Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March 5, 2017 Fish Head Soup

The wind didn’t let up all night or all day.  AND our anchor alarm went off about 4:00 am.  The Drag Queen app gives you the option to set the distance the boat will move before the alarm sounds.  And you can choose how long it has to be at that distance before it will sound.  Dave had set it for 10 feet and 45 seconds.  Once it went off, Dave watched it for awhile.  We weren’t moving any further.  So he thinks a strong wind straitened our anchor chain, but didn’t move the anchor itself.  Luckily, we were able to go back to sleep.  Dave often sleeps with ear plugs.  So I tried it in the middle of the night (before the alarm went off).  The motion wasn’t as bad as the noise from the wind.  So the ear plugs really helped.

Today, I made bread and Dave made FISH HEAD SOUP.  He had heard about it from Chinese friends.  In the Bahamas, he heard that the locals won’t buy a fish unless it has the head on it.  And he has seen it on menus.  So of course we had to try it with two heads from the last 2 mahi that we caught.  He researched recipes on line and used a mix of Bahamian and Chinese recipes.  He is calling his style CRUISINE.  Making due with what we have on the boat. 

from freezer to pan

awesome broth with coconut milk
one head for each of us
yes, that's an eyeball
bones and gills of both heads
It actually was better than I thought it would be.  I tried one of the eyeballs, but was a devoted wife and gave Dave the other one.  The gills had thousands of tiny bones in them.  So I got out of trying those.  The meat in the forehead, cheeks and jaws were actually quite good.  The broth was made from chicken bouillon and coconut milk at the end.  He added garlic, onion, potatoes and squash and spices including cinnamon and allspice.

There was also a story that inspired him to make fish head soup.  We met Civian in Black Point, Exumas about a month ago.  She is from the Bahamas, but has lived in the US for about 30 years.  She married someone from the states.  One of the first meals she made for her husband was fish head soup, a common dish she made back home.  When he was stirring the pot on the stove, he saw the fish heads.  She said he backed away from the stove saying things like “what’s that?  I’m not eating that!  No wife of mine will cook with fish heads!”  I guess that was a turning point in their early marriage, because she told him he had to eat it or go hungry.  Dave can just see her fish head soup at a Vikings tail gate party. 

March 4, 2017 Drag Queen anchor alarm

Today we basically waited for cold front to hit.  We have free wifi using our booster.  Dave spent most of the day trying to update our Navionics charts on the computer.  With this connection, it would get within 10% of being finished and stop.  So it took several attempts that were about 2 hours each, but it finally worked.  Or it could be the Navionics application that we are using.  It’s happened before.  He wasn’t a happy camper most of the day.  We were glad we weren’t paying for the data, since it had to be restarted several times. 

About 3:00, I decided to sit outside for awhile.  It looked to me like our anchor had drug about 20 feet.  It may have just been the way our boat had swung.  Or the chain may have straightened out.  I told Dave I would sleep better tonight if we went out to check the anchor.  We had to take the dinghy off the davits and put it back in the water.  After following the chain out to the anchor, it looked good.  Dave set an anchor alarm on his phone.  He has an app called Drag Queen that Active Captain developed.  We don’t use it routinely, only when we are expecting strong winds.  The app has to be active all night.  That means it can drain the battery of the phone unless you keep it plugged in.  And that uses the house battery, which isn’t being replenished by the solar panels at night.  Hence, we don’t use it all the time. 

   The cold front hit about about 4:00 pm and picked up before we went to bed.  We are experiencing gale force winds.  And we're predicted to have winds in the 20’s through Wednesday.  Not going anywhere soon.  The motion of the boat with the wind on our nose is easier to take than when it hits the side of the boat.  So sleeping should be OK.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

March 3, 2017 Racor filter

We are expecting a strong cold front to be here tomorrow and last for several days.  We did a load of laundry today.  There’s a fine line between having wind to dry the clothes vs wind that may blow them away.  It can cause too much stress on the clothes pins. 

