CURRENT LOCATION: White Sound anchorage, Green Turtle Cay, Abacos, Northwestern Bahamas
26 46.689' N, 077 20.163' W (CLICK HERE
for Google Maps), or try to 'Copy > Paste' the numbers into Google Earth
At 4AM, we were roused from a good slumber by a , "BEEP...BEEP...BEEP..." The anchor alarm was sounding. We have our anchor alarm set for a short distance, so that it will wake us even in the event of a wind shift. In fact, we had been woken once earlier in the evening when we experienced a 90-degree wind shift. This time, we had swung an additional 90-degrees and were facing in the opposite direction from which we had set the anchor. Sheryl sensed it before I did and said, "Let's stay awake, the winds are picking up." And pick up they did.
As we headed out to the cockpit, we heard a signal horn and looked off of our bow. The two boats in front of us were swinging very close to one another and one was trying to rouse the other to take action. We were very busy watching them, keeping an eye on our GPS path to determine if we were dragging, and watching the proximity of the boat behind us. The boat behind us had set their anchor in water which is about 1 meter shallower than we did; therefore, when we swung to this new wind direction our longer rode put us just a little too close for comfort. With them directly off our stern, we would be unable to take the first measure to correct any anchor dragging, namely letting out more rode. We debated starting the engine, but sat tight for the moment to see how things played out.
One of the boats off our bow had engine running, navigation lights on and had their anchor up in short order. They motored around trying to find a better spot for re-planting the anchor. With winds up to 20 knots and many boats sprinkled across the anchorage, they looked like a steel pinball trying not to hit any bumpers. We watched with great interest, as we did not want to be the one bumper they hit. Having no luck re-planting their anchor in these conditions, they proceeded to try to pick up one of the empty mooring balls in the anchorage. Try after try after try yielded no positive results, and we heard ever more abusive expletives being shouted from the husband at the bow to the wife at the helm. They gave up the mooring ball approach and finally headed toward the channel, dropping an anchor at the very edge of the anchorage. Their engine was finally shut down two hours after all this had started. Sheryl and I are certain that divorce papers will be filed just as quickly.
As for us, our anchor seemed to hold well, and after breakfast I went for a swim to see how things looked at ground zero. The sand showed a nice tight turn of the anchor around the spot where we had set it. It looks like we are in good shape for the day; however, I still wanted to hang around on the boat for a while to make certain that no more lingering squalls would be trailing behind the front.
Sheryl took Patience
over to New Plymouth and got us cleared-in, then radioed me to let me know that we were 'officially' in the Bahamas. With the weather looking good, I inflated my kayak and paddled over to meet up with her. She gave me the tour of New Plymouth, and my smile must have been ear-to-ear. Aside from the clear waters and beautiful beaches of uninhabited islands, this
is what I came down here for: a simple town, with simple homes and simple shops; no strip malls, no traffic lights; where everything is accessible by walking. It is not a polished and pristine utopia (designed by some developer's Disneyeske version of what island life is all about), but a realistic chickens-in-your-backyard and clothing hung out on the lines pragmatic way of life. There is something appealing about that which I think I must inherit honestly from my father (who was always seeking a simpler, more self-sufficient way of life).
We met up with Steve & Shelia, friends from New Bern, for lunch. Steve & Shelia lived aboard their 38-foot Hunter, Carolina
, this summer in the slip next to ours at Bridge Pointe Marina. Sheryl had been surprised to see them when she strolled through the streets of New Plymouth yesterday. They had departed New Bern one day after us and brought Carolina
down the ICW route, wasting no time along the way, to Ft. Lauderdale, then across to West End. They had arrived here at Green Turtle Cay one day ahead of us. Over a too-expensive lunch, we shared the experiences of the last 1000 miles, and talked about future plans. They intend to stay in the Abacos for the winter, then head back to North Carolina. Their big concern now is finding a slip for the boat upon their return. Availability of rented slips continues to decrease while demand increases.
By early afternoon, we were back on the big boat and switching our "Q" flag for the Bahamian courtesy flag, our first courtesy flag. Now everyone knows that we are officially cleared-in to the country. Evening becomes night very quickly, and with an early start to the day bedtime isn't far behind.
However, before I sign off, I must share a bit of history which is related to our lunch today. My first experience in the Bahamas came about eighteen years ago, at the ripe age of 21. It was a two-week, totally land-based, sojourn to Georgetown, Exumas. It was there that I had my first sampling of conch. Conch is, essentially, a big sea snail (CLICK HERE
to see a photo Sheryl took of one in Belize), and is commonly found on the menus in places in and around the Caribbean Sea. I enjoyed conch no matter how it was prepared, and sampled some every time I made future trips down island.
When Sheryl and I were in New Orleans a few years ago, our first stop was Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville for lunch. I enjoyed conch fritters as a part of a relatively heavy lunch. There may have even been a strong margarita consumed. Later that day, we went running, and afterward I became ill. I chalked it up to running on such a heavy meal.
Two years ago, when we went to Belize to sail with our friends aboard Artemesia
, we went out to dinner on the night of our arrival. I had conch salad for dinner. In the wee hours of the morning, I was climbing the companionway ladder and rushing out to a remote corner of the dock to feed the fishes. At this point, Sheryl was certain that I react badly to conch (the common link in these two circumstances). I was sure that it was the long day of travel, lack of sleep, and excitement of being here that caused my upset stomach. I had never had a problem with conch (or any
food for that matter) before.
Today, I bravely ordered a cracked conch burger for lunch. It was an experiment, of sorts. Well, take it from a former scientist, the third repeat of an experiment with similar results should be taken as conclusive evidence. I have enjoyed my last meal of conch. For someone who enjoys food (of all varieties) as much as I, it is a sad day to put something, anything, on my 'cannot have' list. Especially considering that conch will now be ubiquitously available for the next few years.
Oh well, at least the Kalik (Beer of the Bahamas) still goes down without a problem.