Log of the Rantum Scoot

Saturday, March 1st Norman's Cay

Continued from February

A day or two later Stardust and Wings arrived and at about the same time Willard's daughter Jennifer showed up for a visit. 

The following is an excerpt from Stardust's log Gail does a great job describing our snorkel trip so I thought I'd use it as is:

We got into the Norman’s Cay anchorage (lat: 24:35:525N, long: 076:48:671W) at 1300.  Wings and Rantum Scoot and Stardust all anchored in a triangle within a couple boat lengths of each other.  There is a submerged plane in the anchorage.  We will swim over to investigate it another time.

Scott, Melissa, and the kids were going out snorkeling and fishing and asked if we’d like to go.  So, all three dinghies headed southeast to a nice reef off of a small island just north of the start of the Exhumas Land & Sea park.  Young Pete is the grouper spotter and he saw one that his folks speared.  This fish had to be 13 lbs. If it was an ounce.  He actually bent one of the spears as he pulled back into the rocks.  We looked for lobsters and other edible fish.  A four foot barracuda took an interest in Willard but didn’t come close enough for an encounter.

The snorkel session ended when a five foot long reef shark (the kind with teeth, not like a nurse shark) took an unusual interest in Melissa.  He was swimming three feet behind her.  She remained very cool and called to everyone to get in their dinghies.  She swam slowly back to her dinghy and got in.  The General was over by the point of the island and didn’t hear the hail.  But he got back safely also.  I saw the shark swim by after I was in the dink.  Pretty but not a preferred swimming buddy.

We went back to our boats and Scott gutted the grouper.  A sea turtle and a ray came by to eat the offal.  Nothing goes to waste in the sea.  We got back in the dinghies and went to a second dive location and looked for food again.  Pete saw a couple of grouper that decided to make a hasty exit.  Don saw a conch crawling along the bottom and there was a lobster that hid too well for Scott to get him.  We dinked home after and hour.

We decided to do a pot luck supper.  The Dubes brought fish chowder and the catch of the day, grouper.  Janet and Don provided the hors d’ouevers, coleslaw and beer as well as the grill to cook the fish on.  They also offered Wings as the gathering place.  They are kind and gracious hosts.  I made peanut butter brownies and butterscotch brownies for dessert and we brought red wine.  Once again it was a great gathering.  All of the food was excellent.  The grouper was so delicious with its simple adornment of salt, pepper, and lime fresh off the grill.

End Stardust log

Sunday March 2nd Norman's Cay Bahamas

We had a birthday party for Willard on Stardust 3/2/03. It was great and Gail pulled out some really great provisions for a stir fry!  Of course Janet had party favors, hats, and noise makers.

Monday, March 3rd Norman's Cay

in the morning there was an over 50 halyard swinging clinic conducted by the kids.  Their first victim was Don who promptly popped his elbow shortly after leaving the deck.  Next were Gail and Janet who benefited from the earlier mishap by getting much better instruction.  They performed magnificently! Sorry Don.  M/V Odelia arrived carrying the crew of Rick and Tsipy Thompson, friends we made in Manteo NC. They jumped right into the fray of our little cruising community and were a great addition, not only are they fun but they had just come from Nassau so they had lot's of stuff and a big boat for our swelling group! 

March 4 We had a big cocktail party with our entire cruising family hosted by Odelia it was a real blast and the boat (all 56') wasn't even crowded!. Turned out that Odelia and Stardust crews had met previously in Thunderbolt GA, small world. There was a lunch or two at Mcduff's on the Island. McDuffs is a really quaint ocean side bar and grill that also has neat little cottages decked out in pastel colors and great landscaping.  They also had a very cool gas powered blender!

The plan was to celebrate Scott's birthday (3/5) with everyone aboard Rantum Scoot but it our turn in the broken generator barrel. We went to fire it up that morning and it wouldn't start. It cranked but wouldn't fire up. We had experienced trouble on and off with no cranking and had found that resetting the starter relay in it's socket usually cured it. We had swapped the relay with the fuel pump relay about a week before and it had been working well since. Melissa went back to see if she could see anything obviously wrong. She did indeed there was smoke and molten relay where the fuel pump relay used to be. She yanked the burning parts out with pliers and we stared at it in disbelief. This was going to be a problem!

