The Search For Bright Waters

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Good Bye George Town, Heading Back North

Well we have been here in George Town for just over 6 weeks.  We have made this our temporary home and are quite comfortable.  We haven't been too adventurous lately but we are enjoying ourselves.

We still read a lot.  Christine even wrote a 42,000 word book herself and is working on her second book.  I have been practicing the guitar everyday and play Star Craft 2, an online video game at night.

For exercise we have been swimming laps around the boat.  I can't do many but Christine usually does about 25-30 while I lay out on the pink floaty :)

Our nightly routine has been to go to shore and plug in at a picnic table at the local play ground and play online till 2 am.  We our really gonna miss this view.

We finally had our first engine problem in the Bahamas.  In preparation of our departure, I changed our primary fuel filter, secondary fuel filter, oil filter, and both oils.  Of course after this the engine wouldn't start.  I thought it was a battery problem since our batteries are dead.  So we charged up the starter battery with the solar panels and it still wouldn't work.  Luckily while we were at the park another cruiser asked to use our computer and we got to talking about the engine and he offered to come check it out.

He was a cool Frenchmen named Franswa (sorry if its misspelled) aboard French Summer and after an hour of trying we finally got the engine up and running.  In the process we learned how to use the compression levers, ether starting fluid, and to bleed the fuel injectors.  That's the only good thing about a troublesome engine is we always learn something.  It is rarely the same problem twice.

And as a result of this we had our FIRST boat dinner guest!  We invited Franswa over for spaghetti and garlic bread and he brought over a cheese and bread platter that was much better than the main dish.  He has a fridge and water maker so her even brought over cold water!  Yes that is a luxury on Bright Eyes.

We ate and talked into the night and were glad to finally host someone.  It also gave us a reason to clean up the cockpit some which it needed.

Lastly we'ed like to warn anyone against the use of the Bahamas Post Office.  Before we got here in early April my mom sent us an underwater camera via the Post Office.  Some people warned us that it could take 3 months to get here and I didn't believe them.  Well it's been almost 2 months and we can't wait around any longer so hopefully they will return to sender.

We did have success with Christine's e-reader which was sent through DHL to Top to Bottom (a marina store).  It arrived in 5 days.

So we will just buy a disposable underwater camera in Staniel Cay to take Thunderball Grotto pics.

Sorry for the lack of pictures.  We haven't done anything too impressive recently.  Here's a cool cloud we saw :)

 But it is time to finally start heading back north towards the US.  We plan to spend June revisiting the Exumas.  Then we will meet my mom in Eleuthera in July.  Then we will visit the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island on our way back to Florida In August.  So there is still plenty of exploring to do and we are going to try to put our kayaks to use more!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stocking Island has a lot of Beaches

So we finally left George Town...only to hop across the harbor and spend some time at Stocking Island.  

Stocking Island was THE social spot for the last few months but most of the cruisers have headed either north or south after the regatta.  Which leaves it open for us to explore.

When we first came into Elizabeth Harbor we noticed a monument atop of a large hill.  Our quest was to get up there and check out the view.

But first lets relax some more...

We anchored at Monument Beach the closest we've even been to the beach, about a 30 foot swim to shallow water!

Hamburger Beach... Guess what we ordered?

And we added our name to the many cruisers before us.

Next we visited Volleyball Beach to see the famous Chat n Chill

Our home isn't so far away.

We saw a sting ray swimming around the shallow beach.  Someone told us it was actually a manta ray and that people feed it hamburgers.  So I decided now was the time to get over our fear of rays and treaded out there saying "come here big fella"

It swam right up to me and then turned but I was able to pet it a few times.  It was a lot slimier than I thought it would be but still really cool.

We are 00 miles to Paradise the signs says.

Chat n Chill is where a lot of the cruisers would play volleyball but there were no games going on today, just an expensive pig roast

Nala is better at relaxing than we are 

It was now time for the mountain climb.  The first day we got lost through several "paths" and had to turn around and get directions at the Hamburger joint.  Once we knew how to get there it wasn't so bad, about ten minutes of steep hiking.

One portion even had a rope to help you climb up.

But boy was the view from the top worth it!

Our boat is the furthest left closest to the beach.

We don't know the point of this thing but there was a bench that couples carved their names into that got engaged up there.

Next we found another trail that was like a safari and came out onto the other side of the island.

We were rewarded with a beautiful beach

In regards to the last blog our house batteries are officially dead but two of them will at least let us use the inverter through them during the day.  It's kinda funny because we only get power if the sun is direct so as we feel a cloud go over the inverter beeps and we have to turn things off.  But then the suns returns a minute later and we have power again.  We do this routine several times a day if trying to charge the laptops.  

Unrelated since we gave up on the coffee maker awhile ago but Christine now makes coffee by tying a rubber band around a coffee filter over a cup and just slowly pours boiling water in there until she has a cup.  It takes awhile but gets the job done!

Luckily there is enough power somehow to turn on led lights and half powered fans at night.

