12th January 2009

It is now ten days since we last wrote anything so it’s about time we brought our readers up to date with what life has been like on board. In short quiet, peaceful, tranquil with a few days of intense activity.
The weather in the main has been fine, sunny and warm, although today has been decidedly damp with this afternoon being very wet…. and just when we were coming back to the boat from an art show so we got back aboard like a pair of drowned rats!

We have been for several walks along the beach and have found some nice sea glass and wonder of wonders I have now found my first heart sea bean. The vines which produce these beans are called “monkey ladders” and these vines cover the trees of the Costa Rican rain forest. They produce the longest bean pod (up to six feet) of any legume with about fifteen seeds to each pod. The sea heart is also called “Fava de Colom” or “Columbus Bean” by residents of the Azores since they believe that the floating sea hearts gave Columbus the inspiration to search for land to the west.

Our friends from “L’Equipe” have now arrived for their stay on Elbow Cay, which gave us some excitement, since Jacqueline was carrying a large envelope of mail from home plus more pills for Catherine plus and most importantly the new Hard Drive for Catherine’s baby Dell. Now all we have to do is figure out how to take the old one out and replace it with the new !! I have no fear that my intrepid wife will figure it out! The 10th evening and Sunday the 11th was spent very happily reading Christmas cards and opening other mail from Montreal. Jacqueline and Heinz will be here until the end of the month. It must be a little strange for them not to have “L’Equipe” here in the harbour.

“Solitaire 1” has not been neglected since we arrived here either. On the 8th we attacked the engine zincs, replacing both although only one really needed it. We also dismantled the heat exchanger and cleared all the crud from decomposing zincs out plus any small weed that had passed through the various filters. We made sure all the tubes were clean….. amazing what uses can be found for pipe cleaners and odd lengths of thin flexible wire !! We also checked the zinc in our engine driven Sea Frost refrigerator and amazingly it is still perfectly serviceable…. that has lasted almost a year which is remarkable. We cleaned the raw water filters and then came the real test, when we started the engine and checked for leaks, but all was good and the engine cooling system and zinc protection is in order. We had a very good flow of water out the back !!

Sunday 11th was, I regret to say, not a day of rest for Catherine and I, since we decided to change the engine oil and filters. It’s a messy job but we are getting quite slick at it, if I do say so myself!!! It is also wonderful to have a partner in crime who doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty and oil under her finger nails…. The job gets done quite quickly.
One secret…. we had been running the engine for about an hour before starting so the oil was very hot and very liquid and it siphoned out very easily….. I think that this is the first time that we have had the engine oil so hot and it certainly made all the difference. We checked the Racor fuel filter and all seemed fine, then it was start the engine and check for leaks …. none found thank goodness!

Sunday 11th, however, was not all work and no play, since we had been invited to go to lunch with Steve and Karen Grant our mooring neighbours from “Sea Echo” of Halifax..
We went by dinghy down the coast a few miles ….. what a joy to have the dinghy planing at a good speed and stay completely dry and not worry about the air going out of the floor or the tubes.
We planed down the coast for about half an hour and had a wonderful sea food salad with conch, lobster and fish followed up by a slice of key lime or chocolate pie, all washed down with a couple of Kalik beers or soft drinks for the ladies.
After lunch we took off again and went down to Tahiti Beach, a sand bar that was dry, as it was low tide, moored the dinghies off and waded ashore to explore.

We found many live sea biscuits, sand dollars and even a couple of small conchs, all of which were left alone after photos taken. Catherine and Karen “rescued” a few sea stars that were beached high and dry by putting them back in the water. After a nice walk to work off some of the lunch it was back into the dinghies and a fast run back to Hope Town harbour and the boats.

Today, more work on “Solitaire1’. For several days the Admiral and occasionally I have been noticing an odd smell in the boat, which we finally traced to our bilge. We have no idea what it was but it smelled sulphorous and not very nice, so we filled the bilge with cleaner and detergent and then hot fresh water, sloshed it around and scrubbed as best we could, ’cos we can barely reach the bottom of the bilge.. Much messy black crud and stuff came up as we scrubbed until we finally pumped it dry and then rinsed it all out again. It is now dry and will hopefully remain sweet smelling. We have no idea what was the cause of the smell. By the way if you have a deep bilge and have difficulty in getting it dry, we have a special turkey baster which works very well at getting into the corners and sucking most of the liquid up. Note… this is a special one and not used for food preparation!!

In addition to working on our bilges I also spent some time filling up our water tanks again. Five trips in the dinghy to shore with the two five gallon jerry cans did the trick. It is all fairly painless since we use the crane aft to lift the full cans out of the dinghy and then pour the contents into the appropriate filler. Ashore the marina has a new and highly efficient hose and tap system, thus we do not have to lift the cans from the dinghy. It is all done on the honour system and you mark down how much you have taken when finished. Since we have been here we have taken 85 gallons in roughly two weeks at twenty five cents per gallon.

Catherine has also spent one entire afternoon in the dinghy with a bucket of fresh water with vinegar added and polished one side of our floating home, getting rid of the encrusted salt. This seems to work well, you wash a small area and then dry and polish to a nice shine. The port side is now pristine but the starboard side still needs to be done and Catherine’s arms and back suffered so much the following day after doing the port side that I understand that I am to do the starboard side.

I am now being accused of writing a novel so will stop rambling on! Life on “Solitaire1” continues to be pretty good. We are thinking of going off for a couple of days soon, however there is another front coming through tomorrow so it will not be for a couple of days. That will be the start of another novel, or perhaps the official blog editor will put fingers to the keyboard next.

G’d night and I hope that I haven’t bored you all too much.

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