January 23, 2016
We are still in Great Harbour. The winds were blowing 20 to 40 knots. This is a good day to be in a marina. The boats at the entrance of the marina are getting knocked around quite a bit. Down at our end it is pretty quiet. The ladies took a walk to the beach. I worked on our blog and caught up on things that needed to be done.
January 24, 2016
I committed to giving a basket weaving class today at 13:00 today. We needed to get the proper raw materials for making the baskets so I went out into the woods looking for Silverback Palm fronds. I already had a few for my own weaving that we collected during our trip to the beach. Picked the wrong fronds for the course and ended using my supply. Now I have no fronds.
We got everyone together at the gazebo at 13:00 and started them making fray. Fray is made from running a needle down the frond until it becomes small enough to be easily pliable. The fray is collected and run through a bead until the bead becomes tight about the fray. You then make yourself a needle which is about 3/8 of an inch wide frond and you use the needle to weave about the fray.
We first taught everyone how to make the fray and then how to make the needle. We then guided them through the weaving process. They all did very well and their first projects looked a lot better than my first project.
We went back to the boat at 17:00 to prepare for our leaving the next morning. We went over to Mañana to discuss our plans for tomorrow. I was concerned about anchoring in Little Harbour which was our planned destination. It looked a bit too rolly in there. We changed our destination to Soldier Cay which was also the destination for Anne's Oddysse and Bright Ayes.
January 25, 2016
We were up at 6:00 am and paid our bill at 7:20. Aquarelle was still at the dock and had planned to leave earlier. Their engine would not start because their fuel filters were plugged. We gave them some fuel so they could change out their filters and wished them luck. Their destination for today was Nassau.
We headed out about 8:00 am and puttered out the channel. Mañana was just untying from the dock so we took it easy so they could catch up. We passed Bright Ayes going out the channel. They were still securing their dinghy before heading out. We went out through the cut and headed down the channel. As soon as we could we started bearing north to round the top of the islands. The current was against us as the tide was coming in. The winds were out of the east. The waters stay shallow all the way north, so we were constantly keeping an eye on the depth finder to assure we did not run aground.
We rounded the north part of the island and found two cruise ships sitting off of Big and Little Stirrup Cays. The cruise lines have bought and developed the islands as a stop for their cruising passengers. The cruise ships anchor off the islands and ferry their passengers to and from the islands for their shore excursions. There are beaches, restaurants, jet skis, boat rides and parasailing for the cruisers pleasure.
We headed east in between the cruise ships and the shore so we could get a good look at what the islands had to offer. We continued around the point and headed south, again staying as close as the depths would allow to the islands. The Bahama Islands are pretty much the same: iron shore and beaches with a little bit of growth smattered about. The waters are various hues which make the islands beautiful when the sun is out to illuminate the various colors.
We continued south with the wind on our nose and continued current against us. Were slowly slogging our way south with the sails up and the motor running. The winds were blowing six to eleven knots and the seas were running one to two feet.
We arrived at our planned destination around noon. I called Mañana and told them we were worried about tomorrows wind and thought we ought to continue to head south and get into Nassau tonight before the winds build and come around on our nose. Mañana said they would go along but might bug out later. We set our course for Nassau.
A couple of hours later Mañana gave us a call and told us they would be pulling into Bond Cay for the night. I actually made the turn to go in but my gut said this was the wrong decision and we went back on course. Always follow your gut.
We said goodbye and Mañana said they would see us tomorrow. That would not happen. We continued our course to Nassau. The wind began to fail us and we pulled in the sails. We were doing just above 5 knots without the wind and the current against us. As the water got deeper the rollers got larger. They were beginning to run four to eight feet with eight second intervals. That makes it a gently rolling sea.
A few hours later the winds began to build so we put the sails up and began to move on really well. We also finally were out of the current so our speeds were running seven to eight knots as we closed in on Nassau. We had the engines on but at low idle.
