- Katharine Hesmer
DAY 42 | January 24, 2022
George Town, Great Exuma Cay, Exuma, Bahamas
KORKZcrew is the blue dot on the map.
Today the winds are 17 knots, gusting to 22. The water is choppy, but we are still pretty comfortable at our anchorage - bobbing around a bit, but nothing too crazy.
The daily Morning Report on VHF channel 72 is referred to as the cruisers' net or just the net, and they're a very friendly bunch. Ron heard someone announce an informal planning meeting at Chat 'n Chill at 10:00 today for anyone headed south so they could all compare notes and share charts and information. Someone also shared that they’re organizing a photography contest on the George Town Exumas Sailors and Cruisers Facebook page. First place prize is a bottle of rum; second place prize is a bottle of wine. Throw in some french fries and I am ALL YOURS.
Casual gathering of boaters interested in getting more information about heading south. Ron said the meeting was useful but mostly geared to sailors, understandably.
I also heard someone asking for anyone who could climb their mast to replace their VHF antenna. They said they had tried to accomplish this yesterday, but didn’t have the hand and arm strength to complete the job. I can't imagine just the climbing-the-mast aspect of that feat. Yikes.
Another common topic on the Morning Report is people asking to share taxis to the airport or other destinations so they can split the cost. I love how everyone leans on each other here and that they aren't shy about asking for assistance.
Ron participated in today's cruisers' net too, reaching out for help with our battery situation. The moderator said to check on channel 68 after the net for responses. 68 is the main communication channel for cruisers in George Town, like George Town's version of Channel 16, which is the default communication channel for all cruisers.
Here's just one example of how friendly and generous people are here.
I'm not sure how much I've talked about our fascinating (!) battery saga, but we've struggled with their ability to hold a charge ever since we began this trip. There's definitely a learning curve when it comes to figuring out what is draining the batteries the most at any given time, but from my limited understanding, healthy batteries should let you run your electronics for at least a day without needing to crank up the generator. Certain things like the washer/dryer combo, the stove, and the air conditioner can only be operated by the generator — they draw so much power that they won't work with just the batteries. The microwave / convection oven can operate with the battery bank, and so can the toaster oven, but on KORKZcrew, if you operate them both at the same time, you'll trip both appliances. This may be true on other boats as well, as generally speaking you can't be at all extravagant with your energy consumption, but with our battery power registering consistently low, we are being extra cautious, which is the main reason we bought the little camp stove that has one burner operated with a butane cylinder. Our habit has become running the generator for a few hours every morning and every afternoon, and while it's running, we try to take advantage of anything we might need to do that requires electricity AND generates heat. I remember one morning recently when I tripped everything just because I tried to use our single-cup coffee maker without the generator running.
Right after the Morning Report came to a close, a man hailed KORKZcrew on channel 68 about the batteries, and said to go to channel 69. The man who called us, Patrick, from Montreal Canada, is an electrical engineer! Jackpot!! And he was sooooo nice, asking Ron all kinds of pertinent questions about our setup, and then said he'd come by around 1:00 to determine if KORKZcrew's batteries had bitten the dust. They’re about 7 years old and Patrick said their lifespan is around 8, so it might be that they’re on their last legs. He said typically that if you let the batteries dip below 50% full, they’re shot, and we are pretty sure that's the situation we find ourselves in. We have a bank of 12 AGM batteries which are lead-acid, and here endeth my knowledge of all things battery related. Except that I've heard people say we should consider investing in a solar panel, AND in lithium batteries. Ron is hesitant to put too much money into KORKZcrew as we are still in the "test phase" of this live-aboard idea, and want to be sure we intend to hang onto the boat for awhile before he makes the apparently hefty investment that goes along with switching to lithium.
Remember when we talked to YouTubers Nick and Megan O'Kelly on the radio the other day? Well, today we heard them on channel 16, meaning they are now in the George Town area. Skeet was able to locate them on the GPS, and they were entering the harbor area right across from us. Skeet is hoping we'll get a chance to meet them.
