2012-04-12, 20:00 — Great Sale Cay, Northwest Harbour
We made the decision — almost by default — this morning to not go anywhere at all, but to take a kind of rest day right here in this peaceful anchorage. I said “almost by default” in part because Barbara and Frank let me sleep in. In fact, I was awakened by the sound of people shouting. Turns out that Pacific Pacer was leaving Great Sale Cay and turned two or three circles around Dream SeQueL while Frank shouted back and forth to a woman on Pacific Pacer. (She’s wanted to buy some gluten-free bread in Miami but hadn’t been able to find any, so Frank had offered to try to find some to bring to her in the Bahamas. Unfortunately, Frank had also been unsuccessful, and Pacific Pacer sailed away.)
After I was up and eating my cereal, Frank said that he’d like to go ashore today just to see what the Cay is like. Of course, there’s that silly little problem of the dinghy not remaining inflated, but I was confident we’d figure something out. Some time later in the morning, after I’d worked on some minor repairs and other jobs on the boat, and Frank had cataloged and edited his photographs, we decided to go ashore. We re-inflated the dinghy and then plopped it into the water. Well, “plopped” isn’t exactly the right term. What we did was rig a spare halyard to the bow eye of the dinghy, hoist it high enough to get the stern tubes over the lifelines, and lower the already-going-limp thing gently into the water.
We then pulled the dinghy around to the stern (where we’d lowered the swim ladder) and Frank hopped in while I started wrestling with the outboard motor. Barbara brought up the key to unlock the padlock securing the outboard to its perch on the pushpit, while I attached the harness that allows us to handle it a bit more easily. We then set up a block-and-tackle (that last word, you may not realize, is actually pronounced “tay-kel”) system to allow us to lower the outboard gently into the dinghy. Frank maneuvered the outboard onto the dinghy’s transom and secured it there, after which I passed the gas tank down to him. One of the more, ummm, urgent things we decided to take with us was the hand pump for the dinghy.
Finally, we passed the “dinghy kit” (including an anchor and its rode, running lights, a flashlight, an air horn, a handheld VHF radio, and a few other sundries) into the flabby inflatable and I climbed down with a bag of “lunch” for Frank and me to eat if we got hungry. The whole time we were doing this, the dinghy’s port and starboard tubes were clearly losing pressure — and Frank made things only funnier by diligently pumping up the bow tube with the hand pump!
We fired up the outboard motor, which clearly needs a tuneup as it didn’t idle very well, and set off for the relatively nearby eastern shore of Northwest Harbour. As we’re anchored about a half-mile off that eastern shore, it only took a few minutes to get there, but the inflatable tubes were visibly losing pressure during that short trip. When we reached the shore, we spent only a couple of minutes finding a place where we could get the dinghy close in without puncturing anything on the awfully sharp fossil coral — a/k/a limestone — of which the Bahamas are constructed. And, voilà, we were ashore!
If you’ve ever been to one of the uninhabited Cays in the Bahamas, then you’ll already know that there wasn’t much else ashore with us. The shoreline was very rocky without any visible fish at all! That surprised us considerably, but even the tide pools were devoid of anything visibly swimming around. There were a handful of plants near the water, and dense brush covering the rest of the land we could see. Among the plants near the shore were a couple of succulents, which surprised me a bit, and an assortment of obviously hardier plants. The brush elsewhere included some low, tortured trees and general scrub that was pretty near impenetrable. Although “the other side” was only a few hundred meters or so distant (if that), it was immediately obvious that we’d require all day to get anywhere near that far.
So, after a bit of wandering around within about 30 meters of the dinghy, we got back into the boat, pumped up the port and starboard tubes a bit, and motored back to Dream SeQueL. And, of course, we then had to reverse the whole process: pass the dinghy kit back up, haul the outboard back up and re-lock it onto the pushpit, etc. We decided that it was just too much trouble to get the dinghy back onto the foredeck, so we have left it in the water, tied securely to the stern bits of our mothership. We’ll try towing it tomorrow (our first attempt at towing a dinghy).
After we got back, I asked Frank to help me straighten out the channel/frequency assignments on our SSB (an iCom M802 Marine Single Sideband radio), so he read frequencies out to me while I entered them through the front panel. It took a while, because there were 160 of them to do, but we eventually got through it. Frank wanted to know what kinds of things we did with the SSB, so I did a “radio check” to a company whose primary function is to patch radiotelephone users through to ordinary telephones (landlines or cell phones). Frank then asked whether it would be possible for us to place such a call to his wife, Margaret. Quick as a wink, we radioed back to the company (ShipCom, in Mobile, Alabama), gave the operator Frank’s credit card number and the phone number, and — Bob’s your uncle — Margaret was on the line. Worked great, first time!
It’s my turn to cook dinner tonight, so I’m going to make one of my favorites — stew meat with rice and gravy. Barbara got the meat out of the freezer so it could be thawing while Frank and I were ashore.
We seem to be settling nicely into a bit of a groove, which I find very comfortable and pleasurable. It means that I don’t have to think so much, which is probably good for everybody concerned!
<<All photographs Copyright © Frank Pellow, 2012. Used with permission.>>