We got the generator fixing band back together. The socket that the relay plugged in to had a good amount of heat damage, after discussions with Bob at Fischer Panda and much trouble-shooting we found that we could just install a new relay (which Willard happened to have) and we were back in business. We would need to replace the wiring harness when we got back. We were confident so we decided to finish up the next day. It was getting late in the day and having a party on our boat was looking grim.

 Janet and Don suggested we move the party to their boat so after cleaning up we moved over to Wings for a celebration. It was fantastic Janet made her famous chili and Emily baked the cake. We were very grateful for the move. It was a great party it could only have been better if my family could have been there, specifically my Mom :)

The next morning I set about putting the generator back together with Don. After that I wanted to investigate the dried salt deposits I had noticed during the relay repair. We fired it up to look for obvious water and to my chagrin there was plenty. It was coming from up underneath the cylinder head right behind the relay burned up, coincidence? I think not. We shut it down and called Bob at Fischer Panda again. Thank goodness for our Globalstar satelite phone! After talking with him it was decided that it was most likely a freeze plug. I searched around for ways to get the parts to us from Ft. Lauderdale. After a bit we found that Watermakers Inc. in Ft Lauderdale flew most everyday to Staniel Cay about 35 miles south of our present position. We arranged to have the parts sent to Staniel Cay via Watermakers. 

We were also having problems with our water maker. It was unable to bring the PPM that is parts per million down lower than 450 despite increasing the pressure to 900psi. Discussions with US Watermakers lead us to the conclusion we needed a new membrane which could also be acquired at Staniel.  We also found on this leg that our autopilot was failing to hold a heading again, rendering it useless for the second time this trip.

3/6 This was to be the rain date for having everyone over to Rantum Scoot for dinner, but once again we had the boat in complete disarray to work on the generator.   Rick (from Odelia) and I spent a long time trying to jury rig a drain so that we might use the generator, but it was no use there was too much water.  

Our batteries were low as was our morale.  Melissa decided to change the venue to the beach for a cook out.  It was a great idea!  We went over a little early and gathered up some wood and started a fire.  We also rearranged some junk to make a table for the food and some logs for seating.  It was a neat setting right in front of some abandoned cottages that were probably really nice in the 80's, but right on the beach overlooking the harbor.  Everyone brought something.  We brought a huge lobster tail and cooked it wrapped in foil with butter, garlic and lemon in the fire, along with potatoes also wrapped in foil and put in the coals.  Janet brought pasta salad, Gail made some spicy rice salad and this incredible lobster thermidor made with the body meat of our lobster. There was crackers and cheese, fresh fruit and other things I know I am forgetting.  For desert Tsipy had a really great peach cobbler Don had brought his whipped cream maker complete with CO2 cartridge!  He took great delight in "accidentally" hosing me down with whipped cream as he served up Pete's whipped cream.

Wednesday, March 9th, 2003 Depart for Staniel Cay

Wings, and Stardust  departed Normans at about the same time. Wings went to Exuma Land & Sea Park and Stardust headed for a variety of stops north of the park. Odelia hung out for an extra day or two. We went to Staniel in one shot got our parts and some provisioning after remaining an extra day and diving with Rick and Tsipy in Wax ay cut.

 On the way down to Staniel we motor sailed as the wind was more or less on our nose (prevailing noserlies). Before we got through the cut at Staniel we found that our main sail would not furl all the way. We tried rolling it out again and refurling several times with no luck. It would furl all but the last 3rd of the sail. We furled as much as possible and added it to the list of repairs to be made. We took a slip at Staniel Cay Yacht club. The same people own Watermakers Inc. so the package delivery is seamless. It is delivered right to the club. They didn't have the right membrane so they said they would get one in for us by Monday or Tuesday. Our plan was to leave tomorrow and come back through Staniel later in the week.

