The Upgrades and Fixes Continue
Today I replaced the old manual bilge pump gaskets which I thought like always would take a hour or two. Well 8 hours later and a few cuts I had the dam thing back together and installed. I really hate when a simple project turns against me and make my life difficult. O well such is life at least I in some hot tropical Island. I am going to the bar to watch the game, have a good one and thanks for keeping up with the blog!
O A Glass Of Jameson and The Company of the Drunk Mosquito
I accomplished a few things today in the hot sun of 88 degrees and it made my mouth water for some whiskey. The local crowds are not around tonight to share in my tails and to hear new ones so I filled a small glass of Jameson with some O so precious ice. I now sip it little by little in the Dragonsbane cockpit and I am accompanied by the Turk rum drunk mosquito.
Today I drink to making the ship shine by washing her down with fresh water and joy soap. I polished her silver chrome and broke down the dinghy to shield her from the suns intense UV raise. O I will sleep well tonight and wish all of you the best as you freeze in the snow and wind as I will melt to my bed sheets yet again tonight!
Certified in Scuba down to 60 Feet & Meeting New People
I finished up my scuba certification and I am now able to open water dive down to 60 feet. Today well on my dive I saw three sharks that got very close but for some reason when you’re at their level they don’t seem very frightening almost interesting to watch. I saw a sting ray and many lion fish. I love the feeling of scuba diving and I am hooked, case closed.
Tonight I decided to go to the bar and &grill right next to the marina for finishing up my scuba class and ended up meeting all kinds of people. I met a big family that was from Minnesota that was here on the island celebrating there grandparents 68th wedding anniversary. We talked a lot about sailing and racing. I found out that they built houses in Minnesota and I cannot remember their names but they went to college in Michigan in Grand Rapids what a small world. Anyway I was very happy to share the night with them and wish them safe travels home.
Scuba Day 1 and Some Pictures Of the Island
Day one of Scuba class was fun and I enjoyed learning how to use my gear in many ways to breath if this or that fails when I dive. I learned how to swim under water with all the gear and how to sink. I never thought there was a right way and wrong way to sink but guess what there is. Truth be told I dont sink very well but with a little work today I was sinking like a rock! tomorrow I go out to the ocean and dive to 30 feet and practice emergency ascent and buddy breathing. The last day will be a dive to 60 feet off of a coal reef wall that goes down to 6000 feet. I hope I get the whole rise to the surface thing down by then! Anyway I will try and get some pictures of what I see so you all can experience it with me.
Now some Pictures of TCI Provo Island,
Christmas Eve Thoughts
When I think of Christmas Eve I instantly think of a cold clear night with hard crunchy snow as I walk to church to give thanks to the real eason why we celebrate Christmas. I think of the candle light service and how the church becomes so hot from all the hundreds of souls holding candles to shine bright in the dark night to find your way out of the dark past. I think of my family all gathered together drinking after church and being happy to finally talk about the years past events and what they plan to change in the new year. Then we all retire to bed and wait for Santa to grace us with presents and gifts for all that we care for. My heart swells at that moment that my family will get to open the presents that I have taken time to find for them.
Unlike the last 29 Christmas to now I am alone by choice to fix, clean, and better Dragonsbane. I am also happy to get my scuba certification. I wanted to experience having no one around to enjoy all that god has given us and see what I really miss. SO being alone I went to a bar across the pound and found my new friends from Key west that are traveling as a band by sailboat to St Thomas, They filled a small void in my heart tonight but did not take place of my family. I think god will no matter what take care of you even when you’re alone if only you go out and look around. I am so joyed to meet these people and give them the gift of knowledge on how to repair there sailboat. I can’t afford to give all the gifts I would like to my family but I keep them in my heart and will think of them everyday and wish them the best.
Christmas is to remember all the good and bad of the past year and share it with your family, friends, and in my case the strangers that open there hearts to this simple idea of being happy to be together. So hug your family, and give thanks that you have a warm house, and people to enjoy it with. Other wise what the hell is it all for if you don’t understand that simple pleasure.
