16 January 2008
Nassau Yacht Haven, Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas
I found a nasty tear at the top hank of my Yankee jib. It looks like the downhaul shackle was hung-up on something and I continued to raise the jib (probably with the winch) and just ripped the uppermost hank down about 10 inches, tearing the sail in the process.
The tear at the head of Galena's Yankee Jib.
I've moved the downhaul to the head grommet.
I'm not sure how I'm going to fix this or how I'll keep it from happening again. I've moved the downhaul shackle from the area above the top hank to the head grommet. Last time I put it there it continually jammed itself when I tried to pull down on it. So, like I said, we'll see.
For now I'll probably switch to the 130% Genny and worry about the Yankee jib later. That fits with my usual "I'll think about it tomorrow" attitude.
I met up with s/v Stella Polaris again. They came into the marina to clear customs and stayed an extra day. Tom helped me figure out a mounting solution for my solar panels: hose clamps and strap anchors. Quite ingenious, really. I bought the parts I'd need at the local chandlery and then accompanied Tom and Joyce to the grocery store. We stopped at the KFC and had lunch. Both Joyce and I were experiencing a rather severe case of 'land-sickness.' It's sort of the opposite of seasickness. When one gets off the boat after a few days aboard one feels quite unsteady for a few hours (or days). The first time I experienced this was immediately after my very first trip on Galena. We had just completed 5-days on the ocean and stepped off Galena onto the dock in Beaufort, NC. I almost fell over and Jane did a nice pirouette trying to steady herself.
The only problem with Nassau Yacht Haven (aside from the nasty currents running through the slips) is that they don't have a place to plug in near each slip. There are only four reasons for coming into a marina: 1) Water, 2) Electricity, 3)Laundry, and 4) Showers. Not having electrical hookups within reach of your shore power cable is a real letdown. But by laying the solar panels on deck (and readjusting them a few times during the day) I was able to keep up with my meager demands. The dock master said he'd loan me an extension cord. But he never came through with that. The boat in the adjacent slip had a power cord going to it and I hadn't seen anyone aboard for since I had arrived the previous day. So I just unplugged them and plugged their cord into mine. Just after I did that the owner showed up to get something out of a locker. I said, "The dock master said I could hook into your power line for the night." He bought it for just a moment and said, "No problem," and wandered off.
There's a cold front coming through and it's a strong one. Gale force winds expected on Saturday evening. I'll move out to an anchorage just west of the Paradise Island bridges tomorrow.
17-22 January 2008
Anchored in the harbor (N25 04.731 W77 19.809)
To start with this is not that good an anchorage. There's some debris on the bottom, and the holding is only so-so. And when it's as crowded as it is right now, there's no room to swing. And there's certainly no room to increase your scope if you start to drag. And the reversing current and adverse wind turns this into a large bumper-boat arena.
I found what I thought was nice big space in the east end of the anchorage. Since this was Thursday and it was 1230hrs and I was anchored just outside of the Green Parrot Inn, I dinghied in for the weekly Cruiser's Lunch meeting. I spent $25 on a burger and two beers, which I thought was a lot, but I also met 15 other cruisers who were anchored in the harbor. They were all heading south toward George Town. Some were continuing south into the Caribbean. Historically only about 10% of the boats that make it to George Town, Exuma, continue south.
Later in the day the winds picked up from the NE and I found myself dragging. As usual when things like that happen it was at sundown, in the rain, in close proximity to other boats. I didn't want to try to up-anchor in those conditions. So I just motored forward and dropped my second bow anchor to windward and alongside the first.
I dragged at 'A' then moved to 'B' and held well.
Eventually one of them holds and I settle in for the rest of the night. But I'm up constantly checking Galena's position, worrying that she'll start to drag again. But with both bow anchors down, if she drags there's little I can do except try to hoist them and move. That would be very, very difficult in these conditions.
At about 0630 I'm awakened by a bump and a shout. I rush on deck to find a boat banging against Galena's starboard bow. This red boat had dragged down on me and the guy was trying to fend off and at the same time get his dinghy and it's painter untangled from my anchor rodes. I also tried to fend him off since his wind vane had already put a divot on Galena's hull. He didn't speak much english (he was French) but I convinced him to just hand me the dinghy painter and I'd get it back to him later. Finally he understood and did that. Meanwhile I was getting beaten about the head by his solar panels and trying to keep his hull away from Galena's hull. Finally he was able to motor away. I watched as he tried to anchor several times. Each time he would let out very little scope and the wind and current would quickly carry him away. Finally he got somewhat settled. I used my dinghy to tow his dinghy over to him. He was all apologetic. I tried to be gracious. But Galena now has yet another ding in her hull that wasn't my fault. Later that same boat dragged again and I saw him move over to where Stella Polaris was anchored. Finally he seemed to get it together.
I went to town with Tom and Joyce (Stella Polaris) and while she went to the straw market, Tom and I went to a little bar I know down the side street, just south of the market..
