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Posted By Robin & Jim

We left Bimini, Bahamas for a 75 nautical mile crossing to Palm Beach, FL - a slow trip with just one engine, but we would get a bit of a speed boost from the Gulf Stream which was running about 3 knots.  We departed early with the sun, enjoying a beautiful dawn sky.

bimini sunrise

It was a nice day to travel on the ocean and the seas were pretty easy.  About two hours out of Bimini we heard a loud engine alarm go off - it was the high temperature alarm.  We monitor the engine gauges closely, but the temp spiked very quickly in just a few moments.  We shut the engine down and Jim found that the vee-belt had broken.  Rather than just drift in the Gulf Stream we decided to fire up the "bad" engine to maintain steering and keep us steady in the waves while Jim was in the very hot engine room replacing the broken belt.  It didn't take him long to make the repair and as soon as we fired up the hot engine and the cooling pump was running again she cooled down to normal quickly.  Crisis averted, we shut the "bad" engine back down and continued our passage.  We've certainly have had a lot of little adventures on this cruise.
At the Lake Worth inlet we turned our cell phones back on, cleared US Customs with a phone call, and anchored for the night with a lot more boats, cars, trains, and lights than we've been accustomed to for a while.
The next day we went back out in the ocean to run up to Ft. Pierce - a perfect glassy day on the water.  We even saw a big sailfish right at the surface, with his tall fin sticking out of the water.  We had a quiet night at anchor, and left very early for the long run up the Indian River to our next destination - Cocoa, FL.  Cocoa has a nice marina convenient to lots of shops and restaurants, and we have good friends who live nearby.  It's a great spot to sit still for a few weeks and make our engine repairs.
About an hour before we got to Cocoa the sky turned ugly and we heard warnings about severe thunderstorms on the radio.  We tracked the storms on radar and managed to avoid most of the squalls, but the chance of lightning is scary when you're all by yourself out on the water.

angry sky

We settled into the marina at Cocoa so we could remove the failing damper plate and get the correct replacement.  Removing the damper required building a lifting frame to support the 200 lb. transmission so it could be slid back out of the way.  Jim built the frame and rigged a block and tackle, he unbolted the shaft and transmission and bell housing, replaced the damper plate, and put it all back together - and he did the work all by himself.  For both engines.  He is amazing!

replacing damper

Here is what a new drive damper plate looks like:

new damper

We're working on other small repairs and little projects while we're sitting still.  It's a big change from snorkeling every day in the beautiful Bahamas, but we're having fun with our friends and we're getting some things accomplished.

 


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

The blog is a bit out of date and out of touch with reality.  We are now back in the US dealing with our engine repair, and I think my reluctance to leave the Bahamas in blog form mirrors our reluctance to leave the Bahamas in real life.  But such is the way of cruising.  We are very good at going with the flow because weather, mechanical things, broken teeth, and other lumpy bits of life constantly get in the way of any attempt to make "plans". 

It takes a few days to get from the Exumas back to the US, and we had a few adventures that are worth sharing.  We headed to Nassau where we had a replacement engine part waiting for us.

nassau harbour club marina

Jim and I spent a day walking around town in the drizzle to get some lumber, screws, and bolts for the repair, and the next day Jim did some amazing engineering wizardry with the supplies and our block-and-tackle to support the 200 lb transmission, unbolt it, and slide it out of the way.  By himself.  The bad news is that the part didn't fit - our manual and reality didn't match.  We could try to figure out the right part number and wait for one to be shipped in again, but that would be a lot of cost and delay.  And the second named storm of the hurricane season had popped up already.  Heartbroken, we realized that the prudent thing would be to head back to the US to deal with it all, safer if more storms crop up, and cheaper dockage and parts accessibility. 

The trip from Nassau to the Berry Islands started out nice and smooth, but we encountered squalls in the afternoon and the sky looked bruised and angry.  As the weather turned ugly we saw some swordfish tail-walking!  Apparently they get frisky when the seas do likewise.  We dodged the worst of the squalls and anchored for the night, leaving at 0400 for the long, slow (on one engine) trip across the Great Bahama Bank to Bimini.  We planned to stay there for one last Bahamas day with our friends on SMALL WORLD.

We gathered our snorkeling gear and waited for SMALL WORLD to come by our marina and pick us up, but they had to wait because the departing mail boat ran aground in the entrance channel at low tide, and nothing could get past it.

mailboat aground

We finally escaped and snorkeled the famous Bimini Road.  This is a formation of rectangular rocks in the ocean, not far from the very deep water and the Gulf Stream.  Some have called it part of the lost city of Atlantis - who knows?

bimini road

Then we headed south to snorkel the wreck of the Sapona - a ferro-cement ship built in 1911.

sapona

We snorkeled all around the wreck, going inside and swimming through passageways - it was great fun, a last fling in the pretty water.

sapona bollards


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

One of my very favorite cays in the Exuma Park is Shroud because it's criss-crossed with little creeks - perfect for paddling a kayak.  The weather would be turning ugly soon so we only had about a day and a half before we had to leave to find better protection from the strong fronts heading our way.  Jim isn't much of a paddler, so I had the mangroves and quiet creeks to myself.

mangrove

The miles of creeks have pure white sand bottoms lined by red and black mangroves and sometimes limestone rock.  There is enough tide that I had to pay attention to shallow areas if the tide was falling, otherwise I might have to get out and drag the kayak back into deep water. 

shroud creeks

I saw tons of baby reef fish among the mangrove roots, as well as a lot of baby barracuda - perfect replicas of the adults.  Barracuda are very fast swimmers when they are hunting, and they even have a shallow little pocket on the top of their body that their dorsal fin folds into in order to make them ultra-streamlined.  Nature is pretty clever.  I also saw a number of small lemon sharks cruising through the shallows, and a very small sea turtle that was pretty shy.

In addition to the life under the water, the bird life was pretty active.  I saw green herons and some little warblers among the mangroves, but the highlight were the long tailed tropic birds that nested in the limestone and flew overhead.  They are truly elegant looking birds with impossibly long tails.

long tailed tropic bird

They gambol overhead by themselves or with one or two other birds, their kek sound drawing attention to their flight and making me run outside with my long lens, or jump in the kayak to try for a shot.

tropic bird landing

Some least terns were also nesting nearby, and laughing gulls.

laughing gulls

The weather started to turn quickly, with some ugly squalls coming ahead of the stronger fronts and winds.

stormy weather

I made it back with my kayak about 10 minutes before the howling wind and rain cranked up.  The seas turned lumpy and we left for Nassau early the next morning to try and deal with our engine repair.