If time is money and you have more time, Do you need more money?

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly April 2012

Being a Gemini you get to see the good and bad in all situations,  Problem is that you can't alway see what you really want at first.  You may buy a Kayak thinking of great fishing, simple tender, or easy handling.  When you actually use the Kayak it is heavier than you expected, too big to store, and just plain hot on a windless day.  Being able to see all this is why our little boat doesn't have one on the deck like so many other cruisers, most with a little larger main boat.  We do have a seat and paddle for our future Kayak but we couldn't justify the 13 foot mass on our decks for the journey.

So where is this post heading you ask?  It is a reality check on equipment for the beginning cruiser, at least from our point of view.  Most die hard cruisers have become so accustom to their choices and upgraded to their preferences that they are just second nature or assumed.  We being so new to cruising it is a major decision every time we make a choice.  With some of our choices being a total waste of cash there will be plenty to "suggest" you avoid the same mistakes.  So we will randomly post both a "good" and a "bad" item we have chosen to evaluate.

The Good..T-top Canvas:  Before I moved onto the boat I found at a sharp discount a T-top canvas with grommets all the way around.  This has been excellent!  When at anchor it goes over the mast with four bungee cords and makes extra protection from the sun and rain over the companion way all the way to the bimini top.  When under way it can be a quick spray shield or sun shield.  When going by the everglades last year I put it up as a side curtain on the bimini to block the hot sun.  It has also done time as the front hatch cover last year when we needed an AC unit during the heat of the summer.  I sure there are other uses just waiting to be found.  This is a best buy item for a small sailboat!  Now if I had one a foot wider and 6 feet longer to dedicate to the mast at anchor.

The Bad... ATN top climber:  I will give it credit as to when I went up the mast in Morgan's Bluff for a few minutes it was not as bad as I remember from last year.  But at a whopping $475.00 There should be a Blonde Amazonian stuffed in the bag to help you up the mast.  The basic gear can be purchased from a climbing specialty store for less than a third, maybe even less than a quarter of this prefabricated kit.  It will get you up the mast single handidly without much effort since your wallet will be so light.  But beware of you foot control on the way up you will put scratches and scrapes into your annodized mast.  If you can sew then make your own web ladder and buy a harness to clip into for safety.   If it was only $150.00 or less it would be moved over to the good pile.

The Ugly...  Davis Windscoop:  I love and hate this item.  First it increases the air flow substantially. That is as long as it faces the wind.  You ask "why wouldn't it face the wind?"  Tides would be the answer to that question.  If the tide over powers the wind (ie 2 knts tide and 10 knots wind or less) you are suddenly abreast the air flow and it is like turning on the heat.  Then in a few hours you get the breeze again.  I have tried endlessly to counter act this by moving the bottom four attachment points as needed but it gets to be a pain.  Then when the wind over powers the tide and it works, it works too good making a gail force wind rip through the cabin. Over the last year the seams have done well but the little wooden dowel that keeps the scoop open and ready to catch all the wind is way to fragile.  I replaced my with a piece of batten stock which I have lost over the last two months and am using it without.  This makes catching a small breeze even less of a chance.  A way to make dedicated port, bow, and starboard facing attachments may lessen the head ache of chasing he wind over the tide. It has stood up to 50 knts and is still alive! But seriously it is very ugly!  One made of nice navy rip-stop with improved attachments would be great.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Pigs on the wing 4-13

If you didn't care what happened to me,
And I didn't care for you
We would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain
Occasionally glancing up through the rain
Wondering which of the buggers to blame
And watching for pigs on the wing.

Pigs (three different ones)

You know that I care what happens to you,
And I know that you care for me.
So I don't feel alone,
Or the weight of the stone,
Now that I've found somewhere safe,
To bury my bone.
And any fool knows a dog needs a home,
A shelter from pigs on the wing.