We began to see Nassau at about sixteen miles out. The Atlantis and Hilton complex buildings are the first thing you see because the buildings are so tall. The closer you get the better the details of the island. We were only about eight miles out when the sun went down and the winds really began to build. The winds were blowing close to twenty knots and the seas were beginning to get quite choppy. It was about time to reduce sail but we were anxious to get in out of this mess so we left the sails up and charged in for Nassau.
About a mile out we called into Nassau to ask for permission to enter the harbor. We reported where we came from and where we were going and received permission to enter. We rolled in our sails and continued our slug towards the harbor. Without the sails up the ride in was really sloppy. You had to pin yourself in somewhere so you would not be thrown about. As we got near the channel we could not determine where the channel markers were. The city lights drown out the channel marker lights so we used our charts to enter.
Just before entering the harbor we notice a small freighter cutting across our bow. We did not see him until the last minutes but there was no chance of a collision. As soon as he clears we notice a tug boat in the middle of the channel headed straight for us. We veer to the left of the channel to give him room only to notice later he was towing two unlit barges behind him. How dangerous can you get? That sure gave us the willies.
We made it into the harbor and tried to anchor off of Junkanoo Beach. We dropped the hook and dragged it across the bottom for a thousand yards. The anchor just bumped along the coral bottom. We headed in a bit further and dropped the hook exactly where the anchorage was shown on the chart and the anchor almost set instantly. We backed down hard on it to assure a good set and it did not move. I was still not sure of this anchorage so I sat in the cockpit and watched our drift for three hours to assure we were set well.
Aquarelle came in about an hour later. They obviously had fixed their fuel problem and now had made it to Nassau. Good for them. They also had a tough time setting their anchor. After the third try they settled in for the night.
January 26, 2016
At 1:00 last night the anchor alarm went off so I went bounding up to the deck worried that the anchor had slipped. It was a false alarm. The wind had died and the boat was drifting about the anchor. I increased the drift range on the alarm and went back to sleep. A little while later it started to rain and blow hard. We had just experienced the calm before the storm.
We rolled and rolled all night. The winds were out of the east. The waves rolled down the harbor and came around the cruise line docks and hit us abeam which caused us to roll. I was anxious to get out of there.
We had breakfast and tried to get a hold of Texaco Harbor View Marina. We had stayed with them for a buck a foot a couple of years ago. All the numbers we tried were disconnected. We ended up connecting with Nassau Harbor Club Marina which has a great location but that is all it has going for it.
We pulled up the anchor and headed east down the channel. We passed the Bahama Hilton on the right and the Atlantis complex on the left. We passed under the two bridges to Paradise Island and finally found our marina on the right.
The dock hands were there to greet us. They helped secure our boat in the dock in a very professional manner. That was the last thing they did well and quickly.
We needed to get off the boat so we took a walk over to the shopping center which is right across the street from the marina. There is a Starbucks there with great Wi-Fi and a Dairy Queen for fast food. There is also a grocery store with a great selection of food and produce. We were quite taken back on the cost of the food. What is worse yet is that there is now a 7.5% tax added to the cost of everything you buy. It is better to stock up before you get to the islands as we did.
We went back to the boat with a few food essentials from the grocery store and had lunch. We later returned back to the shopping center to use the Wi-Fi at Starbucks. The internet connection was incredible. Software I was loading in Great Harbour took all night. Here it took under a half an hour. We caught up on all our mail and then headed back to the boat.
We visited with our neighbors on Moonlight (John and Carmen) who sailed down from Lake Champlain. They are French Canadian but keep their boat up on Lake Champlain. There must be some sort of tax dodge for Canadians to make them want to keep their boats in the US. I have yet to meet one that keeps their boat in Canada.
We got a call from Mañana that evening saying that they hand the wind and the seas on the nose and were not going to make it to Nassau today. They turned around and went in and set their anchor in Frazier's Hog Cay for the night. We had talked to Aquarelle about Frazier's Hog Cay and they said there wasn't any good holding in there.