02/12/2011, Yacht Haven Marina, Nassau, Bahams
We went for a walk today to Potter's Cay. It's a small island on the south side of Nassau Harbor. The marina we are in is just past the east end of Potter's Cay, and in fact our slip is tucked a bit behind the end of the island.
We were actually going in search of a pump out facility. I asked at the marina here and he could only suggest either the very upscale Atlantis Marina, associated with the casino on Paradise Island, or perhaps Potter's Cay. There is nothing natural left about this little island. The causeway going out to it is lined with little restaurants and bars that all back onto the water (see photo gallery for picture). The island itself is completely surrounded by commercial docks. The inter-island mail boats are based here as well as a lot of big and small fishing boats. We got out to the island, but the end where the dockmaster was supposed to be was all very commercial and very rough. Bud decided he did not want to use their pump out even if we could find it.
Since we were out, we walked a bit further. We went towards downtown and the cruise ship docks. It is a nice day for walking because the cold front did come through. It's cloudy and cool; you almost need a sweater (I bet I'm getting a lot of sympathy from those of you up north). We came up to the other anchorage. We saw LoCo and it looks like they are still holding fine. The wind only got up to about 18 knots here in the harbor. Miguel and Sarah were more worried about other boats dragging anchor and hitting them, but at least by the time we got there no other boats were close to them.
We passed a cemetery, the street along it was lined with unusual old trees and I took a photo of one for the gallery. On the way back we walked right along the water's edge. The area east of the causeway to Potter's Cay and just west of this marina is full of derelict boats. Some of them that look close to sinking obviously have folks living on them. The photo above is a group of them in various stages of decay. Behind them you can see the boats in the marina, Earendil is right in there, you can see our mast, but not the boat.
02/11/2011, Yacht Haven Marina, Nassau, Bahams
Bud didn't sleep well last night because he was worried about our plan to go to Allen Cay today and try to find a good anchorage to wait out the 20-knot north winds that are supposed to come tomorrow. He was worried for two reasons: first, the anchorage is described as having some good holding in sandy patches. We saw what that was like in White Cay. An anchorage that looks like it has a lot of room really doesn't have good holding for more than a few boats. If there were already several boats there, we would really have no place where we could easily get hunkered down before the front comes through.
The second thing worrying him is that our dinghy engine hasn't been running right. He tried to fix it at White Cay, couldn't find any obvious problem and decided it might be bad gas. So he dumped the gas from the tank for the outboard into our 5-gallon gasoline jerry can and bought new gas for the outboard tank. But we hadn't run the engine so we didn't know if that was the problem.
This morning Bud suggested that we stay in Nassau until the front passes. That way we could launch the dinghy and try the engine out. After the front we expect at least two days of more moderate weather. And the next wind should be from the east. There are plenty of anchorages in the northern Exumas that we could reach from Allen Cay that provide protection from an east wind.
Since we were going to run the dinghy, we decided to use it to try to find Scott and Brittany. As we neared the anchorage where they were we did not see their boat out there. Then we spied it at a dock. We dinghied up and there was Scott. He said they were going out to Rose Island to wait out the front and then go on to the Exumas. We made arrangements to use the SSB radio to contact each other once in the Exumas. Brittany and a friend were in another dinghy so Scott told us to watch for her.
The dinghy engine was still sputtering. We ran back towards our boat and were looking for the marine center that we hoped could work on it when it started to run more smoothly. We ran it some more and decided that it had been bad gas, and now the bad gas was out of the fuel line, too, so the engine was OK. I had been reading the outboard engine manual and told Bud I thought the trim on the engine was wrong. When we got back to the boat we consulted the manual and adjusted the trim. Then we went back out to check that. The engine ran fine, the trim was better and we spied Brittany and the man with a red hat in a dinghy so we flagged them down and had a quick chat with Brittany, too. A very successful outing!
Next we went to a marine store looking for "The Exuma Guide" by Stephen Pavlidis. This gives much more detailed information about the anchorages than the Explorer Chart Book that we already have. I've been looking for this since Florida and had not found it yet. The marine store didn't have it. Since we were staying on, Bud said I might want to go back to the marine store he had been in yesterday, as they said they might be able to get a copy in a day. I went in and the woman at the counter called her supplier for me. He told me the dive shop at our marina might have a copy, if they didn't a nearby bookstore would. The dive store didn't, the bookstore did! I got her last copy, so maybe the last copy available today in Nassau. Yeah!
