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Thread: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

  1. #1
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    Default Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    From Turks we went to Mathew Town on Great Inagua Bahamas with an overnight stop at French Cay to replace the alternator. When we'd left Ft. Lauderdale I'd had a mechanic come and take a look at the engine, a 40 yr old three cylinder Isuzu, to shoot the breeze and give us some ideas. We had the manual so knew the 'schedule' but having never cruised and never owned a diesel wanted somebody to pat us on the back and tell us we were gonna be ok.

    Well dude suggested I install a mesh filter in the raw water cooling line between the pump and the heat exchanger in the event the impeller for the raw water pump got eaten again (I'd stupidly started the motor with the intake closed - the broker from whom we'd bought the boat had come out with us after we'd purchased it and closed everything per his habit. I'd not checked again before attempting to leave the dock a few days later - so, a bit of panic, and a bit of learning, and a bit of time, and all of $6 for a new impeller so no biggie) to catch any rubbery bits that might clog the heat exchanger.

    Well wouldn't you know it but the Jabsco unit I bought and installed decided to crack and drip salt water onto the belt driving the pump ... which flung salt water all over the engine bay but particularly onto the 'new' high output alternator the previous owner had installed a year or so earlier. I'd given everything as good a fresh water wash as I could, and flung the Jabsco p.o.s. as hard as I possibly could into the great abyss of some long forgotten Bahamian landfill, but the alternator wasn't a happy chappy.

    From then onwards, it had worked intermittently. Finally I gave up and decided to just put the old one, kept as a spare, back on and deal with a consistent low output as opposed to an intermittent high output. We'd looked for someone to fix it but the only guy in Caicos who did the work was busy with his brother's funeral that week and I didn't think my need for a repaired alternator was more important than his family at that point.

    Well the old one gave up the ghost while we were in Caicos and so we stopped at French Cay so I could put the intermittant one back on.

    But before we get to Inagua a slight digression.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    We were anchored off Cockburn Harbour East Caicos visiting some people we'd met while in Cockburn Town Grand Turk a few days prior. Pulled up next to the concrete pier we tried filling with diesel and were told 'tomorrow' so we left the boat tied to and headed off into town for dinner with our new friends. As afternoon wore into evening and evening into night the wind freshened a bit. I grew steadily uneasier but one of the ladies we were visiting with at the School for Field Studies had captained the Amistad, IIRC, or some other Tall Ship, and she allayed my fears.

    Looking at her several weather apps on her phone, as well as the anemometer and other instruments at the school, she was sure the wind would stay from the west, and we were tied onto the east side of the pier so being blown off, and it wasn't supposed to gust more than 10 or 15. No biggie.

    We got back to the boat and tucked in for the night, next day came with winds steady from the west, no subsidence. We gassed up and I wanted to move the boat but the family looked at the whitecaps and swells in the harbour and convinced me to stay. "The winds supposed to stay from the west and its supposed to subside soon" so we stayed.

    As the day wore on it began to rain and the wind picked up. Picked up somewhat strenuously. The boats on the west side of the dock were getting mashed pretty good. A fellow came down to tend a 40' fishing boat, somewhat lobsterboaty looking. Dude was long and skinny and was having a hard time so I jumped out and gave him a hand adjusting his fenders, pushing the boat off the pier while he tried to force a couple humoungous fenders between the boat and the pier. A fishing boat full of Dominicans sat playing cards, either cheering or jeering us I couldn't quite make out in the howl of the wind and the sting of the spray.

    It was a long day, but interesting. The other three went and visited their friends again, I hung out, checked the chafe, drank coffee, hoped out and helped skinny dude whenever he needed it.

    That night the wind shifted. Of course. Slowly backing from the west, to the south, to the souteast, to the east. And we started smashing into the pier. By the time the rotation was complete it was 1 or so in the morning. Family sound asleep so I decided to keep tight and make adjustments as necessary. I kept popping up on deck every 30 mins or so to check lines, add towels and whatever I could wrap around lines to prevent chafe, reposition the fenders.

    At a little after 3:30 I start hearing grinding. That can't be good! So I pop upstairs and head to the bow - one of the fenders had popped and now my beautiful teak caprail was being rasped against the concrete. We lost about 12' x 1" in a few minutes. I hastily started repositioning fenders and adjusting lines to swing the stern closer to, bow farther from, the pier when I hear voices from behind me.

    Now, it's a pier, and to east of us is supposed to be nothing but water for a couple hundred yards, then a small headland, and then Africa in the distance. That is to say, there were supposed to be voices from that direction. And they speak again I realize they're voices not just from behind me but above me too. Angels?

