Kathy having morning tea

Voyages of the Sailing Vessel SeaSpace

Brandon and Kathy Jones

Brandon at Allens Cay


Berry Islands

Nassau

Boat Repairs

Blue Water - The Exuma Cays

January 2005

Moving South

I'm sorry but the January log is way too long. You may want to just skim it.

We had been in the marina in Lucaya since December 14th. Even though we had enjoyed our stay because of the wonderful people we had met there, it was definitely time to move on. Finally on January 5th, we left the marina and headed south for the Berries, Nassau and the Exuma Cays (pronounced "keys").

Berry Islands

Sunset at Great Harbor Cay

Our first leg was to take us to one of the northern Berry Islands. Our first choice was Great Stirrup Cay. But the winds and waves were strong (again) and we were concerned that the anchorage at Stirrup would be exposed to the south east winds. So half way there we changed course and went around to Great Harbor Cay. The anchorage there would be protected and there was the option to go into a marina. We had a peaceful evening at anchor and watched another beautiful sunset.

3 Island Packets at Chubb

The second day we went down to Chub Cay. This route was across the Little Bahamas Bank and was calm and pleasant. At Chub Cey we went into the marina where there were 3 Island Packet sail boats including us. This is unusual for such a small marina. (This picture and the next few were given to us by Bobby and Lesley Ward who were traveling with us on their Island Packet.)

Chub Cay only has 50 permanent residents, but lots of huge, expensive sport fishing boats (some costing millions). The marina has a great restaurant where we had a wonderful (but expensive) dinner. We were amazed to have fresh asparagus on the plate; it must have been flown in.

SeaSpace in West Bay, NP

The third day we sailed down to New Providence Island (the one with Nassau on it). The wind was strong and would have been on the nose if we had headed for Nassau so we went south rather than southeast. This allowed us to get to the west end of the island where we anchored in West Bay. It was picturesque so we stayed two nights. Unfortunately, we discovered that the watermaker and the battery charger were not working. This spoiled the pleasure somewhat.

Nassau

Cruise Ships in Nassau Harbor

Sea Plane in Nassau Harbor

On January 9th we finally got to Nassau. The harbor entrance here is tricky and there is not much room to get around the cruise ships. But we made it. All of a sudden I heard a loud buzzing noise. I turned around to see a sea plane that had landed behind me. Nothing like a little excitement to keep you alert.

We continued under the bridges and pulled into the Nassau Harbor Club marina. The wind and current were pushing me into the slip with such force that the bow hit and we lost the bow light - one more thing to fix.

Boat Repairs - A Dismal Week

The first week in Nassau was the week that I decided to sell the boat. (The decision may be changed later.) You may want to skip this section if you don't want to read about the gory details of boat repairs.)

There were four items to be repaired; and three of them we really couldn't do without. There was the broken bow light, the watermaker, the inverter/battery charger and the tachometer. We could get by without the tachometer, but the rest were either necessary or very desirable.

Installing New Bow Light

BOW LIGHT - this is the red/green navigation light that got destroyed when we pulled into the marina. It is required when you sail at night (we often start in the morning when it is still dark). I was able to fix this one myself by buying a new light and installing it. Unfortunately, the new light was not a direct replacement. I had to borrow special drill bits from a neighbor in order to drill holes in the stainless steel mounting plate. I had to drill these holes while hanging out over the bow rail while it is bouncing up and down from the wind and waves in this unprotected marina. But I got it done and the new light works.

TACHOMETER - this got fixed due to Kathy's perseverance. She called the outfit that works on Yanmar engines every day to try to get them to schedule a visit to SeaSpace. Finally, on Friday night she saw the repairman in our marina and she got him to come look at it. She had called the shop every day for a week trying to get an appointment for someone to come out. He was able to fix it in ten minutes. I watched what he did so next time it breakes I will be able to fix it myself.

Repairing Watermaker

Repairing Watermaker

WATERMAKER - this one also got fixed because of Kathy. She got a repairman to come look at it. He suggested that we flush chemicals through the system to clean the reverse osmosis membrane and if that didn't help, call the manufacturer. We were hesitant, but we went ahead and spent a day cleaning the membrane (a complicated procedure). Of course the watermaker still didn't work. So Kathy called the manufacturer (from a pay phone using a prepaid card) and luckily didn't have to wait on hold for very long. When she described the various symptoms to him, he decided that there was a setup parameter that was wrong. It had been marginal for the brackish water in the ICW but in the salty water here the high pressure reading caused by the bad parameter shut down the system.

