OUR FIRST TASTE OF THE ABACOS 1.2.2018
I am having a difficult time getting the blogs posted on the site due to poor or nonexistent wifi, but I am going to keep recording so that I don’t get too far behind. We have been in the Bahamas since Christmas. Our full day at Great Sale Cay was spent exploring the shoreline around the anchorage. We got picked up by Michael and Bill (by dinghy) and along with the trekker crew went to various spots to get out and walk and look at the sea life. We saw turtles, rays, barracuda, and lots of jumping fish. They look like a dancing fountain at Disney as the entire schools jumps together from one spot to another. On the shore, we saw lots of shells and coral. The water was warm, the wind gentle and it was picture perfect.
After our excursion I hung the air chair and had a chance to sit and read in the cool breeze. I think it is now the second time I have had the air chair out of the bag. Right before sunset we went over to Trekker to have a beer and watch the sun go down. I have heard many times about the green flash that you can sometimes see as the sun sets. This was the first time I SAW IT. Not so much a flash as the sun itself turned a shade of green right before it disappeared.
We woke up the next morning to find ourselves (the three boats) pretty much alone in the anchorage and we headed off to anchor at Allen-Pensicola Cay. The wind was 18-20 knots out of the northwest and we had a screaming sail all the way to the island. We have had some problems with our reefing line chaffing and although Bob thinks he has the problem licked, we didn’t want to chance it so we sailed under full main. Most of the time this was fine and I hand steered (rather than use the auto pilot) throughout most of the leg. The 24 knot gusts got a bit challenging – but we were making amazing speed. When we got just off the coast of Allen-Pensicola Cay, Trekker suggested that we probably wouldn’t get much protection in the Allen Pensicola anchorage in light of the wind strength and direction - and because the sail was so fantastic that we should press on to Spanish Cay which was our next stop. We agreed.
Spanish Cay is a privately owned Island – something we were constantly reminded of. They charge for everything!!! There was a sweet girl from Puru who worked both in the office and the restaurant, who seemed apologetic every time she had to tell us there was a charge for something; a charge for the wifi, a charge for using bicycles, a charge to play pool... The docks were in poor condition and the basin did not provide much protection from the northwest wind and waves - so although we were docked we did rock and roll. The owner of the island is from Texas and made his money in the restaurant business. His 150 foot yacht, Status Quo, is docked there at the marina. The owner’s son worked the restaurant while we were there. He was very cordial. The food was just okay – the key lime pie was to die for.
We then sailed off to Green Turtle Cay – what a pleasure. I think this has been my favorite place in the Bahamas so far. Here is why:
We stayed at Leeward Marina and the dock master, Marvin and marina manager, James could not have been nicer.They aim to please - what a contrast after Spanish Cay.We wanted to rent golf carts to explore the island one day and they made all the arrangements and had them delivered to the marina parking lot.
New Year’s Day the settlement of New Plymouth had a parade called Junkanoo that locals participate in and people from the surrounding Cays as well as tourists line the streets to watch.There is music, dancing and colorful costumes. Booths with food for sale sprout up along the parade route.The food was great and reasonably priced.There was amazing people watching and since the parade started 1 ½ hours after we thought it was going to, it was a good thing that there was something to keep me occupied.
Waiting in New Plymouth for Junkanoo
There are numerous beaches to explore and each one was beautiful.
Sheila on the beach
There were grocery stores and if you were willing to pay, you could get almost anything you wanted – as long as you weren’t looking for fresh vegetables.
We rented a golf cart to see the Island.
The other people at the dock were interesting and engaging.We met a family of three: dad, Chip; daughter, Elana and son, John, from Florida’s panhandle, that we particularly enjoyed.The kids are home schooled and are both musically talented.They gave us a concert aboard their 50 foot trawler and walked with us along the beach looking for shells.
The food at the marina restaurant was delicious.We celebrated New Year’s Eve there as well as pizza on Tuesday night and other happy hours.The restaurant patio where you could sit and eat was next to the swimming pool – it was lovely but too cold to use.The patio area had plastic side curtains that provided some shelter from the wind.
The group at Leeward Bar with Lilah and Dan
The gang at Green Turtle
Although we stayed longer than originally intended because of the weather – I enjoyed each day.We had the time to learn how to open coconuts (Bill became the expert with his machete) and we made coconut bowls. I painted my flower pot with island colors.We went shell hunting and I now have a pretty good collection. (Thank you to Elana for her contributions)
Her Diamond tied up for rough weather.
The wind started to settle down by Saturday and at high tide, around 10:30 am, we left Green Turtle for Great Guana Cay, via the Whale Pass.The Whale Pass is known to be vicious in northerly winds – which is exactly what we had Saturday.But, the winds were down and it was go now or wait another week, which no one wanted to do.We thought we’d start out and if the ocean swells were too bad we would just come back.Right before we left the dock, one of the other boaters came to tell us he had just seen a boat turn around and come back after entering the cut.We (five sail boats) held our breaths and took off anyway.Others had radioed back and said that it was doable and Marvin also said he thought we would be fine.
I guess our time sailing on Lake Erie served us well.There were some 4’ to 5’ swells, but the trip was certainly no worse than the overnight sail we had on the Atlantic while coming down the coast.We had the mainsail up the entire trip and motor sailed most of it. Other than a large oncoming power boat that looked like it was going to hit us, the trip was fine.We arrived at Great Guana in time to go to Nippers for happy hour. (Bob’s note – navigating the Whale Pass, broadside to the ocean swell, is no easy feat – especially in northerly winds. Sheila did a beautiful job driving Her Diamond the entire trip – judging and skillfully engaging each rolling swell).
The group on New Year's Eve
Making conch salad at the dock at Green Turtle.
We arrived unscathed at Orchid Bay Marina, Great Guana Cay and tied up with the sun shining. The end to a beautiful day. We understand Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban have a place on the Island – Bob says we should see if they are free for lunch.