I spent the early part of the day peddling my but around on an old Huffy bike with the big fat tires. You know the bike that is used for the beer advertisement called Fat Tire! Anyway my dads bike chain broke and we ended up getting picked up and brought back to the bike shop and was given a less rusty bike which worked out great. Unfortunately after peddling the first time for at least 4 miles we were right back where we started, o well we got good exercise. Anyway we toured the north edge of the Provo Island and saw all the resorts and all the resorts that where under construction back in 2008 and then like a bomb they were left unfinished and left rusting in the salt air. It was too bad to see many of these grand hotels rusting and falling to pieces. They really don’t show that on the postcards and they would have add such a grand and clean feeling to this island but instead leave it looking more like a disaster zone then anything.
After peddling our bikes we returned to Dragonsbane and ate some lunch; I studied my scuba course information too. I made steak and sweet potatoes for dinner with some “Toasted Head Chardonnay” Wine. It worked out well and I am stuffed. Tomorrow I will bring my dad to the airport and make sure he has no problems and then back to Dragonsbane to work on her issues.
Dragonsbane is Down But Not Out!
My plan was to sail to the DR “Dominican Republic” and see what that was all about but the plan has change for the next two weeks. After discussing our new issue with Dragonsbane our theory has been confirmed. During our last 3 day voyage we had to motor sail into the wind for 16 hours and at 3 different points the drive shaft would make a very loud buzz sound and I would back off the rpm’s immediately and the sound would stop. I concluded that when climbing very big swells 10 foot plus the prop would be over loaded and flex the drive shaft which would then cause the cutlass bearing to buzz or squeal in the strut beneath the boat. I talked with a few local mechanics and they all agreed that the 4 blade prop is over loading the drive shaft and will in a short time cause catastrophic failure to occur causing a lot of damage.
We have decided to send the new 4 blade prop back to the manufacturer and exchange it for the original 3 blade prop. This is where it get interesting, in order to change the prop we have to lift the boat out of the water. The only place to do that is 40 nautical miles around the island to a shipyard where we will have 3 hours to make the fix. so until the new blade arrives my dad will go home for 2 weeks and I will work on Dragonsbane other issues. I will also take advantage of the down time and get my open water scuba certification so I can now go 56 feet down in the ocean to see a whole new world. I will try my best to blog over the next few weeks or at least post a lot of pictures of what I am up to, I am sad because most of my inspiration comes from the ocean. Regardless I hope that these repairs will fix all issues and make our voyage more enjoyable.
Smashing the Rum Drunk Turk Mosquito
I have been all over the world and experienced many of the planets very annoying pests called the mosquito. I have experienced the very strong and tough Alaskan Mosquito. The Alaskan Mesquite is very much like the mid west Upper Michigan mosquito which has equal numbers as Alaska but there is a big difference. An Alaskan Misquote is the size of a small bird and can take down a Bald Eagle if they wanted to. I have been swarmed by clouds of them flying fishing and really never want to do that again, it felt being stuck with a million needles at once. I think I lost a pint or two to the State Alaska bird called the mosquito. Now I am in the Tropical climate in Turks and Caicos Islands and the mosquitoes are very few but just as irritating. The Turks and Caicos mosquito is a very dumb mosquito. For example they fly very slow and are the size of a big fruit fly which have a buzzing sound of a weed whacker on crack. They always fly in pairs like drinking buddy’s and plan evasive maneuvers on how to attack you. But like most drunk ideas they always end up being bad.It’s like a storm moving across the ocean at night, you can hear it coming but don’t know when it will hit. You hear a loud buzz and then bammm you are hit with a little sting and bingo your there next meal. But if you can make visual contact they are easily smashed. I think they are very drunk from all the local rum drinking people and for that reason are very brave. Like most people they feel very brave and ready for fun at any chance when drunk. Unfortunately the mosquito here is the same way and ends up getting smashed off people and then gets smash by people, bummer dude. But like being drunk they do get lucky every once awhile.
To the Mosquito! Cheers,
Met some New Friends
This evening I went to a potluck dinner with other cruiser and met some very cool people A couple from Michigan and the gentlemen has been working in Columbia as a VP of a coal mine. I also meet a older couple from Norway and they where very cool, they have been sailing for 5 years. I will have to share more but I am ready for bed I will share more tomorrow.
