Saturday, May 23, 2009

Anemometer Envy Too.

Still stranded in Nassau. Rick recorded 55 MPH gusts the other day on his anemometer. We don't have one of those. So, in addition to dinghy davit and dinghy motor envy we also lust after Rick's wind speed indicator. All sail boaters have these so they an measure the wind against their sails. We don't have sails, (and don't want any) but we do want the device that tells us how the wind would affect our sails if we had them. Or, maybe it's better not knowing?

We tried to find trouble in Nassau the other day in between rain drops and gale force winds. Went to lunch at the Bamahan Kitchen--Very good! Then we just walked around the touristy areas and purchased some gifts for the kids and

grandkids. Vicki and Lynnie bought some movies at the straw market knowing we will be here a while. $5 per movie.

Yesterday, we put our bathing suits on, grabbed our beach gear and walked up to the pool for a dip and a couple of hours of reading. About 30 minutes into our lazy day, it poured rain. We had to rush back to the boat and read our books inside. This is getting OLD!

Today we're thinking about touring the Bacardi Distillery and it might also be a double feature movie day. Its still rainy and windy--that's 10 days in a row.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The DINGHY (Our Family Car) REVISED w/PICS

Still in Nassau. Gale force winds expected within the next 24-48 hours. Today, Rickshaw and we are going to downtown Nassau to find some trouble. Wish us luck! More on that later... While we have a pause in the action though, we thought we would tell you a little bit about our dinghy--"Tide Hopper"! ( Definitely not "Tide Humper" as Rick and Lynnie dubbed it.) I know, this sounds like a "snoozer", but read on....

Next to the engines and a strong sturdy seaworthy hull, the dinghy is one of the most important pieces of equipment on a cruiser. It is significant to the owners convenience, comfort and safety. If the boat is our home, the dinghy is our family car. It takes us to shopping, to recreation to entertainment and on Sunday rides in the country. It does NOT take us to work!!!!

Dinghy's or Tenders, or "Dinks", as they are sometimes called, come in various shapes and sizes. There are two common elements to dinghy's though. First, there is a pointy end (bow) and a flat end (stern), just like the big boat. Second, they are all convertibles with the top always down. After that they are different. For example Rickshaw's dink is bigger and Gypsies dink is, well, small. The size of Tide Hiker's dink is about average at 11 ft. They all hold about 4 passengers, but the bigger ones hold them with more comfort. Like cars, dinghy come with options (accessories) not included. For example, SEATS!. Yes, seats are an option. Without seats you must sit sidesaddle on the pontoon and get a wet bum. Gypsies don't have seats. You've seen pictures of them on our blog getting into their dinghy all decked out in their wet weather gear ala the space astronauts getting ready for an EVA.

Other options include a center console with all the steering and throttle and shifter controls. Without the console the driver sits on the pontoon and controls the motor with a "tiller". Another popular accessory is the Tilt and Trim. This allows the driver to raise the engine in shallower water so the prop does not hit the bottom and the cool water intake does not get clogged. Rickshaw has one of these. But, as you read in an earlier blog, it must be activated to avoid the great "sand-sucking" sound. More options include self balers, a myriad of electronics, Bimini tops (sun shades) and on and on.

Our dink is a simple Avon RIB. Avon is the name of the manufacturer and RIB means Rigid Inflatable Boat. It's rigid because it has a fiberglass hull. It is inflatable because it has tubes of air (pontoons) glued to the fiberglass bottom that make up the sides and front. And it is a boat because..well, you know--it floats. Our only luxury is a center console and seats. We like those.

Some dinghies are all inflatable. They have a soft bottom. They are lighter of course, have less support and a bouncier ride. Some of the soft bottom boats have hard floor boards that can be installed to give them more stability inside. Some dinghies are all fiberglass. They are much heavier. The RIB has become the most common, I believe, because it provides a combination of hard hull for a nice ride and soft sides for lighter weight. Although all are very nice and important to have and to maintain.

Dinks are carried on the big boat or towed behind the big boat. We carry ours in our garage--a cradle on the boat deck about 15 feet above the water. Dinks that are carried on a boat deck require a davit (small crane) to lift them out of the water and into the cradle and visa verse. The crane also comes in various sizes and must be selected to accommodate the weight and size of the dink. For example our davit is a simple one. It is of fixed length but turns 360 degrees to move the dinghy off the deck and over the water to raise or lower. September Song's davit is state of the art. It spins 360 degrees and also telescopes to accommodate many different size dinghies.

We know one boater who needed a new dinghy and bought a state of the art RIB with a new state of the art engine (heavy), only to find out that their current davit (still in great working order) could not support the added weight. Yep, a new davit was installed soon thereafter at significant expense. However, like September Song, they now have one of the best systems on a cruising boat and we have dinghy/davit envy.

