Tales of Marsh Harbour
Trip Start Jul 21, 2001
45Trip End Apr 22, 2002
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Where I stayed
In the morning, Martin and I together with John and Alida went back to school. Every Thursday, Marsh Harbour Marina sponsors talks by local experts on a wide variety of subjects. They call these talks "WD40 For Your Mind". Today, there was an excellent seminar on Fishing in the Bahamas. Now all we had to do was to put our new knowledge into practice.
We had a perfect beam reach sail to Treasure Cay which we had enjoyed so much the previous week. We convinced FOREVER YOUNG and ACCLAIM that they had to see it also, so after the seminar, off we went, sailing and fishing. John hooked a very large fish but it got away. At least it gave us encouragement to troll every time we sail to see what hits our rigs.
February 1 Treasure Cay
Dave and Judy aboard NICOU joined us today and off we all went to enjoy the world famous beach. Since our last visit, we learned of a beach-side bar and grill about a half mile walk up the beach. What a great open-air place. They serve the largest hamburgers we have ever seen for the lowest price anywhere - five dollars included a generous helping of fries. The girl took a long time to slowly barbeque the burgers so we were forced to have several Bahama Mama drinks as we waited.
After swimming in the ocean we returned to the Treasure Cay resort for showers and a swim in their beautiful pool.
Feb 4 Back at Marsh Harbour
Although more than 25 years old, our outboard motor has given us excellent service. Finally something went wrong. The pull cord broke. Thankfully it occurred while I was still tied to MYSTIC LOON. The next day, I removed the pull cord mechanism and brought it inside MYSTIC LOON before taking it apart. I installed a new cord, reassembled it without the spring flying all over the cabin and reinstalled it on the motor as the dinghy pitched to and fro in the strong winds. The flywheel spins in a clockwise direction so of course that's how I rewound the starter cord - WRONG. It gets wound in the reverse direction, so do it over again.
John from RIVERDANCE came over to ask for assistance with his GPS. After spending quite a bit of time, our conclusion was it was malfunctioning and since it was quite an older model he'd just replace it in the near future.
Martin from FOREVER YOUNG was to take Pauline and Margaret into town so they could do their laundry. Well...he found his gas tank had overturned in the night and all the gas was swishing back and forth over the floor of the dingy and everything stowed there. I took them in and even though we went slowly, having to motor into the high chop in the harbour, meant we all were wet from the salt spray. This is one chore that Margaret will not miss when she returns to the comfort of doing laundry back home.
Martin picked the ladies up for the return trip with the waves and thankfully laundry and passengers all returned dry.
NICOU left today to Man of War Cay where Dave and Judy will store the boat for the next two weeks while they fly back to Maine on business and family matters.
February 09 Engine zincs
John and Martin came over this morning to check on a problem I was having with my water temperature gauge. While looking at the engine we talked about when the last time was that I had checked my engine zincs. MYSTIC LOON was launched on August 3, 1984 and up to this year spent all her time in fresh water. Zincs are installed so that any electrolysis will attack the weaker sacrificial zinc instead of expensive engine components. I had checked the zinc last July before the start of our trip and as always it was in perfect condition. Their question made me curious so I took out the plug. After 5 months in salt water all that was left of it was mush. What a shock. Thankfully, I had purchased several zincs before leaving home. Martin recommended that I make a habit of checking the zinc every month that the boat remained in salt water. Later I also checked the shaft zinc I had installed in St. Augustine. It was still in good condition but was starting to show signs of wear.
We never did fix the temperature gauge problem because John discovered that it was caused by a faulty sending unit in the engine and none are available here.
February 10 Winch maintenance
Another chore that has never been done was to service the winches. During all the years in fresh water they worked perfectly and spun freely. Now in salt water, they were starting to show signs of tightening up. Martin had serviced two-speed Lewmar winches identical to ours on his previous boat so he volunteered to help. One article I had read in a Cruising World magazine stressed the caution that taking a winch apart aboard a boat in the water was an accident waiting to happen. So many people have lost a spring or a pawl overboard, never to be found again. They recommended putting a box around the winch before taking anything apart so I was all ready for this task.
The second tip they had was as you remove each piece lay it down in order so you can remember how to reassemble it correctly.
By the end of the job, I felt that the hardest part was ensuring I didn't lose anything. It is a straight forward task and when Martin left I easily serviced the remaining winches myself. I was embarrassed that I hadn't attempted the job long before this.