In other news I finally cut off the goldilocks to Christine's dismay.



 but we left a blond tipped rat tail for fun :)

See Christine in the glasses?

We did not have any internet at Stocking Island so after a week we came back to George Town!  We will stay here till the end of May and then really be leaving as we head back north...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Boat Work and Out of Power

We have been pretty lucky so far keeping our repairs to a minimum.  Mostly we clean after the cats (litter and lots of cat hair).  We tighten up loose bolts and wires as we find them.  Dishes and general cleaning wrap up our boat work.

However during the week of the regatta it rained a lot and our house batteries suffered never getting a full days charge.  Since then our battery monitor showed 10.5 volts at night and 12.0 volts during the day under full sun light.  That is not good.  We couldn't plug anything in like charging our laptops and most electronics wouldn't run except for our led cabin lights.

I decided to test each battery by hooking them up to the solar panels and battery monitor alone for a day and see if it could charge up.  Two of the battery never showed more than 11.5 volts even under the full sun power so I guess they are dead.  One battery would range from 11 volts at night and 14.1 volts during the day.  The last battery ranged from 9 volts at night to 14.1 volts during the day.  But even those two batteries would not hold the charge at night.

During this time we have been trying out different spots around town that we can pick up wifi and power.  It's not the wifi that we need so much but the power.  We don't use too much electricity on the boat so we've been ok with just using some light at night, however Christine is craving music.

It is quite expensive to replace our battery bank here so we are hoping our new plan will work.  We will use the electricity during the day that the solar panels provide and then only use lights at night.  So basically using the two house batteries we have as a funnel for electricity even though they can never hold it.  Luckily it's sunny most days.

Also lucky is that we keep our small starter battery on a separate switch so it has been unaffected by all this and we can still start the boat!

The other major project I have to do is scrubbing the barnacles and growth of the bottom of the boat which can be tough in a choppy current.   Also restitching a lot of our canvas.  Those cats can be a menace sometimes, but at least it will keep me busy.

Sorry for no pictures as this was quite a lame/boring blog, but we thought if we can tell the good side of cruising we can tell the bad as well.  And everyone knows what a 12volt battery looks like...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Our Stay At Sandals Emerald Bay

Sometimes you just get lucky.  

While walking around the George Town Regatta we stopped at a Sandals Emerald Bay booth.  Sandals just opened this location a year ago and was providing a station for their guests visiting the Regatta.

Christine just happened to be wearing the sandals necklace that Sandals gave us for returning the 2nd time and being Sandals Select members.  (We honeymooned there in 2008 and vacationed there in 2009 which is what inspired this whole adventure from the beginning)

We talked to the lady running the booth who was a Sandals manager and she noticed Christine's necklace.  She said we were family and needed to come home, that we should come by and she'd let us in.  Our faces lit up and we said we definitely would!

So after the Regatta was over, on Monday, we cabbed it to Sandals Emerald Bay!

Here's a view of Sandals from a hill that the cab driver showed us.

We arrived on location bright and early at 8:30am. 

All Sandals seem to have island cats.  I'd live here too if I was a cat.

We immediately went to the breakfast buffet and dived into all the foods we had been dreaming about since we left Maryland.  Sandals is Heaven!

The rest of the day was spent relaxing, eating, drinking, exploring and having fun.  It was nice to swim in fresh water and to order food without price tags.

Here's the view of the hill the cab driver took us to from the bottom

We felt only slightly out of place since most couples there were staying for the week.  And as we met people the first questions asked are where and you from and how long are you staying?  Christine and I would look at each other and slowly bumble into how we are actually living on a boat down the water and are just staying the day.

The couples were always surprised and began asking questions which we got pretty good at answering.  One of the Sandals excursions was to visit Thunderball Grotto and the Pigs so we told everyone to go see them.

After five more meals and a beach party we didn't want to leave.  So we decided we would just drink at the bar till the 2am close and figure out the sleeping thing later, maybe pull an all nighter.  We ended up meeting a really nice couple our age from Indiana on their honeymoon, Nate and Casey, and drank with them all night till the bar closed.  Then they brought down their room drinks and we had a late night pool party.

When it came time to say goodnight they invited us to spend the night in their living room.  We felt bad intruding but they insisted and it at least solved our sleeping dilemma.  Our sleeping quarters were separate from theirs and we moved to the pool at the crack of dawn but that was really swell of them!

Needless to say we missed breakfast but got two lunches before finally calling the cab to take us home.  The manager who invited us saw us the next morning and we were a little embarrassed extending our stay but she didn't mind.  Christine just told her we had so much fun that we missed our ride last night.

Here is our annual leaving Sandals waiting in the lobby pic.

If you have never been to Sandals we recommend you go to their website and book a vacation right now!  It is the greatest place on earth!!!  All inclusive.  Buffets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fine Dining, all cuisines.  Pools, hot tubs, the beach, excursions.  Normal bars and pool bars.  And they treat you like royalty. Just show up and have as much fun as possible!  

We love Sandals!