Log cabin siding is an idea that isn't that new, but it is new to some. Basically, it is the application of half logs on the exterior of an already built standing house, to be used as cladding. There are some benefits besides the obvious aesthetics of a healthy, rustic, romantic look to a log home, and in truth, to a large extent, it really is a conversion of a conventionally built modern home t...
It’s one of those days… perfect. Sailing over New York and Philadelphia at 8,500 with 80 mile visibility and calm air. Heading south down the coast of the Bahamas, I’m playing my usual game of how many turns it takes when flying VFR. Direct PXT direct CHS, I can reserve the first 600 nautical miles with a 5 degree change of course.
The “tingles” I used to get as a kid at Christmas grows stronger as I head to the home of my soul, the Bahamas. This country can reduce life to the basics, and pilots and sailors find peace in this subtropical paradise. Simple is a good thing sometimes, and I can’t wait to shake off the information culture for a few days.
If this sky has a downtown, that’s where I’m headed tomorrow. The 100 nautical mile chain of 360 jewel islands known as the Exumas features some of the most beautiful shades of blue you will ever see. Bounded to the north by Norman’s Key, which curves SE to Georgetown, Great Exuma, the island’s options can suit any escapist mood.
I’m heading to Staniel Cay on this trip, right at the southern end of the Bahamas Land and Sea Park. Staniel Cay gives me a good track with access to the park, on a small but attractive island.
On my last leg, on the way past Andros, my optimistic mood suddenly took a dive… what is that blinking light telling me? My always dark warning panel was flashing a low voltage warning, backed up by my amp needle and JPI. Time to get serious as I go through the basics of alternator failure, load shedding, and breaker resets. You have to think about the options: return to the US possibly without a transponder or radio, or land and get stuck. Nothing I tried during the flight helped resolve the issue.
Since my destination was in sight and I knew I could control the battery drain using just GPS and a radio, I decided to go ahead and land on Staniel Cay. I felt worried, reaching the ramp in the hot midday sun. The Bahamas is known for many things, but aircraft repair is not high on the list. My best guess was that the regulator failed due to the nature of the intermittent power failure. A belt failure would have caused a constant discharge. The cell phone worked, so I had good communication at home. My first call was to Banyan Air Service from FXE. One Saturday afternoon I was put directly through to a mechanic, Terry, who listened to my story. As he ranted about sending voltage regulators and planes to the rescue, he stopped me and simply said, “Pull the cover, I think it’s a loose wire.”
That seemed too simple, but following his advice, there it was, a loose exciter wire. My handful of tools and tie down straps fixed the harness temporarily and the trip was saved.
So what makes Staniel Cay so special? Think Block Island in the South, for those who have been on that lovely New England getaway. Unlike much of the Bahamas, Staniel Cay is hilly, and walking produces constant panoramas of the ocean and town. Snorkeling in “Thunderball Cave” (yes, where the movie was filmed) has you surrounded by thousands of colorful fish. You can dive into the spooky yet impressive grotto, imagining you are James himself on a top-secret mission.
The Staniel Cay (pronounced: key) Yacht Club is a well-oiled and very laid-back island resort. 5 colorful cabins sit on the water’s edge and have their own docks with Boston Whalers. The yacht club houses a bar and restaurant and serves some of the best food to be found anywhere in the area. Just the thought of eating their rack of lamb for dinner, after a hard day of snorkeling and body surfing, makes me weak in the knees. It’s not unusual to see a yacht moored that a family of 12 would find spacious, and this probably helps keep quality control at such an impressive level. Remember, as you sip your frozen Kalik and watch the tropical sun dip into the water, everything here is imported. Comparing costs to states isn’t really fair, but with that being said, I try to bring my own supplies…
Mary Lou, the nurse at the local infirmary told me:
“People often come here for minor cuts or bug bites. When I check their blood pressure and tell them a lower reading than they’ve ever heard, they think my equipment is broken. The fact that they’ve slowed down and relaxed so much is a revelation.”
Yes, island life moves comfortably at a slow pace, but things are changing. While I was there, all the roads on the key were in the process of being paved. This allows for a smoother golf cart ride, but is a sign of more important changes. My advice is to experience the real thing soon, before Club Med, speedy jet skis and organized tourism “floridize” the place.