April Update

Hello everyone,

Life is still good aboard Windswept IV. We have left George Town, finally. We headed north into the Exumas with Fred & Cindy Meyer aboard and spent several days exploring Lee Stocking Cay and the small cays in that vicinity. After leaving them in Barreterra, we meandered our way up the Exuma chain, snorkeling and fishing as we went. We spent a wonderful afternoon Ohing and Awing over the reefs at the Sea Aquarium in Exuma Park. Wow, is that worth a stop! No fishing is allowed and the fish sure know it. The groupers swim freely and don’t hide in the holes as is usual. Some of them were huge ( 20 lbs )! And the colours on the reef…. I could go on & on.

The wind was blowing SE 15+ knots – perfect time to cross over to Eleuthera. It was a great sail, but no fish. We made the 40 miles in 7 hours anchor to anchor. Due to the wind direction, we stayed out by Poison Point in Rock Sound. John & Kristen on Shivaree had caught both a grouper and a mutton snapper and invited us for dinner. In the morning both boats moved closer to town and blitzed the laundry and grocery store. Boy, this is a much better laundry – $2 per load but it actually fills in the usual time! And the grocery store is wonderful – shelves full of things we haven’t seen in months. We try not to go too crazy as it is still Bahamas prices.

The next day was a downwind slog for 40 miles. We tied the main out on one side and poled the jib on the other and flew. The only fish we managed to catch were barracuda. No fish dinner tonight. The entrance to Hatchet Bay was wild due to the wind direction and speed. My heart was in my mouth but Murray brought us through safely. Inside is a large bay with a grassy bottom and we had trouble getting our anchor set well. Some other members of George Town fleet were poised here to move up to Royal Island and then to the Abacos. Radios crackled with greetings as we shared stories.

Well, we plan to spend a few days here in Hatchet Bay. Perhaps rent a car and tour Harbour Island. Then we will move to Royal Island and await a window to go to the Abacos. This involves a passage of 50+ miles on the ocean. So, we will wait until conditions are right.

We have been asked to give a list of things that worked and things that didn’t and also a ” wish we had ” list. Here goes.

Things that worked:

1. upgrade boat and cruise local waters to find glitches. No bargains to be had below the border. Best to get to know new equipment.

2. batteries – we have four 6v golf carts ones and they are in the majority on boats. We have the golf carts on the house bank and a group 27 for start battery. This has been great.

3. charging these – we use solar, wind and a 100 amp alternator. It has worked for us! Solar – 100 to 150 watt array ( we use Siemens ). Wind – Air Marine is quite quiet and produces well. Energy out must = energy in or nothing runs!

4.power – if need 120v AC suggest an inverter/charger combo ie Heart with integrated controller and alternator regulator plus battery monitor system ie Link 2000R. Being able to constantly see what power is coming in or going out has been a big plus.

5. refrig – have installed 12v DC water cooled cold plate refrig. It works OK but the usual insulation in ice boxes is AWFUL. Suggest upgrade.

6. communications – ham/SSB unit is indispensable. Boat-to-boat, weather info, contacts in Ontario,e-mail. If not in budget, would recommend at least a receiver. Strongly suggest getting ham ticket if time allows. E-mail – has been wonderful. We are cheap so Juno is the right price for us. Others work as well. Learn to use it before you leave. Phone cards – make sure you have both Bell and AT&T cards before you leave. Hard to get card without address. Arrange to be charged to credit card. In Bahamas, the Batelco card is the cheapest way to phone ( $1.25 per min to Canada).

7. computer – again indispensable. For navigation ( using the Captain program and digital charts ), downloading weather-fax ( connected to ham radio ), e-mail ( communications with home and friends has been incredible ), word processing and games.

8. fuel – we added extra tankage so that when making passages we have 60 gallons in tankage and 12 on deck. A Baha filter is a MUST. Filter ALL fuel into the tank. We jerry can all fuel so that there is time to run it through the filter which removes dirt and water. We have seen many boats having fuel cleaned or tanks removed.