A Letter to a Friend
I have been on the high seas for 50 days or so and I am starting to understand the things we dislike about today’s culture and our generation. I have meet in the last three days a man that has been involved in every major military action sense the 1950’s till the 1990’s and has open my eyes to all things that the history books don’t included. The man has been in peace keeping and prisoner exchanges in Vietnam and when he started his military career he was picked up in the middle of the night and dropped into Cuba days before Kennedy started the Bay of Pigs. I met a man that has served in United Kingdom Merchant Marine and logged thousands of miles using a sexton and compass. I meet a couple from Wisconsin that traveled from the USA through a Tropical Storm with 60 knote winds and 27 foot wave and lived to tee the story. I meet a man by the name of Crazy George who has given us the direction to the Dominican Republic which we will set sail tomorrow for.
I guess what I am saying is that this trip around the world is more about the people then the places. If only you could open your mind and not worry about the money, what people may think, or say, you will begin the rest of your life when you step on Dragonsbane. I have found that each day is easier then the last and everyday makes my eyes grow wider with wonder and possibility. I am beginning to not care about TV, wealth, or impressing that one girl. I am finding the world is big and beautiful and no money or influence can change the simple and basic principle of the world which was beautiful long before all the money and influence. Dragonsbane has brought me to this and for that I will care for her with every drop of sweat and energy that I can muster. The ocean and seas are really where we need to be today to see what we really are personally, emotionally, and it will measure the amount of happiness we really have. Like the evolving world we will run into the people that matter the most by sailing to them, around them, by them, or at them.
I guaranteed with out a doubt in my mind that after 2 tough, long, hard, months of sailing aboard Dragonsbane and among her crew you will see the light, and life will start to take a whole new meaning with out you even knowing it. You cannot read a book to find the answer to life, you have to live it, see it, breath it, and play in it!
Your options are simple sell the money sucking physical items that cost money/bills, and come sailing for two years on Dragonsbane. You don’t need money where we are going, just courage and a good heart! Food will taste better, conversations will have more meaning, people will fall from the shadows and open up. Life at sea is just as much apart of life as is that little island you never heard of.
Driving Backwards in Turks and Caicos Islands
I had a very busy day today. It started with some home made pancakes and bacon which was very hot and sweaty work because it was 82 degrees. I then went and rented a car for 40 bucks with my dad. I drove on the left side of the road and it was very challenging to do but I made it all over the island. We went and got food and the most important RUM and WIne! I also found out the the middle finger is a international sign and is used the same way as we do in the state when driving. I found this out by driving on the wrong side of the road a few times OOPS. After that I installed a VHF radio into the cock pit of Dragonsbane and antenna which will be very nice to have. I then made a frozen pizza and drank some wine and talked with our neighbor in the boat slip next to us. I found out he was a pilot in the military for 25 years served in Vietnam Alaska, and everywhere else you can think of. He had a very interest family back round and talked about his uncle who took all the photo of the nuclear blast back in the 40s that we see today and then took all the photo of the first space shuttle that went to the moon. Then I talked with our other neighbor who was a merchant marine for 14 years and all the things he did on freighters back in the 70s and 80s. He was from the UK ans just recently divorced of 36 years and is now looking for a lady to come sail with him. Let me now if your interested he is a real nice man. O my dad dropped the good screw driver into the ocean today, had to make sure something went wrong today, lol. Anyway it was a very busy day and I am going to bed. I will post some pictures tomorrow over coffee.
The Ocean Kicked My Butt
Well to start I tried emailing through my radio three days ago and it stopped working so I gave up till now. Then the weather that was forecast for our trip from Clarence Town to Turks and Caicos was wrong and we ended up spending 3 days to travel 190 nautical miles. We pounded through rough waves, and a few squalls but the wind was right on the nose 20 knots. To make matters worse the roller furling line snapped and I made a quick repair to get us through the trip, then the wind instrument stopped work so I had no idea what the wind speed was, and now something is going on with the thrust bearing on the drive shaft we think. It appears to make a loud buzzing sound when we put a large loud on the propeller when climbing swells only and we back off the RPM’s and it goes away, not sure what to think?