Dave changed the Racor gas filter for our outboard motor.  It has kept our troubles with fuel to ZERO.  It traps water and who knows what else that can be in the fuel.  There is a filter attached to a drain bowl that is attached to a mount that is fixed in the dinghy.  It was still working fine, but the filter was starting to rust.  If that had rusted through, it would have siphoned the 5 gallon fuel tank of gas right into our dingy.   

Dave was having a hard time separating the metal filter from the hard plastic drain bowl.   It’s been in place for almost 2 years.  He was hesitant to put a tool on the plastic, so he used a strap wrench on the filter.  We tried to superman it off with my help.  I even suggested using silicone hot pads for grip.  But he ended up having to use a channel lock pliers on the  plastic bowl without cracking it.  SUCCESS!  Here is another example of a 20 minute job taking 90 minutes.
Next Dave emptied 2 jerry cans of diesel into our fuel tank.   He took those cans into town to be filled, along with a 2.5 can of gas. 

After those jobs, and finishing the laundry, we rewarded ourselves with dinner on shore.  We returned to Rowdy Boys from about 2 weeks ago.  It was about 5:00 when we arrived.  We like to get back to the boat around sunset, which is shortly after 6:00.  Before we ordered, they told us there would be a buffet pig roast tonight starting at 6:30.  It sounded tempting, and a fun way to mix with the locals, but we didn’t want to be on shore that late.  Before we left, a guitarist had arrived and was warming up.  I bet it ended up being a fun night for everyone. 

March 1 & 2, 2017 Acklins to Long Cay to Long Island

Today we sailed to Long Cay where we saw the flamingos last week.  We arrived early enough in the day to have an early dinner.  Dave grilled hamburgers and I provided all the “fixings”.  

Today Dave had been reading and telling me about “space tourists”.  Civilians will soon be able to travel in space to get a view of the moon and earth, but not land elsewhere.  He said people will experience “non stop vomiting and a continuous urge to pee” because of the unusual motion.  We were at another rough anchorage tonight.  So before we went to sleep, Dave said “I think we’re ready for space travel”.

About mid morning, I realized it was Thursday and not Wednesday.  I totally missed Ash Wednesday!  I was planning to not eat meat and fast today.  Boy I really blew it by having hamburgers last night.  So today was Ash Thursday.

We left Long Cay at about 8:00.  Remember, we had a rough night.  We sailed and motored to Clarence Town, Long Island.  As we were leaving, Dave noted that we were about 110 nm miles from Cuba, as the crow flies.  I wasn’t much help today.  I don’t think I slept 2 hours last night. 

We put out the fishing lines, but no luck.  Our trip lines were tripped a couple times, but we thought we must have caught sea grass, because we didn’t catch anything.  When we brought in the lines at the end of the day, one hook had been bent straighter than the usual curve.   That was “the one that got away”.  Dave had talked to local fishermen the last time we were here, and he thinks it may have been a tuna.  From now on, we’ll pull in the hooks and check them after they trip, because that may be why the second one got away.  Live and learn.

Februray 28, 2017 Sailrite Sewing Machine

Today we got out the Sailrite Sewing machine for some little projects.  Our American and Bahamian flags are getting tattered blowing in the wind.  We took them down and reinforced the ends.  We decided to order a new Bahamian flag and have friends bring it with them when they visit. 

We bought Turkish towels this summer.  They are thin cotton and dry much faster than the usual bathroom towels or beach towels.  Each towel has tassels at both ends which are annoying.  So we decided to cut them off and hem the ends of the towels.  We had an assembly line going. 


the red rectangles started out the same size
I made an awesome oriental dinner using some of the mahi mahi we caught earlier.  I used a chicken satay recipe with peanut sauce that I had.  Turned out pretty good.  And there was plenty for 2 meals. 