We made it to Big Majors Cay today!  We rowed from the anchorage at Staniel ALL the way to "Pig Beach" or what ever it is called and then on around Big Major!  We got surprised by a rain storm and big waves while on the north east side.  But I kept rowing as the Fisher King scolded me for getting him wet.  We had hopes of snorkeling on the north channel and getting some dinner but with the rain we just kept going to get back to the boat.  After all it was open, both the hatch and the companion way. in the rain.   As I sit here listening to Pink Floyd and writing this blog it is great to be out on an adventure with my son.

 Sharks and Elk Horns

 the Fisher King loves caves

Below are some photos from yesterdays row to the south channel here at Staniel Cay.  We took  a few moments at the sunken plane.

Tida Wave and Lady Muriel the local racing boats
waterboarding kayak great loop berzerk

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

s/v Gemini Dreams TV episode I

Well we have been getting random decent internet connections so we are trying to upload a couple or three videos we have taken recently.  So welcome to s/v Gemini Dreams TV and keep a watch out for further episodes.  

Nurse sharks at Staniel Cay

Thunderball Grotto


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Royal Bahamian Pain in the Arse

We I have been stretching out the pain in the arse (we'll use that term since the Bahamas were so English for so long) story for some time.  I'll try to keep is short.  Feel free to laugh.  Oh and I promise no photos oh my naked arse.

Try conveying the Message "Your son is safe, I am on IV pain killers and antibiotics in a clinic"  by using Facebook to the mother of an 11 year old that has not seen him in over 3 months!  If you are lucky there will be a phone nearby.

Below is a chronicle of the events

Day one  3-26:  Allens Cay:  I think a horse fly bit my Arse as Tin has multitudes of bite marks on his upper body.  He learned, I think, about shirts and afternoons in Morgan's Bluff.  We left Morgan's a couple days ago so maybe it is just showing up.  I did do some sail work in one of the outdoor buildings in the Regatta Park.

Day two   3-27:  It is still “bugging” me

Day three   3-28:  Okay this is unusual.  Did I get spider bit?  I start applying “black tar” to help remove the poison if there is any.  Damn this black tar smells!

Day four  3-29:  Normans Cay:  “Man this hurts!” cried my brain as I sat into the dinghy to row to shore. 

Day five   3-30:  “Hmmm, No wind to sail I am just going to lie here and suffer” 

Day Six   3-31: Sail to Exumas land and sea Park:  Sitting sideways in the cockpit chair. 

Day Seven   4-1:  Suffer though it and go to Boo Boo Hill to do the drift wood.  Ask about internet to check on spider bite information.  You have to have a mooring so it is $35 a day for internet.  I'm too cheap so more suffering.  The information wouldn't beam a doctor here even if I knew Scotty.  Try to decide if I should take either of the antibiotics I have on board.  Both of the on-board manuals say crap about spider bites.  I finally find my copy of “where there is no doctor” and it has crap about spider bites!  I am now trying to remember what I researched over a year ago just in case I made it to Central America. Which is why I have the black tar in the first place.  I pass on starting antibiotics.  Fever of 101.

Day Eight   4-2:  No wind!  Cry “UNCLE” and radio EL&SP and ask if a Medic was on staff.  NO!  Nearest is at Staniel Cay.   Tin says “I hate this place!”  I am offered a Dinghy Ride to Staniel tomorrow by another cruiser but I have no way back.  And fearing the pain involved in a 13 mile dinghy ride I have to pass!   Fever of 102 tonight.  Thinking about antibiotics again but put it off since we will be in Staniel tomorrow.  I hope!   For reference there is no nurse or doctor between Nassau and Staniel Cay.  If it is you lucky day there may be one on a cruising boat that may volunteer to help.  It wasn't my lucky day

