Monday, January 31, 2011

Staniel Cay

Saturday 29 January – Monday 31 January

We left Cambridge Cay at 10, out the north channel into the Sound to go around the Island and back in another channel to the south to enter the banks (the deeper draft route). Sunny day with light winds but since we are not going far we enjoy a lovely sail the whole way. We are anchored off the island called Big Major's Spot, just around the “corner” from Staniel Cay. It is one of the bigger, beautiful, & popular (with NO west wind) anchorages around and has about 30 other boats anchored here. Shallower draft boats can anchor closer into Staniel Cay, & even we could get closer at high tide, but it is a short dinghy ride and this anchorage is not subject to the strong currents along the channel next to Staniel Cay. We load up the extra gas cans for the dinghy motor and head into “town” for gas & a late lunch / early dinner. The hamburgers at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club are HUGE and one of the best tasting we have had anywhere in the Bahamas maybe even including Texas. Staniel Cay is a cruising headquarters for the central Exumas, with an airport & daily flights from Nassau & Ft. Lauderdale making it a great spot for cruisers to receive & or drop off visiting guests. Also the 1st place since Nassau to be able to get gas or diesel and also has 3 Grocery “stores” (or a shed or rooms off someones house) to get some provisions. So we take a walk around to see what is where. Sunday morning not realizing it is Sunday we go back to get some groceries, but of course they are closed. Back to the boat and since it is low tide we change into our wet suits and get our gear in the dinghy and head over to Thunderball Cave. This is the actual cave they used to shoot the underwater cave scene in the James Bond movie Thunderball. Our timing is great when we get there, one boat is leaving and just one there. Water still cold, but going into these caves is such a neat experience you soon forget how cold you are. These fish are even more used to being fed so swim right up to you looking for food. We are once again amazed at the number of fish and the beautiful coral we get to see. Swim thru the cave & out the other side to swim back around the rock along the outer reef. By this time a lot more dinghies are showing up, so glad we got to swim thru before it got too crowded. We hang out visiting with other snorkelers for a short time then take the long way back to the boat seeing more of Staniel Cay and the east side of Big Major's Spot. Back on board rinse off gear and into dry clothes and heat up some lunch. Looking forward to warmer days when we will be cooling off as we rinse our wetsuits. Monday morning we head over to the “bigger” store thinking we will pick up a few things. Well Monday is not a good day for shopping either, the mail / delivery boat comes on Wednesday so they had a very limited amount of choices. Not sure how much better it would be even after the delivery, but we are pretty well stocked just always want to see what is available. We pick up a few things noting this is our smallest provision run ever. We will head down to Black Point Settlement on Great Guana Cay Monday afternoon.

link to pictures;

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cambridge Cay

Thursday 27 January – Friday 28 January

We spent a couple of extra days at Warderick Wells in the Exumas Land and Sea Park, waiting out a front that never made it this far south. Snorkeling at a couple of reefs near the north anchorage, the water is still pretty cool but not too bad with wet suits. Since the park is a protected no fishing zone, there was plenty of sea life on the reefs. One modest coral head about 20 ft x 20 ft just a few boat lengths from our mooring had 20+ lobsters all over 10 lbs. They were literally standing on top of each other in the coral's nooks and crannies. Reminded us of the lobster tunnel at Atlantis.
       Thursday is a cloudy day as we head out for Cambridge Cay at 10, just a short trip south in the calm Sound, a big difference from a few days before. We are re-moored by noon. Even though the temperature is 80°, with the clouds & wind, I am chilled. Steve takes the dinghy ashore to go check out a trail across the island to the sound side, while I stay warm on board. Friday is snorkeling day, glad it is sunny and warmer, we head out in the dinghy going north, passing O’Briens Cay on our way to the Sea Aquarium Reef. It has an amazing variety of fish and worth getting into the cold water for. The fish are obviously well fed by visitors since they school around you as soon as you enter the water, swimming right up to your face carefully watching your hands for food. Holding an underwater camera up to take pictures looks promising, and they quickly zoom in on it to see if it is edible. When no food appears they slowly drift away, but quickly flash back with any quick hand movement that looks like a potential handout. On the way back we stop at the Airplane Reef, a small light plane that crashed back in the 1980's. Back to the boat for lunch then head south to Rocky Dundas. It has two really neat caves you can swim into, both having stalactite & stalagmite formations and a hole in the ceiling that lets in light and air, it is a remarkable experience. The reef between the 2 caves as a great variety of fish also and a huge Elkhorn coral. Back in the dinghy and head back toward the anchorage stopping by the beach to hike over to the sound side Steve explored the day before and along the trail north on the Island. The views from on top of the ridges still take our breath away, looking east over the rocky cliffs at Exuma Sound and west over the sloping wooded terrain leading to the Exuma Bank. Another wonderful day in paradise.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Warderick Wells

