Christmas Time in the Bahamas
13 January 2018
An overnight sail to Eleuthera making the most of the northerly breeze south east of Abaco and a sunrise reef entry to the Egg islands. These small islands form a curved protection from the northerly winds and swell and once again provided lobstering opportunities. The likely underwater hiding places were found and inspected, with some success. Lobster risotto for dinner. Dinghy riding to Spanish Wells, we investigate Royal Island and its protected but rather shallow harbour. The island was cleared and great plans started for an 18 hole Jack Nicklause golf course, homes, hotels, villas, restaurants and spas. Now the remains slowly return to the land with roots entombing bijou villas while roofs sink under the weight of lanky foliage. Spanish Wells however is the main fishing port in the Bahamas - conch, lobster and fish are all landed here by the commercial fishing fleet. Ice cream coloured houses for rent proliferate alongside boat yards, mangroves and shallow passages. In the right conditions Rock Sound is great for catamarans. You can tuck in close to shore in most wind directions, fuel can be purchased, the supermarket has well stocked shelves local veg is sold in the car park and the water is so crystal clear that on the calmest of days you look as though you are flying above the surface of a strange moon. Lobsters are about apparently - but we suspect they’ve all been had. Christmas is coming and we have plans to meet up with Ocean Blue further south so no time to investigate further.
Meeting up with Ocean Blue again in Norman’s Cay, Exumas, was very nice. Maybe not the most comfortable anchorage but very pretty. Unfortunately the allergic rash (first appearance in Abaco) was becoming more concerning and health facilities in Nassau beckoned. A day-long slog north west but doctors were available so it had to be worth it. The diagnosis was ‘you’ve come into contact with something you have an allergic reaction to’. We’d probably worked that out…but we now had prescription antihistamines and a dose of corticosteroids (plus a lighter wallet) so headed back south to catch up at Shroud Cay with four Brit boats and two Australian boats making plans for Christmas. Organising the orchestration of three courses for twelve - moving boat each course (bring own crockery, cutlery and beverages), sharing provisions (not too worried about the sprouts), the preparing and cooking takes over. The Christmas cake has a Bahamian theme while tradition rules with meat, lots of stuffing, blanketed pigs, gravy and plenty of veg. Boat ovens however are not the most reliable and the Webber BBQ is pressed into service to encourage browning of ‘roast’ potatoes and parsnips. The festivities continue well beyond desert although by 8.30pm we’re all convinced it must be very late. Deck dancing proves rather popular, maybe more so with some than others.
As ever the Christmas period is busy with Christmas of course, the Boxing Day feast of left-overs and un-eaten on the day food, early morning snorkelling through Thunderball Grotto, Staniel Cay, birthday Bill’s curry night bonanza at beautiful Rudder Cut Cay followed by a Georgetown, Exuma New Year, complete with fireworks. Exhausting!