After all that we had to navigate Dragonsbane through a series of coral shoals, coral rock heads, breaking swells, currents, and through a coral passage that was as wide as our boat. I thought of steeping off onto the coral to take a break but land was finally with in my grasp. We cleared customs, had a stiff drink and I am now using the free wifi and hopefully figuring out a way to fix everything that broke so I can go back out in a few days for our 4 and half day trip to Porto Rico! Anybody up for a sail?
Location: 22deg 4.23min N, 72deg 2.55min W
Clearance Town, Long Island Bahamas’
We sailed from George Town to Clearance Town which was a 53 nautical mile trip. We motored sailed the whole way and maintained 7.5 knots with the current. Upon entering the remote harbor the entrance was missing its channel markers and the mouth to the opening of harbor was a mile wide letting in all the swells from the Atlantic Ocean. We decided to dock the boat for the first times in 6 weeks. I have not seen my dad so happy! Anyway we took a shower and ate at the local restaurant and I had the best fish taco ever.
Location: 23deg 6.12min N, 74deg 57.60min W.
My Worldly Thoughts!
I was told by a friend that it takes 3 months to find your way in your new life at sea to really enjoy what you are doing. I agree, and every day too today, has been a struggle. My dad and I butt heads about everything and being raised by the same man to be a leader and to be in charge I find it hard to compromise on this issue with him. For the last 5 years I have been in control of workers, and contracts in construction. The idea to listen to an older person that is hard of hearing, sight, and action I find myself stressed and frustrated. But today I realize that if it was not for the old man I would not have an opportunity to have my eyes opened to a whole new world of people, culture, and experiences. I am not sure if I can make our father/son relationship work every day but for the good of the experience I must go forward and comb the impossible or possible to see the world as it is and not as the postcard I think it is. So far I have hated many days and I have loved few days but the ones that count bad make 10. But 1 good day makes the 10 bad days seem like 1. I realize that without friends and family being shoulder to shoulder to the old man on this one path around the world is sometimes the loneliest path to take but it must be done to make me strong. I think it will lengthen the depth of my passion for life and grow my heart for my family, friends and those that I meet on this path big. I remember my high school life statement, it was “Don’t take the path that everybody follows but very from it. Blaze your own path and make your own tracks”. Easy said than done! My current path is drifted with danger, fun, and eye opening events that I can’t imagine what comes next. So I sign off tonight again with my own idea of what the world is and will continue to refine it, mold it and see how it all turns out after 27,800 nautical mile journey into the unknown. So enjoy your family and friends and give thanks for them.
It’s interesting that I am so deep with thought on my relationship with my father and family because I look up into the sky and see stars shooting across the sky as if god himself is flicking the stars with his finger. The world is amazing and I am but a dot above the letter “i” and wonder when I will impact such a large and wonderful world that we all share. With a sky full of stars such that is like looking into a dark bag pricked with a million wholes to let the light in I am speechless.
Thanks and God Bless,
Jacques – Slow Rider
Hitch Hiked, Crashed a Wedding, and My Dinghy, What a Day “A”!
My mom has once again departed us on our journey and has flown back to the great cheese State of Wisconsin. After we “Dale, Barbara, and Jacques” took the 2 mile dinghy ride to George Town and almost sinking the dinghy upon entering a small Lagoon under a bridge to Lake Victoria. As we approached Lake Victoria it had a strong ebbing current which sucked the bow under. But somehow I managed to get the bow out of its submarine dive and we made it to the dock wet and salty. My mom made it to her flight and was given free baggage for Christmas from the great people of the Bahamas.