Friday 21 January – Monday 24 January

The park announces mooring assignments starting at 9 am every morning, so we are listening to see if there is one available for us. Just because you make a reservation (allowed a day in advance) does not mean they will have one available. With a front predicted for Saturday night/Sunday morning & this being one of the better protected places to be it could be full. Once you have a mooring there is no limit of how long you can stay. There are 3 mooring fields the North one by the park headquarters, biggest and most popular, Emerald Rock protection only from the east, and the small south anchorage at Hog Cay, more isolated but very good protection from all sides. There are no openings for us at the main anchorage, availability at the other 2, a quick look at the map tells us that the Hog Cay anchorage will be the best place to be for the front. We leave Shroud by 9:30 and a quick little motor sail down the banks and into the sound through Wide Pass (called that because it's the widest deepest pass into the deep waters of the sound from the banks) brings us just north of Warderick Wells and we are moored in the beautiful channel between Warderick Wells and Hog Cay by 1. On the way down we hear over the VHF radio about a Happy Hour that night by the park HQ, after contemplating on weather to go to the other side of the Island we decide to take the dinghy in around 3:30 (office closes at 4) and hang out over there until 5:30 HH time. They have pay boxes on our side of the Island (for cash) but you have to go to the office to pay for & get the internet access code, or if you want to use credit. Weather & water are calm so we go prepared, hand held VHF & GPS & flashlights so we can find find our way back shortly after sunset. They have a good turn out for the HH – everyone from the north anchorage, and we wind up staying later then planned and come back in total blackness before the moonrise with some wind and waves. Pretty scary & hard to follow our tracks with the hand held GPS, watching for sandbars and jagged rocks not friendly to inflatable dinghies. Back on board, hot showers & a warm meal vowing never to travel that far at night in the dinghy again. Saturday is a gray and rainy day, we spend the morning catching up on emails but run out of allotted bandwidth time for 24 hours within 4 hours. We get entertained by a sea plane landing and picking up the mooring next to us, just as we are wondering how they will get to shore a small open boat comes up to the plane. Two people & luggage get off the plane and into the boat & 3 of the 4 guys get into the plane and then they both take off. Even though we are in the park territory, with NO commercial development, there are several private Islands within the park boundaries so we guess they are going to one of those. Later the plane returns, this time running up on the beach and just as before the motor boat comes up to meet him, this time he just unloads more luggage and supplies to the 2 guys on the boat and like before they take off in different directions. We are easily entertained these days. Later the rain stops & it clears enough for us to go to the little beach by us and walk along some of the trails on the south end of the Island. I use the word “TRAILS” very loosely. They have a sign indicating where it starts, usually on the beach, but shortly after it is very hard to tell which way it goes through the trees and over the RUGGED rocks & limestone. NOT a place to walk in flip flops or any loose fitting shoe, any miss step and you would have some serious cuts & bruises at the least. We hike several of the trails, one leading to a Pirate's Lair where pirates use to meet. Running into a few people on the way, once over on the west side where the winds are blowing we get to watch & meet a couple of guys out kite surfing. On the way back we here someone yelling Hello, the couple from the boat next to us took a wrong turn (very easy to do) and were trying to find the path. We stop & visit for a while and direct them to the path and make plans to stop by their boat for sundowners later. We have a nice visit with Anne & Terry on S/V Quality Time, from Toronto down here for the winter. Sunday morning not a cloud in the sky but winds still 15-20 kts making the 73ยบ feel a lot cooler. We get our new mooring assignment for the north anchorage available by noon. Anne & Terry stop by for tea & to return Steve's jacket that he left on their boat and visit for a while before we leave to go to the other anchorage. The short hop over is rough with wind against tide in the pass, 6-8 ft chaotic seas that toss us around like a cork in a washing machine. But once we clear the pass its calm again and we're re-moored by 12:15. After lunch, into shore to check out some more “trails”, 3 hours & 2 ¾ miles of hiking later we have gotten our work out for the day. See pictures of “trails” and you will understand why it took us 3 hours to climb up & down between the sound side & the bank side enjoying some beautiful scenery along the way. Heading back to the boat we see another dinghy having trouble starting their motor (same as ours), we can sure relate to that, so tow them back to their boat. Monday, another partly cloudy day to start, Steve goes in to get us more internet time. Then in the afternoon we return to Boo Boo Hill to add to the pile our piece of driftwood that we picked up the day before. Steve has carved into it Ocean Star, dated it January 24, 2011, which just happens to be 10 months since we have left Kemah and living our dream as cruisers. Walk another trail then return down the hill, as the sun decides to come out. We stop by the Tiki hut on the beach and wait for the Bananaquits (little birds) as I have remembered to bring sugar which they eat right out of my hand. We are truly blessed to be living this life.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shroud Cay