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    I stop what I'm doing and turn around. There's a boat, ~80' in length. An old fishing trawler. Just kinda drifting down on us. Not too far from us. No lights, no warning blasts, no "hey, Hi, uhh, we're gonna crush you soon" coming from the voices. Just dudes on the foredeck trying to re-set their anchor. An anchor made of old rebar welded together. I see all of this in pitch black.

    I jump back in the boat. Start the motor. Jump downstairs, motor's woken wifey dear up, "UP! NOW! No questions, we gotta get outta here!"

    I'm back topsides, off onto the pier, as I'm untying the dock lines - holy mother of cheeses why did I double everything up, why did I add extra lines! - the skinny guy and his boat's owner come by - "you gotta leaves the dock mon!"
    "I'm trying!"
    "Dey coming!"

    I got all the lines off except one - just wound too tight, I cut the thing. Wifey puts boat in gear and starts forard. Waves smashing us against the pier. Me, skinny dude, not so skinny boat owner, fend the boat off the pier, another fender pops, I jump aboard and full throttle, into the darkness "where to?" wifey asks, "straight, straight, anywhere away from that damned boat"

    We anchor 300 yards or so into the harbour. Single anchor (son always says "don't worry about the anchor dada, we got a Rocnut") 50' chain and I let out 100' line in 20' water. Very nice not having too many coral heads to worry about, and an empty anchorage is a wonderful thing.

    These guys just slipped right into our recently vacated spot.

    Last edited by B_B; 07-23-2017 at 02:53 PM.

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    We sat in the harbour for another three days, wind howling like a banshee, hurricane Joaquin had backed and sat still for four days just hammering away at the western side of the islands causing some destruction.


    So we sat out the bottom side of Hurricane Joaquin in Cockburn Harbour! Fun fact!

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    After four days of nothing but sitting on a pitching and rolling small boat in a harbour (i.e. short chop) once the wind died down and the swell settled we stayed one more day so the kids could play with Sirjanna their new friend, and then we were off to Inagua, via French Cays to change the alternator.

    Once alternator was swapped, and life was calm, we headed east between Little Inaugua and Great Inagua, going around the north side of Great Inagua towards Mathew Town. This was a long passage, about 36 hrs IIRC, slow boat. Coming around the north-east end of Great Inagua we were sailing past the Morton's Salt pier all of a sudden the sky grew grey and it began to pour from the sky.

    Shower time! Everyone grabbed some shampoo and soap and we had a nice fresh water shower. After a thorough rinse, the boat being nice and wetted down by this time, the sponges and brushes came out and we started scrubbing the boat get that salt deposited from Joaquin's spray. As we're scrubbing we hear thunder and see lighting, real close together. I start hearing hissing/crackling, we jump below and gather all the electronics and stuff them inside the oven - all except a handheld gps which goes unnoticed. I pop back topsides as I'd noticed a problem with the dinghy line - we'd towed the dinghy everywhere, all the way from Florida.

    As I'm leaning under the lifelines, my leg hooked around a stanchion which was right by my groin, stretching as far as I could with a boat hook to untangle the lines, I hear a hiss/crackle and immediately after see a bright flash, feel a lovely shiver of shock up the stanchion through my groin/leg, and at the same instant a deafening kaboom.

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    I pop below, ashen faced.

    "you get the line untangled?"
    "uhh, no. Not important to me anymore! I got lightninged!"

    I tell them the story. We settle down and wait for the squall to subside which doesn't take too long. And then we're off to Mathew Town.

    So that handheld GPS? Never worked again. The stuff in the oven? All good. My leg? Fine.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    Mathew Town was somewhat interesting but they were still in shock from Joaquin the week previous. Lots of damage. Their harbour was undergoing a massive multi-million $ refit to accommodate the new warships Bahamas had bought for drug interdiction. And the hurricane undid a lot of the work already completed. Harbour had to be re-dredged for example. The concrete works on the south side were destroyed and had to be rebuilt.

    Good news is we had a lot of barge and large tug boat activity to keep us interested and it was fun scooting the dinghy around these behemoths as we negotiated the harbour (we were anchored out but the beaches were destroyed so could only land at the harbour). After reprovisioning and three or four days we set off for Cuba, Porto Vita!

    The swells coming from Africa were still huge after Joaquin and the trip westwards, with little wind, was a rolly polly nightmare. Everytime the boat would get lifted and pushed on the port stern, and begin to yaw, the engine would strain and the note would change.

    We were motoring only (no wind and the motion was causing any sail to slap like a thunderclap, they were no help in steadying motion) and about 5 hours into it wifey says "why's the engine sound weird?" I'd heard the same thing and was already up and making my way below.

    Take off engine covers and see this:


    Back topsides we turn the motor off and assess.