There's more. The dink has to be propelled through the water. So, it's muscle power or mechanical power. If it's muscle-powered someone has to row the boat. A mechanically-powered boat has, of course, a motor. Like the davit, the motor has to be matched with the dinghy. Dinks are rated for the size motor they can handle. Additionally, some dinks use an outboard motor and some can accommodate a small inboard motor. Tide Hopper uses an outboard motor.

We also have outboard motor envy. We have a 10-year old 2-stroke engine that smokes and coughs and is loud. It being a 2-stroke type, we must mix oil and gas together and put that mixture in the tank. Almost all of our cruising companions have new state of the art 4-stroke engines--even the Gypsies! A 4-stroke engine is like a car engine and does not require an oil/gas mixture--just the gas. So, operators don't have to fuss with the mess and smell of mixing oil and gas. They are also quieter, but they are heavier.

Our dinghy and motor are both 10 years old. They came with the boat. You could say we have a used car. And, like a lot of other things on this boat the motor had to be significantly overhauled to make it run right. But since then, it has been doing just fine. Some purists--mostly sail boaters--will not own a motor and insist on rowing their dinghy. Not us since we tend to go on long Sunday rides in the country.

So, our used family car, while not state of the art is quite functional and has accommodated our transportation needs. If we did not just jinx it, we hope to avoid the significant expense of replacing it for a long time. If we did, we are going to look for an economic recovery act incentive to replace it. Happy motoring!!

Important: Names and events in this blog entry are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. Are you still awake?

Sunday, May 17, 2009


We're still waiting for winds to lay down while in Nassau. Ho Hum. Again, the winds have been consistent at 20-25 knots with higher gusts. We're rocking pretty much in the slip, but not a hindrance. It is good to get off the boat though. So......

On to Atlantis, the premier destination resort on Paradise Island, just across the harbour from New Providence Island and Nassau. They offer day passes ($110 each) for cruise line passengers and others. For this flat fee, we had a full day's use of all the facilities, including the world-famous aquarium, restaurants, pools, beaches and water park. Rick and Lynnie joined us for a day of Aquaventure. First:

The Aquarium
The aquarium is a massive archaeological dig that surrounds most of the entire facility and was constructed to replicate the lost city of Atlantis. Seawater is pumped in and the brochure says that 10,000 fish species are living there. It is spectacular! One can view the entire aquarium from the sides by looking through walls of floor-to-ceiling 6" glass panels; from above by walking the perimeter of the facility and looking down; from underneath through glass tube tunnels; and, via water slides in the water park that whisks riders underneath (also through glass tube tunnels). There is an eel section, a predator section (sharks, barracuda, etc), a jellyfish section, a lobster section and on and on. But most of the fish live all together. Everything from sharks, rays, lion fish, reef fish, grouper, etc are there. Truly a sight to see. Here are some shots of the aquarium that really do not do the facility justice, but will give you an idea. (Please overlook the misspelled labels, thanks.)

The Grounds
No detail was left out. This facility was painstakingly designed and built to replicate Atlantis. The beautiful walking paths through palm trees, the many swimming pools of "gin clean" fresh water, the manicured beaches, the restaurants, hotel towers and all out buildings held the "Atlantis" theme throughout. And, all the employees, no matter what their job, were friendly, accommodating, helpful, respectful and fun. Just walking the grounds and joking with these customer service folks was a blast. Take a look at some of the pics of the grounds.

The Water Park
I did not want to risk getting the camera wet, so we have no pictures of the water park activities. Let me just say that, The Wisconsin Dells, the water park capital of the US can't hold a match to this place. There is a mile long inner tube ride through rapids, falls and currents. Along the way, one can get off the "river" and take rides on the water slides. Some rides are used with the tube and others are just body slides. The first slide was a tube slide. We walked up the stairs and inside of a Mayan-appearing pyramid to the top of the slide. Here we descended on our inner tubes inside pitch black water slides making hair pin turns at high speeds and throwing us out at the bottom in a pool of water. There were several like this. On one ride, it dropped you about 200 ft into a glass tube that crossed under the aquarium's predator tank. So, as you slowly rode the currents to the end, you could see sharks swimming beside and over you. FANTASTIC!

But Norm most enjoyed the "plunge". After 3 or 4 courage-building Bahama Colada's Norm had to try it. This was a body slide where you lay feet crossed and in front of you, arms crossed on your chest and head slightly raised off the surface. "Geronimo", an 85% vertical fall of about 200 ft on a ribbon of water that, again, spit you out at light speed into a warm reservoir of deep water. As Tammy says, "WICKED COOL"!! One more visit to the restroom to change his pants and Norm rejoined the others for a nightcap! Sorry about the pictures, but hopefully you can sense the exhilarating experience it was.