Tag Archives: Nassau

Bimini to Georgetown

On January 8, 2016, we left Bimini for Chub Cay in the Berries at 0520, obviously in the dark, arriving at the Chub Cay anchorage in daylight at 1700. We were going almost directly into the wind and made good time, but it wasn’t a comfortable ride. However, we were on the Mackey Shoals portion of the shallow Great Bahama Bank for most of the trip and the water was beautiful. Chub Cay anchorage is not the best, but OK for one night. It is often rough because large fishing boats race in and out of the channel to the marina, which is right next to the anchorage, causing huge wakes. It is close to deep water, where the fishing boats are headed, and often there are uncomfortable swells. Also, Chub Cay is private so we aren’t allowed to take Sailor ashore. Below was our view while sailing on the Bank. 

FullSizeRender 11

Unfortunately we had to stay a second day in the Berries since the sea and wind conditions were still unfavorable for going on to Nassau. Also the wind was clocking and the conditions were getting worse at Chub Cay. In the morning we moved to nearby Frazier’s Hog Cay and while the first part of the trip around the end of Chub Cay was VERY rough, it smoothed out and we spent a comfortable night at Frazier’s Hog Cay. This will probably be our stop in the Berries from now on instead of Chub Cay. We had a nice time swimming off the beautiful beach and Sailor got lots of exercise chasing his ball. The evening ended with a gorgeous sunset.

image

DSCF2142

DSCF2149

image

On January 9, we reluctantly left our anchorage in the Berries headed to Nassau. We heard on Chris Parker’s morning report that the seas were 6-8 ft with over 3 ft swells on the beam and we try to only sail in 3 ft seas or less. However the weather this winter in the Bahamas has been very different than usual with constant storms and poor sailing conditions for long periods of time. This was our last sail on deep water until we go out on the Exuma Sound for one day to Georgetown. The winds were also not great at SSE 19-20 kts gusting 22. It was a rough ride, in fact Mark wrote in our cruising log, “Worst sail by choice ever.” Thankfully it wasn’t a long sail, leaving at 0715 and arriving in Nassau at 1230. 

We had reservations at Nassau Harbour Club and enjoyed a quiet night in a slip. Of course, we had to have our last frappuccinos at Starbucks and visit the Fresh Market grocery store, both right across the street from our marina. The photo of Starbucks below is taken from the exit of the marina. Two years ago, when Sailor was 7 months old, we stopped at this same marina and Sailor, spooked by fireworks (in February!) jumped off the boat, ran down the dock in the dark, and fell into the water when the dock turned to the right as he kept going straight. Mark showed him the very spot this happened, but not sure if Sailor remembered.

image

image image

While our sail from Frazier’s Hog Cay to Nassau was rough, other boats had come in after sailing straight from Bimini or the States over a period of several days, and they had horror stories to tell. A boat in a slip across from us had taken on water. The marinas in Nassau were filled with tired cruisers. We were glad we waited the extra day to leave the Berries even if we still had an uncomfortable sail.  

We try to never stay longer than one day in Nassau. It is not a safe city, and other than crossing the street from the marina to the strip mall, we don’t have anything else we want to see or do there. Boats have even been boarded by thieves at several of the Nassau marinas and it is dangerous to be out on the streets after dark. Paradise Island, where most tourists go, is across a bridge and probably safer. Nassau is on New Providence Island and is where the cruise ships stop. Our boat buddies since Miami on Renaissance II, another Lagoon 420,  decided to stay in Nassau since they had never been there and we left the next morning for Norman’s Cay, our first stop in The Exumas.

On January 11, we left the last marina we would stay at until we return to Sunset Bay in Stuart, Florida, at the end of May. The route to The Exumas is across the Yellow Bank portion of the Great Bahama Bank. We had a great wind angle for sailing although on a long day we always use the engines and sails and at one point were motorsailing at 8.3 kts. We left Nassau at 0900 and arrived at Norman’s Cay at 1445. It was almost full when we entered the anchorage because strong winds were forecast for that night. We anchored southwest of the sunken plane and several boats came in after us but left, probably going south to the next anchorage or mooring balls at Shroud Cay. During the night we had high winds and rain while turning 360 degrees with the strong current.