After dropping my mom off my dad and I decided to get some supplies for Dragonsbane. Our objective was to find a VHF antenna and some zincs for the prop as you can see from the pictures below we need to replace. As we searched around George Town we were told to try NAPA store which I thought was the auto parts store but was actual a store called NAPA. Anyway we made it to the store by being picked up by a local man and dropped off. Needless to say they had nether item and I got oil filters for the Diesel instead. The lady suggested Brown Marina Store which was 6 miles away and to just hitch hike our way there. So as suggested I put out my thumb as we walked the road and was shortly picked up by a construction worker building the new hospital for George Town. After being dropped off back where we started my dad suggest we use the dinghy to get to Browns Marine 3 more miles away and against my inner gut I said ok we can try that. To make a long story short we zipped along the interior of the George Town coastal waters and under a bridge that was described in detail by “our local random friend” the store was around the bend to the right but make sure you stay left after the bridge, “not sure what the hell he was talking about”. Guess what? I didn’t see anything and after 1 hour of ducking into bays and coves, 1 inch of fuel in the tank left we headed back to George Town with nothing to show but stress and frustration.
After we returned to Dragonsbane and being drenched from the sea spray during our 2 mile dinghy ride back we cleaned Dragonsbane floors, decks, made fresh water and decided to get a hamburger at Chat and Chills again. After arriving at Chat & Chills and getting to watch CNN for the first time in a month my dad chatted with a guy from Florida and they discuss bio Genetics. Then my dad had forgotten cash so I had to dinghy 1 mile back to the boat to the get cash alone.
Having a few drinks in me made the return beach landing a little rough as I did not have to pull the already beached dinghy any further up the beach or tilt the motor up. When I found my dad he was in the middle of talking to a wedding couple and finding out they were Lisa and Alex who have been married 34 times and where in the process of celebrating another wedding tonight “check them out at www.2people1life.com . So we joined in, ate some cake and drank some beers at their wedding. It was a great time and I followed the dinghy all the way back to Dragonsbane or I drove it or something.
Chat and Chill “George Town Bahamas”
Well made another 40 nautical mile trek out into the sea and back gain to a nice place called George Town. Unfortunately the wind was right on our nose with 20 kts, what boring grind it was to pound into the swells and waves for 8 hours. The most exciting part of the trip was the beginning when we made our way through Galliot Cut Cay. The cut was only quarter mile wide between the cliffs and had a 3 or 4 knot current that made the prevailing waves stand tall like a wall of water. The ocean at the cut ripped, swirled and foamed with chop and wind. My dad was at the Helm and as my mom was afraid at the site of the waves I laughed and smiled, told my dad to lay the throttle to the board and giver hell. We powered through the waves and shot out into the Atlantic Ocean at 6 kts. Nothing like a adrenalin rush at 06:30 morning to get your day started. The rest was nothing to note and I was glad to arrive at George Town and have a beer at Chat and Chills.
Location: 23 deg 55.6min N, 76deg 16.6min W
Thunder Ball Cave
This morning I went snorkeling in Thunder ball cave which was used in James Bond movie and feed some pigs in the water some carrots. Then we sailed to Black point about 5 nautical miles away. I will try and get some pictures up later. Location 24deg 10.49min N, 76deg 26.95min W
At Staniel Cay Just Getting Groceries
We arrived in the early afternoon with the sun still high in the sky which was good for maneuvering Dragonsbane into our new anchorage for the night. As I helmed Dragonsbane into the narrow channels the depth was only 6.8 feet deep and Dragonsbane needs 6.5 feet before she hits ground. But because the sun was high I could motor right through the natural channels and between 2 great rocks that opened into a nice anchorage where we dropped anchor for the night.
We went ashore and had lunch at the local yacht club which was nothing more than a wood structure with screens for walls, a bar, and an enclosed kitchen. It was nice to have someone else make my meal and allow myself to enjoy a cold beer that seemed to sink right to my toes. I had for the first time a conch burger which was conch deep-fried in batter and then served on some of the islands local bread and garnished with deep-fried onion rings. I was told their conch burgers where the best and never having a conch burger I will have to say that it was what I thought a conch burger should taste like. It tasted like chewy over cooked meat, but being deep fired made it taste good like it should.