Day Nine   4-3:  Wake up nauseated and dizzy!  Dry heaving overboard!  We motor to Staniel Cay and find the Clinic Closed!  When the operators of the Pink Grocer ask why I was walking so, I explained I may have been spider bit.  They asked if I went to the Clinic.  After I told them it was closed they called for me and said to go back by she would be there soon.  THANKS!  By now this was an actual volcano shaped swelling on my arse.  It had a base diameter of a golf ball and half as high.  There was drainage from the top and my whole check was rock hard.  Stressing as what this would do to our cruising budget made things even worse.  There was a minimum fee of $30 just for the visit.  As the nurse finished her initial exam and placed an IV needle in my arm the cash register just kept going Ca-ching, Ca-ching.  First there was the IV antibiotics, then the IV pain killers, then the week of oral antibiotics, the week of  anti-inflammatory meds, the dressings, the pads and everything else from the visit, then the discussion of lancing the infection and flying back to the USA!   OMFG!  The Ca-ching was quickly in the thousands and my boat would be unattended in the Bahamas!  Then the medical costs in the USA.  Then getting back to the boat! OF!  I think I need to add blood pressure and ulcer meds to the list now.  And we didn't even get to snorkel in Thunderball Grotto! 

About the time she started the IV pain killers the local doctor couple came in to check on my condition.  (The nurse had called and set up possibly lancing the infection tomorrow with them).  So it was down with the shorts again and the couple being so polite asked if I would mind them examining the infection. I was thinking “Do you know how bad this is hurting now?  I would walk naked through town and draw stuff in chicken blood to make it better!” After all the full moon is close!  They agreed with the initial exam as not a spider bite just an infected follicle or pore.  They said (after much prodding and poking which translates to DAMN F*&%^NG PAINFUL) that after seeing several points of drainage lancing wouldn't be needed.  Awesome, no lancing means no flying home!  We are back to just what it costs today and for follow ups!  Better but not good.  

While I waited for the last IV to finish I asked to use the Clinic internet to contact home.  It was great to get a response right away instead of having to leave a message and check later for a response.  I was trying to convey “I think” it is going to be okay by Facebook messenger and finally gave up and sent the phone number for the Clinic.  Now by phone is was simpler to fill in all the blank spaces.  So what was the total for all the above IV's and the visit?  Sixty-six dollars!  That would have easily been $660 in the USA and if you would have had insurance they may have admitted you for the night making it closer to $6600. 

I find out that on day three if I would have taken the broad spectrum antibiotics and the black tar together I may have avoided the escalation of the infection.  At that time I saw no reason, next time Oh yes to antibiotics for anything close to this.

Day Ten  4-4:  With all the IV's, pills and a hot soak last night the drainage has increased immensely.  During today's recheck  a combination tweezers/clipper apparatus has turned the volcano shape into a Florida sink hole.  My arse looks like it has a gun shot wound!  But the rock hard muscle is now relaxed and the local swelling is going down.  It is still uncomfortable to sit though.  The removal of dead muscle tissue, packing the wound, new bandages, and the visit today was $10

Day Eleven  4-5:  A day to relax and rest.  Swelling is down and pain is less

Day Twelve 4-6: A second day to rest.  Reevaluate float plan while bored!  This is now looking like this is our turn around spot and George Town will have to wait until next time!  We will just take time going back up the Exumas and do some of the things I didn't feel like doing on the way down.

Day Thirteen  4-7:  I am bleeding more today and oozing less!  I am also very dizzy today.  I had to look straight up at the boom once to stop the world from spinning.  Or was it my head turning around?  At least I wasn't tossing cookies.   Recheck day, more prodding and poking, snips with the meat hook, repacking and re-bandaging!  Also a weeks worth of high dose Vitamin C tabs!  Today's visit was NO CHARGE!  Prognosis is I am healing.  Arse still to tender to sit at a bar stool or wooden bench and I am still using a life jacket as a cushion in the dinghy (the neck hole works great!)

Day Fourteen 4-8:  Easter Sunday Facebooked with home and got a burger at the Purple restaurant. 

Day Fifteen  4-9:  We went to Thunderball today as I have a check up tomorrow at the clinic.  This way I get checked out after the first swim since she cut chunks out of my flesh.  .

Day Sixteen  4-10:  Todays visit was short and to the point, of the clippers that is.  Removing more tissue and re-bandaging me.  I have to come back tomorrow to get another round of antibiotics as there were none in the clinic. Other than that all seems to be healing well.  It should be closed over in a week or so.

