Sandy's New Adventure

Ambler Isle
V and S
Wed 11 May 2011 16:23
May 9, 2011
I tightened my weight belt at my waist, put the regulator in my mouth, and slipped into the water.  I'd volunteered to help Valt clean the hull this morning.  A fine coating of grass needed removing.  Three small fish greeted me, coming right up to my mask as if to say, "Hi."  They followed me as I dived beneath the boat.  Valt and I were diving certified in 19---, well, let's just say, a long time ago.  In 2000 when we began cruising with the Amber Isle decided to leave our diving tanks  behind and bought a hookah rig, with its own air compressor motor.  It supported up to three divers and each could go about 50' deep.  But in the Bahamas, the water is so clear, and the reefs so shallow, we found we were just as happy snorkeling.  I actually did not like having the air hose to drag around.  The hookah became just a work tool for maintenance, hull cleaning, repairs.  The hookah droned noisily on the cockpit deck.  At first, I felt a little fear, going beneath the boat.  What was I thinking?  My surface access was blocked.  I also dragged my air hose with me, and it could tangle.  Fighting the dread, I set to work scraping.  It was not so bad.  After 10 minutes, I felt very comfortable and was soon working in a rhythm.  Valt was nearby, scraping another section. He brought me a suction cup with a handle attached so I could hold still in the current.   The bottom seemed endless.  After about an hour, I needed to rest.  Valt continued.  I sat for a few minutes, had a glass of water, then reentered the water.  This time I headed to the dinghy.  I'd tried to brush its bottom the other day with mask and snorkel, but saw I'd missed much.  With a stiff brush and a suction cup handle I removed the algae.  Now I was really tired.  I took off my diving gear,  and dunked it in the bucket to get the salt off it.  Just as I finished, Valt appeared and I rinsed his gear, too.  The job was finished.  Besides appearance, any growth on the bottom creates a drag and reduces efficiency.  Actually slows the boat down. 
We lifted anchor and headed 16 miles north to Staniel Cay.  We would buy 100 gallons of diesel fuel here, more than enough to get us to Nassau for both generator and engines.  Diesel was a whopping $5.60 and they charged a 5% surcharge if we paid by credit card.  Hopefully it would be cheaper in Nassau.  We'd buy just what we needed to get to Florida in Nassau, and then fill up in the US.  Surely it could not cost as much there.  When we were in Florida in December, we paid $2.80 per gallon.  Then we topped off in Nassau at $3.87 per gallon.  How could it have risen so high in such a short time?  Lucky for us we use very little by running a slow 6 knots.  We also try to limit the generator use when possible.  If fuel stays at these prices, we may consider solar panels and even a wind turbine to limit generator time even more.