Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Paranoia Passage

While we are sitting here making water today, I thought I would ramble on a bit about how things are going. First off, life is good. We have our up days and our down days but our down days are far better than any days on land. Down days? How can there possibly be down days on a boat? Well, we are human aren't we? If it were all sunshine stories and perfectly made drinks with umbrellas brought to your boat by flirting Island girls in bikinis we'd still complain eventually. "This has a little too much vermouth", or "I said don't fruit the beer", or "Could you girls make sure the sand is off your feet before you come aboard!". Humans will complain about everything eventually.

We are taking sea water and turning it into perfectly healthy fresh water and yet I sit here complaining of the noise from the pumps. I am secured to a mooring ball just 20 feet from an island in the Sun with a sand bar behind me that I can walk over, and I complain about the rolling motion in the harbor. It's natural for us to do this. We always find something. It's not just me either. People just complain no matter how nice they have it. It's a human flaw.

People who have done this island hopping for years will tell you not to go to a certain island or anchorage because of this or that. Something they disliked about a place once has prevented them from returning therefore, you will not like it either. Something they liked about a place became boring to them after ten visits, or didn't compare to the next Island over so they don't recommend it. Well, if you listen to them and skip said islands or anchorages you will not get to experience it for yourself and therefore have an overall shallower experience than the person you took advice from. So after a while the Bahamas becomes a place of a dozen particular harbors that people frequent and then they go home. It becomes a been there done that type of mentality and after a few years people get bored. I think that's why places like Georgetown exist. We're done exploring. We've seen it all. Let's go party. So now people race down to G-Town in November to get their spots, plan their
tournaments and enjoy the social aspects of cruising. This is cool if it's what makes you happy. If it's what you are looking for. We are just starting out so who know's what we will be like in a few years. I might be a G-Town volleyball star! I know. Too short. The point I'm making here - I am making one I think, is that you need to explore for yourselves. Take the advice and toss it. Leave the herd and do it yourselves. Sounds easy but it's not when you are newbies. You feel compelled to go with the flow.

This whole adventure is all new to us. We are cruising virgins. I haven't been a virgin in a while. Feels good. Those first thirty years were pretty rough though. Kidding. It didn't take that long. I was an altar boy after all. Kidding again. No, I really was an altar boy but nobody laid a hand on me, or lifted my smock. That whole couple of sentences were just wrong. I apologize. Wish Monsignior would. Seriously joking here. Moving on.

So do we make mistakes out here? Of course we do. So far they have been minor and we would like to keep it that way. Unsecured Jerry jugs of gasoline come to mind. Running the mooring line through a lifeline. Not strapping down the anchors in big waves. Having the water maker sample line squirt all over your dry clothes in the locker. Not reefing before you hit the big wind. Forgetting to bleed the fuel line after a filter change. Things like that. It's a learning process and after a while things just become natural. Take our water maker. Please! No, it's working fine, if half speed is fine. When we start it up we still read through the steps in the manual. In another couple weeks the manual will be hard to find. We will have it all down as routine. Experience. Know how. It all gets easier the longer you are out here. So how are us virgins going to find our way to the Caribbean with only ten months of cruising experience and live to tell about it?

It's a long way down to the Islands, and it's a treacherous and nail biting journey for me, but it's also an adventure. If we play it safe and don't rush it we will be fine. Timing is everything in this portion of the trip and we hope we get it right. Will we chicken out? Debra is too stubborn to change her mind. Me? I'm already freaking out, but I freak out over everything. I don't really freak out. I just get a little vocal about the possible number of things that could go wrong on this trip besides sinking to the deepest part of the Atlantic, never to be seen or heard from again. For some strange reason that concerns me more than being shredded on a reef. At least people can find you on the reef. "Hey look what's floating around all those beer bottles. Oh my God it's a dead old sailor. Kalik? He was drinking that shit? Poor old bastard. Check for a wallet."

I always figured I would go out doing something stupid and funny, not just disappearing forever. The kind of death where you wince at how they died, but then snicker a little too. Like Elvis. He died on the crapper and then fell into the bathtub, his ass in the air. Imagine finding that? Every time you heard people talk of the King you'd be thinking of the time he fell off the throne. Snicker. I toured Graceland with my daughter Nicole. Cool place. Smaller than I imagined. Pretty tacky too. The jungle room was kind of stupid. Fake grass and trees. Kind of lame. I asked if I could go upstairs and they said no. I wanted to see the bathroom. I think they knew why. He was one Hell of a talent though. Totally used and abused by his "friends". Felt bad for the King. He was just a kid with a boat load of talent and couldn't trust anyone after his Momma died. At least he went out with a laugh.
This is all rumor of course. Not sure if his ass was in the air or not.

