I awoke this morning to a calm. I slept well and actually rose at around 7 am. Checking the boat over I looked over the stern for our dinghys and saw only one. “Wendy, our inflatable is GONE! I yelled. Immediately I hopped into our hard dinghy and rowed over to a fellow cruisers boat. I noticed his companionway had been opened up so I told him; Bill, our quandry and he threw some clothes on and we went looking, and looking, and looking.
The good thing about Marsh Harbor is that it is basically land locked. Anything floating free and being blown by the wind will arrive at a shore. In this case it should be the western shore.
Bill and I went along the western shore for about a mile and a half. We went dead down wind a little on both sides of where we think she went. No luck. ]
I can’t believe our Abaco Cruise will be over this early. I’m not staying in the Bahamas without a good diving platform and I’m not coming back to the Bahamas if I have to go to the state and buy a new one.
We get back to the boat just in time for the Abaco Cruisers Net. We break into the net – after all it is about Cruisers helping cruisers and describe the situation. Immediately after I hop back into Bill’s dinghy to go to Rainbow Boat Rentals. I was going to rent a 20′ boat to go up the coast to find the dinghy. As I’m traveling across the Bay; Peter on Grace yells out “They found your dinghy”. A tow reported seeing it up on the shore just past the little Cays.
So I hop into Peter’s inflatable and we run out to where it is to be. Can’t find it. Look on both sides of the bay by where we thought it was to be. Back to the boat.
There we again break into the net to try to contact the tug boat captain and find out where he saw it. Success in contacting him but where he says he saw it we found an old dinghy (not ours on the shore). About this time Kevin from Puffin comes by in a hard bottom dinghy that has more range. So we take off again.
We travel up the coast about as far as I could imagine it would be; in waves about 60 cm, and then veer in towards shore. As we close I see a Bahamian standing on the shore and as we get closer it looks like an inflatable with grey chaps by him. We found the dinghy but no engine.:(
We talk to him. As Kevin begins to ask him questions I go and look into his truck parked near by. No engine. He hasn’t seen any engine. He was just trying to move the dinghy up on the beach for protection. (The two front floor boards are removed and water is sloshing around in the dinghy.) If you ask me he was trying to take it apart to haul it off.
So now we have a dinghy and no engine. Remember the dinghy was new and the engine I had just purchased 3 weeks earlier in Green Turtle. We look nearby in the woods. It can’t have gone far if we just timed it right.
We found it was in a newly developing park and one of the restrooms was locked w/ no one in it. We checked the other rest room and the engine wasn’t there. The window was partly opened so we were able to reach in and open it some more thinking it would be in there for safe keeping for someone to pick it up later. No engine.
I look around more in the woods and an individual from Ace Hardware drives up and immediately begins to turn around and leave. I hail him and we talk to him. No; he hasn’t seen anyone with an engine but he would watch for someone. There is nothing in his truck for delivery and there is nothing there for him to pick up; unless the engine is still around.
About 10 minutes later a man on a bicycle appears. We ask him about the engine and he said “I hid it in the woods so no one would theft it”. He showed me where and in I go while Kevin engages him in conversation. I can’t find it. I’m getting a little agitated. I come out and Leroy comes in to show us where. The engine and the fuel tank is sitting about 150′ back into the woods. We carry it out and set it by the dinghy.
I tell Leroy how grateful I am that he was honest and I want to reward that honesty but I don’t have any money. We discuss where to meet so I can reward him and agree by the Union dock (Public Dock) in the town in a couple of hours.
We put the engine in Kevins boat, tie a bridle to my dinghy and tow it to the Jib Room ( a great cruisers marina in Marsh Harbor).
On the way we call Patty at the Blue Dolphin head of the Cruisers Net and she calls the Police to inform them of the recovery.
They met us by the Jib room and take a statement advising me not to give the guy any reward till after they confirm what was going on. They ask me to help and I agree.
Wendy and I went to meet the engine-finding Bahamian at the Union Dock. The Constable advised us to call him when the “guy” was there and he would come by. He said not to pay him anything but to stall. A fellow cruiser took a picture of “Leroy” and I shaking hands. (Yes I now know his name). Wendy went into Rainbow Boat Rentals to supposedly get change so I could give him some money. She called the Constable.
When the Constable arrived he confirmed that this was one of the three gentleman that had shown up gave him some statement about his rights. After talking to him for a few minutes he loaded his bicycle into the trunk and took the Leroy away.
We now have everything back. The dinghy has a hole in it. We’ll need to patch it. We’ll get a lock. We’re quite saddened that stealing has too been an export of the US. We’d cruised 25 years ago all thoughout this area and no one had really heard anything of any stealing. In the last 4 years it is being discussed all to frequently.
And to Jack and anyone else; no, we’re not giving up cruising because of something like this. But we’ll be much more cautious in Paradise. Remember; the difference between adventure and adversity is attitude.