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Mixed Happenings in the Tobago Cays

Yesterday settled down after the mornings travails. The weather, continuing to be quite variable, kept us aboard most of the afternoon. By 3:30 things had cleared up so we took the old camera with it’s underwater housing and snorkeled over to the turtle sanctuary. We weren’t let down as we saw many turtles seemingly aware of the difference between one side of a line of buoys and the other. I presume it is the lack of anchored boats that keeps them in their little area but at least we know where to find them.

The first turtle we spotted looked like many years ago a shark had taken a bite out of it. We managed to take pictures of this chap along with many others. Can’t upload them yet. That will have to wait. Under Dignity a large shoal of fish had congregated. When we returned, completely forgetting the no fishing rule, I hand lined some hooks with bacon fat on them thinking I had nothing better to do. Within minutes I had three small fish aboard. I then realized why these fish weren’t so shy. I double checked the pamphlet to verify that even hand lining was not allowed and reluctantly put everything away. I put the three small fish away too. Into the freezer. On our next trip I’m going to fit one of them out as bait for something bigger. I feel my luck turning in this aspect.

We slept very well last night with no bilge alarm to wake us. Waking this morning I discovered Jim, researching from afar, had identified our seal from a picture I sent yesterday. Not only that, he’d discovered the correct maintenance procedure. Apparently we’re supposed to inject a cc of special grease after every 200 hours of use. Well – we’re long overdue this one and this is certainly the reason we’re having the leaky seal.

Knowing I’d put in a lot less than 1 cc yesterday I decided to try and do a proper job. I popped off the cable tie and it immediately started squirting water. I then spent the next two and a half hours trying various ways to squeeze grease into the seal getting a lot of it over me in the process. Helen was in support on this operation as to help move the grease around I had her engaging the motor in forward and reverse. The task seemed futile. Whenever I thought I was making ground I would clean up a little and the water would start squirting out again. I then decided to use the wound irrigation syringe we have in the medical kit. This allowed me to get grease squirted inside the seal. I found the most effective solution was to squirt the grease into the seal while the shaft was turning. As it stands (or sits) right now, the leak has stopped. I’m not sure if it has stopped for good as I dared not do any more shaft rotations. I am leaving it to stand for a day to let the grease settle. Tomorrow we’re heading for Canouan. We’ll learn then how good the fix is. It is possible that having dried up, the seal is damaged. Just to be safe, I also injected grease into the starboard shaft seal.

We’ve had another excellent snorkel today. Excellent except for the bloody bird that got into the cabin and shat everywhere while we weren’t looking. For now, it’s back to relaxing and reading. We may go ashore some time if we can be bothered.

It is quite different being here a second time. The first time here it was magical. Second time it’s still pretty nice but the surprise element has gone. If we go ashore it’s to tread in our previous footsteps. The only advantage this time would be to take our better camera. The weather, being so rainy/cloudy/sunny is not as photogenic as last time so the incentive is not there.

Canouan has it’s attractions. It has a peak to climb and an anchorage on the west side where we can dive from the boat. If we can at least contain the port shaft leak we’ll continue north after a couple of days visiting Bequia again and maybe St Vincent mainland.

This is the life

No seriously. This is the life :

1) Yesterday when leaving the land at Union we forgot to raise the dinghy stern anchor. No obvious protest as the anchor came up of the ground. Only realised as dinghy was running slowly. The anchor had been spinning through the water unwinding the three strand rope attaching it to the dinghy. As the three strands unwound, the individual strands coiled around themselves further. Result: the rope became a mess of clumped up strands. Took me about an hour of rope stretching, coiling, uncoiling, massaging to fix.

2) Last nights sleep was lousy resulting from being woken approx once an hour by bilge alarm. Checked things out at first light only to find port shaft seal leaking. Gentle prodding turned small drips into steady trickle. Leak must have been building for some time as it has corroded parts of my ground plane installed last November. Remedial action so far has been to slightly compress seal with cable tie and to work grease between seal and shaft while shaft was rotating. I’ve also cleaned and raised corroded ground plane for SSB to minimise further damage albeit at probable cost of effectiveness. Drip is now occasional and under observation. Hopefully drip can be triaged until August when we plan to haul Dignity for bottom painting, etc. Unfortunately this is right under our berth. We may have to move cabins to ensure ready access to shaft. Big thanks to Jim down in St Georges with whom I’ve bounced around ideas.

3) The birds round here seem to be ‘trained’ to expect food on and in boats. Where birds go, so they shit. We’ve found two splodges already.

So far we have done none of the things we wanted to today. I feel tired and grotty.

*This* is the life.

Tobago Cays

In the Cays. No net. Peace.

Grenadines Tracks

Here are our tracks through the Grenadines.

View 2009 Grenadines in a larger map

Union Island

We’ve arrived in Union Island and are back online. We’re anchored right off Happy Island in Clifton Bay. We could swim there if we want. For now we’re catching up on emails and news. Here are pics missing from the last few days in the Cays and Mayreau :

Worlds End Reef

Tobago Cays