February 27 – March 8.
Weeks before our arrival in Georgetown, I had been remarking to Greg how good I felt and how it was making such a difference this season compared to last. Days before we left Lee Stocking Island, though, I started feeling stress in my bones and joints. During the trip through Exuma Sound, on our way to Georgetown, my thoughts started turning to home, my friends, and being back in Cabbagetown. By the time we dropped the hook at Kidd’s Cove in Elizabeth Harbour, all of the little things that had been bugging me started to surface. The head smelled, the cockpit was uncomfortable, the floors were constantly dirty. Stress, homesickness, depression started to bear down on me like the weight of a sinking ship.
While in Georgetown we did some stocking up on supplies and availed ourselves of some of the entertainment and attractions, but in each of the anchorages we moored in (Kidd’s Cove, Sand Dollar Beach, Volleyball Beach) Blue Wing pitched and rolled. I felt exposed and suffocated at the same time and was extremely uncomfortable physically as well as mentally.
Some nasty fronts were headed our way and after one final choppy anchorage off of Volleyball Beach, we decided to take advantage of one of the small, but protected spots away from the main attractions. We moved to Crab Cay.
Crab Cay sits on the southwestern edge of Elizabeth Harbour, just off the shore of Great Exuma Island and southeast of the town of Georgetown. Some years ago development started on the cay for a marina village and resort, but halted after only a few buildings were erected, roads were put in, and much to our benefit, the small cove where the marina was to be built was dredged.
Our new anchorage was pleasant, cozy, not very crowded, and deep enough for us to tuck in close to shore. The cove was easy to access and we were still close enough to the Georgetown hot spots that it was no problem to motor back to Kidd’s Cove if we needed supplies or one of the beaches at Stocking Island if we wanted to take in an afternoon activity. Things were looking up, then we had real stroke of fortune and met Clark.
Our first morning at Crab Cay, Clark dropped by in his dinghy and introduced himself. As we talked about the usual sailing stuff we found out that not only had Clark built his own wind generator to take advantage of light winds, he was working on designing an auto pilot that could make corrections and predict when the boat was about to veer off course instead of reacting after the fact to deviations. I understood very little of the technical stuff he was talking about, but I did conclude that Clark was very smart and knew a lot about boats. Soon after we parted company I decided that Clark would be able to help us with a few things and I that I would bring him brownies the next day as a small bribe.
We had been having trouble throughout our trip with our Raytheon GPS mounted on the binnacle. Sometimes it would get a fix right away, sometimes you had to wait or reset it. The morning we left Lee Stocking Island we discovered that this GPS was no longer working at all. It couldn’t get a fix and wasn’t showing any satellites. Now, the GPS is a pretty important piece of equipment to suddenly not be working. Luckily we had a couple of backups, our Nexus tablet and a Raymarine GPS mounted on our nav station below deck, but unfortunately neither was convenient for the helmsperson to use. So in order to get to Georgetown, Greg used the GPS on the Nexus tablet and gave me (the helmsperson) a true compass heading. I looked at the magnetic compass at the binnacle and guessed at how I needed to diverge from the true heading to convert it to a magnetic heading. Greg waited for the GPS to register my direction and then told me if I needed to make a further adjustment. It worked, but it wasn’t ideal.
Clark made a speedy diagnosis of the problem. Our GPS antenna had become wet. There was no repairing it, but Clark had a spare he could sell us if we could determine we had that correct kind of connection.
Although we couldn’t use one of Clark’s spare antenna’s because we soon discovered that the back of our Raytheon GPS was put on with tamper proof screws that couldn’t be removed without a special tool, this information saved us loads of time trying to figure out what had gone wrong and how we would solve the problem.
We ended up moving the Raymarine GPS (with an undamaged internal antenna) up to the helm station. The Raymarine is a much nicer GPS, with a color display, so our problem actually turned out to be a benefit.
So, maybe you remember way back when, sometime in January, we told you that our pull cord for the outboard broke. We had replaced the pull cord, but the outboard still didn’t start. Clark thought we had water in the fuel and that the carburetor needed to be cleaned. He had a handy little tool on his boat to dip the carburetor in cleaner. After the dipping and few other adjustments, Fever (our dinghy) was finally motorized. With the extra power we were hopeful about not getting into any more hair raising rowing situations or having to be towed through the tunnel into Lake Victoria at Georgetown.
We wanted to do something special for Clark to thank him for his help. He had a friend, Karen, coming for a visit, so we invited the two of them for dinner and a little guitar pickin’ on Blue Wing. After the appetizers we went below to eat some hot off the grill pizza. It was dark by then, so I switched on our battery-powered lantern. Clark wanted to know why we weren’t using the cabin lights. I was delighted to tell him, because I knew he would have answers to questions I have been asking for months.
I pointed to the number on our battery gauge and explained that we didn’t let the number go below 12.50 (it had been at 12.50 for the last few hours) and once it does we turn the fridge off and use flash lights to see at night. Clark set us straight on this one with much talk about batteries, how they were constructed, how they worked, etc. I understood a little, and resolved to learn more, but most important, we got a new number – one that lets us run the fridge all night and use the cabin lights when it gets dark – 12.20.
The next day I felt the sinking ship become buoyant once more. Some of the stress I had been carrying melted away and I felt good again. We had a GPS, a dinghy with an outboard, and we no longer had to worry about food spoiling because we had to shut the refrigerator off at night.