOOD morning. We're not sure about that yet. All the weather sources, including Chris Parker, say that today is the best day to go to the Bahamas. I'm beginning to wonder if LUX is not interested in going with us.

Good news is that we do have a car so that Linda and Tom can be picked up at the airport. We will have our full roster for the passage. And, we'll have two extra pairs of hands to help in all the preparations...and repairs.

"REPAIRS!" you say. Yes, as I mentioned, LUX does not want to leave Florida. Used to be that St. Augustine was her favorite spot. Now, it seems the entire state is her new best friend.

We pulled into Harbortown Marina with one of the alternators dead. Michael and Terry had tried their entire bag of magic tricks, but nothing would bring that alternator back to life. Obviously, we were in need of serious repair or replacement. Thus began the saga of the hunt for the alternator. The lovely brochure from Harbortown Marina had a great ad for Treasure Coast Battery and Alternator.

Great ad, huh? Gotta love the pirate logo. Of course, you don't have to love the fact that calling them results in the knowledge that they don't do alternators!

Using the magic of technology, Terry found a guy who happened to have our exact alternator on the shelf- unclaimed order from some other customer. But, Terry had to be there by 4:00 to get it.

Then began the saga of the rental cars. If you check out the really great webpage for Harbortown Marina, you will notice that they advertise that they have an Enterprise car rental right at the marina. know the web. It doesn't always tell the truth. In fact, the Dockmaster informed us that Enterprise pulled out of here quite a while ago. And when we called their new site, they said they had no cars available. It's 2:45, and the clock is ticking. 

Terry managed to get a car from Thrifty,and he and Carol were off with barely an hour to make the deadline. And Stuart( where the shop was) is just about an hour from here.

They just made it in time. But, the story of that shop will make its own blog posting. It's too good to rush!

Terry and Carol did get stuck at the train tracks on the way back. Yes, believe it or not, the train runs right in front of this marina. And, right across from the marina is a West Marine! So, since it was a LONG train, Terry made a u-turn and finished up that day's list for West Marine. Never fear, by 11:30 PM, we had another list. More on that later.

Terry and Carol return, so we make our way up to the marina restaurant for dinner. Along the way, we chanced to look down in the water by the dock. We saw a big manatee! Right there. Floating along the edge of the dock. For some of us, it was our first ever sighting. No picture, of course. For such a slow moving creature, it certainly knows how to submerge quickly!

And then we were at the marina restaurant having a great dinner. at this point, Terry used one of his brilliant conversation starters. Or, perhaps I should say, conversation stoppers! He said, "Why is the water pump running so often? Is there a spigot dripping somewhere?"

This initiated a round of Terry taking apart various parts of LUX. Finding out that the hot water heater on the Starboard side is not only broken but leaking was not the best news of the evening. Seems that bilge pump kept trying to get rid of the water down there in the bilge. Not good. Not good at all. 

A call to West Marine elicited the information that neither a replacement part nor a total new pump was available- unless we wanted to pick it up in Miami. So, after Terry picks up Tom and Linda, the three of them will hunt up hardware stores to find possible substitute parts. And, they have to make a stop at the alternator shop to pick up the alternator.

Once they arrive at the boat, we will indulge in a flurry of boat repair with the hope that we can actually leave around 5 today. Oh well, you know one of our other favorite sayings- Cruising is just a another way of saying boat repair in exotic locations.