We left the devastation of Marsh Harbor on Wednesday morning and motored seven miles across the Sea of Abaco to Hope Town on Elbow Cay, dropping anchor in a protected cove in shallow water right near the entrance to the cay's inner harbor.
Hope Town and Elbow Cay are more tidy and somewhat more upscale than Green Turtle or Man O' War Cays. They may have suffered less hurricane damage and certainly have repaired and rebuilt more quickly, I expect due to more money available. The streets of the small village of Hope Town are tidy, with colorfully painted small houses lining them. Very pretty, very pleasant.
I baked my first loaf of boat bread, a "no knead" recipe from a boating magazine. Version 1.0 turned out pretty well- a bit too salty and it stuck to the pot I baked it in. I was suspicious that the recipe called for an ungreased pan and it turned out I had good reason to be. Nonetheless, the captain and crew devoured the loaf quickly. Version 2.0 will have less salt, a greased pan and a slightly lower baking temperature.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I've been struggling with getting enough energy from the sun to charge the batteries. I attributed this to the prevailing southerly winds causing the panels to be shaded by the mast and boom for much of the day. When we arrived at Hope Town I thought maybe by hauling the boom over the port side of the boat I could catch more of the afternoon sun. After I shifted the boom, I went down below to look at the solar charger displays to see if it had any effect. To my dismay, one of the chargers was showing zero watts of solar power coming from the starboard panel, which was completely un-shaded. No wonder we have been so short of solar power.
I checked the input from the starboard solar panel and found a healthy voltage. I tried resetting its charger with no effect. We have two chargers, one for each panel and they are supposed to communicate with each other to synchronize battery charging modes and voltages. I've had trouble with this synchronization feature before and I understand that the charger firmware has been updated to correct this problem. However, I need a Windows computer to upgrade the firmware, only have a Mac on board and haven't got around to doing it yet. I've always solved the problem in the past by simply resetting the misbehaving charger. But not this time.
I scratched my head for a few minutes and then realized I could just disconnect the communication cable between the two charges so that they could act independently of each other and bypass the synchronization problem. Sure enough, I unplugged the cable and the starboard panel went from sending zero to sending 180 watts to the batteries. The shading, winter sun angle and shorter daylight hours are still limiting, but we're back to a more normal charging regimen now on Intermezzo, burning less fossil fuel and not having to listen to the hum of the portable generator at anchor.
Wednesday evening we hitched a ride to the upscale Firefly Sunset Resort to, ah...watch the sunset. And have rum drinks. We met a couple, John and Susan from Memphis who have been spending time in the Abacos for many years and are house hunting for a vacation home. We ended up having dinner with them at the resort...good food, good conversation, s-l-o-w service.
The next day we had a relaxing morning on the boat and then went to shore to walk along the Atlantic beach. We stopped for lunch and a bottle of wine at On Da Beach, a restaurant bar, um...on the beach. I ventured out into the surf for a swim while Robin waded and Amy explored the shoreline.
Today we motored, against the wind and seas again, about 12 nautical miles (nm) to Lynyard Cay, the staging anchorage for our passage tomorrow south to Eleuthera. We're anchored in a pretty cove with a white and beach and turquoise waters. We spent the afternoon snorkeling the shallow waters near the boat.
A cold front is approaching and by morning the winds are forecast to be blowing from the north. We'll weigh anchor at dawn and then head into the ocean through Little Harbor Pass, a few miles south of here. We have to sail fast this time to cover the 55 nm to arrive at our anchorage at Royal Island during daylight. The northerly winds are forecast to build as we sail, getting up into the 20's towards the end of our passage. I expect it will be an energetic downwind sleigh ride, though the front will bring clouds and rain as well as the favorable winds. The northerly is supposed to blow hard through Sunday, so after we get to Royal, we'll be hanging tight until the front has passed through.
|Hope Town, Elbow Cay|