After listening to Chris Parker’s report the next morning, we decided the weather was settled enough to head south to Big Majors/Staniel Cay. This meant we were going past the entire Exuma Land and Sea Park, something we would never do if we weren’t planning to return on our way north in April. The park has the best hiking, kayaking, beaches, and snorkeling in the Exumas. Our goal was to get to our mooring ball in Georgetown as quickly as we could safely move. Friends who were already there told us the balls were being taken quickly, perhaps in part due to the 100+ kt storm they had while we were safe at a marina in Bimini.  We left Norman’s Cay at 0740 and dropped the anchor at Big Majors at 1230. We made very good time, outrunning a squall coming from the ENE as we left Norman’s Cay followed by a sunny day. Big Majors is a large, excellent anchorage, unless the wind is from the west. We will be returning here in mid-April to pick up good friends Carolyn and Ed (S/V Sharkitecture) so we didn’t mind missing snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto. We did go ashore for a walk and Sailor got to visit the nurse sharks who hang out at the marina waiting for someone to drop discards from the fish cleaning station. Of course we had to bring him to see the famous swimming pigs also.

image

DSCF2173

image

image

The next morning we made the short trip to Cave Cay, where we planned to exit the cut to go out on Exuma Sound to Georgetown. We knew we would have several days to wait for calm seas and favorable wind. We left Big Majors on January 13 at 0825 and arrived at 1130, the only boat in the anchorage outside Cave Cay Marina. It was a very pleasant sail and after dropping the anchor, Sailor and Mark headed to a beautiful beach near our boat. The shore has some interesting caves and there are many more on the cay, thus the name “Cave Cay.” Mark and Sailor also took the dinghy into the very protected marina at Cave Cay. He reported that it is a hurricane hole marina with excellent docks, but it seems to only get boats in its slips during very bad weather. During the several days we were in the anchorage, two boats joined the one that was already there.

image

Houses and caves were next to the beach where Sailor played.

image image

Sailor checked out the marina at Cave Cay.

image

We spent three nights at Cave Cay waiting for the Exuma Sound sea state to calm down. On the first morning we had a BIG surprise. We got up at 0630 to listen to the Chris Parker marine weather report and saw a 160 ft long tanker named Tropic Breeze headed right towards us. (We have AIS and checked the info about the tanker.)  We saw her anchored on the deeper south side of Cave Cay Cut the night before and early that morning she was coming to our shallow anchorage.  Tropic Breeze motored straight for our starboard side, then turned and went a few feet off our aft, turning again passing us on our port side. A short distance past us, her anchor dropped. Next, we saw a small boat with a diver in it next to the tanker. The diver brought a large fuel hose from the tanker to the shore and for several hours fuel was pumped into the Cave Cay tanks. We weren’t worried about the “close call” because we have seen these Bahamian ships often and their captains are very good at maneuvering in tight spaces. The reason the ship went around us was to get downwind so they wouldn’t be blown into us. However, we were surprised that this was a marked anchorage on the Explorer Charts but there was no indication that tankers would come here to transfer fuel to the cay. We have anchored here before but this was our first close encounter with a big ship. 

image image

image

The fuel hose is visible floating in the water in front of the small boat.

image Sailor seems to be a bit amazed at what he just saw.

image

For the next two days, all was quiet in our anchorage, mainly because we were the only boat there, and by January 16 the sky was clear, seas were 2-3 ft, and winds were from the southwest at 8-12 kts. It was time for the last leg of our journey to Georgetown. Even Sailor stayed out in the cockpit all day, which he only does when it is very calm. Otherwise he insists I get in one of the beds with him where he feels safe. We left at 0730 and were on our mooring ball in Hole 2 at Stocking Island, across the harbour from Georgetown, by 1230. There were only two balls left in Hole 2 and a few days after we arrived the last one was taken. We were very happy to reach our destination for the next few months and are looking forward to our stay here until the end of March.

This was our view of Exuma Sound on our way south to Georgetown. It is rarely this flat so it was well worth the wait.

image Sailor was in this position all day long.
image

Entering the turquoise water of Elizabeth Harbour. The city of Georgetown is on the right and Stocking Island is on the left. 

image

Finally we are on our mooring ball in Hole 2.

DSCF0651

This is Hole 2 with Elizabeth Harbour and Georgetown in the background, We are at the far end of the mooring field, protected on all four sides with a narrow channel running in the foreground of the picture from Hole 1 through to Hole 3.