Sinking to the bottom of the Mona passage is not the way I want to go out. Boring. No body. No story. No snicker. There are more funnier ways to die in this boating life. Once I was Working in the bottom of the fridge hanging upside down and released the refrigerant. Suffocating with my feet sticking up out of the fridge would have been horrible, but funny. Looking at the engine while under way and having my sunglasses on a croakie fall into the belt and pull my face into it. Cringe. Snicker. Unplugging the cord from the Honda Generator on a wet deck and getting zapped enough to fall into the water in front of a shark. The shark bites me but my life jacket inflates, choking the shark and we both wash up on shore. Me with my skinny legs sticking out of it's mouth. Sad but funny. I am drift snorkeling when a French Canadian Catamaran full of laughing bikini clad women run over the top of me. They pull me aboard and nurse me to consciousness. I smile like I'm in heaven and th
ey feed me French wine an cheese, giggling in a language I don't understand while they rinse off the saltwater from each other. I ask to be rinsed off as well and then promptly die from an allergic reaction to the tannin's in French wine. Snicker.

I could go on but - OK, one more. I go to the top of the mast in rolling seas to fix a wrapped roller furler. I get to the top and tell Deb to give me some slack. She gives me way too much slack. I slip and fall. The halyard stops me but the force I put on it breakes the shieve and jams the halyard with me about a thrid of the way down. I fatally smack my head on the mast and die, upside down. The halyard is jammed and I'm stuck up there. Deb has to motor one hundred miles in rolling seas to a marina with my head gonging off the mast. The villagers all rush to the marina because of the gonging and watch in horror as I swing out, then in and ring the mast while she motors in. One by one they start snickering.

So yes, I'm getting a tad nervous about the rest of the adventure coming up. It's not because I'm afraid of death. OK, I'm afraid of death. But, I'm very afraid of a boring death. The whole reason we are out here is to avoid a boring death. Death by TV. Death by Lazy Boy. Death by Candy Crush or solitaire. Death by work. Death by boredom. Death by fear of everything because of the "news". My Mom once told me to not go somewhere because people will stab you. "Why would they stab me?" Cause its the city. They stab. "They have guns now Mom. They don't even have to get out of the car." Oh my God! Stay here. I have beers in the fridge. I'll make you a sandwich. I've got liverwurst on rye."

I've been sailing a long time. I have over 5,000 miles under the keel in just the last few years. Yet, I still fear the unknown. I long for it, yet I fear it. It's exciting and yet it's scary. People do it all the time. Most make it. Some don't. I'm smart enough to know the limitations of myself and my boat. I think we can do this, but seriously I'd be bullshitting you if I told you I wasn't a bit scared. It's the unknown that bothers me. We both have great skills at boat handling. We are very good sailors. We are smart sailors. We are safe sailors. I'm scared because I know shit happens. We've handled shit before and made out OK. Sometimes it's a roll of the dice. Your number might be on the table or not. That's just life and something we have to deal with.

If we make it through the Mona Passage without suffering a horribly boring death I'm going to get really really happy in some port in Puerto Rico. Hopefully the cab driver will be legit and not a kidnapper holding me for ransom. My family wouldn't pay. "He was kind of a prick.", my Dad would say. " He thought he was all that with the sailing and cruising stuff." "I bet they stabbed him.", my Mom would say. "He had a really big head. I think he was adopted", sisters of course.

I'm probably stressing over a lot of stuff for no reason but I can't help it. That's how I am. I was raised that way. "Don't go in THAT neighborhood. Don't talk to THOSE people. Get inside before it gets dark. Stay close to home. Look both ways before you ride that bike out the driveway! I never listened to any of it. Should have listened to the last one. Boy meets Chrysler didn't work out so well. For the most part I was a well traveled kid on my bike. I went everywhere I could get to and back by the end of the day. To this day I am really surprised I didn't end up on a milk carton. The picture would have to be so small to accommodate my head that no one would have recognized me. So even though I was a bit paranoid of new places and was taught that home is the only safe place to be, I took off anyway. Things were a little looser back then and I found myself exploring air bases in Jeeps, getting rides in a Piper Cub towing gliders, standing above Niagara falls, playing Frisbee on Goat Island with people from other countries, etc. I was scared to be in some of those places but I was excited to be exploring them for the first time. The really sad part of my young adventures was the fact that I could not tell anyone about them. Everyone thought I was on the next block over at a friends house, not twenty miles away. Didn't want to get my ass beat or yelled at so I kept my adventures all to myself.