Me and Tom at a Nassau pub doing what do best
Then we took a bus back to the boats. We left a bit early because Tom was concerned about getting a bus ride back to the dinghies. I told him it would be a simple thing, even late in the evening. But, this being his first time in Nassau and him being a lot less adventurous than I, we left when it was still light out.
Tom and Joyce at Senior Frog's, Nassau, Bahamas
I can't afford go take a slip in there. As of this date it something like $7/ft, 40-ft min. I just wandered around the main building. I looked at all the big yachts and then went inside to gaze at the aquarium for a bit. Tom and I had a drink in the bar. Joyce played the slots and quit when she was a few dollars ahead. On the way back to the anchorage my outboard motor seemed to be acting up again. Once again I had a bit of water in my gas tank. I have to remember to close that tank vent!
View of the Atlantis Resort from the Nassau harbor anchorage.
Solar Panels (temporarily) installed on Galena's stern pulpit.
Galena's Nassau Anchor Dance
From Galena's manual, the drawings of the shaft installation.
Galena's propeller shaft and stuffing box.
Gearbox dipstick showing the lower 'mark' and the hole that Tom thinks is the second mark.
Speaking of Tom: While doing all this work, I'm standing waist deep in the engine compartment below the cockpit floor. I suddenly hear a shout, "Throw me a cushion! Hurry!" I look up and see Tom about 50-ft down current of Stella Polaris which was about 150-ft away from me. He was frantically trying to swim back to his boat but was being rapidly swept away by the tidal current that runs through Nassau harbor at about 1.5-kts. I hopped into my dinghy and sped over to him. I was there in less than a minute. I threw him a life preserver and then maneuvered up to him so he could hold on to the dink. On the way over I saw two other cruisers getting ready to board their dinghies to come to his aid.
Once he caught his breath he told me what had happened. He was washing down something on deck and had dropped a 50-cent sponge into the water. So he just dove in after it. He said that as he hit the water he remembered me telling a story that ended with, "So remember: you can't swim against the tidal current at Nassau." When he came up (with the sponge, by the way) he was already well away from his boat. One of the other cruises shouted, "No worries! You'd be brought back by the tide in about six hours!" Tom was tired and unhurt but he was mostly embarrassed. So of course I have to reveal it all here.
One point here. Galena has two life rings on her stern. One of them is attached to 150' of small polypropylene line carried in a small canvas sack on a rear stanchion. If Tom had had something like that in place on Stella Polaris Joyce might have been able to toss him something attached to the boat quickly. Instead, when I got there she had tossed him a seat cushion with a dock line attached. But that was too heavy and too late.
23-26 January 2008
Highborne Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
Anchored on the west side of the island
Trip: 30 nm, Total: 1447 nm, Engine: 1600 hrs
Track across the Yellow Banks between Nassau and Highborne Cay.
Coral head on the Yellow Banks as seen from Galena's cockpit.
I've been told that these coral heads are almost all more than six-feet below the surface. But I've never really measured one. Maybe some day I will stop, hop in the dinghy and check the depth over a couple of them. The water here is 12 to 14 feet deep. So these coral heads, most are about the size of an SUV, would have to be seven feet tall to cause a problem for Galena.
As the coral gets closer, it's even more obvious. Still plenty of time to maneuver around it.
27 - 28 January 2008
Highborne Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
Highborne Cay Marina
This is the GPS track of Galena's run from anchor to marina.
Google Earth view showing where I was put. The marina was completely full.
I was very happy to be safe and sound in a marina. It was only 1100hrs but as I headed over to the office to check in I stopped at the store and had a beer.
As I sat on the porch in front of the store, drinking my beer I met Steve. I was singing the song "You Don't Have to Call Me Darling" and Steve joined in. He is the computer network guy and he was doing some work on the local marina's WiFi system. He was heading over to Norman's Cay for lunch. He was taking a couple of people over in his little boat and asked if I like to go. Sure, I would. While waiting for the others and for Steve to get fuel I had another beer... for the road. By the time we were ready to go the boat was full. There was Steve, Tom and Joyce (s/v Stella Polaris), Brian and BJ (m/v Executive Suite), Dave (s/v Moonlight Serenade), and me.
Steve gave us an exciting and fast ride to Normans. Remember that I came into the Highborn Cay marina because of the extraordinarily rough weather on the banks. We were running south between the cays and out to the sound. Every time we crossed an opening to the banks we hit that rough water. Steve's little open powerboat bounced up over the waves and then crashed down with such violence that Tom was soon wincing in serious pain. Tom used to be an electrical lineman and is pretty torn up from years of climbing power poles and other hard physical work. He had a previous back injury and by the time we made it into the calm waters of Normans bite he was in serious pain.
Once off the boat we wandered down the dirt road to MacDuff's. MacDuff's is the bar/restaurant at the resort on the island. The current owners have made some significant improvements since I was last here in '05. The bar is much larger and the deck has been rebuilt. The head is still an outhouse, but it's a very nice outhouse.