DSCF0642

Happy New Year From Nassau

We left Bimini at 0540 in the dark two days ago on December 29, 2014.  The early start is because it is about 80 miles from there to Chub Cay and daylight at this time of year lasts less than 12 hours. We arrived in the dark at 1850.  The day couldn’t have been nicer with smooth blue water.  I am never sure how to describe the color of this water and often there are various shades in stripes, but I can’t believe there is more beautiful water anywhere.  

image

image

We left Chub Cay at 0805 today and arrived in Nassau at 1415. Again, there was little wind and the seas were smooth. The above photo is on the Banks which are shallow. Today we were back on the deep ocean which is dark blue. There are several views that always welcome us to Nassau: the lighthouse, the cruise ships, and the Atantis.  We don’t really like staying in Nassau because we are anxious to get to the Exumas, but we always stop here for fuel and a night’s stay. Then we have an easy day’s sail to the Exumas. We’ll spend most of our time there on a number of small islands with gorgeous beaches, friendly Bahamians, and of course the phenomenal water.

image

image

image

We are staying at the Nassau Harbor Club Marina in Nassau which is across a busy street from a strip mall that includes Starbucks, Fresh Market, a Batelco phone store, and much more. We made our usual stops, first at Starbucks where Cathie (Interlude) and I had our last drinks until we return to the States. We didn’t need much at the grocery store but did purchase a few items since this is the last real grocery store that isn’t in someone’s house until we reach Georgetown. Tomorrow, January 1, is the official start of the 7% VAT in the Bahamas.

image

Tonight is a big celebration in Nassau with Junkanoo and fireworks beginning at midnight. The Junkanoo parades are held on all of the Bahamian islands on Boxing Day, December 26, and New Years Day.  The people dress in colorful elaborate costumes and march to the beat of drums and horns. There is a competition between various groups on each island. We will enjoy a few hours with Cathie and Tom tonight with some wine and snacks, go to sleep, and no doubt be woken up a few hours later when the noise begins. On January, 2010, we were in Bimini for Junkanoo.  Below are a few photos of that celebration. We won’t be out there taking pictures tonight in downtown Nassau! However, we have heard that Junkanoo here is much larger than what is done on the less populated islands. Junkanoo had its beginning during the Bahamian slavery days when the slaves got three days off a year and celebrated by dressing up and partying.

imageimage

image

image image image

Sailor the Escape Artist

From the first day Sailor moved aboard Seas the Day with us last September, we worried about him falling through the lifelines.  Many people with small dogs put woven rope all around their boat on the lifelines to keep their dogs from falling through. When he was small, Sailor was never alone on the deck. As he grew we figured he was too big to fit through between the lifelines. At Sunset Bay, our hurricane season port in Stuart, FL, we occasionally left him alone on the deck for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. (We couldn’t leave him inside because he gets frustrated and rips up paper and other items but he was fine on the deck.) He totally ignored people who walked by unless they came over to pet him.  He mostly slept while we were gone. Our deck was usually about five feet above the dock and he had to get off on a ramp we put up and took down whenever he got off the boat.

When we started moving through the water a few weeks ago, sailing south, we never let him on the deck without his life jacket on and tethered to the helm seat if he was outside while we were moving. All went well until we got to Nassau and were at the Nassau Harbor Club.  The dock was almost level with our deck, making it very easy for Sailor to get on and off but when we  undid the lifeline gate he wouldn’t jump down by himself so Mark had to lift him on and off when we took him for a walk. We didn’t leave him alone on the boat.

That night we heard a loud boom around 9:00.  Apparently the Atlantis Resort occasionally has a fireworks show for the people staying there, but they shoot them off from a barge directly across the harbor from us, quite a distance from the Atlantis.  (We discovered why the next day. All the boats in our marina, and probably all the houses and business around us and across the harbor near the barge were covered with debris from the fireworks. We assume nothing landed on the boats and hotel at the Atlantis Resort.)

Sailor has always been very alert to noises.  He often growls softly to alert us if he hears someone walking by the boat in the middle of the night.  He can be in a deep sleep anytime and wakes up if he hears something strange. He is always looking around and listening, no matter where he is. However, he has never been afraid of noises.  When the very loud fireworks started he first ran out on the deck and then came right back, seeming to be very nervous.  We went out on the deck to see what was going on and he followed us, but ran back inside.  We watched the fireworks show for a minute or two and I went back in the cabin to see what he was doing.  Sailor wasn’t inside!

At that moment we saw the marina security guards coming down the long dock towards us.  We were in the very last slip.  They said they saw our dog racing down the dock and he had fallen into the water.  We ran down the dock and saw exactly what had happened.  The dock stops abruptly and turns at a right angle with a short span of water ahead between the dock and the shore. I’m sure he was running so fast he couldn’t stop and went flying into the water. He may not have noticed the dock ended.

