On Thursday, Feb. 14, we arrived at Nassau Harbour and were given permission to enter by Nassau Harbour Control. The hard parts of our journey, we told Lynda and Jim on Morning Star, were over. From now on it would be all fun and games. We may have been a little optimistic.
Nassau didn’t look the same. In front of the old main anchorage, many of the old buildings on the waterfront had been vacated, and some had been removed. It seemed inhospitable to anchorers. We went under the bridges and passed Potter’s Cay, where fish and produce was sold from small vendor’s stands. It seemed to be thriving on the street side, but many wrecked boats sat in the water on the water side, in various stages of decay, perhaps the result of hurricanes? Richard said it was not the pretty little romantic town he once knew.
We continued on, Jim and Lynda to the Nassau Harbour Club, where they had booked a slip, and Lucky into the anchorage just beyond. We had our dinghy landing (our connection to land) – the stern of Morning Star. I did laundry, washing all the clothes that got wet on the way to Nassau because a porthole leaked. Richard fixed the porthole. We got the head functioning again, more or less. I scrubbed the head (bathroom), which had had a lot of water dumped into it through the solar fan on the trip over. I vacuumed the carpet with the generator running.
Richard and I enjoyed being in the anchorage, sipping our coffee and eating slow porridge, watching the dive boats, the glass-bottomed boats, the booze cruise boats, the fishing boats, the freighters, and all of the others go by. We could see, usually, five very large cruise ships lined up just inside the entrance to the harbour, providing many of the afore-mentioned boats with eager customers.
On Sunday, Feb. 17, there was a regatta in Montagu Park, next to the yacht club. The four of us watched the agile young sailors (all male) scurry from one side of their boats to the other on every tack, and hang way out over the side on a long board, a pry, to counterbalance the oversized sails. Very exciting racing. We ate all the local cuisine that we could stuff into us.
Starbucks was just across the road from the marina and provided an hour’s internet access with a $3 cup of coffee, a bargain we thought. Next to it was a Fresh Market grocery store with everything we could want. The prices were hard on the kitty, but Jim and Lynda said they were about the same as in Vermillion Bay in far Northern Ontario, where they live.
The two of us got on a city bus full of friendly polite people and got a little better feel for the island. People said “Good afternoon” when they got on the bus and “Bus stop” when they wanted off. We walked around through the zoo that is the area where thousands of tourists walk around somewhat dazed. They are hustled into the straw market by eager vendors, onto buggies pulled by horses and into taxicabs and cruise boats to see the sights. We felt that we would see the best the Bahamas has to offer by sailing away from this noisy island and into the hundreds of tiny islands with their perfect beaches and clear blue waters.
On Wednesday, Feb. 20, we filled up with water and diesel fuel and off we went, with Morning Star in our wake. It was a beautiful motor-sail to Roberts Cay. On the way, Jim and Lynda watched out for coral heads on the Middle Banks. They were relieved to see how conspicuous they are, looking like black oily patches on the water.
After so many years away we had trouble recognizing the entrance to the anchorage. It seemed smaller, but one we were in, the anchorage spread out before us, more beautiful than I remembered, in all its shades of blues and greens and sandy browns in the really shallow bits. To our delight, there was only one other boat anchored there, a large white former fishing boat almost a mile away at the other end of the bay. It is a narrow anchorage, so we rafted together for the first time since No Name Harbour, and shared our meals, as Wishbone, My Detour and Fairwind had done in 2003, ten years ago.
I was in the habit of listening to Chris Parker, the weatherman, on SSB at 6:30 in the morning. It helped us plan our itinerary, whether we were moving or not. We were in the Ship Channel anchorage five days. It was a peaceful relaxing spot, after the busyness and noise of Nassau. Powerboat Adventures ran a little business at the far end of the harbour. They brought people over every day to see the iguanas on Leaf Cay, snorkel, swim, eat and watch the feeding of the sharks. But we didn’t hear them, and they weren’t part of our world.
We did some long overdue onboard tasks. One morning we replaced all of our screens. I cut and pinned and Richard sewed all of the Velcro on with his ancient but very good sewing machine. I went through the snorkelling masks and found one that didn’t leak too much when I paddled around the back of the boat.
We touched bottom a couple of times in the extreme full-moon tides, but just by an inch or two.
Richard took us on a tour of Roberts Cay, and showed us the little circle of stones under which Mr. Roberts is buried. His little house is missing a few more pieces, and the palm trees he planted are riddled with termites. But Goldie’s Well – the cistern – still is full of fresh water.
Richard cooked a chicken and made a big stew and I made bread. I finished gessoing my stretched canvasses, in anticipation of painting lots of pictures. We went exploring in the dinghy.
On Feb. 26 (my son’s fiftieth birthday!) we left to go south to Normans Cay, but the wind was wrong so we went into Allens Cay, an anchoring challenge. More to come. I will get caught up soon.
Sharon and Richard on Lucky