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  • Katharine Hesmer

DAY 75 | March 18, 2022

Updated: Dec 4, 2022

Palm Cay Marina, Nassau, New Providence to Allan's Cay, Exuma Cays, Bahamas

KORKZcrew is the blue dot on the map.


Welcome to my first blog post in oh, about a quarter century.Turns out I take care of my blog about as well as I take care of my houseplants. While I feel compelled to finish what I started for my own reference (the blog, that is . . . I've officially finished off my plants), I totally "get it" if you're not a big fan of living in the past. Please feel free to "unsubscribe" from this poor little neglected project at any point. Here's to a better track record going forward. For those of you who might be curious, we plan / hope to return to the Bahamas (and possibly beyond) in December. Hopefully I'll be back in my blog groove by then, but don't hold your breath.

We've been exceptionally lucky (aka spoiled) to have been staying at Palm Cay Marina for several days. Marina life for us is typically the exception vs the rule, but our laundry list of boat projects (including, um, laundry) made it a necessity. The bonus is that on days like today, when we're preparing our departure, we can top off with fuel, groceries, and water one last time, which is exactly what we did, with one minor hiccup: getting RID of water where it didn't belong. 😳

It seems we have a very temperamental sump pump float switch, which is SUPPOSED to detect that standing water collected from the bathroom sink and shower has reached a certain level, and then is SUPPOSED to automatically turn on the pump which drains that water overboard. When this device decides to have a mind of its own, which is often, the drain water instead overflows into the floor compartment in Skeet's room, making a very large and unwelcome mess. Looks like sump pump repairs just earned a spot on the punch list.

Once we got our soggy sumpy situation under control, we prepared the boat for our trek back across to the Exuma Cays. This basically means stowing away loose items that could become projectiles when we're underway, locking cabinet doors in the pilot house and kitchen, and generally straightening up. Ron made one last trip to the dockmaster's office to pay our slip fees and check out, and we said our last goodbyes to the lovely Palm Cay Marina.

Marinas can typically accommodate boats of all shapes and sizes. The width of KORKZcrew (known as the "beam") is 16', which is a pretty good size for a 37' trawler, and one of the many positive features that make this boat feel so roomy. But this same trait can make it tricky to park in a narrow slip, not that I would know, especially since Ron makes it look practically effortless. Leaving the slip is another animal, and usually not as challenging, unless it's March 18th of 2022 and you happen to be me.

I filmed the video below thinking it would be informative, and it certainly is, particularly if you'd like a lesson in what not to do. Spoiler: nothing too terrible transpired . . . I just couldn't release the lines efficiently due to various snags of the literal and figurative variety, and oh yeah by the way I failed to notice that the dinghy was stuck between KORKZcrew and the piling as we were exiting the slip, and very nearly was converted into an accordion. 😳 Let me back up just a minute. When we first arrive at a marina and are getting ready to back into a slip (parking space), we have to take a few extra steps to get the dinghy out of the way since we usually tow it behind KORKZcrew. I am Johnny-on-the-Spot when it comes to being sure we don't back over the dinghy, untying it from the stern (back of the boat), and retying it to the bow (the front). I mean, if there was an award for excellence for this oh-so-challenging (!) assignment, I'd score the blue ribbon. But as we were leaving today, good ol' Johnny over here lost her mojo in an instant, so preoccupied with getting the lines properly released that (s)he failed to notice that the dinghy was about to get its gizzards squeezed right out of it. Let's just say the captain was ready to trade John Boy in for a more competent version.

Once we avoided that fiasco by sheer luck, I sheepishly untied and walked the dinghy to the back of KORKZcrew where I re-tied it, leaving what was left of its former self close to the stern just until we were clear of Palm Cay's main entrance so it wouldn't be a hazard swinging around as we left the marina. (Trying to keep my deckhand flubs-of-the-day to a minimum.)

SIDE NOTE: our Great Harbour N37 was designed to store the dinghy on top of the flybridge, which is the area above the pilot house. Lifting and storing the dinghy was the original purpose of KORKZcrew's crane, but we made the conscious decision last fall to tow the dinghy behind the boat when we're underway, reclaim that upstairs storage spot, and use it as a sitting area. This arrangement also requires removing and storing the dinghy engine on the rear railing, which we thought would be the perfect new job for the crane. It was a sound idea, but the crane has been so finicky on this trip that we've thrown up our hands on that plan. We are in the process of designing a hydraulic platform for raising and storing the dinghy (called a davit) that will ultimately be attached at the back of the boat, hopefully by fall of 2022. It appears as though the sump pump float switch and crane are in cahoots. What can you do.

