Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In The Bahamas

At 3:30am on Tuesday the 5th the alarm went off signaling it was time to go. The night before so many boats came into the anchorage anchoring on top of each other and on top of us. We were close to the inlet so they all wanted to be close. This anchorage is huge and I don’t understand the mentally of some people. Guess you don’t have to be smart to own a boat. As we were getting ready to leave the radio became alive with chatter and you heard many anchors being lifted in the dark. It was going to be a stampede to get out of here. Of course as we are about to pull our anchor Dirk turned on the running lights and our green was not working. Hummmm, we just checked them the other night. So we changed out the bulb, pulled anchor and headed out the channel along with about 10 other boats. Probably more behind us as we left about 4:30. S/v Dea Latis was travelling with us and we all settled in for what seemed like a great crossing. Hardly any winds but it was much better than the winds we had been having the previous days. The waves were low and all we had was the gentle ocean swells. The sun rose to a beautiful morning and when we saw the turquoise waters of the Bahama banks come up we knew we were home free. We did have a few rough miles as the depth of the Gulf Stream met the shallows of the banks but it wasn’t the horror stories we heard of from several people crossing on different days. We traveled across the banks as we watched the sun set behind us and once again nighttime was upon us.

Sunset on the Bahama Banks
Shortly after dark we pulled into Great Sale using our radar to navigate and anchored in very calm waters in the North anchorage. We popped a celebratory German Beer to toast our arrival, I hit the shower and we both hit the bed. It had been a long day. All in all it took us 16 hours from West Palm Beach inlet to Great Sale. Not too shabby. The next morning after many hours of sleep we awoke to find the water was as calm as glass; you could look down and see every blade of grass on the bottom. As we watched the parade of boats leave the south anchorage we just sat, relaxed and had coffee in the cockpit enjoying the morning.

What a calm morning

Our buddy boat Dea Latis
About 9:30 we decided to take off and head for our next anchorage which would get us closer to Green Turtle where we were to check in. It was a short day of motoring and we dropped the hook in Crab Cay as close as we could tuck in as there was some wind due to come in and we wanted the protection of the island. The wind did pick up during the night, but nothing major. We did get the weather update and they were calling for a front to move in and we had to be in Green Turtle for customs but the wind would be clocking south which would leave the anchorage very exposed. We decided to use the Bahamian phone and call ahead to the Green Turtle Club to see if they had any mooring balls in White Sound. Apparently the hurricane that came through last summer wiped out the balls and they never replaced them. We decided to go with the second option and that was to get a slip in the marina. It’s not the cheapest place to be but they have the dock and dine special where whatever you pay on docking fees you get that as credit to eat and drink. First order of business was to anchor by the government dock and have the Captains go in and check us into the country.

Anchored off New Plymouth

Dirk raising the flag. We are legal now
We had been flying the yellow Q flag since we got here and we were ready to raise that Bahaman flag. The customs office was easy as usual and Dirk said he had never had a customs agent as nice as the the one we got. She even gave us 120 days to cruise before we would have to revisit immigration to have it extended. We should be headed back by then so no problem. After raising the flag we headed into White Sound and into the Green Turtle club marina, got the boats tied up and headed into the office to check in.
Once that was done we headed over to the bar and ordered a round of Tipsy Turtles. Believe me, after only having pop tarts for breakfast and no lunch they indeed made us tipsy. We did however enjoy the scenery of the bay and it was nice to set foot on land once again.
An octopus we saw right under the dock in just a few feet of water
The next course of action was to clean up the boats a bit, grab some marina showers and meet back at the bar at 6pm for drinks and dinner. Several other boats pulled in and the guys helped to get everyone squared away and settled in. Before we knew it, it was 6 and time to head back to the bar.