It was suggested that we check at Nassau when we pass in 4 days, but since that isn't our sail plan we will spend a little more healing time here.  I hope to be able to get into the water soon without stress of infection.  That way we can take some time and do some make up snorkeling on the way back.  We should be back in Florida by June.

If anything significant happens or I have a relapse I will update this time line but, for now, this story is done.  A tleast I think it should be.

Yes during all this I still have to handle the boat, row us to shore, cook for us both and do what is needed.   Tin has been great and makes tuna sandwiches for lunch when I ask him to.   He has also started doing the dishes once again to help out.  After a full week he no longer asks what he did wrong every time I gasp for air or make a sound when I move.  He has been a great doctor when I need him to do a specific chore to help out.  Now instead of “I hate this place” I keep hearing “When we win the Lotto and get an Island Packet, a jet ski, a fridge, a microwave......”  progress is progress.

Update: While getting my board shorts ready for another dive I noticed a cut in exactly the same location as the infection.  I never felt a thing until it was too late.

Whatever did this sure was a pain


Monday, April 9, 2012

Shaken!, not stirred. 4-9

Hanging on the wall at SCYC

In 1965 the filming of the latest James Bond 007 movie came to Staniel Cay.  The Staniel Cay Yacht Club still keeps the photos on the wall.  It is their claim to fame, still today, 48 years later.  A grotto carved out of the limestone by waves and loose rock over a millennium.   Water never sleeps!  Today it is a wonder step back into natural landmarks of old.  You get exactly what you are wanting.  You get to see the grotto with out the on site tourist t-shirt shop pushing you to buy shirts.  You get to see the grotto without guard rails or warning signs that you might get eaten by a shark.  You didn't even have to pay some tourist cattle boat to ferry you over, well some do.  The only restriction to assist in preservation is “No Fishing”  I am waiting on the the Fisher King to get in his mood over such rules.  

Luckily the mood never came.  We snorkeled not only inside the grotto but also around the island.  This is the best snorkeling we have seen so far in the Bahamas.

Cathedral Ceiling

We took a lap around the island too

 Not a bad pic for the go pro

 Bahamian Flounder with it's blue markings

The brains of the operation?

 A port hole a viewed from within

 Having issues with pics like this coming out good with the GoPro, too much movement and low light

 The canyon that leads out the north end of the grotto

 Even inside a cave Sargasso holds fish

Color is everywhere in the shallow water

just south of the entrance on the outside

Rare photo of the captain

We also have some Videos but need a better connection to upload them


The Cook Out Saturday 4-7

he wanted his PSP very bad

There was a cookout today a the little area near the dinghy beach.  After standing in line long enough to see what they had, plain fried chicken wings, cole slaw, cold fries, etc. we chose not to part with the $10 a plate.  The hot dogs that were on the poster  must have been out on a conch boat or on island time.  We used the time to socialize with other cruisers and just be with other people.  We met Pat and Matt off s/v Pat n Matt from Big Pine on a small catamaran flying the Conch Republic Flag.  She is a nurse and gave us a large zip-lock full of dressings.  (We stocked up on all kinds of first aid items but forgot bandages before leaving).  We also ran into Diane from s/v Silver Girl again and met her husband Robert this time (Diane and I talked at Bimini as Ayrton swam in the pool).  There was also the crew from s/v Free Fall that we met in the anchorage yesterday.  Along with other semi-familiar faces from this anchorage or the few before.  Tin's patience while I mingle in the crowd was great as was his polite interaction.  I just can't get him to associate with the local children or even boat kids. 

