23 October 2017

Cruising In The Bahamas | 2017 Season Recap, Pt 3 - Random Bits & Bobs

This is the third in our >>Cruising in the Bahamas 2017 Season Recap<< series. In our first installment, we talked about the route we took, the anchorages we stayed at and shared some fascinating and not-so-fascinating tidbits, like our average cost per night and what TV shows we binge watched. In our second installment, it was all about food, provisioning, grocery shopping and cooking on boats.

In this final installment, we share various random bits and bobs - like our favorite experiences and our not-so-favorite experiences, the issues we had with equipment on our boat, and doing laundry.

But before we get into that, let's start off with some tidbits. I'll be curious to know which of these you find fascinating and which you find not-so-fascinating. Personally, I'm fascinated by how much it costs to do laundry in different parts of the world. I guess that means I'm a bit strange, which probably isn't a surprise for you long-term blog readers out there.

So what did you think about the cost of booze in the Bahamas? More or less than you'd pay at home? While we did stock up on beer, wine and gin, we did supplement our supplies with a few bottles of rum along the way. The cheapest we found was in Marsh Harbour, the most expensive was at the rather strange combination liquor store / laundromat on Staniel Cay. Because nothing makes doing laundry better than a bottle of rum.

In the spirit of random bits and bobs, let's talk about laundry for a minute.

We don't have a watermaker* on board our boat which means that the water we carry in our tanks has to be devoted to important things like drinking, cooking, bathing and washing the dishes. Clean clothes are important, but rather than waste our precious water supply doing laundry in a bucket on our boat, we use laundromats in the Bahamas. You can find them pretty much everywhere and a load of laundry won't break the bank.

We are frugal sailors though, so rather than partake of the dryers at the laundromat (which are actually super expensive), we schlep our wet clothes back to the boat and hang them on the lifelines to dry. Wind is free after all.

{*For those of you not in the know, a watermaker is a gadget which transforms salt water into fresh drinking water. I'm not sure how it works, but I imagine some sort of magic is involved and possibly tiny elves.}

Okay, what should we talk about next? How about all of the stuff that broke or caused us issues? Sure, why not, let's go for it.

If you're a boat owner, while you're reading this, I imagine you'll be nodding your head and commiserating with us, because if there's one thing all boat owners know, it's that stuff constantly breaks. If you don't own a boat, well you might just be scratching your head thinking to yourself, "What kind of idiot would ever want to own a boat? Stuff seems to always break."

There were relatively minor issues that cropped up like the fact one of our >>water tanks was leaking<< when we were heeled over. (Easily fixed with some sealant.)

Or our >>temperature, oil and fuel gauges<< being on the fritz. (We use a heat gun on the engine, check the oil manually and listen for the telltale "gurgle" when we're filling the diesel tanks.)

Then there's >>our stove<< which decided it was tired of heating up our food. (Temporarily replaced with a butane camping stove.)

And >>our dinghy<< doesn't like to hold air. (We've tried patching it, gooping it and slapping gorilla tape everywhere. We're now resigned to constantly pumping it up and looking for a better solution.)

There are some annoying things that you just learn to live with for the time-being - like the fact that >>our anchor shackle sometimes likes to get stuck<< in the bow roller when you're trying to drop the anchor. (Screwdriver to the rescue to wedge it out.)

Then there were more serious issues, like our >>never ending saga with our windlass<<. It crapped out on us right away causing Scott to become our human windlass. Not a great solution and probably one of the things that contributed to his back problems in Rock Sound.

Then there are issues that are more of a pain-in-the-you-know-what like the fact that our >>autohelm and chart plotter cut out<< occasionally. When this happens, we just turn off and on the breaker and they reset themselves. Usually not a huge problem, except for this one time we were coming out of the Elizabeth Harbour (George Town) and the chart plotter cut in and out constantly. Trust me, this is not a great place to have an uncooperative chartplotter. Trying to blindly avoid reefs, rocks, sea monsters and shallow water - eek!

Then there was stuff that was almost fun to fix, like >>repairing our bimini and dodger<<. Okay, it wasn't really fun, but it was neat to use the monster wheel on our Sailrite sewing machine which meant we didn't need electricity to operate it.

Some things can really tick you off when you're out sailing and >>our furling line lead<< is one of them. It often gets tangled up on the drum causing a lot of frustration and taking in and out the headsail. We've tried a number of things to address without any luck.