So you say, this one will be easy - just change the parameter. Well, to do that I had to crawl down in the cockpit locker, remove the pump unit so I could get at the electronics, connect my laptop computer to the electronics, determine why the software wouldn't run on my computer, edit the "ini" file for the program to get it to run, change the COM Port settings, and then change the parameter. After all that, the watermaker is running fine now.

By the way, the reason that we think we need a watermaker is so we won't have to bring water to the boat in jugs in the dinghy. On many of the small islands, that is the only way to get water.

Re-installing Inverter

INVERTER/BATTERY CHARGER - this is the one that really got to us. This is the single device that charges the batteries when we have shore power in a marina and converts battery power to 120 volt AC when we are at anchor. It had been giving us error messages intermittently and now refused to work most of the time. We got a Bahamain technician (maybe an electrician) to come and look at it. He removed the unit (a major job) and kept it for a week without fixing it. Kathy called him every day numerous times to try to get the unit back. In the mean time, we talked to someone who had similar problems with he identical unit. He convinced us that the problem was not in the unit but in corroded connections. Kathy also called the manufacturer who also was convinced it was a connection problem. So we spent all day cleaning every terminal on our battery bank and the connections surrounding it and the inverter. Next we reinstalled the unit up under the nav station (by ourselves). But now it was worse; the control panel wouldn't even come on to let us see the error messages. The unit is still under warranty so we will see about getting it repaired next time we are in the states. Trying to do a warrany exchange from here could take weeks or months and we simply are not willing to stay in Nassau that long. We have to leave and have some fun soon.

So the next day I decided to try plan B. Forget about the unit (which had cost me about $2,000) and reinstall the battery charger that had come with the boat. I did this and now we can charge our batteries from shore power or when we are running the generator. I will buy a small inverter to run our computer and to let us charge our cameras and toothbrushes. This type of week is why they say the happiest day in a man's life is when he buys his boat and the 2nd happiest is when he sells it.

Blue Water - The Exuma Cays

Allen's Cay

SeaSpace in route to Allens Cay

Blue water at Allens Cay

On January 20th we left Nassau and headed for Allens Cay in the northern Exumas. On the way there we passed a friend of ours and he took this picture of SeaSpace; he emailed it to us later. Now we finally have a picture with the sails up.

Allens is the type of place that we have been looking for - blue water, beaches to hike on, and even iguanas to observe. The three cays around this anchorage are uninhabited, but the anchorage is crowded because this is the normal first stopping point on the way from Nassau to the Exumas. Also, many boats left Nassau after waiting for good weather.

At anchor at Allens Cay

Dinghy on Allens Cay

The endangered rock iguana

A good place to relax

A good place to watch the sunset

The endangered rock iguana

Highborne Cay

Beach on Highborne Cay

Reef where we snorkled on Highborne Cay

After two days at Allens we moved the short distance to Highborne Cay. We stayed in the marina there because a strong cold front was coming and the anchorage was not very well protected. Highborne only has 12 permanent residents but the marina is great (with Wi-Fi internet connection that works intermittantly). We hiked to the other side of the island where we snorkled in the light blue water and hiked along a deserted beach. The water in the harbor is so clear that we can see the nurse shark that is lying on the bottom under our boat.

Norman's Cay

Normans anchorage at first

Normans anchorage later

After three days in the Highborne Marina we moved down to Norman's Cay. When we arrived there were only two other boats, but by evening there were twenty. But that was fine - the next afternoon we had happy hour with about 15 other people on one of the boats.

Normans anchorage ripples on the bottom

Normans anchorage moon rise

The water was so clear that you could see ripples in the sand 10 feet below. In addition to great sunsets, there were great moon rises (just try to take a time exposure of a moonrise from a rolling boat).

Normans is where the cocaine smuggling took place in the late 70's and early 80's. Now there are just some abandoned shacks with bullet holes in them. For lunch we went to McDuff's on the beach where they had a Wi-Fi connection. But it wasn't reliable enough for me to update the web page.

The Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park

Surreal seascape

Snorkeling in Exumas Park

Next we went to Warderwick Wells Cay in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. The trip was almost surreal. There was no wind and the water was like glass. Looking back, it was hard to tell where the water merged into the sky. The water was the clearest yet. As we motored along, we saw large starfish 25 feet down on the bottom. When we got to our mooring in the park, Kathy had to go snorkeling behind the boat.

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C. Brandon Jones
email: Brandon "at" cbjones.info
updated January 27, 2005