s/v Free Fallin and crew

The crew from s/v Silver Girl

Since we passed on the wing plate we chose to try the Staniel Cay Yacht Club for lunch as it would only be $2 a plate more for a burger!   This should be the premier eatery on the Island.  We have not had a burger since “who knows when” in a full service restaurant.  We have had the standard fast food in the states and even the microwave burgers at Bahia Honda.  After our lunch today we can not offer any good comments about SCYC's food.  Tin's burger was charred past well done, the bread was borderline toasted to black, the fries had no seasoning and the time we waited for extra mayo was island time.   My burger was just barely medium and had all the same issues as Tin's.  The microwave burgers at Bahia Honda are hands down the winner in a contest.  Also the R/O water at Bimini (BBWR) is great with no funny taste.  Here at SCYC it has that Carolina coast taste I remember from the 70's and 80's.  When I asked one of the locals if there was better water on the island they said “You can drink it, (referring to the R/O at  SCYC) but we buy bottled water.”  The water at Morgan's Bluff was better also.  The pool table had no cue ball either, as we found out after putting in our quarters.  Maybe we should have went for the $10 burger at the beach bar.

We found out a later, actually Easter Sunday PM that the burger at the Beach Bar was WAY BETTER, sodas are only a dollar, and the Sweet and Sour wings are great! 

Staniel Cay 4-3

Welcome To Staniel Cay

We had to motor to Staniel Cay as the wind is always, well almost, out of the east or south-east.  When we arrived we glided over the shallows on the way into the anchorage.  We passed all the boats to port hanging out at Big Majors playing with the pigs.  The water was only 5 feet in spots and we were constantly staring at the 1 point something on the depth sounder (the clearance under the hull).  Here there are multiple places to drop the hook.  We chose to slip in behind the boats anchored in front of the marina, up behind the two anchored at the dinghy beach and as close to shore as we dared.  We were so close that I expected to bump on the bottom if the wind changed to the west.  We did this as this was as close the medical clinic as we could anchor and rowing was a royal pain in the ass (yes, more on that latter). 

ST Lukes Clinic just across the road and left from the Welcome to Staniel Cay Wall

When we arrived we found the clinic closed. We then chose to walk up to the “pink” grocer.   The “pink” grocer is only a couple houses down from the “blue” grocer (we didn't try).  As we approached there was an old woman outside and she asked if I was tired due to the way I was walking.  I gave her the information she requested and the younger person sitting with here then made a phone call and told us the nurse should be back in the clinic in a few minutes to make sure to go back by on our way to the boar.  Their shelves were barren and sometimes I wonder why they continue to compete against each other instead of doing something else.  We had a soda and Tin got some gum as a treat.  Tomorrow the produce will be here and we will take the longer walk to Isles General Store for some items (they must have gave up on color names).  Later we found out the blue store has much more than the pink store and if you don't want to walk to Isles General Store it is much closer to the anchorage but farther than from the dinghy.

Blue Store, Pink Store, Yellow Store...My, oh my, where will little Cindy Lou Who shop?

Inside the pink store, this is it plus three isles of empty shelves.  Cash only!

Inside the blue store, there are more items around but cash only!

Inside Isle General Store .  Credits cards are okay but say so at the beggining of the purchase and there is a 5% premium.

Bridge at Bonefish Creek

Nurse sharks off the fish cleaning table at Staniel Cay Yacht Club

While walking around we went by the Staniel Cay Yacht Club to check prices.  LOL!  Local Lobster $42  LOL!  The lowest priced entree on the menu is $26 for a single chicken breast and one side.  Lunch of course should be a little less but we will check on that later.

the Hustler

We made it to Isle General Store on day two.  They are pretty good by out island standards but just for reference a bag of chips in Bimini cost $4.75 here they are $6.80 and white loaf bread is $4.75 and wheat is $5.25.   Our small basket with 2 20 oz. sodas, 2 oranges, 2 bananas, eggs, bread came out to $15.00.   Minimum of a $35 purchase to use a credit card. 

Rowing from SCYC to s/v Gemini Dreams

As we rowed back to the boat (rowing is still a pain in the ass) at low tide the wind had changed to west and of course the keel was resting on the bottom.  It was only an hour until the tide would start to refill the anchorage so I rowed out the second anchor and waited until the tide lifted the boat so I  could pull us into a Bahamian Moor instead of a swinging on single anchor.  A few more days will be required here before we can continue on the cruise.