Dave & Tanya
 We drank another few dock dollars and headed to the screened in porch or dinner which consisted of a burger for me and conch fritters and conch salad for Dirk. He couldn’t wait to catch his own and as we dove into food we chatted and got to know Dave and Tanya a bit more. After dinner we went back and had an after dinner Tipsy Turtle and met another couple from s/v Clairvoyant, Brian & Jeanne. We laughed, exchanged stories, and listened about the horrible crossing they got to experience. Back to the boats and early to bed as the next day was suppose to be good wind direction for the men to go hunt and gather. Once breakfast was served and things were settled Dirk and Dave loaded the dinghy down with snorkel gear and pole spears and headed out to the reefs. Tanya and I decided to take a walk across the island and walk the beach on the other side. Because the winds were coming from the south, the north side of the island was very calm. Almost hot and it was nice to have a breeze every once in a while.

Beach at Green Turtle

If you click on the photo to enlarge it you will see the dinghy circled in red where the guys were hunting
As we walked the beach we could look out and see the dinghy with the guys. We sat back and relaxed enjoying the sun and peacefulness of the beach as we were the only two on it. Aside from the regular array of flip flops, glow sticks and other assorted garbage one finds here we did both manage to find a sea bean. It was a good day. As we made our way back to the marina the men radioed to check in and say they would be back soon. When asked if they had any luck, they had. Hummmmm wonder what they had. They arrived shortly after us and had managed to bring dinner back. Dirk got 5 and Dave got one. Wow, we were all excited. I believe it was Dave’s first time to hunt lobster. At least using a pole spear.

Dinner, yummy
 So we decided to have Brian & Jeanne from Clairvoyant join us all on Renegade for a potluck. Dirk boiled 3 of the lobsters and grilled the other 3 and I did up the garlic butter and a fresh cucumber & tomato mint salad. Dave and Tanya made wonderful beans and rice and Brian & Jeanne brought over a great warm pasta, garlic, and spinach salad. What a feast we had and we all ate till we were stuffed. Since we didn’t eat our docking dollars we all decided after dinner to retire to the bar and have a few drinks to top off the wonderful meal. The next morning we were to be checking out and we needed to be gone by 10am or else there wouldn’t be enough water to get out. The entrance is about 6 feet at low tide and one time when we came in here with our last boat Tybee Time we did have trouble getting in and managed to ground a few times before bumping our way across the sand bank. The winds were due to clock around again out of the North East and we decided it would be fine to anchor in the front by the government dock. We usually anchor here every season and have only had it once when it was really rolly. We and Dea Latis were the only boats out here so we could pick our anchoring spots as we wished. Well there was one other gentleman that was here and we knew him from the boat yard in Cape Canaveral. He was telling us then that he hoped to make it over here and I’m glad he did. Dave & Tanya decided to go into New Plymouth to sight see and Dirk and I went out to see what he could hunt. I stayed in the dinghy and puttered around as he scrounged up a good size lobster and 3 conch. It was pretty rough out there and I was soaked from waves splashing over the side. When we got back Dirk made quick work of the conch and whipped up a conch salad as I made an early dinner of Curried Chicken. We ended up in bed about 6:30 pm and watched 3 episodes of 24. The season we are watching is pretty grabbing and it was hard to stop watching. The winds were suppose to be 20 to 25 knots but I think we only saw 20 once or twice so it made for a comfortable night’s sleep once you could get to sleep. There was a bar right on the water that was playing its music so loud that I think everyone inside has got to be deaf if it was that loud out here. They continued on till about 2:30 am and I finally fell into a good sleep until about 4:45 when the fisherman and ferry’s began their day. Oh well, 6:30 am is early usually, but on a boat it’s hard to sleep past that time as most islands have roosters that make sure your awake. I’m not complaining, believe me. So this morning we gathered the weather and are planning on heading across the Whale tomorrow and onto Marsh Harbor where we will wait out another front and re provision as my fruits are gone and my vegetables are almost all gone. Till then the men are out hunting again today and we shall see what they return with.

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