We wake up this morning after a great sail all day yesterday from the Keys to Bimini, enjoy our coffee looking over the most azure waters we’ve seen in two years! I cannot WAIT to get in and visit the colorful fishies … unfortunately that will have to wait. Instead, I remembered that when we pulled into the slip yesterday the depth sounder was going crazy — flashing clearly false readings over 100 feet deep! WOW! If this 7 foot or less water was 100 feet deep, we wouldn’t NEED a depth sounder … of course, anchoring might be a challenge….
We had high hopes of staying here a day and then catching a 2 day weather window across the Bahamas Banks — 8 – 15 feet of shallow gin clear water where reportedly we’ll see the starfish on the bottom, but also dodge coral heads. Supposedly it requires sailing during daylight and in light winds to keep down the chop and to allow us to anchor in the middle of nowhere on the Banks — nowhere to go, just drop the hook in the middle of the biggest swimming pool in the world! 80 miles across.
In the meantime, the depthsounder is a critical piece of this crossing. I turn on the instruments. Crap, it’s still registering over 100 feet and flashing — not a good sign. Not sure with a 5 1/2 foot draft we can cruise the Bahamas without a depth sounder. First we check for connections — spending the morning taking every connection for the transducer to the display apart, cleaning and reassembling. Still no joy. We decline our new friend Bill’s offer to go snorkeling with him during the late morning and scratch our heads.
As luck would have it, when we bought our new Garmin GPS, it came with a depth sounder. After not being able to make the 14 year old depth sounder, an Autohelm Tri-Data, function, we pull out the depth sounder that came with the Garmin and see if we can make it work. All the instructions are to mount it outside the hull — well, that’s not going to work unless we pull the boat out of the water and that’s not in the cards … at least here. SO, we try suggestions from other cruisers … we tried silicone to attach it inside the hull, no reading. But if it’s in WATER inside the hull, it gives an accurate readout. Then Gene from Yorkshire Rose suggested that we needed to silicone a water containment something – he suggested a 2″ piece of PVC pipe to the interior of the hull to contain the water and let the Garmin depth transducer sit in it, keeping the water in contact with the hull (and bottom) whether we’re heeling or not. Great idea, except we don’t have any PVC pipe. But we DO have an old rubbermaid type container I used to keep butter in when we were eating butter … David cut the bottom out with the Dremel and tried gluing it to the interior hull.
Then we left to hike over to the beach and see the wreck and also all the homes destroyed by an unknown hurricane and never rebuilt. Had to let the glue dry, you know! Great little hike – I always wonder – what happened to this ship, why did it crash on the rocks just outside the channel – did it lose an engine? How many people were on board – were they scared? Was it a storm? Did they swim ashore on this crazy rocky beach with crashing waves? Were they hurt? Unfortunately the internet here isn’t good enough for me to do some investigation and see what I can find.
So after wandering down the other way, we decided to return to the boat and see if the containment system we jerry-rigged would hold water. No. 🙁 So we tried Amazing Goop Marine – cleaned it all up and redid the containment installation … then went to the pool – important to stay cooled off! We used the hair dryer to help speed set the goop, according to the instructions and several hours later … after dinner and cocktails, we were ready to test it again.
Keep in mind, if it didn’t work this time, our weather window to cross the banks starting tomorrow morning will be shot … water goes in, water stays in – at least for now. David puts the transducer in the container with the water — facilitating the connection to the hull and water below. We both say an extra prayer as he connects the wire to the GPS and VOILA!!!! It’s 5 foot 2 inches! WOOHOO!!!! We’re back in business — as long as we can keep water in the jerry-rigged containment system (i.e. butter rubbermaid container with the bottom cut out)!
So if there are no posts for awhile, it’s because there’s NO INTERNET! Exumas, here we come! I can’t wait to see swimming pigs and dinosaur skeletons and swim in Thunderball Hole — or whatever they call it where they filmed the James Bond movie! Plus hopefully be eating fresh fish for dinner several nights a week again!
Cheers! Jan & David, Blue Water Marina, Bimini