It was low tide and there were about six feet between the dock and the water.  Sailor was dog paddling around the wall, but there was no way for him to get out without help. Mark climbed down a ladder and called Sailor over to him. Marinas always have ladders down to the water in numerous places on their docks in case someone falls in or has to get down to the water. Sailor swam over to Mark but it was impossible for Mark to climb the ladder with a 45 pound dog.  Three men were there to help, along with me.  Mark let go of the ladder, took Sailor in his arms and swam to the next dock where a small fishing boat had a low platform at the back.  The water was shallow so Mark could bounce his feet off the bottom.  He lifted Sailor onto the boat and another cruiser staying at the marina lifted Sailor onto the dock.

Sailor was totally traumatized.  By now the fireworks were done but he would not come back to the boat with us.  We figured out later that he must have thought the loud noises and light flashes were on our boat.  Sailor is extremely attached to us and he would never choose to leave us.  Not wanting to drag him down the dock, Mark carried Sailor all the way back to the boat.  We rinsed the salt water off him, dried him with towels and wrapped him in a blanket.  I sat on the floor with him, held him tightly on my lap, and tried to comfort him.  He shivered for about an hour, long after his body warmed up, staring out the door.  The water actually wasn’t very  cold and we worried that he could be in shock.   Finally he stopped shivering, but could not relax.  Mark slept in the salon with him and by morning he ate his breakfast and was almost back to his happy self.

We were leaving that morning for the Exumas and water was part of our dockage fee, Mark was washing the salt off the boat. Unlike marinas in the States where water is free, you pay for it almost everywhere in the Bahamas.  I got off the boat to walk across the street to buy some groceries, locking the lifeline gate behind me.  Shortly after I left, a cruiser came walking down the dock and said to Mark, “I have something for you.” Mark looked and saw Sailor trotting down the dock next to him.  We suspect he knew he could get off the boat by squeezing between the lifelines and went looking for me. Until the previous night, Sailor had never gotten off the boat without our assistance.  Fortunately there is no way to get out of the marina unless you can open a door that goes out to the street and he hasn’t learned to do that…….yet.

Of course, this was very scary for us.  We were lulled into thinking Sailor would not get off the boat without us. After living on it for six months he had never even tried to jump off.  We can only assume he saw the opportunity because it was level with the dock, even though he had to squeeze through the lifelines.  Fearing the very loud fireworks sound, he was no doubt terrified enough to do anything to escape.  At the time we thought he was inside and other than hearing the sounds, we didn’t know he was afraid of them. The second episode was probably Sailor learning a new “trick” and he wanted to come with me.

We thought we were doing everything possible to keep Sailor safe, but it wasn’t enough.  We are extremely fortunate that there was no way to get to the street on the day he tried to follow me because no doubt he would have run right in front of a car.

After being traumatized by the fireworks sound, Sailor is now afraid of our Shark cordless vacuum.  Today while I was vacuuming up sand he brought in from the beach, he jumped up on the couch and left by the window.  Yes, that is a trick our little escape artist has learned.  He’s pretty big to be going out the small window, but he manages to climb up on a shelf and out.  He comes in the same way!

We feel so very fortunate that everything worked out in Sailor’s favor.  The security guards saw him go in the water.  If not for that, we would have been looking all along the dock and maybe wouldn’t have even seen him if he had swum under a dock. In fact, we might not even have known he had fallen in and we would have looked on the marina grounds.

Sailor is adjusting extremely well to sailing.  Each day he learns something new.  He very quickly learned to love riding in a dinghy.  Whenever he hears the dinghy starting to go down into the water, he is at the top of the sugar scoop steps ready to jump in.  The first time he was on a beach, in Bimini, he ate sand.  He actually put his mouth down into the sand and filled his mouth with it.  It made him sick for a few day but he hasn’t injested it again.  He learns fast. We know many dogs are afraid of fireworks, but we’ve never owned a dog who was terrified like Sailor obviously is.

Some people wonder why cruisers bring a dog on a boat.  Sailor is part of our family and we wouldn’t enjoy this experience as much without him. When our wonderful Goldendoodle Daisy died last summer, after living aboard with us for five years, we mourned her, but within a few weeks since we had never not had a dog in our lives, we decided to find another Goldendoodle.  In the end, dogs want to be with their people and with some adjustments, they can be just as happy living on a boat as they are in a house.

