Great Bahamas Bank
As much as we could stick around Bimini for weeks on end exploring and snorkeling and just simply soaking up this new lifestyle of floating/living off an island, we also know we have friends coming into Nassau for New Years and have been watching a big storm that’s coming this way. We could wait it out here, but if things are delayed we risk not making it to Nassau in time so we pull up anchor in the morning to leave.
Our plan was to hit Andros Island- the description of its untouched beauty and tons of snorkeling really called to us and at least according to the map it seemed “on the way” to Nassau and New Providence Island, but apparently the currents aren’t with it on that route and we simply couldn’t find a decent protected anchorage to ride out the storm (which is looking to be a big one)… so we called a last minute audible and headed across the Great Bahamas Bank toward Chub Cay, which has a full fledged “hurricane hole” marina and with the size of this storm that is sounding pretty good. The storm is due to hit in less than 48 hours and we knew we wouldn’t make good enough time to cross the bank in one night, so we headed out.
It was an absurdly beautiful day of motor-sailing across the banks. Calm, flat waters, just enough wind to keep the sails up and oh so much of that perfect blue for us to stare at. We even caught our first fish along the way (just s jack, nothing huge - but enough for some ceviche while underway and a filet for each of us at dinner). Overall, it was a beautiful sail and an otherworldly feeling of being in the middle of the ocean without any land in sight… yet also only 6-12’ of depth for that oh so secure feeling. ;)
Around sunset we decided to turn off the main course by a mile or so, drop anchor and sleep in the middle of the banks. We felt completely safe, there was almost no wind and we figured that even if our anchor didn’t hold there was miles and miles for us to drift without hitting anything - so why not? As we’re trying to drop anchor but very distracted by the spectacular sunset going on seemingly all around us jen spots some dolphins circling the boat.
Really? You’ve got to be kidding us- how could this day get any better?
We stopped mid anchor drop, watched the dolphins and snapped photos of them and the sunset and thankfully remembered to finish setting the anchor bridle before continuing our evening, eating the fish we caught while underway and falling asleep in impossibly flat seas despite being hours from anything.
Sadly, that peaceful easy feeling didn’t last through the night.
Somewhere around 3am our electric freshwater pump started running. It shouldn’t be, unless we are running water or if there’s a leak. We weren’t, and there was one.
We tried ignoring it for a few cycles and them both leapt out of bed on a search-and-find mission. We checked all the faucets and shower heads, opened up the hulls to see if they were filling (that’s where we found the other leaks we’ve been chasing). Everything was basically dry. I mean it’s the middle of the night, but we just couldn’t figure it out. We were stumped.
Running out of ideas, we thought back to our morning off the FL keys and the engine compartment filling with water because the outdoor rinse/shower was leaking. Almost didn’t want to open the compartment to find out, but we raised the lid, shined the flashlight, and…nothing. it was bone dry. Now were really confused, but we lifted the bottom hatch to the engine anyway (we’re already here, right?). Argh. The engine compartment was once again filling with water. =/
We searched every inch of the rinse line. It was totally dry. Our last fix was still working…what the hell?
We eventually went to the next closest compartment… right under our bed. We threw the bedding aside, lifted the mattresses and immediately saw the problem. The pipe from the hot water heater (yes, the same one we already paid to have fixed TWICE before arriving to FL) was spewing water at a crazy rapid rate. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, maybe it was the fact that we were in the middle of the ocean and we had already paid to fix this problem a few times already but tempers flared.
Regardless, we leapt into action. Sadly, we don’t have the parts needed to fix the leak but could see that the connection was so loose it was lucky it hadn’t slipped off the pex line completely and emptied our water tank under the bed. We quickly grabbed a zip tie (a lesson from our days in the VW bus…always have tipties and duct tape at all times) and secured the connection from falling off, even through we couldn’t stop the leak completely. From there we returned to the engine compartment to empty the water that had already collected. Easily gallons.
Our bilge pump should have already done that… but the pump here seems precarious and now twice has not emptied a large amount of water gathering at the base of the engine. I hop in, rig up a spare pump to empty the water and then once dry go about rewiring the existing pump from what was clearly a shotty job from either the factory or someone who decided to change the pump after. No, I didn’t want to be doing this now, but we’re already awake and our to-do list is already so long that an electrical issue (or a flooding issue) is the last thing we should be “waiting on a more convenient time” to fix.
Before I even climb our of the hole I hear Jen telling me that the sun is rising. I sink. I was still somehow thinking that we were still retuning to bed after this. Instead, jen starts coffee and breakfast while I wrap up the repair/clean up and then we stand on deck and enjoy sunrise over breakfast. Soon after we fire up the engines, pull up anchor and continue on across the remainder of the banks and cross the tongue of the ocean and onto chub cay.
We still have another day before the storm hits so we opt to just drop anchor in the bay outside the marina, but the winds are already picking up so we practice what we learned in Bimini about dropping a second anchor before settling in for the evening