So here I am doing the same thing. Exploring new places with the same excitement and the same paranoia only this time I have someone to tell my stories to.

Big steps ahead. Thanks for reading. If I perish in a boring fashion, please feel free to exaggerate the circumstances of my demise.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Damn you Blogger!

Emailing a post to blogger can be an adventure. I love how it choses to seperate paragraphs.

Sorry for the poor editing folks. It really can't be helped. I format everything like I want to see it and then blogger boogers it all up. Posting this way sucks. I am usually good for about 100 grammatical errors per post but I weed out most of them. The few I don't see are usually the ones that completely change the meaning of what I was writing. Like in the last post I where I wrote, "Those are Dolphins!" was supposed to be "Those are not Dolphins!"

I doesn't help that I have a keyboard and screen sized for a three foot sized human either. Oh well. At least I'm posting something.

One place I'm not posting to is the S/V Kelly Nicole Facebook page. I can't email a post because FB took away the email posting feature for personal blogs. So it looks like that page will not see any action until we get wifi. Not only do they rip us off for gasoline and water down here but now they are doing it with WiFi as well. Want to see the pictures of your Grandkids, old Mr. Gray hair? Give me twenty dollars Mon and I will get you twenty four hours of spotty service. We have not paid for it yet. It's like sex, you shouldn't have to pay unless you get really really desperate, and then there's no guarantee you will not get a virus.

We are currently deciding if we are going to get the snot pounded out of us to go 20 miles upwind, or sit nice and comfortable for $30/day.


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Where did I leave off with this blog? I have no idea. I can't see the blog so I don't know what I wrote. Your mind tends to get erased while out here. Out here is actually Shroud Cay, Exumas. We are on a ball. Sometimes we treat ourselves to a mooring ball and eliminate any stress of anchoring. The winds are picking up and we are probably under false sense of security with the mooring but what the hell. We have a manual windlass so its a nice break from lifting.

We left Highbrow Highborne Cay with about 10 knots of wind on a reach. Nice. We were towing the dinghy because, well, we don't make big hops right now and we're lazy. We are taking our dear old time to get to the moorings and I see a flotilla from the north coming way too fast. No way those guys are sailing even though I see all the canvas. We were doing about five knots and they kept getting closer. When I could manage I counted them, and then counted the number of balls. Hmm. If they all get there before us we would have to anchor. I trimmed sail and got another half a knot. No way were we going to turn on the engine. If we don't get a ball we anchor. No biggie. A cat passed us, sails up, and motor screaming. Three balls. We got to the point where the sails had to come down and this mono hull came ripping past. It was a slow canoe stern type at max RPM. Two balls. We stowed the sails and motored in. We lined up a ball. The Cat decided to anchor. Three balls. Mad Max RPM overshot their mooring and took ours. Ballsy move. Another monohull came whipping in behind us and grabbed the ball next to us at about 5 knots. Two balls. We drifted slowly to the right to get one of the last balls. Americans. So worried someone else will have all the balls.

We met one of the ball chasers on the beach and they told us how to secure a ball in the park. "You have to get on the list for a ball. We're on the list. These are the balls you want. Don't get any of those balls unless you like pitching and rolling all night. Did you call to get a ball? Winds going to pick up so best to get a ball. " Balls, Balls, Balls!

We did not see much of Highborne Cay as it's private. I wandered into the marina to get some gas for the generator. I'm coming in and I see dolphins. Lots of dolphins. No, those are Dolphins! Some dude was cleaning fish on the dock and there must have been about 20 bull sharks swimming around waiting for a taste. The whole scene might have been more interesting had we not lost a sailor to a shark in Rock Sound. We shared anchorages with a couple all the way down Eleuthera. Never got to meet them. Just a passing in the dinghy and a wave hello. Guy liked to kite board, and he did one day in Rock Sound. Just unlucky I guess as a shark found him and he bleed out after a bite. Very sad and disturbing. We can't imagine how the woman feels. Our hearts go out to her. One day you are living the dream and the next moment your life is shattered. Sounds so cliche to say he was doing something he loved, but we could see the smile on his face as he rocketed over the water nearby. Enjoy every day folks.

We are in the Exumas Land and Sea Park. Today we took a dinghy ride to a creek that runs through the north end of the island. Totally cool trip. We slowly put putted through the different shades of blue shallow water to the sound side where we beached the dinghy and climbed a hill to overlook the area. Stunning. I have no other words that could possibly describe it.

