“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain


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Adding Cleats for Convenience

As full-time cruisers with a dog we get on and off our transom into our dingy many times each day. Add to that having friends come and visit by dingy. The result is that you have to pass a line around the stern rail, and everything we have mounted there, to tie the dingy painter off to the stern cleat.  So I decided to add two new cleats to either side of the walkthrough to allow for easier, quicker tying off and departing.

I found two, stainless steel cleats that are mounted by bolts or machine screws through the top of the cleat at a discount marine store.  From a local hardware store, I picked up some 1/4-inch by two-inch machine screws with a phillips head and an Irwin drill bit and tap set or matching size.

Photo 1 - Drill & Tap

Catalina imbedded an aluminum plate in several locations on the boat for securing hardware to the deck. On the stern, the aluminum plate runs between the two stern rail posts.  I chose to install one cleat on each side just next to the stern rail posts closest to the walkthrough. 

Once I had the locations marked out, I began drilling the holes.  I started using a 1/4-inch drill bit. The drill bit with the tap and drill kit is slightly smaller than 1/4-inch to allow for the tap to cut away material and leave a 1/4-inch threaded hole.  Drilling through the fiberglass you can feel the resistance change when you get to the imbedded aluminum plate.  I partially drilled into the aluminum plate to create a centering point for the tapping drill bit. 

Note on using tools on deck. I learned the hard way to always tie off drills and other tools while working on deck over the water.  I use an elastic tie that has a carabiner on one end and a line that secures around the tool on the other.  The one I purchased came with 3 ends for going around the tool that clip to the elastic tie.  This way I can quickly switch when using multiple tools like a drill and an impact gun.

Photo 2 - Drill

Once the initial hole is drilled, the next step is to drill the hole to prep for the tap. The Irwin bit was decent quality and cut through aluminum plate quickly.  I then cleaned the drilling debris from the area and began the tapping.

For those that haven’t done a lot of tapping, I find that the best process is to slowly advance the tap and after about a half to full turn you begin to feel more resistance.  I then back out the tap a half to full turn to clean the cutting blades on the tap. Once the tap is advanced through the plate I will run it all the way out and back in again to make sure the threads are nice and clean.

Photo 3 -tapping the plate

I prefer to bevel the top of any holes for deck mounted hardware.  This allows the bedding material to make a better seal around the bolt. I use a stainless steel counter sink bit to make the bevel.

Photo 4 - bevel bit

Once the bevel is complete, I cleaned the entire area and wiped down the fiberglass with acetone.  I then prepped the screws by putting them through the cleat and forming butyl tape around the base of the cleat and a cone shape going down the screw.  i also coated the bottom half of the screws with Tef-Gel to help protect for corrosion.

Photo 5 - butyl on screw

Using a cordless impact driver I slowly start the screw.  This helps start the screw without cross threading.  I took a couple hours to let the butyl tape work in but I was doing this in the Bahamas in 85 degree F temperatures. In colder temps butyl tape will take longer to set properly.  I got the screws started and advanced them until the butyl tape starts to squeeze out. Once I see the butyl tape start to squish out I stop and let it sit for 30 minutes.  I will then advance it another half to full turn and stop again.  I continue doing this until I have advanced the screw all the way down.

Photo 6 - Cleatl

The only thing left is to clean up the residual butyl tape and start using the cleat. It makes tying off the dinghy much easier.  We have towed the dinghy using these cleats and it tows great.  You can keep the dingy directly behind your boat in the flat spot your hull has laid down. 

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Bahamas Chapter 4: Swimming Pigs and James Bond!?

For the past several years, we have obsessively read blogs by other cruisers and followed their travels as we planned our own itinerary.   At some point, we came across a video of people swimming with pigs on some island in the Bahamas…well, heck yeah I wanted to do that too!!

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Pirate Beach…RRRRRR!

Staniel Cay is a pretty little resort island with a small yacht club, swimming pigs, and a famous grotto.  Yes, you read correctly SWIMMING PIGS! The small island next to Staniel has pigs cruising around on the beach and SWIMMING!  These suckers are huge!  There were also little piglets.  The tourists feed the pigs, as soon as the pigs see people they come running right over looking for food.  We had heard stories of people getting their butts bit as they ran away from the pigs due to lack of food and still hungry pigs. We also saw these very large creature’s getting into at least one inflatable boat to try and get food.  Overall, the pigs are relatively harmless and are somewhat trained.  We witnessed one pig that sat on-command (yes, like a dog!) for water.  There are lots of theories as to where these pigs originated from, but no one is really quite sure.

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Staniel for blog

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The Three Little Piggys

Just across the channel from the Staniel Cay Yacht Club is Thunderball Grotto – where scenes of the James Bond movie of the same name were filmed.  We waited until low-tide in order to snorkel into this cave-like spot and check out all of the reefs and colorful fish.

At the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, we witnessed a feeding frenzy of rays, sharks and turtles as the local fishermen cleaned their catch and threw the scraps into the water. 

