Hope Town from on high

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Thu 3 Apr 2014 04:27
Hope Town is a great place to stop for a while and relax.  At $100 a week for a mooring ball, you won’t find a much better deal anywhere in the Bahamas.  You can visit the picturesque candy-stripe lighthouse for free, including going right up to the top for a view of the harbour.  The lighthouse still has its original kerosene light with a clockwork rotation mechanism. 
And on the subject of heights, I have spent about ten hours up the mast in the past few days, trying to sort our the broken bolts on the sail track.  The bosun’s chair we use just has a hard board for a seat, so in the end I was taking a cockpit cushion up with me to ease the pain of having to sit in one position for so long.
There were actually three broken bolts.  My first attempt at removing one was a dismal failure.  I tried using an “ez-out” (a reverse threaded bolt removing tool) but that just sheared off, leaving the bolt with a shiny new toughened steel core.  At that point I decided that we probably only needed to replace two of the three bolts!
Now being extremely careful about breaking things off inside the second bolt, I tried using a Dremel diamond engraving tool to cut a slot for a flathead screwdriver.  I guess I was just lucky with that one because, after about half an hour of drilling and grinding a slot, the bolt came unscrewed.
Just one more bolt to go, and I thought I had a working solution to the problem of extraction.  The third bolt proved otherwise.  The flathead screwdriver approach resulted in one screwdriver bit shattered and another one completely twisted out of shape.  No amount of easing oil would loosen the bolt.  I tried a couple more different sizes of ez-out, but they were just going to break off like the first one.  I even tried drilling a small hole right through the bolt and blowing hot air through it from my mini heat gun to try and break down whatever glue was holding it, but still no dice.  In the end I just drilled progressively larger holes down the middle of the old bolt until I had a hole that the new bolt would screw in to.  Even doing this, the new bolt was incredibly tight in the hole.  I guess it could be that the old bolt was so well glued-in that some of the threads remained stuck in place, even when the entire core of the bolt had been drilled out.  More likely, I think, is that the bolt holes were not threaded correctly in the first place so that the original bolts were over-stressed during the installation of the track.  That would also explain why the old bolts would not shift, even with the application of huge amounts of torque.
Anyway, we now have only one bolt head missing, the one now with an ez-out core.  That we will live with. 
Our plan is to leave Hope Town on Friday and start working our way south-eastwards, wind permitting.    
Hope town candy-stripe lighthouse
The view from up the lighthouse - harbour, Hope Town, barrier reef and Atlantic beyond
The beautifully maintained clockwork mechanism for rotating the lenses
Steve (Southern Cross) has joined us and the Brizo gang for a few days
The best known beach bar in this area is Nippers.  It is overpriced, but you have to visit it once.
Nippers does overlook a beautiful beach
The combination of Andrea + cleaning out the icemaker = experimentation in ice sculpture.  Is it an armadillo?
The recalcitrant bolt, still in its hole.  The silver hexagon you can see is the broken ez-out embedded in the centre of the bolt. 
You can also see the thread marks in the aluminium track, made by the broken bolt head wedging behind the car when we unsuccessfully tried to force the mainsail down using the reefing lines.