Below are a few pictures of our little escape artist coming in the window and relaxing after running up and down a deserted beach in Staniel Cay, the Bahamas.

image

image

image

Bimini to Nassau

Since the seas in Bimini were about 8-10 feet Friday night, we decided to check Saturday morning when we got up and if the seas were down we could go anchor at nearby Cat Cay, then leave Sunday morning for Chub Cay.  However, when we checked at about 0600, the seas were down considerably so we decided to leave.  At 0630 Saturday we were on our way.  It was a bit rough coming out into the ocean, but when we made the turn and got on the Great Bahama Bank where the depth is under 12 feet,  we had smooth seas the rest of the day. When we reached the Northwest Channel Light (there isn’t really a light there but it is marked on the charts) the depth went from 15 ft to 2000 feet within a few minutes because we left the Bank and returned to the ocean.  The wind picked up early in the day and we had a perfect beam reach making it possible for us to average 7.5 kts motorsailing, arriving at Chub Cay at 1750 with plenty of daylight left.  There is nothing to do on Chub, but Sailor got a walk on a new beach.

Daylight Savings Time started today, so we didn’t get started from Chub until 0730 when it was light.  Again, the seas were smooth and we made good time averaging over 7 kts. We entered Nassau harbor at 1235 but it was 1330 by the time we got in our slip at Nassau Harbor Club. This is the first time we’ve stayed here because they only have a few slips wide enough for a catamaran.  We stopped for fuel  at another marina and had to wait in line.  Diesel was $5.05 a gallon, which will probably be the norm for the Bahamas.  We paid $3.85 in Miami. When we got to the marina they had us back into a very tight slip.  We were almost in until we got stuck between posts on either side of the slip.  We had told them we are 24 ft 8 in wide, but I guess they don’t measure the slips.  We got out and the dock boys directed us to a slightly wider slip which we easily backed into.  Power is metered at 60¢ a foot so we will use it sparingly tonight and tomorrow morning.

As soon as we were settled in, we walked across the street to a Fresh Market grocery store.  It has to be the nicest grocery in all of the Bahamas.  You would swear you are in the States.  The produce department is fantastic and that is mainly what we purchased along with frozen lemonade, milk and yoghurt.  Prices were close to Florida and no doubt everything was shipped in from the States. Brands were identical. I didn’t expect to see fresh strawberries here, but I did and they were exactly what I buy in Florida.  (Hopefully my strawberry plants will start producing more berries.  Right now I only get four or five a day.)

Water is $8.00 for the day.  At Bimini Sands it was metered, so we didn’t use theirs.  Since we paid for it here whether we use it or not, we’ll give the boat, and Sailor, a good wash.

Sailor learned a new trick today.  He now goes in and out of the windows in the salon.  We haven’t seen him negotiate jumping in and out because he’s sneaky and quick. When we are anchoring or coming into a dock, we leave Sailor inside, but he quickly began getting up on the salon couch, standing on his hind legs, putting his front paws on the shelf under the windows and looking out the windows which are usually open. Now, I guess we’ll have to shut the gate AND the windows!

Tomorrow the weather looks good for sailing to Highbourne Cay.  Usually it takes us about five hours so we’ll sleep in and leave around 11 am.  We’ll be on the Great Bahama Bank again until we go out on the Exuma Sound for a short sail to get to Georgetown.  The water is crystal clear and tomorrow we’ll probably see starfish on the bottom.  Our destination is the Exumas and tomorrow that’s where we’ll be.  Most of the islands where we stop from now on will have deserted beaches, so Sailor will get to run and maybe swim.

After dinner tonight we walked across the street to Starbucks and then walked around the strip mall.  There are many familiar stores, including Radio Shack, GNC, Dominos Pizza, Dairy Queen,  two computer stores, a few restaurants, clothing stores, a book store, a bank,  a sports clothing store, a coffee shop, a drug store and a few more.   All this is just steps from our marina.  We’ll probably go there in the morning for one more “last frappuccino until June.”

Below are pictures from the last few days.

Sailor took his watch at the helm.   Autopilot on of course so all he had to do was watch for other boats and luckily they were few and far between.

image

Leaving our anchorage at Chub Cay this morning.  The small anchorage is on the other side of the land open to the ocean, and many fast boats leaving a marina creating large wakes.

image

This is our slip at Nassau Harbor Club.  A megayacht came in after us.  One of the crew members came over and apologized for blocking our view, but we thanked him for blocking the wake from numerous speed boats in the harbor.  Then he told us how much he liked our boat and offered to trade his house in Ft. Lauderdale for the boat.

image

This is the pool at Nassau Harbor Club.  Looks great but we probably won’t take the time to swim in it because once we reach the Exumas we’ll be floating in water just as clear where we can swim off the boat. Can’t wait to try my “Aqua Jogger.”

image

This photo of Starbucks was taken from our marina across the street.  Now this is convenient.  The only problem is the drinks are $1.00 more than in the States. It’s just a few more steps to the Fresh Market grocery and all the other stores in the mall.

image

This is my second to last frappuccino until June.  One more tomorrow than cold turkey!

image