>>Thorny, our Thornycroft T80 diesel engine,<< is a bit of a grumpy old man. But he's gotten even grumpier this past season. He struggles with early morning starts, which I can relate to. No one likes to get up and get cracking in the morning without a nice cup of coffee and possibly solving a crossword puzzle or two. Partway through the season, Thorny decided he wouldn't start in the morning without the help of the generator. If the solar panels have had a chance to charge the batteries for a while, then he's okay, but otherwise he grumbles and grouses. We do need to replace our battery bank this year, as well as deal with some potential ongoing glow plug issues.

Then there are the things that break that make you question the whole boat-ownership thing. Like the time one of >>our dinghy davits broke<<. This was probably the lowlight of our cruising season. Not only because of having to immediately deal with our dinghy and solar panel dangling precariously above the water, but also because of the time we spent trying to get it repaired in the Bahamas only to have to go back to the States to get a replacement davit and install it.

Fortunately, our other major repair - >> replacing our engine's water pump << - took place when we were back in the States and not in the Bahamas. We needed to source a spare part through a tractor supply outfit. Like I say, inside the heart of every good sailboat lurks a tractor. Thankfully, once we sourced the part, it didn't take long for us to fix it and head back to the Bahamas.

How many of you found that recap of all of the stuff that broke boring? Don't be shy, raise your hands. You're not alone, I've raised mine too. Boat maintenance and repair is really dull. Necessary, but dull.

How about some more fascinating and not-so-fascinating tidbits to liven the place up?

People who cruise in the Bahamas on bigger boats might be a bit jealous when they see how much our cruising permit cost us - $150. If your boat is 35' or bigger it costs $300. If your boat is smaller, like Tickety Boo, then it's only $150. There times when I wish we had a bigger boat. Clearing into the Bahamas is not one of them.

Okay, let's finish off this rambling post by sharing our favorite and not-so-favorite experiences in the Bahamas this year.

When it comes to >>not-so-favorite experiences<<, they group themselves into two categories for me - weather-related and gross bug-related.

Want to know about the bugs? I wouldn't blame you if you didn't. It was disgusting. There I was getting something out of the v-berth when I noticed maggots. Yes, maggots. Ick. Ick. Ick. Keep in mind that we're anchored near Little Farmer's Cay which meant there was no where to run away from them. So, I got out our trusty shop-vac, sucked them all up and chucked them overboard. Of course, I had nightmares that night thinking that there were bugs crawling all over me. Definitely a not-so-favorite experience.

If it's not bugs, it's the weather. Mother Nature rules your life when you're a cruiser and we're pretty used to her moodiness by now. But there are still days when she likes to shake things up and remind you who is in charge - her, not you. Like the time I thought >>we might very well lose our boat<< during a storm cell off of Cat Island. Another not-so-favorite experience.

Fortunately, >>our favorite experiences<< outnumber the not-so-favorite ones. Or at least our selective memories helps us forget the unpleasant times we have. The things we loved about the Bahamas are similar to the first time we cruised there - the people, the water and the mix of towns and solitude.

Probably our best land-based experience was visiting the Hermitage on Cat Island. Seriously amazing.

Our best water-based experiences were all about snorkeling. Surprisingly, some of the best snorkeling we had was in the Abacos at Sandy Cay. Everyone raves about the snorkeling in the Exumas - and we had some great times there - but Sandy Cay was truly special. Sadly we don't have an underwater camera so we don't have any pictures of the cool fish, coral and even submerged airplanes we saw, but here's a picture of a seaplane taking off in the Exumas next to our boat to make up for that.

And that's probably enough about the Bahamas for now. It's time to stop reminiscing about last year's cruising adventures and get back to boat projects so that we can get Tickety Boo all tickety boo for this coming season's adventures.

If you want to know more about the Bahamas, you can find links to all of our blog posts here.


What are the things that have broken in your home, RV or boat that really annoy you? Do you dry your clothes in a dryer or hang them up to dry? Do you drink rum? If so, what's your favorite rum-based drink?

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  1. Thank you so much for this awesome post! I feel as if I've been on this trip with you!

  2. Off and big flaming fire - funny!
    You still deal with a lot that breaks.
    No idea on the price of alcohol. We only buy wine and beer.
    And last time I used a laundromat, it was seventy-five cents to dry. Wow, has it gone up.

    1. 75 cents to dry - wow, what a bargain! If only I had a time travel machine I could go back in time to do my laundry and save a ton of money.

  3. I would totally dry clothes on the boat like that. The fresh air probably makes them smell way better than any dryer sheet.