9. water – we only have 40 gals in tanks with 12 gals on deck. Not a problem in ICW or Florida. In Bahamas we must conserve. Be prepared to collect rain water, but buy RO water when available. Most communities sell RO and cistern or brackish water is available to use for showers etc. A watermaker would be nice but they break down frequently and total costs for water last year was $50! Hard to justify. Estimate $ 1+ per gal to make your own water. They use a lot of energy and power systems must be upgraded.

10. waste – offshore we dump directly overboard. Must have Y-valves to make system legal in US. Also be prepared to carry garbage for several weeks. Separate garbage – food scraps overboard, paper burnt on shore , pop and beer cans crushed, others washed.

11. sun protection – biminis are important! Full enclosures can be useful in ICW but hot down south. Make bimini and awnings as wide as possible.

12. propane – readily available

13. electronics – only have speed and depth and speed does’t always work. Loran is never on and GPS never off. Radar ( 24 mile Furuno ) has been worth it – to monitor ships that pass in night. Also useful for navigation.

14. anchoring – go heavy. We use 35 lb CQR with 75 ft 3/8 chain and 200 ft 5/8 rode as main anchor. A 35 lb Bruce with 25 ft 3/8 chain and 200 9/16 rode is our second anchor. Plus a large Danforth with chain and rode. Spend time choosing site and setting the anchor and then you will sleep well. Develop a method of communicating during the anchoring process – yelling does’t work. Use hand signals or walkie-talkies. Buy ” Skipper Bob’s Guide to Anchoring in the ICW ” $15.

15. money – pre-pay credit cards so that cash advances can be taken out with no fee. Cannot access bank accounts in islands.

16. tupperware and zip lock bags – can’t have enough of either.

17. maximize storage aboard and provision heavily before crossing to islands. We cover floor with beer and pop cases.

18. a cart – to carry laundry, gas cans, groceries etc. The inexpensive West Marine unit failed the first year and we up-graded to the $100 model. It is great and still working.

19. jugs – for water and fuel. May have to carry for several blocks. Make covers for all jugs or they will deteriorate in the sun in one year.

20. Caframo fans – available in Canada and the best on market for boats. Quiet and low power usage. Both 12v and 120 AC.

Things that don’t work:

1. diode blocks – we don’t have them, but many do. And they fail. Recommend using master switches to select battery banks for charging etc.

2. mail – don’t expect to get it. Difficult to arrange and will usually have to wait for it. We have been lucky that our son Jeremy checks bills and pays them for us. Also e-mails us important info.

3. 800 numbers – seldom work in Bahamas and may not work in US. If do telephone banking, get a non-toll-free number before you leave. They may accept collect calls – CIBC does.

4. Taking care of business – not easy! Phones not great, faxes very expensive. Don’t leave loose ends.

5. foods – don’t expect diet to change much. Stock the boat according to usual habits. If the book says ” buy corned beef” but you hate it, don’t buy it! But do fill up with cans before you leave home – car is available and you know where to shop. US foods are no bargain now.

6. most metal parts – all corrode in salt air. Require constant cleaning and lubrication.

7. screens – standard screens will not keep no-seeums out of boat. They will make life miserable. Either use special no-seeum screen or a product called Screenproof available at Ace Hardware. Sprays on screens and lasts for weeks. Hint – if wind dies, put in screens!

8. clothing – take less! Bathing suits, shorts and tee’s. But it’s cold in the ICW – need mitts and toques sometimes.

Wish we had:

separate shower stall boat with heavier carrying capabilities swim platform better self- steering unit ( current CPT unit has periods of gross stupidity followed by times of independent inspiration ) bigger hard bottom dinghy ( buy biggest you can afford and carry and 10+ hp motor)

That’s about it. Sorry this went on so very long. Hope it helps someone.

All to best to all,

Heather & Murray Rand
aboard Windswept IV
Ham Radio VE3 ZUA