Chris here... Well, we still haven't gotten the dinghy engine unlocked yet. We ripped apart the boat and searched EVERYWHERE, including the inside of the vacuum cleaner, and we just can't find the keys. We're going to dive under the boat later when the sun is more overhead and we can see - maybe the keys fell in the water and are still magically right under Pelican.
In the meantime, I've found that there are no locksmiths in Bimini. The closest ones are in Miami and Nassau, but we can't get there. There are a bunch of SSB Nets here in the Bahamas. For those of you unfamiliar with SSB's or SSB nets, our SSB is like a HAM radio, and nets are scheduled times when groups of people get together to talk over them. The nets have a "controller" who manages the communications to make sure everyone isn't talking over everyone else. The nice thing about SSB's is that you can communicate over far distances with them. The other day I was talking to a friend in the Spanish Virgin Islands (about 1,000nm south of here) over the SSB, and we consistently hear people from the central US and as far away as Mexico. Our weather comes to us over Chris Parker's SSB Weather Net.
One of the southeastern US, Bahamas and Caribbean specific nets is called the Cruiseheimer's Net and it starts at 8:30am, right after we listen to the weather. Boats from all around the listening area can "check in", letting everyone know where they are or where they are going. In addition, it provides a scheduled opportunity for one boat to reach out to another, allows people to announce regional, national or global news, and allows people to ask questions about what to do when they have an issue. Today I asked if anyone had any idea on how to remove the lock from our dinghy and got several good ideas and a few interesting ones. One of the ideas was to tow the dinghy in reverse, raising the engine out of the water. Another idea was to put the dinghy on the mailboat to Nassau and meet it there. Someone else suggested finding liquid nitrogen and freezing the lock. To their credit, they also suggested freon, which is a bit more available here than liquid nitrogen. Anyway, the point is that it's really cool to be able to reach out to the cruising community to ask a question and get so many responses from people you don't know.
I also posted the question as to what to do on Sailnet, an Internet message board I frequent. I enjoyed one suggestion to call AAA and a locksmith. Unfortunately, I don't think the closest AAA office in Miami will send someone across the Gulf Stream. Regardless, I do appreciate everyone's ideas!
So, we're going to wait until 1-2 when the sun will be from the appropriate direction to see underwater, and then we'll dive to see if we can find the keys. If that fails, they have a sawzall at the maintenance shop here at Bimini Sands, and we're going to try to cut the bar off the dinghy while being careful not to burn the dinghy fabric from the sparks.
Perhaps we're, yet again, getting a sign from someone about heading across the banks. Listening to Chris Parker this morning he said that the wind would be on our nose at 15-20kts and the waves would be 4-5ft right on our nose. He suggested not crossing Thursday as it would be miserable. We would have probably done it anyway - we can handle uncomfortable, but we shy away from unsafe. Anyway, the wind is supposed to abate on Sunday afternoon and be down to 10kts or under on Monday, so even if we can't get this lock off before then we should still be able to head to Nassau in calmer seas and towing the dink. We'll let y'all know how it goes later today.