After the adventureous meal we decided to walk to the bakery where a women supposedly made the bread and as we made our way to her house we were passed by many friendly locals in golf carts scurring around the island doing whatever they do. We arrived at the women’s house and was informed that we would have to put in an order for bread and that it would be ready in the morning, but being that we would be moving on in the morning we decided to pass on the bread. We made our way to the local general store that sold groceries and other miscellaneous items. I was told that the delivery ship had been in this morning and the shelves would be freshly stocked, great news! I walked into the store to find very few items and only the basics, milk, eggs, frozen meats, mayo, and some sweets. I think that was it in the store other than engine oil, and some very spare parts for your engine if it was from the 70’s. I also noticed that you could rent VHS videos and that made me chuckle. So we bought the basics and hiked our way back to the dinghy, zipped out to Dragonsbane and by that time it was dark, time for supper. Seems to me that every little task when cruising is an adventure, don’t you think?
Exuma Park Adventure
At first I thought that this sightseeing would be a little boring and not very interesting at all. After a quick dinghy ride against a 2 or 3 knot current we tied up to the park dinghy dock and went out hiking the many trails on the island. As always I picked a location on the map and planned my attack to achieve my goal of making it to the top of Boo-Boo Hill in good time and little effort. As I hiked and studied the very uneven ground which was made up of ancient lava rock I found each step had to be calculated as the old stones shift quickly under your feet which caused me to worry about twisting my ankle or taking a spill. After working up a sweat I stopped and looked around and saw nothing but rocks, mud, water, and brush. I thought to myself that this was one boring place that reminded me of an old dust bowl town all washed up. But then after letting my eyes wonder around the ground it started to show signs of life and then one lizard and then another and then I could hear many different sounds of birds, waves pounding off in the distant rock cliffs sounding off like cannons. I looked out over the islands and you could see how the land formed out of the ocean. Needless to say I discovered that I need to stop and look at the boring to see the most amazing things come to life. Although I am not convinced that listening to boring people is very amazing yet, just saying!
Exuma Cay Sea and Land Park
We pulled the anchor this morning and headed 30 nautical miles south to a place called Warderick Wells Cay and purchased a mooring ball for $20 bucks for the night and tomorrow. It will be nice because for the first time in a month we will not be anchored. Tomorrow we should see all kinds of animals, and there are many reefs to dive.
But all fun aside after we tied up to our mooring ball we ran into a big problem. Our diesel engine would not shut down when we push the stop button. I tried using the ignition key and turned that to the off position and the engine would not stop. I tried tracing out the wires to the engine from the stop switch but I could not find the source of the problem. Being a diesel engine I never gave any thought to having this problem so I am a little lost on how to jump my kill switch. I finally resorted to cutting off the fuel supply and stopped the engine. Anyway I hope that I can start the dam thing tomorrow but for now I am going to forget that problem and enjoy the island. Tomorrow sometime I will kick the can of problems down the street again!
Location: Lat: 24deg 23.81min N, Long: 76deg 37.93min W
GOOD BY NASSAU
We have finally been able to leave Nassau! We decided to sail from Nassau across a very shallow area that was 20 nautical miles wide and was peppered with coral head reefs to make life interesting. Our depth was no deeper than 20 feet and at our shallowest area for 2 miles was 10 feet. I guess that doesnt mean much but our boat draws 6.5 feet and that leaves little room for error. Anyway we made it through the maze of reefs and we did it under sail going 7 knots. I think it was a good first run at visual navigation and look forward to more. We made landfall at a little island called Highborne Island with nothing on it but it gets us out of the wind and waves and thats awesome. Location: 24deg 42.77min N, 76deg 49.79min W
I am feeling much better today and being on a boat that is going up/down nonstop is not the best place to be. Anyway I felt good enough to hike over to the Atlantic Casino and Hotel to check out what the big deal was. I thought the place was a big construction and architecture undertaking which I give props to those that paid for and built it. Although well walking through the place the flow of building was more like a maze with narrow areas of entry which would make a person think there is no door behind that corner. It did on the other hand have very impressive views but the place as whole fell a little short in my mind for the price one would pay to come stay and play. I guess the silver bullet was the aquarium admission $40 per person so I skipped that and walked the floors and outside area. I then hiked back and made the dingy ride back safe and sound.