Thursday, March 10th depart for Warderick Wells, Exuma Land and Sea Park

Went north to the Exuma Park to regroup with Wings and make our repair. We were going to have a cook out on the beach but the bugs drove us off the beach and back to the boat. The plan was to start the next morning as the cylinder head needed to be removed. We were fortunate that between Wings, Odelia and us we had enough tools to disassemble and reassemble the engine including a torque wrench. This turned out to be a miserable night! The temperature was about 80 there was no wind.  The mosquitoes and no-see-ums were ruthless.  We had to choose between sealing the boat up tight and sweating like pigs with the bugs that were already in, or leaving it open and sweat like pigs with a new group of bugs all the time.  We alternated between the two options nearly in tears for most of the night into the morning. At one point we were looking at each other at 2:30 am ready to check out of this hotel!

Friday, March 11th Warderick Wells South Anchorage.

So that Morning Don and I began disassembling the engine.  I took off parts and Don carefully cataloged parts and locations taping them to a sheet of paper with notes next to them. We removed nearly every accessory on the engine to remove the cylinder and it's head.  We were able to slide the cylinder up enough to see the wrist pin of the piston and remove the pin freeing the assembly without taking the piston out of the cylinder thereby deleting the need for a ring compressor.  I will say that to Fischer Panda's credit they were great about giving me detailed instructions on how to effect the repair.  We got it apart in about an hour and one half.  With the cylinder head off we flipped it over expecting to see a bad freeze plug.  But to my horror there was a hole about 1/8th of an inch in diameter next to the suspected freeze plug.  EXPLETIVES DELETED..... I again got on the horn with my friends at Fischer Panda and told them of my find.  They arranged to have the parts I needed sent to Staniel Cay.  So once again we would head that way in a day or two.

In the mean time we kicked back and enjoyed the park and our friends.  Rick and Tsipy showed up and then came Stardust.  We ended up rafting up with Odelia to charge our batteries and they filled up our water tanks. This was really great of them and we very much appreciated it. Wings also made the same offer should we need it. We were re-christened Remora Scoot by Don. 

Saturday March 12th 2003, Warderick Wells to Staniel Cay.

So as a flotilla in very loose formation Wings, Odelia and Rantum Scoot depart for Staniel cay. Stardust remains for another day or two.  The game plan is for all of us to dock at Staniel Cay Yacht Club.  We all end up on the same dock which is very convenient.  Upon arrival we find that the membrane for the water maker is there and so is the cylinder head. We decide to wait until the following day before starting on that.  That night we all head for the yacht club for bar food and good company.


Monday, March 14th 2003 Staniel Cay

This morning is fix it day.  Melissa is to tackle the water maker and Scott the genset. Don and Rick come over to help.  All goes smoothly with the water maker repair Melissa has it done in less than an hour.  The cylinder head goes on smoothly, but won't run for more than a few seconds after starting.  Another call to Fischer Panda clears up the mystery.  This model has a decompression knob to relieve cylinder pressure when starting with a low battery or adjusting valves etc.  The knob is supposed to lock in the 0900 position which gives no compression relief.  I was setting it there but apparently it wasn't locking in.  Panda says put it in the 1 o'clock position and let it rotate and lock in itself.  Voila it worked.  We loaded it up and it ran fine for an hour or so.  Ah finally back up to snuff except for the autopilot.

Wednesday March 16th 2003 Big Majors spot.  

We decide to move out to the anchorage.  After getting set we decide to make some water.  We fired up the genset but to our chagrin it would not make electricity. Again I call Fischer Panda and they give me some things to check.  I do all the things they say and still can't get anywhere.  On Monday I call them back and we discuss some more things to check none of which help.  I call back again and they ask me to call tomorrow as they need to check with Germany about other ideas.  Tuesday I call back and we're told no new ideas but that they will be sending me an entire back end for the generator including a new AC control box.  So here we sit getting rocked by a strong westerly wind.  No genset again, no water, no play station :).... 

A couple of days later the new back end for the generator shows up at the yacht club via the watermaker flight. We move over to the dock AGAIN. 

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