Here are some pictures from Joyce that she and Tom took while the rest of us were scrampering to get to the bar and yet another beer.
BJ and Brian on the dock at Normans Cay with Steve's boat
Joyce and sign on the airstrip on Normans
The path from Norman's airstrip to the bar
The deck at MacDuff's is really nice now. We were at the table just inside the door.
But the head at MacDuff's is this outhouse; but it has modern plumbing.
Norman's island is famous (infamous?) for having once been the home of Carlos Lehder, co-founder of the Mendellin drug cartel. Lehder lived on the island in the late 70's and used the island's airstrip to run cocaine shipments between Columbia and the States. This brief history is taken from Bahama Pundit:
The facts are that from 1978 to 1982 Lehder operated one of the world's biggest cocaine rings from Norman's Cay in the Exumas. One of Lehder's associates, interviewed in the 1990s on the PBS news magazine Frontline, put it this way:
"He operated on the island from the beginning because he had the blessing of the Bahamian government. They were funneling tons of money...The Bahamian government gave Carlos a promise. We will advise you. You will get a wink from us, a signal, when things are getting too hot and you need to move out of there."
Well, things did eventually get hot - for the Bahamian government as much as for Lehder. And those activities forever tarnished the reputation of Sir Lynden Pindling, severely damaged our national psyche and almost brought down the entire government in disgrace.
Heavy pressure from the US led to the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry in November 1983. And the following year its 500-page report published the unpleasant details of widespread official corruption and described the enormous social problems the drug trade had spawned.
The son of a German father and a Colombian mother, Lehder started out as a small-time car thief and pot dealer. But his notoriety as one of the founders of the Medellin Cartel, and his eventual megalomania, made him a legendary and feared figure much like Blackbeard - an earlier international rogue who once had free rein in the Bahamas.
At the time of his arrest in 1987 Lehder, then 37, was reported to be worth more than $2 billion. Throughout the early 1980s his airstrip at Norman's Cay was receiving cocaine flights from Colombia on a daily if not hourly basis, transferring the loads to smaller planes for distribution throughout the US.
To begin with he bought as much property on the island as he could and then chased off the remaining residents. Armed guards patrolled day and night and former Member of Parliament Norman Solomon was once threatened at gunpoint on the beach.
Lehder's social activities were also legendary: "Orgies," his one-time associate told Frontline. "Five males, 10 females and everybody runs naked and everybody switch partners and everybody drinks and smokes marijuana, and alcohol, and three days of Sodom and Gomorrah."
And he was also a Nazi, dressing in military fatigues and comparing himself to Hitler. According to Tamara Inscoe-Johnson, who has written a book on Lehder: "He spent untold hours plotting a political career, aiming at the Colombian presidency. As his goals expanded, so did his fascination with Nazism; after all, Hitler’s goal was to take over the world, and it was the same with Lehder."
Before Lehder, Norman's Cay was a popular anchorage for visiting yachts. It was developed in the early 1970s as a small residential community with a clubhouse and marina. But in 1978 a Bahamian company called International Dutch Resources began buying up land there. IDR was set up for Lehder by a regular trust company in Nassau, which conveniently managed his working capital.
According to the New York Times, Lehder was responsible for 80 per cent of the Colombian cocaine reaching the United States, mostly through the Bahamas. And the interest in his current whereabouts is ironic in view of the recent renaming of Nassau international Airport after Sir Lynden Pindling, "the father of the nation".
Lehder's Bahamian empire collapsed in mid-1983, when NBC television broke the news that Bahamian officials were on the payroll of Colombian drug lords. At first the story generated howls of protest (and some lawsuits) from top Bahamian officials, including the prime minister.
But soon afterwards, they began singing a different tune. In 1985, after the Commission report was published, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Hanna called on Sir Lynden to resign and opposition Free National Movement leader Kendal Isaacs condemned the 'nation for sale' scandal as the worst in modern Bahamian history.
We all had a marvelous time swapping stories and getting to know each other. After a most excellent burger and a few more beers we headed back to Highborne Cay.
The new party gang at MacDuff's, Norman's Cay
(Dave, BJ, Brian, Steve, Me, Tom)
(Minus Joyce who took the picture)
But we were now in party-mode and we had to continue. So we and a few others went over to Brian and BJ's boat and partied till about 0100hrs. Sarah and Bill from Moonlight Serenade joined us, as did some guys from a freighter that was in the marina.
When I got back to Galena I noticed that she was still being blown into the dock by the wind. So I climbed into the dinghy and hauled my stern anchor (a 25# Danforth) out about 50-ft from the port beam. I fashioned a bridle running to the bow and stern and pulled Galena a couple of feet away from the dock. Then I went to bed.
The Brian and BJ dancing and drinking on m/v Executive Suite
29 January 2008
Nassau Yacht Haven Marina, Nassau, Bahamas
Trip: 30nm, Total: 1577nm, Engine: 1607 hrs.