Tuesday 18 January – Thursday 20 January

Monday in Nassau was a very busy day, Steve met with a guy at 9 am to see if he could fix the dinghy motor, end result was no, so he shopped around and found a brand new 2 stroke 5 HP mercury outboard, the SAME as our 18 yr. old one. I apologize for the “wordiness” but this kind of needs an explanation. Our current dinghy davits are too low to keep our inflatable dinghy hanging when we do passages, ultimate goal will be to get a back arch on the boat that can carry a hard bottom dinghy (another future goal) and get a higher horsepower motor that can be lifted on & off with a winch. In the mean time Steve has to LIFT the motor on & off the boat so the current one is just the right size. Got it delivered and took apart the old motor for spare parts, filled up new gas can (came with motor) & old gas can and of course went to the grocery store to re-provision (cruisers never pass up a grocery store)
Tuesday after topping off with fuel (we had heard Georgetown had been out of diesel for a few weeks so we top off whenever it is easy and available) we are once again leaving Nassau shortly after 9. It had rained over night so humidity is up, light winds, blue skies with calm seas, a beautiful motor sail to Shroud Cay. We are anchored by 4:30, get the dinghy out and set up and go for a test ride with the new motor. Starts right up, does NOT stall out in neutral, we are so happy, we no longer have a “clunker car”, well at least the motor part. As we are test driving Pipe muh Bligh (another Kemah TX. boat) comes into the anchorage, we met them at Norman's, and they had returned to Nassau to pick up a friend flying in to visit and were docked next to us. Back to our boat in time to enjoy our sundowners watching the sun set to the west with the full moon rising over the Island to our east.
Wednesday we are up early ready to explore the Island with the dinghy. We take the main creek on the north, thinking it goes all the way to the other side, but we come to a dead end and have to walk across to the beach on the sound side. Beautiful beach, but not the “place” we were looking for. We had seen a turn off to another creek so we backtrack and find Driftwood beach & Camp Driftwood. It is a fabulous beach and where the creek flows out to the Sound on an outgoing tide it creates a water surge to rival any water park ride. When we get there, there are 2 dinghies there and we see them riding the tidal flow. It does not take us long to jump into the cold water and enjoy the ride. The water is deep flowing down to a sand bar before dumping out into the sound, so the hard part is to stop and walk back across the sandbar to the beach with a very strong undertow. It is a blast, and we ride it several times wishing the tide was not slowing down. Next we climb up the path to “camp driftwood” which no longer exists, BUT the views are still worth the climb. Once upon a time back in the 60's a man living on his boat near by built himself this camp up on the ridge out of driftwood. From the stories it was once quite impressive and over the years cruisers stopping by would add things. Well I guess it got out of hand and dangerous as the parks people removed it all, now there is just the sign please don't leave anything and the beautiful views. Back to the boat for lunch and then into another part of the Island to hike to a fresh water well. Back before water makers, boats would stop here to get fresh water. NOT an easy walk carrying nothing, glad I don't have to lug a couple of jerry cans for water. Next stop Neptune's Oasis, a coral reef close by to snorkel at. Weather & water both warming up, for snorkeling with wet suits it's comfortable.
Thursday we make a reservation on the VHF radio for a mooring at Warderick Wells for Friday, the parks headquarters and most popular Island of the park. Nice calm day so we get the kayaks out and go out to explore another section of the Island winding our way up a creek through the mangroves. We bring the hand held GPS with us, a good thing because it would be easy to get lost in the mangrove swamp in the interior. Nothing much to see but a lot of mangroves, but the water is crystal clear, so you can see everything on the bottom, the sky is blue and clear, temperature perfect, and who could ask for more. Oh yeah, the paddle into the mangroves was against the tidal current, but the ride out is with it, so no paddling, just a beautiful sun drenched glide on a magic carpet. Relaxing afternoon on the boat getting ready to leave on Friday.
link to pictures;