I'm afraid I didn't keep a daily record of our time here at Marsh Harbour. Without cell phone access, responding to email and updating the web site on a regular basis it has been very easy to slip into a 'I'll do it tomorrow' attitude. It is now the end of the month of February and I'm trying to recall what we did to make time pass so quickly. Certainly having all our friends together in one anchorage lead to many Happy Hours aboard each others boats.
We had a great time attending a Super Bowl Party hosted by the Jib Room at the Marsh Harbour Marina. A number of door prizes were won by our group and I won a bottle of Champagne and a pair of Heineken sunglasses which Margaret claimed shortly immediately afterwards. It was amazing to think that on October 23, our four boats first met, docked and rafted together at the Welcome Center Dock in the Dismal Swamp, North Carolina.
Here we were, over three months and over a thousand miles later watching the Super Bowl together in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas. As Alida would say: Hey gang, a Kodak Moment.
Also at the party were Ed and Marlene from VALHALLA whom we had last seen on November 2 at at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Every Thursday morning at 10 am, two cruisers who have been here for a number of years put on a lecture series for the months of January through March. Their names are Jim and Julie aboard IOLONI and the program they've put together is called WD 40 For Your Mind.
This morning John, Alida and I attended a lecture on the History and Geology of the Abacos. We didn't think there would be as many people interested as there was for the fishing seminar but the place was packed and we had to sit on the steps as all available seating was taken.
Although we went into town shopping every second day or so, all of us looked forward to a long walk off the boats exploring the east end of Marsh Harbour so one day we decided to walk to The Castle. We had purchased the fascinating little book Castle In the Air by Dr. Evans Cottman who serviced the Abacos from the 1940's to the 1970's. The book describes the times between 1950 - 1960 as he worked to build his dream home in Marsh Harbour. We could see the Castle from our boats, silhouetted by the rising sun each morning and after reading the book we engaged everyone in a trek to the Castle.
The book stated that, in 1993, his daughter opened Sea View Castle to the public, and established the Castle Café and Gift Shop. In 2002, the sign is still there but unfortunately the daughter's experiment failed and now it has been rented so we were unable to go inside to view this unique testament to one man's dreams. Hungry and thirsty we traveled onwards. As this was Sunday, almost all the restaurants were closed. We finally found the Conch Inn Marina open and immediately ordered lunch and a round of "Kalik" The Beer of The Bahamas.
FOREVER YOUNG needed to run their water maker and with the water in Marsh Harbour of dubious quality they decided to go for a sail inviting us to go along for the afternoon. FOREVER YOUNG is a 42 foot Manta catamaran with a beam of 21 feet so it was quite a thrill to sail aboard her and take over the helm for awhile. What a beautiful boat! Martin and I tried our fishing skills but to no avail as the most we caught was seaweed. Still it was a great afternoon with our two friends.
February 13 My birthday
We had celebrated both Dave and Judy's birthdays in January and Martin's the previous week. Mine was the last we would celebrate together and everyone seemed to go all out. Pauline and Martin hosted the party aboard FOREVER YOUNG but as usual everyone contributed except that this time it was a feast. I had mentioned previously that I wanted to go to Rib Night at Marsh Harbour Marina so Pauline and Martin bought a huge quantity of baby back ribs for the evening. It took three loads in the pressure cooker for Pauline to get them all ready for Martin who then barbequed them to perfection. Alida made a huge serving of her special hot wings, Connie made vegetable dishes and a scrumptious, mandarin orange birthday cake. What a feast!!! Great presents made the evening complete and Martin set up his camera to take a final picture of the gang all together. We all regretted that Dave and Judy still hadn't returned from Maine to complete the evening and the picture.
We decided to return the favour of Martin and Pauline's day aboard their boat and invited them to sail to the eastern side of Marsh Harbour to snorkel the reef off Mermaid Beach. Margaret has really taken to snorkeling and even though there was quite a swell on the water, she stayed the entire time with the rest of us diving the area. The reef itself is not of the best quality but we saw more fish here than anywhere to date. In several areas at the edge of the reef wall, schools of 20 to 30 fish would be clustered swaying in the seas currents. This reef is also accessible from land via a landing area a short distance from Marsh Harbour Marina. Soon we were joined by John and Alida who swam out from the eastern beach, to our anchored boat.
After lunch onboard, we sailed back to Marsh Harbour where John and Alida came out again by dinghy to join us in our traditional evening happy hour. We had such a great time that happy hour and snacks became supper for all.