Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jabsco Junk

Grrrr.  Not happy, Jabsco.

This has been a bad pump year.  In a previous post I mentioned that our variable speed pump - about 4 years old - gave up the ghost but, smart me, I had a spare.  Installed the spare and it didn’t work as well.  According to them, the Sensor Max 17 technology was prone to failure.  And since my unused-out-of-the-box spare was dated… no warranty.

Fast forward a couple of months and I’m fiddling with through-hulls to exercise them and the Jabsco Macerator Waste Pump fell apart.  The 4 bolts that hold it together rotted and, even though the components seem to be in good order, the pump needs to be replaced.  This time, our spare worked so we are good with poop.  Last replaced the macerator 5 years ago.

Bolts at lower left are all supposed to be the same length

Now, cleaning the boat after a passage with our Jabsco Par Max 4 Washdown Pump, the breaker started clicking… had a look and the pump has fallen apart.  This time it appears that the plastic that secures the bolt that holds it together has broken.  This one is three years old.

The components inside look brand new... brushes not even broken in yet.
So that’s 4 Jabsco pump failures this year.  And they don’t come cheap.  I’ve supported Jabsco to the tune of well over a $1000 very recently and I’m having to replace it all.

Is pump replacement supposed to be a 3 to 5 year cycle?

Or, time to give a competitor a try?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bermuda, Bahamas, Barbados - NO... BARBUDA!

We’ve been in Barbuda about a week now.  The sail up was good, we put a reef in the main when the winds went over 20 and then shook it out when they dropped down to 12.  We followed Cranstackie (Alister and Esther,) Kaisosi (Annette and Terry, ) and Silk Pajamas (Kristen and Terry).  We left after them… and could see them at first but soon they disappeared out of sight.  Too fast for Blue Pearl.  We arrived about 40 minutes after them and settled in.
Blue Pearl lying off Barbuda

Fancy Lighthouse Bay 
Helping Cool Change with their dinghy
Barbuda is the most Bahamian looking island we’ve seen down here.  It is flat, flat, flat.  The highest point is about 200 feet above sea level with salt ponds and mangrove lagoons.

After a day of bobbing around we took off for a beach walk past the fancy, exclusive “Lighthouse Bay” resort.  They have placed a beach shack nearby to sell beer and cheap hamburgers to the riffraff cruisers to keep us out of their hair.

Lovely beach, lovely walk… nice to get to know our new cruising buddies.

Beach Walk

11 Mile Beach

Pam's picture window

Huge rollers

We made arrangements to go in to see the Frigate Bird Sanctuary with our guide, George.  The surge was huge and our beach landing was quite a mess.  People, propellers, cameras and other bits went whirling around when the massive waves flipped one of the dinghies right at the beach.  These waves are “Big Beach” waves… for those of you who have visited that beach south of Kihei, Maui.

Anyway, we all survived, dried off and had a great tour.  George told us to keep our fingers away from between the boat and the dock when we boarded.  Pam kept her fingers clear but not her big toe.

That looks painful!

Frigate Birds

George Jeffries
poling through the mangroves

Hey girls... check out my big red balloony thing

Enjoying the ride
The day after our tour we moved to the south anchorage at Gravenor Bay for some respite from the swell.  Lots of coral heads and reefs.  You wouldn’t want to enter here in bad light.

Great dinner on Cranstackie -wow, Esther can cook.  Followed the next night by Sundowners on Blue Pearl.  Drinks led to more drinks - guitars and bad singing.  I got much better as the night went on and, as usual Pam got meaner and meaner.
Kristen and Alister

In fine voice

Great tour on Sunday of the old Codrington Estate, the Sink Hole and the Caves at Two Foot Beach.  We can endorse our driver, Dilly (Dolmar) Desuza and our guide, Elvis - or Heron - or William - just don’t call him late for dinner.  Great sights, great company and super folks to take us around.

Codrington leased the whole island of Barbuda in the early 1700s at a rate of "one fat sheep" per year.  He used the island as a sporting lodge to hunt, fish and for growing some root vegetables and other crops to feed the locals and slaves on his cane-plantations elsewhere.  Because the island was not suitable for sugar cane, the slaves here were involved in farming and fishing and taking care of Codrington.  He was away a lot and so the slaves weren't supervised (and exploited) to the extent they were on the cane-growing islands.  The folks here now are mostly decendents of the original slaves and own the island communally.

Rubble from the Codrington Estate - circa 1750
Elvis found the sinkhole when he was 14 years old while he was out hunting.  He had heard stories from his elders but it hadn't been explored so it became his passion.  It's a hundred foot straight drop if you come at it from the wrong direction and there are the bones of a boar and a cow who did just that.  There is a scrambly path to get down that allows you to arrive at the bottom gently - and not with a thud.

Darby Sinkhole

Down in the sinkhole

Elvis/Heron/William with the stalagmite

More sinkhole

View from plateau you get to via cave

Indian Caves

Terry careful with his head

Coming out of the cave

One of many, many donkeys - a real jackass

Lunch with LOTS of beers to rehydrate

Snorkelling today on the Spanish Point reef and then heading back to Antigua on Tuesday to get the boat all prepped for our visit from Scott and Tina on Thursday.  Very excited to see them!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

And... we're back!

Had a great time at home.  Weird to be able to live these divergent lives.

Blue Pearl... parked, waiting for us to get back

Batteries charging

Deeper!  Hurry up!!!

A barrow of trouble...
And now we’re back… and it’s been crazy windy.  So much so, that most boats have been hunkered down for the last 3 or 4 weeks waiting it out.

So, for the past few days, we’ve enjoyed long walks on the beach (sounds like a dating service, I know), done little boat jobs and waited for the wind to abate.  Pam continues to get amazing crib hands and cut cards to match.  So, like the wind, I’m waiting for the cards to change.

Looking for her Adonis

There he is!
As a diversion we took a bus trip into town.  Had a nice walk-about!

Fish Market... conch is too expensive... will have to wait.


So the message is not... Welcome!!!
Changed the oil this morning… only 67 engine hours since the last change but it’s been several months.  I’m pretty sure the guy who designed the engine placement in the boat is a sadist.  Either that or a really evil sense of humour.  

You can’t get to the oil pan to drain the oil so you have to suck it up through the dipstick.  The filter is mounted on the side of the engine so that when you remove it, oil drools down the side of the engine.  The engine is so tight in the engine basin that you can’t get your hand down to wipe up the drips.

Really?  Through the dipstick?

Really?  Oil filter on the SIDE of the engine?
 Thanks to some support from a couple of knowledgable old timers I’ve learned to minimize the mess… but there is a mess when I do it, rest assured.

I was putting stuff away from the oil change in a locker that has several seacocks.  They are supposed to be exercised once in a while so I opened and closed them several times and in the process gouged my hand on a hose clamp and bled all over.  As I was flailing around I noticed that the sewage macerator pump has come apart - seems to happen every couple of years so now I have to replace the macerator.  Don’t want to do that with an open cut so I’ll leave it for a day or so.  There is always something to fix on a boat.

Wine tasting after work! Primativa, Cab, Carminiere, Shiraz and a Malbec we didn't try.

The wind has come down now so we’re leaving for Barbuda tomorrow.  In advance of that we are cleaning up the boat to stow the things that are lying around so they don’t come flying across the cabin as we sail the 38 or so miles north.

Barbuda is home to the world’s largest (the only one?) Frigate Bird sanctuary so we will tour that with our guide, George.  No motors allowed so George will row us around the lagoon.  Better George than me!

We will report from Barbuda.