It was a beautiful, hot day in Marsh Harbor, Bahamas, when I decided to rewire my solar panels (again), fix my inverter, and begin the process of touching up Athena’s paint job.

My cruising friends invited me to snorkel Mermaid Reef, which is guaranteed to be full of fish, but I declined for that afternoon as I had designated it as a workday.

Everything was done except drilling my new controller onto a board in my tiny cockpit locker. As usual when I work in that small space I was unbearably hot and sweat stung my eyes. I had just finished the last screw and was excited for fresh air again when I heard a tiny snap.

I had sat on my circuit breaker.

The circuit breaker helps prevent fires if there is a short in my electrical system and the reset switch had been dislocated by my rear and no amount of fiddling could fix it. Luckily, being in Marsh Harbor, I had access to marine stores and quickly found a new one — for $161. It’s amazing to me that something so tiny and seemingly unimportant as a reset switch being broken on your circuit breaker can cost so much money. That broken part kept me from being able to use my house battery, which powers my lights and charging equipment, and had I decided to not install a new one the risk of fires would be significant.

Elli, the author's dog, after a long walk in the Bahamas. Sally Gardener-Smith photo

Elli, the author’s dog, after a long walk in the Bahamas. Sally Gardener-Smith photo

I have also recently learned how to treat an outboard that has been submerged.

My four-stroke mercury outboard went for a swim on a recent trip to Guana Island. For this disaster I did the following: I drained the fuel tank as it now was contaminated with water. I drained the oil for the same reason and I opened the drain switch on the carburetor as well. Then I removed the spark plug and sprayed WD-40 in the socket that it sits in. Next I changed the oil many times (you can tell when there is water in the oil because it turns murky, almost the color of chocolate milk) and prayed to the outboard gods. Luckily, it started up. After a week I took apart the carburetor and cleaned that as well. Today it is working beautifully.

I don’t want you to think it’s all work though. I have also been energetically exploring the Bahamas.

The other day a group of young sailors and I pooled our money and rented a car to find blue holes in the area. The easiest to access was called Sawmill Sink. It is a huge, 300-foot deep cavern of fresh water, but there is a toxic layer after 30 feet so we limited ourselves to the top layers.

Three fish my friend and I scored while spear fishing between Two Rocks. Sally Gardener-Smith photo

Three fish my friend and I scored while spear fishing between Two Rocks. Sally Gardener-Smith photo

The next day we returned the car, and got back on our boats to meet up again in a secluded anchorage. A couple of people went spearfishing, some started a fire, and some prepared a salad. As dusk fell we had a feast on our own little beach with a thousand stars above us.

As it got later and the fire grew I felt a happiness from deep within me. With my dog sleeping by my side, Athena snuggly tucked away, and the sound of my friends voices floating through the smoke, I silently thanked everyone and everything that has made this adventure — this pipe dream — a reality.


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