While I was doing that, Bud found a place that would take the bad gas, so he walked the jerry can over there and dumped the bad gas into their tank and walked one more marina over to get fresh gas with no ethanol. (We think the ethanol in the gas we had brought from Wilson combined with water to form a layer that caused our problems.)
Meanwhile, I met Sarah and Miguel on the street again and invited them for supper.
Back at the boat Bud vacuumed the boat and trimmed Fuzzy. Since the dinghy was in the water I used it to go and scrub 2000 miles worth of grime off our transom. The engine exhaust had turned it grey! Once I had scrubbed and polished I finally applied the TYC logo I bought for the boat in 2009. Then Bud and I rinsed the dinghy out and pulled it back aboard (we'd already hoisted the engine up after the morning trip). We're getting pretty good at getting the dinghy and the engine on and off the boat.
We had a nice supper with Sarah and Miguel. They brought coleslaw with home made mayonnaise and we thawed and heated a big bowl of three sisters soup (squash, corn and beans) that Bud had made back in the cold days and we had in the freezer. We wanted to use it while we had shore power to run the microwave long enough to defrost and heat it. They've promised to have us over on their boat when we meet up again in the Exumas.
Altogether, it was a very satisfying day, and we're glad we stayed on in Nassau.
02/10/2011, Yacht Haven Marina, Nassau, Bahams
We are at Nassau Yacht Haven, and across the harbor you can see the casinos on Paradise Island. It's not beautiful like White Cay, but it is interesting.
Nassau has the lowest prices for food and drinks in the Bahamas. Bud took advantage of that and bought a lot of food (prices about 150% of US) and 7 cases of beer and 2 cases of tonic water. He bought Sands beer for $38 a case. Beer at Great Harbour Cay was $72 a case, so this seemed like a bargain.
We spent a couple of hours stashing things everywhere. We also took all the food that was packaged in cardboard (and all the beer in cardboard trays) out of the cardboard to avoid bringing cockroach eggs aboard. It will also cut down on garbage. If you're anchored out the marinas will charge you to bring a bag of trash in for disposal. And the Exuma Land and Marine Park, where we'd like to spend some time, doesn't allow any trash disposal at all.
I spent the rest of the day washing clothes.
It wasn't exactly a fun day, but we did meet Sarah and Miguel from LoCo (we met them anchored at White Cay) on the street in front of the marina and talked to them for a while. We ended up having them come back to the boat for a drink. They are really a nice couple. They are sailing down to St. Croix where they are going to work on a farm. We were describing Rasmus to them; because we're still trying to find Scott and Brittany, and it turns out they were anchored next to them the night before last. Bud had thought he'd seen Rasmus today, but didn't see anyone aboard and the dinghy wasn't there. We're getting close though. Hopefully we'll see them, Jon and Arline and Sarah and Miguel all again in the Exumas. That would be great.
02/09/2011, Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas
I probably shouldn't even bother to say what we planned to do. It wasn't to come to Nassau today. Saturday and Sunday are supposed to be bad weather days, so our intent was to spend them in Nassau and get all the things done that we needed a town and a marina for (groceries, wash, Internet access, etc.) We came from the Berry Islands today because there is not supposed to be much wind tomorrow and Friday might be the start of the front.
We tried to sail to Rose Island today, to anchor out for two days and then come in to Nassau. The wind was supposed to be NNE, moving around towards E and later in the day maybe southeast. The wind started just south of east. So instead of a nice fast close reach we were sailing as close to the wind as we could, and still not quite making the heading we needed.
About 12:30 we assessed the situation. The island of New Providence was coming in to view, unfortunately, we were approaching the west end, and we needed to be on the east end. The wind did seem to be going more to the east as we came closer to the island; we were actually able to run parallel to the original line. But we weren't getting any closer to the original line. Finally we doused the forward sails (jib & staysail) and turned into the wind with the engine and the main.
Our calculations put us at our waypoint at 4 PM. Then we'd have another 4 miles to go picking our way back to the anchorage (visual piloting rules apply, that is, you need to stand on the foredeck and look to see how deep it is). Once in the anchorage we'd have to find a good spot to drop the anchor. The later in the day, the more difficult it is to see into the water for both those tasks. Finally, if and when we got anchored, we'd still have to unload the dinghy to either row or motor Fuzzy to shore.
