Day 3 & 4: Abaco & Eluthera

Buoy 'N Sea
Phil and Trish Littman
Sat 24 Nov 2007 21:14
This post was sent directly from Buoy N Sea. Still catching up. No coordinates yet.
Getting our Sea Legs
Any queasiness any of us may have felt has subsided. Luckily, no one got sea sick and now we're starting to view this boat as our second home. The wind and waves are still bouncing us around a bit, but daily chores are getting easier.
After getting pummeled in the Gulf Stream, we try to dry our clothes. But nothing seems to stay or keep dry at sea.
Alex keeps watch for ships.
We weren't able to stay north enough to keep from tacking, so we ended up on a starboard tack with ENE winds, heading almost due North for most of the day. We won't be able to clear Abaco either, so our next waypoint is just west of the tip of the island. We reached this waypoint at night, and was able to see the outline of the dark island against the horizon only a few miles away on our starboard, before tacking back around on a SE course.
We decided to try to play music from an Ipod Justin brought. We used an FM transmitter to hear it through the cabin speakers. This FM transmitter worked much better than normally does on land due to the interference from radio stations. But offshore about 100 miles, it sounds great and we were rockin' out.
Some of the songs heard on the playlist:
Bob Dylan - Blowin' in the Wind, Hurricane, Shelter from the storm
Billy Joel - Captain Jack
CCR - Bad Moon Rising
Led Zeplin - Communication Breakdown
Elton John - Rocket Man
We spotted another sailing vessel and tried to contact them using VHF. The conversation went like this:
Buoy N Sea: "This is sailing vessel Buoy N Sea at [our current position], heading [our COG] attempting to contact sailing vessel off our Starboard. Over."
Unknown Ship: "Yes Buoy N Sea. This is [unintelligible]. Switch over to channel 62. Over."
On Channel 62:
Buoy N Sea: "This is sailing vessel Buoy N Sea. Are you the sailing vessel off our starboard?"
Unknown Ship: "What's your position? Over."
(we give our position)
Unknown Ship: "No this is a warship. Over."
That conversation ended soon after that. Sure enough 4 miles off our port side [opposite the sailing vessel] is a moderate-sized US warship in the middle of the Bahamas. Captain Steve says US warships can go [and be] wherever they want and often show up where you'd least expect them.
After clearing Abaco, we were back on a starboard tack again with ENE winds heading North, in order to clear Eluthera. We would be on this course for the next 24 hours.
A major concern for offshore sailors is getting run over by bigger boats. Phil installed a great radar system called AIS that not only lets you see a boat's location, and course heading, but you can also download the boat's name, it's speed over ground (SOG), and it's course over ground (COG). And if you try to contact that boat through VHF and they don't respond, you have the ability to raise an alarm inside the cockpit of the other boat to get them to respond. Now if the boat is heading straight for the middle crosshairs that means it's on a collision course with you. That happened on our way up and around Eluthera and like a pro, Phil notified the other boat. Since we were under sail, we had the "right of way." The other boat in this case came up as "Silver Shadow." It was a large but funky looking cruise ship.
The conversation went as follows:
Buoy N Sea: "Silver Shadow, Silver Shadow, this is sailing vessel Buoy N Sea (pronounced 'buoyancy'). I have you on my AIS and it appears that you're on a collision course or near collision course with us. Please respond, Over."
Silver Shadow: "Yes Buoyancy. This is Silver Shadow. I have you on radar. We'll alter our course. Over"
We were then able to detect that the ship altered its course from 315 to 310 and passed us 1.5 nautical miles off our starboard side.
Communication Problems
A lot of time is spent trying to trouble shoot our communication problem. We cannot dial out through the computer and satellite phone for some reason. The laptop that could connect stopped working (we suspect from the shock of slogging across the Gulf Stream). The second laptop's battery died as we were connected and sending the first day's post. Since we lost the inverter we would not be able to charge the laptop battery. Things were not looking good as far as the blog went. Our only hope of posting to the blog was a smaller spare inverter that Phil had packed. But when he retrieved it from where it was stowed, it was sitting in a plastic bag half-full of sea water. The jostling in the compartment ripped the bag. Then everything was flooded the night the inverter burned up. A bunch of other equipment was also water logged including dremel drills, power drills, tool boxes, and miscellaneous spare parts. We decided to try drying out the inverter for a day or so before plugging it in.
Thanksgiving Comes Early
We weren't sure how much electricity we would have to power the refrigerator so we decided to eat the Thanksgiving turkey that Alex's wife Judy packed for us. It was a hit with the crew and definitely beat the wraps that we've been eating for the past 3 days.