After hearing the latest weather report, we decided to head back to islands with better wind protection.  We would need a 3-4 day window of calm weather to explore some of the areas we are interested in.  Doesn’t look like that’s going to happen for awhile.  So tomorrow, we will position ourselves to leave on Thursday for Clarence Town, Long Island.

Februaray 27, 2017 Cruise RO Water maker

We needed to make water again today.  We were able to use our NextGen generator instead of the Honda generator.  BUT, the water was testing in the 700’s for total dissolved solids today.  That means it was time to check the membranes under pressure.  It should be around 500 or less.

We had to open floor under our salon table to get to the membranes in the bilge.  We had to run the water maker to get the pressure high enough to run water through the membranes.  Then Dave could drain water from each membrane and test it.  The aft membrane tested in the 800’s, the forward one was 550.  So Dave used hose to bypass the aft membrane and only run the water maker on the forward one.  Dave had ordered extra hose when we first installed the water maker.  That gave us more flexibility for placement.  Little did he know that it would have to be used this way someday.  We are only making water at a little less than 20 gallons an hour now instead of 30 gallons per hour.  Dave e-mailed the company about sending us a new membranes to Georgetown.  We like the independence and convenience of having the water maker.  The other option is to haul water in 5 gallon jugs.  We have 2 as a back up.  But that would be 9 trips to fill our 90 gallon tank.  Or you top it off as needed. 

The owners of Cruise RO have been very helpful through e-mails. 

February 25-26, 2017 Play days in the Bight of the Acklins

Today was the first nice day we have had since we moved to this bay.  We decided to take the dinghy for a ride.  The south end of this bay had an island off it’s shore called Jamaica cay.  We loaded up our spearfishing gear and made that our destination.  Well, the Bight of Acklins in really a shallow pond.  We didn’t see anything that was worth diving.  But it was great to get off the boat and into the sunshine. 
we kept an eye on that big boy

Dave declared today as “Mary Day”.  He got out our hammock and our swing chair and mounted them on the deck.  We relaxed in the sunshine and with the swaying of the boat.  Then we played in the water for awhile.  Dave checked our anchor and I enjoyed laying on a floatie.  Dave also practiced with a rope ladder that we have for climbing into the boat.  We learned that it was too short to use on the side of the boat.  But it could be used on the stern.  If the dinghy is on the davits, we can’t lower our swim ladder.  So we could use the rope ladder, if needed.  It will also be a good step ladder on the side of the boat if we are at a dock and need it to step down.  Dave thinks we could buy another one and extend it by 2 steps.  Then we could try it off the side.

This evening we played a dice game and a card game.  Fun Mary Day


 Different show every night.

February 22, 23, 24, 2017 Delectable Bay, Acklins Islands

We spent 3 days at anchor.   Baking bread, little projects, cleaning, laundry, and watching movies.

Dave soldered the broken wires he found on the generator parts.  The brushes, that were worn and sticky, are on a spring that pushes them into place.  The wire holding the spring in place had broken.  Now he can reassemble the parts and see how everything works.  Along with cold fronts, you get squalls.  So he’ll wait for a sunny day to get everything out of the lazerette and into the cockpit again so he has access to the generator.
//bight map, sunsets, soldering brushes
soldering wire at base of spring
2 brushes were originally the same lenghth

Storm Day

squall on it's way
Dave was able to put the generator back together.  It ran great!!  He reversed the 2 worn brushes, hoping they will run that way for a long time.  As a backup, he checked with the NextGen company in Jacksonville, FL via e-mail on ordering new brushes.  They said they were back ordered and to check back with them in a few days.  Hmmm.  We could have them sent to friends that will be visiting in April.

The sunset changes so much in one evening.

February 21, 2017 Flamingos on Long Cay

This morning we went on a “wild flamingo hunt”.  We had been told by some other cruisers that there were flamingos just north of where we were anchored.  We didn’t know if he meant in a lagoon inland or on the shore itself.  But we figured we could spend a couple hours looking before we had to cross the Bight of Acklin for protection from the next cold front. 

