Through George Town.......with a few little issues

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Thu 20 Feb 2014 00:00
In position 23:30.75N, 075:44.78W
We arrived in George Town with our large Mahi Mahi still needing to be dealt with. In the heat of the day, despite keeping it in the shade, it had taken on a  banana shape in rigor mortis which had to be ironed out on the aft deck. It was then gutted and filleted before being refrigerated. Hopefully, down to a point where it would freeze solid. At home this is simple as there is all the mains power you need to run the freezer. For us every degree of temperature drop we try to achieve takes a toll on our hard worked batteries which then need to be topped up by running the engine(s). We had hoped to have bought more solar panels before leaving the USA, but didn't, so we have just the ones we started out with from the UK and two of those have died!
George Town was, as always at this time of the season, very crowded. Approximately three hundred boats were scattered around Elizabeth Harbour in the various anchorages and Regatta was about to begin drawing in even more boats from the surrounding area. The weather was playing up with frontal systems due to hit in the coming days. We needed to find shelter somewhere to escape strong winds from a southerly to westerly direction. As a rule the weather systems coming off the USA coast usually switch winds through that quadrant quite quickly and with little force. But, as with the UK weather this winter, the conditions we are witnessing are not what we would expect.  Some lows are forming further south say in the Gulf of Mexico and blasting across Florida northwards with impulses of energy following every two to three days. This appears to be the reason for the stronger south to west winds we are experiencing. We just have to grin and bear it and make sure we have some shelter when needed.
There's not a day goes by that you might be lost for something to do in this anchorage, volleyball, yoga, poker, dominoes, beach church, conch horn making, underwater knitting - you name it they do it. There's also the Happy Hour on the beach where cruisers gather to tell outrageous lies to each other whilst consuming other people's hors d'oeuvres. ('Skip's' apologies to the people with the yellow cool bag that was parked on the bench just by where the Admiral's runnier than usual tuna dip was positioned. Not once but twice he dropped quantities of dip, scooped up on a carrot or celery slice, straight onto the nice yellow bag during the evening but couldn't find the owners to apologise to).
Sand Dollar Beach anchorage - most of the fleet are further to the right        Happy Hour at Sand Dollar
One issue we needed to deal with before more time passed was a blocked holding tank on the starboard side. Without going into too much detail, although we inevitably do, we had already tried a number of remedies to clear the line. It takes the waste straight out to sea through a seacock when emptying the tank but nothing, or very little, was escaping despite various attempts to rod or pressurize the pipeline. This little escapade consisted of a diver in the water (guess who) using the hookah compressor to breath through and a person manning the holding tank seacock (the Admiral naturally). We worked out a little system of signals which 'Skip Cousteau' would send by means of tapping the hull. One tap = open the seacock, two taps (frantic) = for Gods sake close the seacock fast!! and three bangs = We need to talk.
On with the compressor and down went the diver with his rodding wire whilst the 'Admiral' settled down with a good book on the toilet seat next to the seacock to await one tap. This proved difficult with the bubbles from 'Skip's' air supply resounding against the hull but the knock never came. He'd forgotten to give the signal and anyway was feeding the wire through the wrong through-hull. Three knocks from the 'Admiral' inside were clearly heard underneath the boat and Skip surfaced to be asked exactly when he intended to give the 'one' signal'. "Sorry, forgot" came the reply and down he went again whilst the 'Admiral' resumed her position on the loo seat with her book. After five minutes hectic activity under the boat with little reward (not that ten gallons of sewage blasting out of a hole in the hull could ever be considered a reward) three frantic knocks came from within the boat. The reason becoming apparent almost immediately when 'Skip's' air supply down at three feet ceased due to a blown fuse on the compressor. It was time for a rethink as complaints were being made about the temperature in the heads on what was a hot day. 'Skip' suggested swapping places which was met with an icy stare. One further try using compressed air from the dive compressor proved equally unsuccessful so operations were suspended for the day.
We finally took the decision to have the tank emptied by the pump-out boat at George Town which was now up and running. Somehow, Elizabeth Harbour being approximately five miles long and say half a mile wide or so had always managed to naturally cleanse itself of the waste from hundreds of boats in high season. However, many cruisers would not swim in the water for that very reason. (It's reported that a large Bull Shark lives somewhere in Elizabeth Harbour near Crab Cay which may also be a ready excuse for reluctant swimmers). But with two tides a day it seemed to cope. We called the pump-out boat anyway as we had no other way of getting rid of the ghastly stuff in the tank pending further investigation. It duly arrived captained by a surprisingly young lad who was assisted (and we use that term very lightly) by an older Rasta gentleman. Who, to be honest, didn't have a bloomin' clue as to what he was supposed to do. Despite having three large fenders on the side of our boat in the brisk conditions they somehow lost control of their boat which came crunching down onto our stern step hull area knocking a chunk of white gelcoat into the water. We were not happy chappies and refused to pay anything for the pump-out which would have been a wallet-numbing $15. About three times what we were expecting to be charged. A phone call to their 'boss' and it was agreed to a free pump-out. The hull damage is something we can attend to at a later date without too much problem. As for the holding tank was caused by one half of the tank sender which was recently renewed. The sender indicates the waste level in the tank and had come adrift from it's other half with the polystyrene float actually managing to find the outlet hole in the tank and blocking it! A chance in a thousand we would guess.
                                                        Our 'hurt' which needs a little attention
Our next little mishap was self inflicted. 'Skip' inflicted actually, as he managed to destroy at a stroke two of the six wind generator blades.  The swivel bearings in the generator are worn and noisy so he had tied off the generator facing into wind direction because that's the way it works when we are at anchor. This was achieved by tying a line from the vane to each side of the aft mounting frame. However, we need to swivel the turbine through ninety degrees to tie off the blades whilst raising the mainsail. Unfortunately, one of the lines which had been loosened somehow became entangled in the blade assembly. This was denoted by a very loud bang heard throughout the anchorage whilst pieces of the two broken wind generator blade whistled through the air into the water. It was a stupid error of course. Although, as luck would have it, the generator does work with just three blades instead of six only creating more noise in the process.  So we have a spare blade now in case we decide to break some more!  Not an event to be repeated in a crowded anchorage.......
Our wind turbine - or what's left of it when the two blades had been destroyed !
That sums up all the breakages and incidents of late so on with the travelogue...well no. We'll save that for the next one.