Saturday, May 21, 2011

(Attempted) Escape from Chicken Harbour: Georgetown, Exumas…Still

Monday, May 2 – Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stupid damn dinghy! I know, not the most gracious start of a blog entry, but that’s how we’ve felt for the past few days. Our dinghy motor started acting up during the regatta (seemingly slipping out of gear), to the point it would only go in idle speed if at all. Wouldn’t you know, it happened as we were going into town from our anchorage at Red Shanks. Have we mentioned this is a 1.5 mile course that, when not on plane, takes 30 wet, frustrating minutes – especially when you’re trying like crazy to make it to the propane truck in time? We did make it to the propane truck before it left, and were able to hook up with Genesis, Storyville, Pa’La O’La, and Kaleo to watch some of the races. Unfortunately, when Rene went back to try to work on the engine between races, he discovered that our carburetor had taken on water (again). Stacy stayed with the others while Rene slow-boated it back to Red Shanks. Stacy got to go out in Genesis’s dinghy to follow the race boats while Rene sweated in the sun over a 9.9HP engine. Who do YOU think had more fun?

Anyway, that was then, this is now. The regatta is over, Stacy’s fabulous 40th b-day is over, and we’re ready to begin our journey south to the DR. Right? Uhhh, not quite. When we finally got into town Monday morning to have someone look at the outboard, the mechanic determined that our propeller needed to be replaced. The bearing was shot thanks to a few Red Shanks groundings, and we needed a new prop. The mechanic even tried to come up with a temporary fix, which worked for all of the five minutes that it took us to get out of the relative protection of Lake Victoria and into the soaking waves of Elizabeth Harbour. Yippee! We hobbled back to the mechanic, who wasn’t able to get the “band-aid” to stay put. We were able to flag down Deana and Troy at the dinghy dock to give Stacy a ride back, and Rene eventually took a water taxi ride to Pipe.

After several calls on the VHF net, we got lots of helpful ideas from other cruisers in the harbor. Unfortunately, no one had a spare, and by all reports we couldn’t get a new prop delivered for a week or more. We were really hoping to leave Georgetown for Conception Island by Wednesday or Thursday (weather permitting), and didn’t want to hold our buddy boats back. As luck would have it, the weather gurus eventually pegged Saturday as a prime travel day, so we figured we had a few days to come up with a solution. On Tuesday, Rene was able to work with an air service who’d been recommended by other cruisers, and we were told us they’d be able to get us a new prop by Wednesday afternoon. In the meantime, Troy spent hours working on our old prop, managing to get it functional enough for us to get around with a bit of babying. Miracle of miracles, our prop arrived at the airport Wednesday afternoon, and Rene picked it up at the customs office before joining us for dinner aboard Storyville. Hopefully we were back in business!

Rene went out to install the new prop Thursday morning, only to have our spirits dashed; the damn thing wouldn’t fit! We hadn’t been able to find a part number on the prop or in any of our documentation, so the agent found a replacement based on our outboard’s model and serial numbers. You’d think that would work, right? Sadly, not so much. It turns out the prop that we received had been returned, re-packaged, or whatever, because it didn’t match the box it was in and no one checked it in the rush to get it to the plane. Gary on Pa’La O’La realized he had the same outboard that we did, so he and Rene compared props and found an official Mercury part number. Rene sent the info to his air service agent, who went in search of yet another replacement. The hitch? Their next flight to Georgetown wouldn’t go until the FOLLOWING Wednesday. Our friends graciously decided to stick with us to the bitter end, agreeing that they wouldn’t leave Georgetown until we ALL could leave G’town. This seriously sucks for everyone, but we keep reminding us that life could be worse. After all, we’re still “stuck” in paradise…

We spent our extra week in GT doing last minute provisioning, waiting on the diesel truck to arrive (and then waiting for the broken gas pump to be repaired), borrowing our buddy boats’ dinghies for quick rides into town, bumming rides as needed, and getting together for the odd meal and happy hour at the Red Shanks Yacht and Racquet Club (i.e., the beach). It certainly wasn’t a bad way to spend a week, but we were all anxious to be on our way to our next destination. Wednesday finally arrived, and Rene hitchhiked up to the airport to save the $30 each way cab fare (not to worry – hitching is one of the basic modes of transportation in the Bahamas). As luck would have it, the 3:30pm flight was delayed to 5pm, which then became 7pm, which finally meant 7:15. Thank goodness the customs official promised to stay until the flight arrived, and Rene was finally able to get the prop in hand around 8pm. He even managed to put the new prop on at the dinghy dock in town, and had his first good ride in our dinghy in nearly two weeks. We were back in business!

In the midst of our propeller nightmare, we also had to bid a fond (and very teary) farewell to LA and Susan on Genesis. They’ve left Georgetown to meet up with some friends near Staniel Cay, and will travel back to Florida with them before heading down to Mexico. As much as we hate that they’re not traveling with us anymore, we know we’ll stay in touch through the wonders of Facebook, e-mail, and Blogger. How appropriate to be reading one of Troy’s favorite books, Illusions, by Richard Bach (Mr. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, himself), which says:

“Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”

We wish Genesis safe travels and look forward to seeing them again in some future anchorage. We love you guys!

In the meantime, we’re finally saying goodbye to the Exumas in the morning. We’ll be leaving Georgetown shortly after sunrise to get to Conception Island. It’s the first step in the next phase of our journey that’ll take us to the Dominican Republic and the rest of the Caribbean. Off we go!

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