Jalan-Jalan Yacht

Bahamas

Thge last few weeks have been spent at Bahamian pace and that is even slower than Caribbean pace!

 

We eventually left Fort Lauderdale and headed to Miami/Dinner Cay (Coconut Grove). In order to get to Miami we had to leave the ICW and head out to sea. This was novel in itself as we hadn’t seen open water in a good few months.  we were quite excited at the prospect of a sail.  Ce la Vie – it was not to be, we had just gotten the main up and jib set when the wind decided to disappear.  So we motored all the way to Miami and up Government Cut  where a minimum of 5 cruise liners were lined up.  My goodness but these things are huge.  Eventually we rejoined the ICW on the other side of the bridge that was too low for us to get under and were back running in a depth of just over 2 metres for the next few miles.  It is nerve racking.

 

Anyway we had a bit of a hoot trying to find our way across a few sandbanks, into the right channel which would take us to the mooring field with some 200+ mooring balls.  We actually ended up with the water taxi man kindly leading the way!  Anyway here we spent a week or so waiting for the ever elusive weather window to cross the Gulf Stream.  It allowed us time to do the touristy thing at Coconut Grove and Miami.   What an amazing skyline it has from the water – skyscrapers abound.  We spent a day doing open top bus tours and basically covered the Little Havana and the famous or infamous south beach where Al Capone did much of his business.  Apparently as this was not the desired image and the state have worked hard to make it a happening place for all the right reasons.  It was fascinating stuff.

 

We managed to meet a few new cruisers along the way and spend some social time with them. Eventually there was a weather window and it was battlestations!   We left in the early hours,  around 4 a.m.  It turned out the other 20 or so boats in the anchorage all had the same idea and so it was a bit like the Armada heading out.  As it happened the crossing was absolutely fine. We motored all the way in a fairly choppy sea making the necessary 20 degree adjustment to compensate for the Gulf Stream.  We passed onto the Great Bahama Bank through Gun Cay Cut which was a bit of a challenge as there are too many shallows for comfort. By sundown we had chosen a spot on the banks to drop the hook in about 2.5. metres for the night and shared supper with Free n’ Br’easy before hitting the pillow. It is very comforting to know you have another boat close at hand when there is no land in sight for miles and miles. It is disconcerting to be able to anchor in such shallow water and be aware that the nearest land is 30 miles away or more.

Next day we beat a path for Chub Cay (which is privately owned by a Fishing club annual membership $15k!) where we would be able to do customs and get a cruising licence.  Welcome to the Bahamas – that will be $300 for the licence, $100 to come ashore and leave the dinghy while visiting the airport to do the official bit, $10 to use the bus to take you to the airport.  O.K. – do you take credir cards – asked John. The reply was no sir – cash only.   Talk about feeling poverty stricken as we only had $311 in our pockets!

Anyway we anchored outside the marina entrance in the end as it would have cost about $104 for the night to berth there but we avoided the $100 dinghy charge!  Typical Scots I’m afraid. As it turned out thw Dock master ( Dan Scott) decided to wave the dinghy charge as he likes to look after his cruisers. Grateful as I was John didn’t have a bean to tip him with.

As it turned out it was a beautiful spot and the waters are just like you see in the movies.  Emerald, turquoise and aqua rippling above pure white sandy bottom – fantastic.  Unfortunately you couldn’t land on the goregous white sandy beach as it had a dirty great sign up saying it was PRIVATE.  Nonetheless we stayed an extra day and even had a swim (but it was much cooler than expected) . However overnight the wind picked up and we were awake and keeping an eye on anchor position. As it runed out we didn’t drag but the boat alongside did so John got out the foghorn and wakened the whole anchorage trying to get their attention. Eventually they surfaced and had to re-lay.  Then a boat which had arrived in the dark under sail through the narrow rocky and shallow entrance (crazy but hey ho) told us that they had no engine and were sorry they were getting so close to us.  At tht point , just as daylight was breaking, we upped anchor and beat a hasty retreat to Nassau to find an ATM!

NASSAU.