There was a beach reaching to the east just south of the area that was shown to us on the map.  So we decided to take our dinghy to that shore and search for them.  The water was really shallow.  Before long, we were walking with our dinghy in sand and grass.  The bottom was very uneven, and we would occasionally drop into “holes” in the sand.  We were grateful that neither of us turned an ankle or twisted a knee.  As we were trudging through this mess, Dave saw a flock of large birds fly in and land north of the area we were headed to.  We had the outstretched beach and trees to shield us.  Closer to the shore, we started to sink into the sand, more like mud.  Dave even broke a sandal strap.  I think it took us at least an hour to get to shore from our sailboat. 

On shore, we anchored the dinghy and headed to the tree line.  As we crept through the trees like deer hunters, we finally saw them.  Sure enough, it was a flock of about 20 flamingos.  We weren’t sure how easily they would spook, so we continued to slowly get closer within the tree line.  Eventually, I was able to walk out into the water with them.  But I could tell they were moving away from me and may take flight at any time.  I had my camera ready to video them as they flew away.  It was amazing to see them in the wild.  Some were more colorful than others.  I guess they get their pink color from eating shrimp. 

When I looked at my photos, there had been moisture inside the lens which fogged the center of the photo.  So none of my videos of them flying turned out.  The earlier photos did, so I think leaving the camera turned on had an effect on moisture within the camera.  Darn!!
We opened it to air out once we returned to the boat.  I’ll have to watch that in the future. 

We headed east across the Bight of Acklins that afternoon to Delectable Bay.  Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?  It was on the west side of Acklins Island between Camel point and Jamaica Cay point.  It formed a wall of land on the east and the south to protect us from the next front that will be SE-S-SW.  We were the only boat anchored in this bay. 

long walk to shore with our dingy

view as we were sneaking up on the flamingos

so cool to see in their natural habitat

fun designs in the sand

crazy effect in the clear water/starfish/usually the water looks blue green

February 20, 2017 Crooked and Acklins Islands

We left Clarence Town about 7:30 am.  We planned to go about 60 nm and wanted to arrive before dark.  We had excellent wind for sailing today, north east at about 13-15-20 knots.  So we were able to sail at 7k most of the day.  And we didn’t have the waves crashing over the boat today.  Much more sane.  After our sail to Clarence Town, we even had dried salt on our cockpit table.  Dave gave the boat a good scrub yesterday.

As we were putting out our fishing lines, I asked Dave if he was afraid to eat the mahi after he got sick.  He said “No, bring it on.  I’ll eat it til I squirt.  That’s always been my motto.”  But we did do some research on ciguatera poisoning.  Ciguatera toxin is produced by dinoflagellates found in the coral reef.  When the fish eat the coral, the toxin concentrates in the fish organs.  The larger reef fish that eat the smaller reef fish build up toxins in their body.  That’s why we avoid barracuda, but we are hearing about it in other fish, like hogfish and black grouper to name a few.  Symptoms range from flu like symptoms to joint pain to shock and coma.  And it will recur with greater intensity with each exposure.  There are no reliable tests, but a researcher had luck with putting a piece of raw meat under his tongue.  If it tingles, don’t eat it.  So I guess that’s going to be our guide.  Wish us luck!

While we were in route, Dave realized we had to change the SD card for our chart plotter.  Now our chart plotter covers Central and South America.  That’s cool.  About noon, Dave saw a whale breach about a half of a mile from our boat.  I only saw the big splash it made.  We never saw it again, shucks. 

We reached the group of islands known as the Crookeds and Acklins about 3:00.  We rounded the southern tip of Long Cay and were anchored on it’s east side by 3:45.  There was one other boat anchored there.  And one more arrived before sunset.  I realized today that we crossed the Tropic of Cancer last Thursday as we traveled south along Long Island.  So we are officially in the Tropics. 
south west tip of Long Cay before we rounded it to the east side
from our Explorer charts