Ahh, The Bahamas! Baja mar,
which in Spanish means shallow waters or low tide, are the best way to describe the over 700 islands and cays of the Bahamas. We made landfall in one of them: Great Harbour Cay.
It was a magical type of crossing. We left Fort Lauderdale with 2.4 knots of wind around us and it was a flat calm 120 nm over a long 20 hours, motoring all the way. Not the greatest thing to do on a sailboat, but with the forecast as it was, it was the window we chose to take.
The skies were clear and blue as we left, and the sun was shining hot. The seas were liquid glass type of calm in molten colours I can't even begin to describe. We did the usual S-curve type of crossing across the Gulf Stream. We marvelled as we watched the sun set in its spectacular array of colours,
"Green Flash, do you think?" I asked Dave, and we both waited and counted down to the tip of the red circle that in the end, shadowed a hue of green just for a split second of time. Satisfied, we sat back and watched the moon rise in a grandiose huge sphere of orange. Sometime in the middle of the night, I throttled down on our speed as the current pushed us along with an extra 2 knots, and the stars above us twinkled like diamonds in the sky.
It was at this point that I truly missed having my camera. Sigh.
We arrived in Great Harbour Cay Marina in the morning, with a wonderful welcome by the staff, and even though we were exhausted, as 20 hours on a passage will likely do to you, we got Banyan
, and ourselves squared away, all comfy and cozy (making sure our Yellow Q flag was up and flying!)
The marina called the C&I Officers at the airport, while handing us the sheets of paperwork to complete. The Capt'n wasn't even halfway through answering when we got a knock on the hull telling us to come back to the office and get cleared in. Whoa... no Arrival Beers yet !! We got our stamps of approval and $300 later we were issued our forms, 6 months for us, and a year for Banyan
Being the in the calm waters of the marina (and after a great night's sleep) it was time to send Dave back up the mast to tinker with the SSB antenna wire.
It was a battle of lines, a combination of fear of heights, and a bucket list too long to handle the crap, what he found was corrosion and a need to reterminate. There's too many masts around us to get a clear signal as to whether we fixed that gremlin.
Unfortunately our Watermaker issues are not resolved. What we thought was the issue (DC Motor), was only a partial fix. At the moment, we're dealing with a WTF moment!
Ahh, Bahamian Coconut bread...
To Toast or Not to Toast, that's the dilemma, isn't it?
Great Harbour Cay Marina has bikes available and free to use, in pretty His and Hers colours. Two of them were calling our name and we gingerly sat our bums down on two wheels and peddled our way towards the high cell phone tower. The Batelco Office was not far, and we pushed our thighs up the hills, and frantically flew down the hills (with no brakes!) and within moments we had bought ourselves a Bahamian phone number, and received 7 gig of data at $50.
All that biking in the heat of the afternoon sun, across mounds of sand swept across the dusty road, avoiding the large helter skelter potholes, we were thirsty, and looking for the Beach Bar, with easy to follow clearly posted signs.
We biked past the airport, past the beachfront villa's and all the way to the tip of the island and the end of the road, at which point we finally gave up in defeat and stopped to check the map we had with us.
"Look, it's supposed to be right across the airport" I said, and we both laughed sweaty tears of retracing our steps and sure enough, the sign painted on the dolphin pointing the way had blown down, and we almost missed it a second time around.
Two Ice Cold Kalik's and some mighty fine Conch Fritters were on the menu.
We were soon ready to keep on going, but needed a brief stop to fix Dave's bike chain that had come off. And then it was on on towards Bullock's Harbour. We cycled past the hardware store, police station, and school.
There's just SOMETHING
about Island Life. Every SINGLE
person driving by in their cars waved and/or smiled at us. Every SINGLE
child and teenager by the school looked up at us, and said "Good Afternoon" with a smile. There's JUST SOMETHING
about making eye contact, and human interaction, with the people you meet along the way, that warms the soul.
After a brief stop by the Church at the end of the road, where we met and chatted with some fellow cruisers, we got back on our bikes to head back home.
"Wait" I yelled to Dave a few short seconds later, as I looked with dismay at my rear tire.
"Yup, a flat" he acknowledged, or rather, the tire had come right off the rim. Sigh.
What else to do but start the long walk back as the tire behind me made squelching noises.
After about 15 minutes, a Bahamian came across the street towards us, asking if we're from the marina. He introduced himself as the marina garbageman, as he dialled his phone and made arrangements with the Marina to take the bike from me. We kept on walking. And then Dave biked and I jogged. And then we walked some more. And repeat.
About half an hour later, a truck coming towards us stopped. The Marina Manager had come to our rescue, loaded Dave's bike on the truck, took us back through town, picked up my bike, stopped at the liquor store and bought us an ice cold beer, and then brought us back to the Marina.
Having exercised all our body parts, we collapsed in our cockpit, done with the Days Adventurings.
I recently read a really good book by Sailing Banyan
friend and follower Rob Avery
It was one of the rare times I found myself not being able to stop flipping the virtual pages. Probably because I could relate on so many levels to the storyline. The main character, Sim with his military SOPs had me giggling as I stood to attention, and I could almost feel the wind in my hair as I read the Sailing Escapades. Close Hauled might not be the best point of sail, but the book is just the opposite, a great diversion into intrigue and well worth the read.