Cruise liner city.  They come in a narrow entrance and line up alongside each other. Disgorge a few thousand passengers apiece for about 6 hours and then leave.  Not sure if they do bring much to the economy but the area close to the dock is full of obscenely expensive jewellers, dress shops etc alongside local ladies selling straw imports.  The only up side was John found a Starbucks where he enjoyed a mocha frappacino.  We took a local bus and managed to get ourselves connected to Bahama network and also found an ATM or two.  The key purchase was a replacement macerator pump as the current one is leaking into the bilges EEyuk. After a night at anchor in the main Nassau channel we headed out across the bank to  navigate Porgee Rocks and heading to Highbourne Cut.

WINDBOUND

It appears that winter in the Bahamas can be very unpredictable weather wise.  We were stuck on anchor at Highbourne for 3 days before reconnecting with Free n ‘br’easy who had been in the marina there.  We all headed down to the Exuma National Park at Warderwick Wells where we picked up mooring balls and went ashore to  explore.  It didn’t take long to cover the area.  It is becoming clear that the Bahamians have done remarkably well to have survived these harsh arid islands for centuries.  The colours of the water vary so much depending on the depths but they are stunning and so intense that at times your eyes get sore with the beauty/brightness.  John went swimming after the explore ashore and was no sooner back in the boat when a huge nurse shark came calling.  He lingered on the sea bed for ages and we noticed there was a remora feeding on his back.  There were also quite a few large rays swimming around the shallows of the mooring balls.  Needless to say we were in no rush to swim again.  There is however not a lot of fish to see other than these big things.

Staniels Cay was the next port of call.  Free n B came too and we anchored close and shared a few meals together.  It is always lovely when you connect with folk and they are good fun.  This Cay is known for a major tourist attraction i.e.  a cave known as ‘Thunderball cave’ as it featured in the James Bond movie of that ilk.  Well Bond cay is just a few miles away as well.  Anyway we dinghied to it in the early morning only to find the tide so high the entrance would have been very difficult.   So we went back again late afternoon.  By this time it was like Paddy’s market with dinghies galore, jetskis and tourist motor boats.  The snorkellers were decidely rude and at one point John got kicked in the face by a guy who was so eager to get into the cave.  Crazy – anyway it was a cave with some fish including a sizeable grouper and couple of gorgeous Angel fish, in it  and a hole in the roof – of course the 50 folk all in there trying to see it made it extra special!!!!!!  We didn’t linger – why would you?

By this time we were considering heading towards Georgetown. Then we got the weather forecast – groan.   Suffice to say the next front was coming in and bringing big winds with it.  Big Majors Cut is a wide basin which gives shelter from N E and S but these winds were going to have a westerly edge to them. Anyway we decided to stay put and weather it.  Blimey it blew over 40 knots during the night and by morning the radio was full of stories of dragged anchors, sleepless nights and even news that a salvage boat was on its way to a boat just round the corner from us which had gone aground on rocks.   The seas were then far to big to move so we waited another day for them to settle – only they didn’t. Another  blowy night from the north this time .  Do we do this for pleasure – really?  Fortunately the next day the wind was down enough to up anchor and find a change of view.

 

Galiot island   isolated and between two cuts meant that we spent a very uncomfrortable night and found ourselves playing cards at 4 in the morning to stave of the notion of sea sickness.  Needless to say anchor was up and we headed back north to find a more favourable anchorage for the next heavy wind that was coming.

BLACK POINT  One of the few established communities with a school, 2 churches, a shop  and restaurant or two not to mention a proper laundermat.

We are on anchor surrounded it seems by Island Packets   (6 at the moment)  Think we should have a muster!  Anyway the wind has relaxed a little and everyone is drawing breath and contemplating where to go to next.  John has been busy fixing things again.  The generator this time (slipping belt). He’d just replaced the water pump so we were gutted when we didn’t get to watch Tutti Frutti during the storm the other night.

Hopefully tomorrow the Exuma Sound will have settled down enough for us to venture towards Georgetown in an easterly. Would have preferred a little north to help us on our way but it is never there when you want it and for sure there when you don’t.

As I said at the beginning not a lot of news  but hope you enjoyed what there is over a cuppa. Missing folks from home and really appreciate continuing e mails – keep them coming folks they are our life line.  Fingers crossed for the team on Saturday here’s to them consolidating their previous performance with another win.