Southern Bahamas

4 February 2019   Abraham’s Bay, Mayaguana, Bahamas
After breakfast, we went ashore to clear in.  There’s an old concrete dock with a 5 metre wide channel, which thankfully is deep enough for a dinghy at any state of tide – leave the pole markers to starboard. We found the customs building underneath the telecom tower.  

Clearing in was a doddle – everything was handled by one lady. All I had to do was fill in five forms and hand over $300US. In return, I received a cruising permit for 12 months, a three month immigration visa and a fishing license.  As usual, our next stop was to buy a SIM card and an Internet data package.  It cost $40US for 1 month, but we get 15 Gb instead of the paltry 2 Gb that we had in Puerto Rico and the BVI.

Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana

The settlement is tiny, with about 50 people, but everyone is very friendly – the policeman even wanted us to pose with him for a photograph. There are only 200 people living on the island, spread across 4 small settlements containing a few small general stores selling essentials – the one in Abraham’s Bay is about the size of a double garage.  One of the locals told me that everyone orders three months’ worth of food from Nassau, which is delivered by the mail ship.

On the way back to Alba, we spotted a flock of Flamingos, so we walked along the beach to have a look.  There are about fifty of them, but they were too far away to get any decent photos, so I’ll go back another day with my telephoto lens.  We had a quiet afternoon, recovering from 3 nights at sea.

5 February 2019   Abraham’s Bay, Mayaguana, Bahamas
There’s a weak front to the north of us, which is giving us light north winds.  This means that there’s hardly any swell hitting the fringing reef, so we grabbed the opportunity and went snorkelling on the outside of the reef.  The water was crystal clear, but the coral was sparse, probably due to wave and storm damage and there wasn’t much to see.  We had a couple of Great Barracuda acting very territorial and I found a Nurse Shark sleeping under a ledge.

Before lunch, I went ashore and took some photos of the Flamingos and then we spent the rest of the day on-board.  I caught up on editing photos and my blog, while Glenys worked out an itinerary for the next four weeks until we meet Craig in Georgetown.

6 February 2019   Abraham’s Bay, Mayaguana, Bahamas
The customs lady told us that there’s good shelling on North Beach, so we set off early to walk there. It’s about 4 miles and we were hoping to thumb a lift to the airport which is about half way.  Unfortunately, there’s very little traffic and the road is long and boring.  Fortunately, a guy called McFee turned up.  He drives a minibus for the high school and gave us a lift to the beach.

The beach didn’t have many shells, so after trudging along the soft sand for ½ mile, we gave up.  While walking back along the road, we met a local guy who was out catching land crabs for dinner. He was a scruffy looking dude, but incredibly friendly, showing us his crabs that he catches in the thick bushes.  His wife came to pick him up and kindly gave us a lift back to Abraham’s Bay – apparently, the best shells are found at the other bay....

Furred up toilet hose

Last night, the toilet jammed, so when we arrived back at the boat, I had a look at it.  I was hoping that the problem was an inverted Joker Valve, which takes about five minutes to fix. Unfortunately, after pulling the pump to pieces, I concluded that there was a blockage in the outlet piping, which is a nightmare.  Our toilets are flushed with seawater and, as a consequence, salt and (other deposits) slowly build up inside the pipework.  The remaining bore gets so small that it blocks...

After lunch, I tried to avoid the job, but I couldn’t find enough excuses, so with a heavy heart, I got out my toolbox.  A two metre long, 1½“ diameter outlet pipe goes from the toilet, through a bulk head into the engine room, then through another bulkhead into the cockpit locker.  It then loops back down, passing through another bulkhead into the engine room and connects to a shut off valve.  Another shorter pipe goes from the valve to the seacock, where the effluent is discharged into the sea.

The pipes needed to be removed and replaced, but the nearest place to buy new pipe is Georgetown, 150 miles away, so I had to remove the pipes without damaging them and then knock out the hard furring, to clear the pipes.  It’s always a bugger to get the pipes off – they fuse themselves to the male fittings and are always in places with difficult access. I had to cut off both ends of the long pipe, but there was just enough length that it would still fit back.

After one hour of thrutching, grunting and swearing, I managed to remove both pipes from the bulkheads.  The pipe has wire reinforcing and is very tough – a good job because it took 15 minutes of pounding with a mallet to break up the brittle furring, pouring the foul contents overboard.  The 1½” diameter bore was down to about ½” – no wonder it blocked. 

I removed the shutoff valve and cleared it of deposits.  I also scraped the deposits out of the seacock – opening the seacock to flush the bits out.  I was able to replace the shut off valve; fit the short pipe and clean up the appalling mess before the sun set.