    1. I love the smell of clothes that have been dried outside.

  4. I lived the majority of my life in S. FL. and don't miss it since moving to NC until I see pics like that. Gotta miss that water! While I don't drink, both my mother and husband used to enjoy Pusser's Rum/Pusser's Painkillers whenever we went to the Bahamas.

    1. You know, I've never had a Painkiller. Everyone talks about them and one of these days I'm going to have to try them.

  5. Our boring ranch style home in the suburbs is constantly in need of some repair or other. And for having a walk-out basement we have had more floods than I care to count. For starters we have had three burst water heaters, a broken toilet, leaking this or that - I think the place is cursed by a water sprite. A similarly frustrated neighbor says there is probably an Indian burial mound under our hill. I'm with Madeline about air drying. And clothes last longer not being mechanically dried, too, though I lack the patience. Be well!

    1. What a mean little water sprite. All those floods sound just awful :-(

  6. What are the things that have broken in your home, RV or boat that really annoy you? When an engine won't start and you're supposed to be going on a cruise. This happened to us this spring when we were supposed to cruise to an event. Bugger.

    Do you dry your clothes in a dryer or hang them up to dry? We hang our bath towels to dry when we're boating. When we're home we use the dryer.

    Do you drink rum? If so, what's your favorite rum-based drink? We have no hard liqueur on our boat or at home. We drink champagne and that's it.

    We have ended our bay cruise and we are home doing tons of laundry. Life is good.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    1. I hope you had a fabulous time on your bay cruise. I like your approach to drinking - bubbles and only bubbles. :-)

  7. I can empathise with your breaking things - our boiler is currently kaput. 5 visits and 3 different engineers so far. Tomorrow visit 6 / engineer 4 will be draining the whole system. Beam me up!

    1. Oh no, what a nightmare with your boiler. Fingers crossed they can sort it out.

  8. So many adventures in broken down items. It's a wonder you got any sailing done at all. The price of booze seems on par with what I pay for certain items, though I tend to prefer a cold beer to much anything else.

    1. Well, they do say cruising is really doing boat repairs in exotic places and it sure feels like that at times.

  9. We were having the same problem with the furling line getting tangled on the drum. We found some Harken troubleshooting help that said to use a ratcheting block in the last position before the cockpit. We installed one and haven't had it happen since.

    SV Kintala

    1. Thanks so much for the tip, Deb. We'll look into that.

  10. Great summary. I remember when you were having that annoying issue with the davits. Hope you guys have a good upcoming season. We're headed to the Carribean for a couple years.

    Best Wishes
    SV Northern Star

    1. That's right, you were there for our dinghy davit saga and then we had to run out of you to cross back over to the States to get the new davit. We still owe you dinner :-)

  11. We're currently anchored off Cay Costa island and state park, in gulf coast fl. Icky jobs? How about a leak in our pee holding tank for the composting head(toilet)? And guess who gets to deal with THAT little project?!
    But in truth, that is the first unpleasant aspect of the composting system in three years, so I can deal. Besides, pee is sterile... they say...
    Found some cheap rum (cheaper than our standard issue, Cruzan) at $12.99 (down from $15!) for 1.75 liters. I thought "worth a try!"
    Wrong, so wrong... If we ever catch a big fish we can use it to anesthetize him - otherwise it's just awful!
    Back to Cruzan.

    1. Oh no, what a nasty job! Even if pee is sterile (and is it really?), it's so nasty to have to deal with it. Every time I change the joker valve, it's a decidedly gross experience.

  12. We don't drink gin, so I have no idea if the price you quoted is high or not, but that rum price is pretty good. (Especially if that's for a big hunkering bottle, like the ones we buy...) Last summer, we were on a mini-kick for coconut rum mixed with pineapple juice, peach schnapps and club soda. I have no idea if that mixture has a name or if it's just one of those things we "made up," but it was good. For whatever reason, we didn't drink any of them at all this summer.

    I hang some things on the clothesline, but most things get tossed into the dryer. There's nothing quite as sweet as the smell of fresh air and sunshine in the clothes that hang on the line, but they're never quite as "soft" as dryer-dried stuff. Especially towels.

    1. It's not a for a big bottle, just a regular size bottle :-( Your rum drink sounds good. I think you should name it "Tropical Susan" :-)

  13. Things breaking all the time really get me down after a while. Good thing there's gin to look forward too! Sapphire is my favorite gin, but it's usually $2 more pricey than Beefeater, and the Beefeater is such a nice bottle too!


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