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Norman's Cay

Tuesday 11 January – Sunday 16 January

We leave Nassau at 10 Tuesday on 1/11/11 (just had to write it once) heading for Norman’s Cay in the Exuma’s. This Cay (same as KEY) has a past history, back in 1979 thru 1983 it was a base for the cocaine smuggling Colombian drug runner Carlos Lehder complete with its own airstrip for bringing in the drugs. Those days are long gone, but there are still the remains of a submerged aircraft in shallow water just off one of the anchorage’s that lure cruisers here to see for themselves. It was taking off when the landing gear failed bouncing across the rough shell runway, which ruptured a hydraulic line and caused loss of control of the plane, resulting in a high speed nosedive into the bay next to the runway. No survivors. By 4 we are approaching the Island under partly cloudy skies, not the best to navigate the coral heads, but OK. We’re still learning how to “read” the water, and are nervous entering unknown anchorages. The water here is even clearer than the Abacos, you can see down 20 ft quite clearly. But to the untrained eye, it looks like you could be in 2 ft of water, so every little dark patch or shadow is a potential coral head that can rip the bottom out of your boat, adding a little extra “pucker factor” to the anchoring dance. Almost makes us nostalgic for the opaque Galveston Bay water where you couldn’t see anything, so you didn’t worry unless the depth meter dropped below 7 ft. Of course there were no coral heads in Galveston Bay, just mud, which is much more forgiving than sand or coral. The anchorage near the wrecked plane looks a little iffy for our draft, so we anchor on the west side where there is less coral to contend with and by 5 we have the dinghy out and set up and relax with a sundowner cocktail in the cockpit. Wednesday we take the dinghy to explore the cut anchorage to see if we can get in. The depth all looks good and the anchorage that already has about 10 boats is bigger than it looks on the charts, we see another boat we recognize the name of Pipe muh Bligh from Kemah Texas. We do not know them but other friends also just heading out to cruise have mentioned them being in the same area so we go say Hi. We introduce ourselves to Stacy & Rene'n, their boat draws 6 feet and they said they had plenty of water coming in. We also see another Beneteau 50 charter boat so we feel good about bringing Ocean Star in. We had came prepared to snorkel but decide to go back to the boat and move her over since this is the better anchorage and closer to the sunken plane we came to snorkel around. Leave the anchorage following our safe path in and head for the cut, again under partly cloudy skies. We are in Coral Head territory so are taking things cautiously, going slow with me at the bow as lookout for anything that looks dangerous. We are re-anchored by noon, so go to check out the sunken plane only about 200 yards away. When we first spotted it on our dinghy tour we were surprised at how little was showing above the water. But after 30ish years it is now mostly under water as the tides and waves have let it sink into the sand underneath. Surprising how much is still intact and how clearly you can see the “whole” plane, a pretty neat experience. It’s slowly turning into a coral reef, and there are lots of reef fish swimming in and out of it. There’s the usual resident barracuda (2.5 ft) lurking, a few groupers hiding under the wings, and a very large ray with huge eyes camouflaged with sand trying to hide on the bottom nearby. It’s pretty obvious the fish are well fed by visitors, the Sergeant Majors come right up, virtually bumping into your mask in search of a handout. Back to the boat to get out of wet suits, dry off, and have a late warming lunch. By then the wind is picking up, it is predicted to be 15-20 kts from the NE for the next few days. So we settle in for a quiet read and a few games of backgammon. Thursday, even with the winds & wave action we decide to go into the Island, passing the other boats on the way in looks like we will