Friday, April 10, 2009

April 7, 2009.

We had 3 glorious nights tucked away safely in the anchorage at Pipe Creek. We spent one evening on a beautiful beach having cocktails with the crews from 8 other boats and during the evenings conversation we came to find out that one of the women is a hairdresser. So the next morning Christy and 3 other women met her at the beach and received wonderful haircuts for $10 each.

Technically, you are not allowed to sell or trade goods or services while here in the Bahamas. People often do what they can on the side to make a little money and of all the methods we’ve seen, being a hairstylist ranks at the top of the list. We’ve met a few guys doing diesel repairs, some wifi experts, computer repair guys and hairstylists. Hell, we’ve met doctors here and have yet to see one charge someone for rendering aid.

Most cruisers take care of their own diesel maintenance, wifi is usually squared away before you leave the states, but most guys are afraid to cut their wife’s hair. I know I am. Like most of the guys, I get my hair cut here on the boat by my wife. The women’s hair is a different story. These random cruising hairstylists have a ready made clientele in whatever anchorage they choose to drop their hook. The women are happy which makes the men happy and all for $10 a head.

While Christy was off getting her hair cut I helped Jeff from Inamorata sew a torn headsail. They had recently torn 2 sails and the day before Nancy from Solitaire had taken her Sailrite sewing machine over and repaired the mainsail. She did a nice job and the sail should easily last until they get back to the states. When it came time to stitch a ten foot section of the headsail the machine just couldn’t handle it.

The Sailrite machines big claim to fame is how heavy duty it is and how well it can make repairs to both sailcloth and Sunbrella fabrics. The thing is a cast iron, no frills bully, or so the dealers lead you to believe. I’m not sure if it was a lack of a tough enough needle or what but the machine just wasn’t going to get it done.

In the past I’ve had to hand sew a small section of our sail on our old boat so I kinda had a technique in mind. Jeff and I sat on their spacious foredeck with the sail across our laps and painstakingly put in one stitch after another by hand until the ten foot section was suitably repaired.

We were just putting the sail back up on the roller furler as the girls came back after haircuts and some shelling. After some lunch we went out to do some spearfishing. Over the course of our 3 days in Pipe Creek I was able to take 3 nice grouper and a schoolmaster.

When I put the largest of the grouper into our bucket he vomited up his last meal. It was a small parrotfish. I guess he thought the pain of my spear ripping through his body was something he must have eaten. Quite a few boats spend most of the winter here in Pipe Creek so I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the fishing. I figured it would be pretty well fished out.

We have a front scheduled to come through late Monday night. We would be wonderfully protected in Pipe Creek but then trapped here for a few days so we decided to head out for Eleuthera before the storms arrival.

On Monday morning everything lined up just right for us. The wind was to be from the south at 10 to 15 knots and the tide would be ebbing in the morning. The biggest reason for wanting a favorable tide was the cut itself. On the charts it looks narrow and a bit intimidating. Fighting an incoming tide there would only prolong the stress of the moment. With the tide going out we could be through the gap before we had a chance to get to concerned.

Normally we wouldn’t have chosen this particular cut as the place to head out. Since we had spent an afternoon drift diving the cut we had a pleasant familiarity with the underwater topography. The only reason for concern was a series of huge underwater boulders. They are the biggest “rocks” we’ve seen in the water anywhere. They were as big as a single family home, just sitting there on the flat bottom off to the side of the channel, just below the surface waiting patiently for the unwary boater.

We hauled the anchor, raised the mainsail and headed out with Solitaire close behind. It was an uneventful trip as the tide spat us out into Exuma Sound. Then we raised the genoa, killed the engine and settled in for a day of sailing northward to Eleuthera. The wind was a little lighter than predicted but had us moving along at about 5 knots. The wind was supposed to build as the day went on so we were content. Solitaire was a little more concerned about making electricity and the approaching front so we watched as they motorsailed over the horizon.

Our trip was slow and uneventful until we approached the Powell Point waypoint. I had the mainsail held to starboard with a preventer. Actually I use a preventer from the boom end to a bow cleat and another line from the boom end straight down to a midship cleat to keep the boom from rising and spilling air. We were wing and wing and the genoa was collapsing as the water started to get rolly as we approached the shallows. We took down the genoa and planned to sail up onto the bank with the mainsail alone. Then once we gibed onto our new course we could redeploy the genoa. And then it happened….

Fish on. Our heavy pole mounted on the stern arch started to scream as line was quickly unwound. Christy got to the pole first and was unable to set the drag tight enough to slow whatever we had down. I pulled the pole out of the holder and sat down and slowly wrenched down on the drag until it bottomed out.

The drag was fully tightened and line was still slowly coming off the reel. Shit. Christy gave me a glove and with it I was able to slow and finally stop the reel from giving up line. The right thing to do would be to slow the boat down and allow the fish to wear himself out. Only then could we hope to reel in whatever we had. The only problem was that we had 2 preventers in place. Slowing the boat would be a 2 person job and just wasn’t doable. Shortly thereafter our choice was made for us as the heavy monofilament lined parted. Fish off.

We just don’t have enough experience with big game fishing. I know we needed to get the boat moving slower, I just didn’t think we could get it done before the big fish spooled our reel. He was already out 150 yards and slowing down wasn’t a choice he seemed to want to make. After rewinding the line we put our fishing gear away and crossed onto the bank. So the bottom line is no Mahi Mahi for dinner.

The wind was finally starting to build and when we put the genoa back up we found ourselves doing 7 ½ knots for the last 2 hours of the day.

Once into the anchorage we picked a spot and dropped the hook. The front is supposed to be fairly vicious and it looks as if we won’t be able to get off the boat for a day or two. Its not that the anchorage is so rough it’s just that the town is on the lee shore and our unattended dinghy would get the shit knocked out of it while we were in town. We will be here for a few days before the weather allows us to sail north to Governors Harbor.

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