Bahamas Part 3: Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park

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Continuing on south through the Exumas, we made stops at some of the islands & cays in the Exuma Land & Sea Park.  Warderick Cay was one of our favorite stops.  We anchored at Emerald Rock and had a very quiet spot with several beautiful beaches virtually to ourselves.  We hiked around the island and, as is customary for passing cruisers, we left our driftwood sign on BooBoo Hill.

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Curly Tailed Lizard – only found here

Ward 6

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Ward 9

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Ward 8

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Ward 20

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At Cambridge Cay (Little Bells Cay), we checked out a submerged plane, snorkeled the Sea Aquarium Coral Garden (where Jesse got chased by a shark!), explored the Dungy Caves, kayaked, finally busted out the hammock and spent some time relaxing, oh, and we peeped on Johnny Depps’s private island – Pirate’s of the Caribbean money buys you a pretty nice place in the Bahamas!

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Cambridge plane

submerged plane

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Dungy Caves

Cambridge aquarium

Aquarium

Cambridge mountain

Sand mound at Cambridge

Cambridge Sunset

Sunset at Cambridge

This gallery contains 29 photos


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Cost to Cruise the Bahamas – The First Two Months

After spending almost three months in the Bahamas, we have learned that we did not provision well enough for certain things.  For instance, we did not buy any sugar or flour before we left the States – big mistake! We have learned our lesson after having spent almost $7 for a small bag of hot dog rolls.  So, we have needed to spend more money than anticipated in order to properly provision for the cooking that we have been doing.  But the good news is I have actually learned how to bake bread, rolls, and pizza dough (anyone who knows me knows that I am not Ms. Suzy Homemaker – so this is a big deal for me!).

Also, we have had some success hunting.  We have gotten our fair share of conch and have made ceviche and cracked conch on several occasions.  We have also feasted on mutton snapper.  Unfortunately, we have had some epic fails as well: reeled in a large mahimahi and a bigeye tuna only to lose them trying to get them onto the boat, caught barracudas, and, lastly, we caught a puffer fish (which makes for great sushi if you know how to maneuver around their poisonous spines).  Needless to say, we have not saved as much $ by catching our dinner as we were hoping.

Lastly, included in our communication category is our Verizon plan that we continue to pay a monthly charge on (we anticipate we will be using our phones again in the USVI – if that is not the case then we will terminate our contracts and pay the early termination fees at that time).  In the Bahamas, we bought two SIM cards – one for our unlocked old-school phone (calls only) and the other for our MiFi devise (data).

February 2016  TOTAL $ 1,851.99

The first month we visited Bimini, Fraziers Hog Cay (Berry Islands), Nassau, Eleuthera (various ports), and the northern portion of the Exumas Islands.  Those costs break-down as follows:

$  356.07   MARINAS

$  314.82   COMMUNICATION

$  269.79   GROCERIES

$  241.85   ENTERTAINMENT (eating out and alcohol)

$  211.19   BOAT PARTS & OTHER

$  196.85   FUEL (Diesel & Gasoline)

$  150.00   BAHAMAS ENTRY FEE – I HIGHLY recommend immigrating through Bimini

$    40.05   WATER

$    24.95   TIPS, CHARITABLE DONATIONS, TRASH FEES

$    20.42   CREDIT CARD FEES (charged by some local stores)

$    14.00   PROPANE

$    12.00   LAUNDRY

March 2016  TOTAL $ 3,149.20* (I Know right – Holy Crap! – see Extraordinary items)

In month two we continued down the Exumas Islands.  Those costs break-down as follows:

$1,630.70*  BOAT PARTS & OTHER

$   532.95     GROCERIES

$   337.25     ENTERTAINMENT (eating out and alcohol)

$   261.00    COMMUNICATION

$   231.72     FUEL (Diesel & Gasoline)

$     56.08    WATER

$     52.50     LAUNDRY

$     25.00    TIPS, CHARITABLE DONATIONS, TRASH FEES

$     22.00   PROPANE

* Extraordinary Costs:

  • $   350   Generator that we bought from our new cruising friends on sv Wrightaway
  • $1,280  Various boat-related items including a Radio (music) & remote – our current one has decided to work when it feels like it, and a new Alternator, USCG documentation renewal, and US Decal (required in order to re-enter the USA), Fishing gear, etc.


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Bahamas Chapter 2: Is that a Dinosaur?

Nature Ops on Highbourne Cay

Nurse sharks at Highborne Cay marina

After leaving Eleuthera, we headed over to the northern chain of island & cays (pronounced keys) known as the Exumas.  We anchored at Highborne Cay and dinghyed over to Allan Cay to check out the Exuma Iguanas, which can best be described as miniature dinosaurs.

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Allan Cay – northern beach

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Allan Cay -south beach approach from Highborne Cay

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Sundowners on at Highborne Cay

 

Rock Sunset