Before we left Palm Cay this morning, we consulted which is usually a good resource, and it told us the winds were going to be 12 knots and the seas were around one foot. Alas, they were none of the above. More like 17-knot winds and seas of 3 to 5 feet. With a 4-hour ride ahead of us, we briefly contemplated turning around, finding an anchorage, and leaving in another day or two, but saw that the weather would be very similar in the coming days and elected to tough it out. It’s easier to tolerate the “hobby horsing” of rough seas front-to-back rather than the rolling of the boat from side-to-side, and we had the former situation. We all sat up top and got used to getting bumped around after awhile. No seasickness mercifully, but we watched an episode of SV Delos on YouTube later that night where everyone on board was sick from being in conditions that they called a washing machine: waves coming from every direction so your body can’t adjust. I’m keenly aware that that very easily could’ve been us. The Delos crew has been living aboard their monohull for twelve years and this was only the second time they’ve ever been seasick. That’s an incredible — and enviable — record.

This was our route from Palm Cay Marina in Nassau to Allan's Cay at the north end of the Exuma Cays. The blue dot is KORKZcrew's position on Google Maps when I took this screenshot. The shaky yellow arrow is a product of trying to draw an arrow when your boat is being bumped around en route to Allan's Cay. At least that's the excuse I'm going with.

Skeet is a great captain, but an even more entertaining crew member when you're on a long trek. You haven't lived until you've done a boat passage with Skeet and his air guitar. I highly recommend this experience, as I have enjoyed his shows for many many years, starting with the band he formed with his sister Greta called the Hound Dogs. Actually, now that I think about it, it started well BEFORE that, during his pre-Hound Dog Era, when he was three.

So apparently practicing with that attractive and oh-so realistic plastic guitar gave him the necessary life skills to do THIS 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼 16 years later. Maybe there's an award for that, too. (And keep in mind when you watch this that air guitaring – that's a word, as far as you know — can make you MIGHTY hungry!) If you tell him I shared this video, we can no longer be friends. Just saying.

KORKZcrew arrived at Allan’s Cay around 4:00, and one of the first boats we saw at anchor was C Marie, the beautiful 47-foot Great Harbour we had admired in George Town, whose owners James & Cathy had kindly reached out to us and invited us over for drinks on that particular day. Hmmmm . . . come to think of it, it's approaching happy hour on THIS particular day! We are SUCH good planners.

We anchored not too far from C Marie and got ourselves situated, first by rinsing off our salty boat. Ron had hose duty (we have a hose on board that attaches to one of our water tanks) and Skeet and I followed behind him with sponges and rags to wipe everything down. Later on, Ron and I hopped in the dinghy and went to a nearby beach, the same beach where Steve had run away a month or two ago and made my heart sink to my ankles. Needless to say we left him on KORKZcrew for this trip, but visited with a local iguana on his behalf. See if you can tell how he felt about being left.

After we got over our brief leaving-Steve guilt, Ron and I enjoyed hanging out in ankle deep water and just sitting there doing nothing in particular. As it turns out, that's precisely my favorite thing to do. What a coincidence.

Steve's friend, the Allan Cay Rock Iguana

On our way back to KORKZcrew we thought it would be nice to stop by C Marie and say hello. And see if they wanted to invite us in for happy hour. JUST KIDDING! We aren't that rude (but close). James & Cathy were just finishing up dinner and we enjoyed chatting with them from the back of their boat. They are heading out for Nassau tomorrow as one of their daughters needs to leave C Marie and fly back to her hometown. From there, the two of them will make their way back to the U.S. and continue up the east coast, following their original plan of completing the Great Loop. We told them to be on the look out for the metal mermaid statue just north of the Figure 8 Island bridge — a strange landmark to indicate where you live, but hey, we’re a strange bunch. And we like it that way.

Once we returned to KORKZcrew, Steve jumped aboard the dinghy, certain we'd come back to take him for a ride. Who's gonna tell him? Poor guy. Next time, Steve . . .next time.

4 hours underway; 35 nautical miles traveled

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