Providence Island almost to Bimini
Ahhh the Bank.
We're not talking about that kind of "bank", we're referring to the Great Bahama Bank.
Basically, a large, underwater platform that surrounds the island of Andros and stretches for miles in all directions.
It's a weird place. But we'll get back to that...
We're now at a familiar anchorage, West End, which is the west end of Providence Island. Nassau is located at the other side. We stopped here to wait for a weather window, for nearly a week, two months ago when we were on route to the Exumas. We have to wait a day or two for weather again. It's the same old story, possible squalls, which we can't predict but we're going to wait for favorable wind, or at least something that's not working against us. There's no point in trying to fight upwind and with the additional bilge pump there's less urgency.
This gives me another opportunity to try to troubleshoot some of our electrical problems. We still have no depth sounder which is really disconcerting. It's nice to have a clue how much water is under your boat! Wings is an old boat so she's had a lot of work and modifications done over the years. The depth transducer, that feeds information to the fried Raymarine unit, is almost for certain toast but Wings still has an older stand alone depth gauge as a spare. I was able to get it to power up but it just gives garbled information so the transducer for that also appears to be ruined. After another conversation with Dave, the previous owner, he tells me that there's a third transducer in the engine compartment. He had quit using it because it was a really poor location since it was so close to the rear of the boat. I dig around the spaghetti nest of cables and wiring and find the old transducer cable! I plug it in, fire up the old depth sounder, and...nothing. Bummer... The boat will have to be hauled out to replace the transducer.
I had unhooked the solar panels and the inverter since the day after the lightning. Something must have fused inside because the inverter got hot, I'm talking lava hot! Even without the solar to charge our batteries we're actually doing ok, power-wise, because the fridge is shot, which was our biggest power draw. Lucky us! I'm seeing dollar signs... Running the diesel, which still has a functional alternator, has been enough to keep the batteries charged and the 12 volt system running.
So we're not doing too bad!
Two months ago when we were in this anchorage there must have been at least a dozen boats, now only a few. One of the few is another trimaran called "Faith". Faith is an old Piver Victress and looks like she's got thousands of nautical miles under her keel. We meet the owners, Dave (yep, another Dave) and Debbie, missionaries currently between missions. They've been out for years, maybe a decade or more, have survived hurricanes, and have all kinds of crazy colorful stories. Our story is starting to sound pretty tame, by comparison, but after hearing our tale Dave volunteers to fix or at least slow our leak with "pool putty". I'm hesitant for him to dig around under there but he swears by the stuff...
He gathers a few tools, mixes the putty, suits up with a mask and fins and dives under the boat. Dave is an old salty sailor and for an older dude he can really hold his breath! He digs around the area of the leak to clean it up but it's kind of guess work with the boat in the water. He squishes the epoxy putty into the crack... no discernible change but it's not any worse. I dive under the boat a couple of days later to check it and the gob of putty is gone. Oh well, I appreciate the attempt. Cruisers are like that, we wouldn't have made it this far without so many people's help and generosity.
Before leaving West End we take the opportunity to get a few provisions and some diesel. The last time we were here we coordinated with a few other cruisers and split a taxi which ended up costing $70! There's no one else to share a cab with this time and there's no way I'm blowing $70 which meant a little hike and thumbing down a ride. Once again a few errands consume almost an entire day but now we're ready to cross the bank and get to Bimini.
We leave at dawn and head east across the Tongue of the Ocean towards the Northwest Channel marker and onto the Bank. The Tongue is deep blue because it's thousands of feet deep. No depth issues here just ships to watch out for. The Great Bahama Bank is about 15 feet deep on average and looks like a swimming pool on a calm day. We're finally following the trail of bread crumbs on the Ipad which gives us some confidence that we won't rub bottom. No wind again so we're motoring. We plunk along until dusk and drop anchor out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by water. I'm curious how much depth we actually have so I don a mask and get in to have a look. More than I thought, at least 10 feet under the keel.
We don't like the bank. At night the tide and wind seem to have an adverse relationship out here and make strange swells that come beam on and toss Wings side to side. The last time we anchored out here we got beat up all night, didn't get any sleep, and our rudder took such a beating we lost our steering... but that's another story. Looks like we're in for a similar night. Not to mention that it's a bit spooky out here all alone. Then, just before dark, another sailboat appears to the south! I hail them on the borrowed handheld VHF and they quickly respond "First Look". We never met First Look but we heard them regularly on the radio when we were in Georgetown. We chat for a bit and decide to tag along with them in the morning since we're both headed towards Bimini. It's nice to have someone within radio range for the night.
West End anchorage to the midway point on the Great Bahama Bank enroute to Bimini.