So instead we came to Nassau and were safely at a dock at 3:30. We still came 45 nautical miles today. The harbor isn't huge, but it is busy. You have to call Harbor Control for permission to enter. I had radioed ahead to try to line up a dock, and it was a good thing, because Harbor Control asked me if we were staying at a marina. (There are a couple of anchorages in the harbor, but they aren't supposed to be too good.) I don't know what Harbor Control would have said if we'd said we were going to try to anchor, but they readily granted access when we said we had reservations at a marina.
Just after you enter the harbor you have to pass to the left of the cruise ship docks. In between getting out dock lines, etc., I took this photo. Can you see the palm trees on the dock between the two left cruise ships?
Tomorrow we'll check the weather to see if the forecast has changed, try to figure out where we need to be for Saturday and Sunday and try again to make a plan.
02/08/2011, White Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas
We listened to the weather on the SSB radio again this morning. The front that had been predicted came through. The winds weren't that strong, but they did clock around from SE to SW and then through the night to the west. Between 4 and 5 AM they swung another 50 degrees to just east of north. We swung around at anchor, but the anchor never moved.
There is another front coming through Friday, so we are taking advantage of some light NE to east winds to move over near Nassau tomorrow. Thursday we'll hang out at the anchorage there as there is virtually no wind predicted. Then Friday we'll go to a marina to get things we need and wait out the squalls. This time the winds might get to 30 knots or so.
Today we finally got to take the dinghy around the west side of Hoffman Cay and we found the blue hole. Bud is looking about 20 feet down into it in the photo. You can see that there is nothing else around, just this crater of seawater in the middle of the low jungle-like scrub. I put other pictures that give a sense of the depth in the gallery.
LoCo and Bodacious left for Nassau today; and the boat that was over near the other cay moved closer to us for a better spot. They had gone aground as the wind swung around during the night.
We said good-bye via radio to Jim and Judy on Dream Weaver. We never got over next to them, having decided to stay here and then leave for Nassau. Still haven't seen or heard from Scott and Brittany on Rasmus, but hoping our paths will cross.
02/07/2011, White Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas
We decided to stay at the anchorage we were at rather than move near Jim and Judy today. We are more protected here and the anchor does seem to have a good bite, so we figured we be good to sit out the front and the wind clocking around.
Sarah and Mickel on LoCo weighed anchor and set out for Nassau. At about 10:30 a trawler came in. We talked to them a bit on the radio and they circled us looking for some sand to anchor in. They ended up fairly close to us. They apologized on the radio and said they would have anchored farther away, but there was nowhere else that had protection from the west and sand for the anchor. They said they'd watch for a couple of hours and make sure it would be OK.
We took off in the dinghy to find the blue hole that's supposed to be on the cay just to our north. (Cay is pronounced key and is an island.) We landed at the beach directly north of us hoping to find a trail through from there. There was none, so we got back in the dinghy to try to get around to the west side of the cay. But when we went though the cut and out into the water on the south side it was pretty wavy for our little dinghy. Since we didn't know the depths and what the beach approach would be like, we gave up for today.
After lunch Bud went snorkeling. While he was in the water, LoCo came back along with another sailboat. I called out to LoCo and they said they'd just been beating back and forth; the wind hadn't switched to the south much at all, so they decided to come back. LoCo anchored on the other side of the trawler, close to where they'd been the night before. The other boat anchored a ways over from the three of us, close behind another little cay. I went snorkeling after Bud got back and snorkeled over to the trawler. The trawler is Bodacious, from Bannock, MT and the couple on board is Jack and Jo.
We fed Fuzzy his supper and walked him. Then we went over and picked up Sarah and Mickel and went for cocktails on Bodacious. It's a beautiful 39-foot Kady Krogan. We had a really nice time getting to know both couples. When we left to come back it was dark, we had no light with us and neither LoCo nor Earendil had an anchor light. After our eyes got used to the dark we could see OK. And Jack helped by using his spotlight to illuminate our way.
The wind has finally shifted to the west, but it has died down as it shifted, not gotten stronger as expected. It was blowing up around 20 knots today, but is probably between 10 and 15 knots now. We'll see what tomorrow brings.