    Up go the sails, and we head back to Mathew Town. Cuba was only a few hours away, but the official port of entry, Porto Vita, was a very long way away. And I didn't know what to expect. Back in Mathew Town I knew there were a bunch of tugs and other material from some very well equipped Europeans, as well as Mortons, and a bunch of other resources.

    Besides we like the Bahamas!

    Progress was slow but pointing to the north-west tacking north-east we managed to make headway and sailed back, anchoring under sail like we knew what we were doing.



    A lot of that rust was due to the wonderful salt water wash the engine got a few months prior when the Jabsco strainer cracked. Didn't take long. That engine mount is three years old.

    We surmise the engine mount broke and that snapped the bolt.

    eta: just a quick hate for the Previous Owner - he installed nice new engine mounts, eight new bolt holes, seven new bolts. Not a single everloving lock washer or locknut anywhere. This was discovered when I found two nuts and washers in the bilge. Replaced everything and realized why one bolt had been missing - harder than heck to get my hand under the engine between the stringer and hull. My hand still aches. But there's a freaking locknut on that damned thing now!
    Last edited by B_B; 07-23-2017 at 02:55 PM.

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    So I pull out a piece of aluminium pipe I'd bought for a project never completed, borrowed a carjack, used some tiedown straps and raised the motor in place:



    Last edited by B_B; 07-23-2017 at 02:56 PM.

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    Discovered the starbrd side was similarly affected, just beginning to bend:



    And set off to find a fix.

    The guy who sold us diesel - and was kind enough to give me a ride in his F150, with my jerry cans, the 300 yards to my dinghy, and from whom I'd borrowed the carjack, said his son-in-law was a welder at the Mortons.

    We pulled into harbour so he could have a look and so he could weld the thing up. Sailboat is 35'.

    Last edited by B_B; 07-23-2017 at 02:57 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    After some discussion we agree he can't get at the boat with his welder - too big. We end up borrowing one from the tug - they'd been very kind to us in our previous stay with our dinghy in and out of a very busy working harbour, but when we came back, before we even asked for help from them, were adamant that we find a local fix and would only help if we couldn't find anyone on the island to do the work. The people on the island needed the work more than they did - a message very kindly given to me when the Project Manager gave me a lift into town and I explained I was looking for a welder. I admire their stance. And in the end they lent a welder to a welder.

    This is what we came up with:
    weld bolt back to bolt and use angle iron to reinforce the engine mount, did starbrd side same way to avoid future problems - lets hope it works! So far so good, has lasted from Mathew Town, across the north of Cuba, to Isla Mujeres, down to Rio Dulce, out to the Great Barrier Reef Belize, and back to Rio Dulce.








    ETA: this last photo you see a horizontal strap - pulled the engine forwards to aid alignment.
    Last edited by B_B; 07-24-2017 at 01:15 AM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    The romance of cruising.
    I have also learned to NOT install the raw water strainer in the same side to side geometry as the alternator.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    I guess some threads just don't get any traction...

    But yeah, wizbang, saltwater and alternators are not happy together!

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    Sounds like quite the adventure. I wish I could see your photos.

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    ^ What J said.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

    The power of the web: Anyone can post anything on the web
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    Anyone else having issues seeing pics? I've linked pics from same location to other threads didn't seem to have a problem, and they appear fine for me...

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    They are gone for me.

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    B_B,
    Enjoying your stories. I, too love the Bahamas and have been to some of those places. Looking forward to the experience ahead in Cuba.
    I cannot see any of the pics, either. Except for the hurricane track.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    OK, I'll have to try and find another hosting site. My apologies.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    This is quite an interesting story even without the pictures. I conjured up in my mind what they might look like from my own experiences with failed pumps and other issues.
    Will

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    I missed this. I had a horrible time in East Caicos too, they made me do customs and immigration. I went to immigration and they told me to go to customs about a mile away. I saw the guys from the immigration office drive by me and they were waiting when I trudged into the customs office. Exorbitant fees too, as I remember.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    Anything showing?

    ...
    Last edited by B_B; 07-23-2017 at 03:00 PM.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    Yep. A ship that looks like it could be in a collision and one couldn't tell the difference before and after.
    Will

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    which pic? linked four different ways, would like to know which ones are showing which aren't?

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    I've relinked the pics in the previous post, are they coming through now? They're visible to me ...

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    Not to me.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    None visible to me.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    At this point none - and I'm looking from a home network with no restrictions as opposed to a company network that has restrictions on picture hosting or sports websites.
    Will

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    ok, is third time a charm?