We had some fun today. Felt good. We hiked, climbed and explored a strange place. We were smiling like little kids. The Bahamas are a must see if you can manage it. We are already happy we came here. Doing it every year on a continual basis is not our style, so we are soaking it up. Might be a while before we are back.
Next big stop is Warderick Wells where we are on the list to get a mooring BALL. Tomorrow we will pop over to Hawksbill Cay and anchor there unless it's rocking and rolling. We will then go to Warderick Wells and anchor for a few days. If we get a ball in that time, great. If not, meh. We can still see all the stuff being at anchor.
Life is good, with or without balls.


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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Update. Exumas

Just a quick update until we can get to some WiFi, which is very scarce here. We are anchored behind Highborne Cay in th Exumas and probably making our way to Normans today to wait out a little blow.

We enjoyed Eleuthera very much. Rock Sound is a great place to stop for a while. SV Magnolia cought up to us there and we enjoyed spending some time with them. We left yesterday morning and sailed across Exuma Sound to the cut at Highborne where Debra expertly brought us through. We found some good holding next to some rather large yachts and fired up the pizza oven and had us a few cold ones.

So far so very good guys. We are loving this life. The good far outweighs the bad. The bad being a leaky watermaker and a dead fridge. Both are working now. Well, the watermaker is working at reduced capacity until we get a new high pressure vessel that doesn't leak.

More updates later when we get free wifi. Seriously, some places charge $20/day for Wifi. The Iridium has been doing it's job but sending any kind of photo is pretty slow and the photo gets reduced to the quality of a Kodak disc camera. Remember those?


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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Location update. Eleuthera

Right this very minute we are sitting out a blow at anchor in Rock Harbor Sound at the south end of Eleuthera. We are kind of exposed a little but are in only seven feet of water. It's weird sitting here bouncing around in that depth. I keep waiting to hear the keel bouncing off the earth. That would be bad. They call it rock sound for a reason.

I couldn't decide where to anchor when we came in. The south looked attractive, but the chart said rocky ground. We would take less of a pounding but we might blow away. The shore near the town had better holding but in south wind we would feel it all. The wind was supposed to shift more to the east and then we would be in a good spot close to town. Hmm. I bounced this off Deb but she was staying out of it. Indecision may or may not be my problem. I decided to drop it close to town.

I wasn't the only one who decided on this spot but since that decision most all the boats moved to the protection of the south end. A tall ship from Boston came in this morning and dropped behind us. Kind of made me feel better. When we drag maybe we can tie up to them and sample some of their Sam Adams. I can't sample any of my own brews because the fridge died. All the food is now jammed in the freezer, which is now a small fridge.

The other day I noticed the fridge was at the same temp for hours. I also noticed the damn thing was running all the time. I checked the plate and it was at 30 degrees. Not good! We defrosted and cleaned it all out. I checked for leaks and found one fitting was not as tight as I expected it to be. The plate is acting like it doesn't have the proper amount of refrigerant. So now I'm on the lookout for some refrigerant here in town once the damn wind stops.

The fridge was running great up until that point. You would think there would be some gradual degrading. Damn. I have to sneek a beer into the freezer every now and then, but i have to eat something first so it will fit. We froze a lot of bread products. Guess I'll be a little dough boy pretty soon if I want some beers. Eat three bagels, chill two beers. Eat a brick of cheese, add another beer. Oh boy.

Tomorrow after a town visit, and hopefully a bar visit, we are going to test the watermaker. We were going to fire it up in Alabaster Bay but when I got into the dinghy that day the water looked like someone dumped a holding tank in it. WTF is the matter with people? A boat had just left so I suspected that maybe they purged. Maybe not. Maybe it was the towns doing. Who knows. Why dump your waste when you are going offshore within the hour? Can't it wait?

On a cleaner note - You should see the water!! Amazing. Simply amazing. Yesterday we saw the base of a cloud reflecting the blue of the water below. Beautiful. When I raised anchor last, there were baby squid swimming around. We also saw a small shark having dinner. Deb was going to pop in the water to wash her hair at that time. She changed her mind. We didn't think there would be any sharks in that shallow water but we were wrong. Rays, turtles, shark, squid, dolphin, starfish, all kinds of cool fish and even a whale were some of the creatures we've seen so far. One thing we did notice is the lack of birds. Very few birds around. No food?

We are in Rock Sound for a bit. Hopefully we can get the fridge going and then move on to the Exumas.

Updates are slow. I can update my personal facebook page, but FB removed the email capability for the S/V Kelly Nicole page or any personal blog page. Stupid. I guess I'll have to do more blog updates instead, or you can friend me on FB. I need more friends. I'm really a nice guy. Ask any bartender along our route.

By the way. I added up the miles since we left NY and it's getting close to 4,000 nautical miles. Wow.

Have a nice day peoples.

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