Thursday, February 4, 2010

Marsh Harbor Revisited

Friday, January 29 - Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Ah, Marsh Harbor. Many cruisers and Abaconians will tell you that they can't stand Marsh Harbor and will only go to the "big city" long enough to do laundry and get groceries from one of the larger markets. While we wouldn't want to spend months at a time here, we still think it's a fun spot to drop anchor for a few days. Sojourner had made it into Marsh the day before we arrived, and Rick and Linda invited us aboard for happy hour Friday evening. On board, we also got to meet Jim and Linda from Winsome, Ian and Sharon from Celtic Cross, and Michael and Robyn from Estrellita. We enjoyed hearing the stories of other cruisers, some of whom have been coming to the Abacos for 30 years.

If you think it's always sunny in the Bahamas, think again! Not that it's nearly as bad as our home towns of Seattle and Rotterdam, but it does rain here. When it does, we're pretty much house-bound. In the wintertime, cold fronts come through the Bahamas every 3-4 days off of the US coast. More often than not, they just bring lots of wind and slightly cooler temps. Sometimes, however, they stall...right over the Abacos. The front that came in Sunday morning was supposed to stall south of us, but Mother Nature sometimes has a sense of humor. This one stalled right over us and stuck around for 3 days. It rained throughout much of Sunday, and winds picked up on Monday. Granted, a few old salties have reminded us that we won't melt if we get wet, but wind and rain don't make for a fun dinghy ride no matter what the temperature! We were fortunate to get a couple of breaks in the squalls, so Sunday afternoon we walked over to Boat Harbor on the far side of Marsh Harbor to see the art show. We had also planned to meet Dave and Camilla from Southern Heat for happy hour, and made it to Snappas before the next wave of rain hit. We had a fun time with them and their friend, Sharon, and got quite the surprise when Babette and her boyfriend, Tim, showed up at Snappas, having just arrived in Marsh Harbor after a very long flight from Canada. We also spotted our "sister boat", another Catalina Morgan 440 anchored nearby. We wanted to stop by to say hello, but the owner was off the boat. Great minds really do think alike, because the CM440's owner, Art, called us the next morning on the VHF and invited us over to Destiny to trade boat notes. We all had a few boat projects to do first, and agreed that Art would hail us when he was back on the boat. We heard the call sometime after 1:30, thinking he was inviting us over for our visit. Unfortunately he was calling for help, having just had his anchor drag. We reached him a few minutes later to find him rafted up with another boat, Be Leaving. John of Be Leaving had donned a wetsuit and was snorkeling over the anchor. After an hour of maneuvering with John dislodging anchors in the water and Rene hauling them into our dinghy, Destiny was safely re-anchored. Art had a 55-pound Delta, which is one size larger than what's needed for the CM440 and happens to be the anchor that Rene wants. It just goes to show you that nothing is really "drag-proof".

The next morning, Rene helped Art sail Destiny around the point of the island to Boat Harbor. Stacy stayed aboard Pipe to finish some much-needed boat cleaning in anticipation of our happy hour that night. We were excited to play hosts to our boat neighbors, and ended up with 11 people in our cockpit! We had a fantastic time with our new friends, and know we'll see them again as we make our way through the Abacos.

What's that old saying about "when it rains, it pours"? That seems to have been true for us over the past couple of weeks. First, we discovered that our boat VHF will allow us to call out, but we can't hear anything coming in. You'd think we'd have noticed this earlier, but we almost always use the hand-held VHF over the base. Whether the problem is user-error or a function of our earlier lightning strike, we don't know. Next up, Rene turned on our little digital camera to see the pictures he'd taken earlier, only to get the "blue screen of death". If you've ever had your computer hard drive crash, you know what we mean. Besides being a great little camera when we don't feel like carrying the big Nikon, it's also the camera we use to take underwater pictures. We spent more on the underwater housing than we did on the camera itself, so now we have to see if we can get a replacement camera...Ebay, anyone?? In case you've noticed our lack of photos on the blogs lately, we haven't been able to retrieve the old pictures so far. Fingers crossed we'll be able to download them through the printer, or maybe at a Wal-Mart photo center when we get back to the states. Our most recent dive pictures are still on there! Anyway, you know that these kinds of things happen in threes, right? Or in our case, fours... When we first came into Marsh Harbor on Friday, we were quite surprised to see depths of under 5'. Keeping in mind that Pipe is supposed to draw 5.3', we should've felt a bump or seen sand clouds in the water at the very least. Rick had asked us whether our depth gauge was correct when we complained of shoals in the Treasure Cay channel, so this was yet another "data point". Our anchorage neighbors, Ken and Kathy, loaned us a hand-held depth gauge, and surprise, surprise...our true depth was 2' more than what our depth gauge showed! At least it was wrong in the "safe" direction. Can you imagine thinking you actually had 2' MORE water than you really did? Rene found the Raymarine manual and calibrated for 2' offset. Whew...hopefully our next trip across the shifting sand banks will be a bit less stressful. What's next? Oh, yes, the macerator/discharge pump... We won't go into graphic details, but let's just say we came close to thinking we'd need to make an emergency trip back to the US to have our holding tank worked on. Not fun! All in all, things could be a lot worse repair-wise. Everything seems to be working for now, other than our not being able to take underwater pictures until we get back to the states to find another Olympus.

We'll close this chapter of our blog for now. Tomorrow we head over to Hope Town which, we've been told, is the quintessential Bahamian paradise. Can't wait!

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