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    Great story and the pics are working... (better with pics )

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    That works for me.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    Yea, the pictures are showing...Now I have to go back and RE-Read everything! (sigh)

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    OK, since you are not continuing The Cuba chapter, I will kibitz a little.
    Nomenclature... I would call the broken bits the "engine mounting BRACKET" not engine mounts... which are, to me, the bits mounted to the engine beds and have rubber dampers.
    I think the adjustable engine mount bolts broke as result of the bracket failure. And, the starboard side was stressed after the port side failed!!
    There, serves you right for providing the pause!!
    I would love to read "the Rest of the Story" \
    Cheers

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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    Working for me now too.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    Quote Originally Posted by Hwyl View Post
    I missed this. I had a horrible time in East Caicos too, they made me do customs and immigration. I went to immigration and they told me to go to customs about a mile away. I saw the guys from the immigration office drive by me and they were waiting when I trudged into the customs office. Exorbitant fees too, as I remember.
    The Turks were a rather different experience. Checking into Bahamas I'd gone to Customs and waited while some sportfisherman from Miami was loud and obnoxious - didn't like some importation rule or another about his guns. When it was my turn I'd approached the Customs officer and said "Sir, its my first time bringing a boat into another country so you're gonna have to be patient with me and walk me through it all" "No problem, welcome to the Bahamas!" he said with a big smile. And that was exactly how the rest of the Bahamas went.

    Turks, the fellows were a little less friendly - the immigration fellow drives around in a van from one office to the next, and he'd already been at the customs office by the port where I went so had to come back - and didn't seem to know the rules. We'd sailed to Sapodilla Bay, I'd dinghied to shore and walked to the Customs office in the next bay over, about a half mile. Very dusty, a pack of stray dogs looking at me like breakfast. They (Customs guy and Immigration guy) kept calling someone else for clarification on fees, permits, paperwork etc. So when I got my passport stamped for 90 days, and the temporary import permit stamped for 90 days, but paid for what I thought I would have to pay for a 7 day permit, I was ecstatic.

    A week later, to the day, we were on the other side of Caicos, in Turtle Cove marina when there was a knock on the hull. The customs guys were in the Marina office and wanted to see me and my paperwork. I brought everything over, guy looked at it "You were only supposed to be here 7 days, you paid for a seven day permit, you were supposed to leave yesterday"
    "But its stamped for 90 days, I was told I was allowed to be here 90 days..."
    he cut me off "YOU are allowed to be here 90 days, your boat has a 7 day permit. Here it says," pointing to the fine print "you must leave on the 6th day - you are in the country legally, your boat is not."
    "Well, what now?"
    "I'll give you an hour to get the boat out of Caicos, or you can buy a cruising permit for $400."
    "But I paid $200 already, can that not be applied to the cruising permit?"
    "That $200 is immigration - $50 per person to come into the country. A 7 day temporary boat importation is free." He said the free part magnanimously.

    We'd not intended to stay in Turks long, so originally had just intended to stay 7 days. But when we got what we thought was a 90 day permit we took our time and didn't see what we wanted to see. And on the 30 mile trek around Providenciales we'd seen dolphins, a small pod of about a dozen had swum with us. Pnut, my daughter, was ecstatic, all she'd wanted was to see some dolphins, so Provo was special. For those reasons, and the fact we hadn't reprovisioned or got diesel yet and I needed to get an alternator repaired (when we bought the boat I had a mechanic come look at the engine - Isuzu 3 cyl 40 horse. He recommended I put a filter in the raw water hose downstream of the pump in case the impeller fried so little chunks of rubber wouldn't clog the heat exchanger. Of course the Jabsco unit I bought and installed decided to leak, dripping right onto the alternator) , I paid the $400, and settled in for a longer stay.

    Cruising permits are expensive (US$400 for three months vs. US$150 for 6, renewable at no charge for another 6, in the Bahamas). In Turks fishing licenses were insane (boat and four anglers included in the cruising permit in Bahamas, but a couple hundred per boat and US$50, IIRC, per day per angler in Turks). Food was expensive, but there were a couple grocery stores that catered to the tourists which were very well stocked.

    We also really enjoyed the conch farm and saw lots of dolphin while anchored here:


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    Default Re: Great Inugau Bahamas - fixing boats in exotic locations

    Quote Originally Posted by jackster View Post
    OK, since you are not continuing The Cuba chapter, I will kibitz a little.
    Nomenclature... I would call the broken bits the "engine mounting BRACKET" not engine mounts... which are, to me, the bits mounted to the engine beds and have rubber dampers.
    I think the adjustable engine mount bolts broke as result of the bracket failure. And, the starboard side was stressed after the port side failed!!
    There, serves you right for providing the pause!!
    I would love to read "the Rest of the Story" \
    Cheers
    Not the last thing I'll get wrong

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