Headed into George Town
Around midday we decided to pull up anchor and head for the water dock on the George Town side of the harbor to refill KORKZcrew's tanks. It seems like the wind has picked up a lot, making the short ride to town super choppy and chilly enough to warrant wearing a sweatshirt (I realize I will get absolutely zero sympathy from those combatting winter weather as we speak. A sweatshirt . . poor me!🙄). We parked at the Exuma Yacht Club dock, which to my knowledge is the closest place to get diesel and water in George Town. While we were parked at the water dock, ANOTHER electrical engineer hailed us on 68, and we were completely confused because he sounded just like the first person we had talked to — they are both from Quebec, and have beautiful French accents, and they both offered to help us around 1:00, so the whole time we thought this second person (André) was the first person (Patrick). Now I've probably confused you, too! Anyway, amazing engineer #2 tracked us down at the water dock, tied his dinghy up to our boat, and came inside to help Ron. His wife was on her way to town to do laundry and was so friendly. I was up on the flybridge and chatted with her as she was getting ready to walk down the dock to the local laundromat. When she was showing me her huge dry bag for the laundry, I explained to her that we were so new to living on a boat that I had no idea that would be something we’d need. She was very cute and encouraging and said to just stick to learning one new thing at a time. Her tip was that she had taken numerous trips to town to do laundry via dinghy, only to get the freshly laundered clothes wet on the ride home, so now she loads up her dry bag to make the trip. She'd also discovered that if the weather cooperated, she could skip drying the clothes at the laundromat and bring the laundry back to the boat while the clothes were still wet, putting them out on a line back at the boat. A bungee-laundry-line kindred spirit perhaps?!
André had brought a voltmeter (I think?!) with him so he could test whether or not our batteries were still good. KORKZcrew has two banks of six batteries each, and he was able to determine that five of the twelve batteries were shot, and those five were spread across both banks. Ron and André went to work to consolidate the 6 good batteries into one bank, and they turned off the power completely to the "bad" bank so we'll have the best chance at getting decent battery power. Ron said André did ALL of the heavy lifting, shifting each 70- pound battery around between the two banks, and he refused to let us do anything to thank him — he wouldn't accept payment, and just explained that it's the kind of problem solving he really enjoys. So incredibly generous of him. We are BEYOND fortunate to have access to this level of expertise, especially in a place as remote as the Exumas, but that's the kind of community you find here in George Town — everyone has a gift in SOME area they're willing to share.
My particular gift is eating, and while I often hear the siren song of fries, at this particular dock there just happened to be a restaurant that just happened to serve SUSHI (interchangeable with fries, for the record). When I saw that magic word tacked to the palm tree, I thought I would break down into tears of joy. 😂 Sushi is not something you typically see in the Bahamas — at least it's not something we've found anywhere else in the Exuma Cays. But there also aren't an abundance of restaurants in the Exumas in general, so that makes perfect sense.
This is the Exuma Yacht Club Restaurant, which has a wonderful outdoor bar, adjacent to a patio that overlooks the water.
Ron noticed that none of the people seated well before our arrival had been served any food, which is never a good sign, especially for a sushiaholic, so we made the necessary yet heart-wrenching decision to just have drinks and be on our way. Never fear though, as I worked my magic and selflessly (😂) suggested that I'd be willing to wait for a takeout while Ron finished his errands in town. Ever the martyr for the cause. And my god what better cause than sushi. And the payoff was tremendous. Feast your eyes on this feast:
I wept again just posting this picture.
I regained my composure and helped Ron get KORKZcrew off the dock and back into Elizabeth Harbor, where this time we elected to change anchorages to the George Town side of the bay.
We saw what looked like a favorable spot with multiple sailboats at anchor, and noticed Clarity, the O'Kelly's boat, in the same anchorage. Skeet was verrrry happy and couldn't believe we'd happened to end up in the same spot for the evening. I would say that Steve looked rather pleased as well, but in all honesty, I'm not really sure he cared.
Nick and Megan O'Kelly's sailboat Clarity, featured on their YouTube channel.
One not-so-useful anecdote about living aboard KORKZcrew is that you get LOTS of experience with hand-washing your dishes. To the point where you begin to understand those tacky ads from your youth when people on TV talked about their "dishpan hands" and urged you to buy those Playtex Living Gloves. Which I never understood anyway. What kind of name is that? Are there actually LIVING gloves, as opposed to dead gloves? I mean seriously. These are important questions that need to be asked. But in the meantime, while my days as a hand model may be over, at least no one can track me down based on my non-existent fingerprints for all those felonies I've committed. I have a knack for finding silver linings. And sushi.
More dishwashing stories tomorrow! The anticipation must be KILLING you . . . Cheers!