January 26, 2023
My post yesterday which I didn’t put on Facebook, highlighted some of the path to get to Bahamas. If you are in the freezing cold of Canada’s winter right now, all these days seem good. If you are already in the Bahamas, you might wonder when will the wind stop blowing?
Today has been a very good day. The wind has stopped, if just for the day, and it has been peaceful and productive and boy, what a good day!
When we arrived at Royal Island, we figured we would stay in the little bay for a day or two, but the anchorage was a little busier than planned and that left our deep draught boat sitting near the entrance to the bay and the wind and water coming straight at us. It was bumpy again. Jinhee had important calls today and as the boat bumped, our Starlink internet service would go offline. We decided at sun-up to move to a better sheltered spot (‘behind’ Meek’s patch) until the winds died. That trip lasted less than 45 minutes and was well worth the effort.
Our current anchorage allowed us to run into Spanish Wells in the dinghy and check out a new town, pick up some local SIM cards so we have an communication/internet backup and to simply walk. It is notable that walking feels weird after spending a few days bouncing around on a boat. This little spot also allowed us to get into the water again for a swim and do some other work.
I haven’t gone backwards so far to describe all that we accomplished in December and January with regards to the boat, but one of the key items was to get a new survey done on the boat. If you don’t know boating, surveys are required when insuring or mortgaging a boat and are something equivalent to a home inspection, but a lot more rigor is required and a lot more focus on safety. That led to a lot of other tasks which I will document later. The point is that we will have to change insurers to continue our cruising plans later in the summer, and we have to have a current, out of water survey.
The key point here is that the boat needed to be hauled out of the water and inspected by a surveyor. When the boat was hauled out of the water at Cracker Boy marina in Fort Pierce, the bottom was very, very dirty. Having done the bottom last February, and having it cleaned a couple of times, I wasn’t expecting as much marine life on the boat as we found, but we have kept the boat sitting idle in places like Deltaville, VA and Fort Pierce, FL, so a lot of time for water critters to call Home Free’s cracks and crevices home. And so they did.
Back to today for a moment, one of the things I am looking forward to is calm, warm clear waters where I can clean the bottom of the boat. Over the past two years I have been putting the tools aboard Home Free to do as much work as possible myself when I am not near the fantastic assistance of the YachtTech crew. Today I tried out a couple of those pieces.
Last year I bought a Blu3 Nomad diving system to allow me to get under the boat without drowning, and this year I figured out the scraping tools by accident (YachtTech, again) that are sold by Top Shelf Marine. And so, with warm water, almost no current and low winds, into the water I went to start cleaning the bottom.
When the boat was hauled out, it was just for one hour. Long enough for the surveyor to see the important equipment and if I knew what I was doing, to change a couple of zincs. Since I didn’t know what I was doing, I called in the YachtTech guys again, and Casey came out to change the zincs. With just one hour, it wasn’t time for me to be on a ‘discovery’, DIY project.
I am lucky I did, with Casey there, we also were able to ‘fix’ one of the unexpected items. That dirty bottom also meant that my propeller on the wing engine (a Gori folding prop) was frozen partially open by too much marine growth. Casey and I were able to use the few minutes we had left to get some growth out of the way and get the prop moving again. Something completely unexpected, solved. And with thanks.
So now I am smarter and more experienced than I was before. I figured out how to get some of the growth off the boat, I figured out how to sink my fat and air filled body when I want to scrape the bottom of the boat. I figured out how much force it takes to get a clam shell off of the propeller and I also figured out what it is like to run out of air on the hookah system while I am under a boat. (It just stops. No warning. It’s not bad when you are 4′ underwater, but if I was 20 feet down with no alternative it would have been a scramble to get up, particularly with a weight belt and empty lungs!)
A professional diver who does this sort of thing for a living typically cleans a boat like mine in about an hour, maybe two. I spent an hour and got about 10% of the work done as I worked through all of these ‘learning experiences’.
The next time we have still water and light winds (that will be a few days), I will be back under the boat and cleaning more. Getting that Gori prop opening and closing easily is a key focus, similar to cleaning the keel coolers for the engine and the stabilizers. It will take time to do a good job, but I am looking forward to swimming in warm waters!
There are many more stories to tell, and I will keep telling as time allows. For now, it has been an eventful day, and I hope you enjoy reading through our experiences.