be the only ones going ashore today. We are heading for Norman's Cay Beach Club & Bar AKA MacDuff’s, which is pretty much the only thing on the Island to go to. We take the long way there (left instead of right) passing by the Island dump and then a nice walk along the west side beaches finally finding MacDuff's. We are surprised and impressed on how nice the place is considering there are only 5 full time residents on the Island. We have a nice lunch and have a great time talking with Stefan one of the current owners. Who being himself & family native to the Exuma's & Nassau knows an amazing amount of info about the Islands. Once ashore and after eating a big lunch we are ready for another long walk. Stefan tells us about an old houseboat up on a ridge that back in the Carlos Lehder days would not leave, so Carlos used a crane to relocate the boat up on one of the highest ridges of the Island forcing the occupants to leave. His men used it as a look out post as you have a fabulous 360 view from up there. We hike up the road finding the crossroad to take the path leading to the houseboat is not as easy to find. After checking out a few other possibilities we come back to the crossroad and this time at what Steve thought was a path we notice the little rock cairn. We saw the boat from a distance walking up but from close up it is hidden behind all the trees. We climb up the path & there it sits far away from the water - a houseboat. Once you climb up on top of the boat the 360 view from on top is truly amazing and reminds us that this is what cruising is all about, looking out at breathtaking scenes like this. Make our way back down and back to the beach where the dinghy is, now we are really in for a wet & wild ride back as the winds & waves are even stronger. Steve finally gets the dinghy started (see previous blogs concerning dinghy engine failure) and we make it back to the boat. FYI getting wet on a dinghy ride in 90° summer weather is not so bad, not as much fun in 70° weather. Friday Steve takes another look at the dinghy motor and by mid afternoon seems to have it running, so we go back onto the Island hoping to meet up with some of the other boats we saw going in earlier. By the time we get to MacDuff's everyone has already left so we spend more time hearing Island stories from Stefan. Back to the dinghy to return to the boat only this time the motor will NOT start. TRY as he might the motor will not even kick over ! We start rowing against wind & waves not making much if any progress. Luckily another boat sees us struggling and comes over to tow us back to Ocean Star. NOT a happy ending to the day. Saturday Steve spends the day doing everything he can think of to the motor all to no avail. In the Islands you HAVE to have a dinghy to get around, this time of year is not known for its calm days so rowing is NOT an option with 20 kts winds and waves & current to work against you. We are still only a day's sail away from Nassau so once again we make the decision to go back to Nassau, to have the outboard motor fixed or replaced. Sunday we sadly leave Norman's Cay having not fully explored it due to weather (winds & waves & water temp) & the dinghy motor, to head back to Nassau.
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Return Trip to Nassau

Wednesday 5 January – Monday 10 January

We leave Highborne Cay and head north back to Nassau instead of south, as our Exuma Islands exploring is set back a week while we get the transmission fixed. We are docked by 4, after circling around with a couple of other boats waiting to dock also. I head over to the drug store for more non-drowsy sudafed, as our colds have gotten worse. Steve goes to the mechanic shop to talk (again) to Albert to make sure he can come out Thursday morning to look at the transmission. He has another boat in our marina he will be going to also, so Steve is waiting to show him the way to our boat. When Steve had talked to him over the phone & described the problem, Albert seemed to know right away that it was the input shaft seal that was failing. They will need to remove the transmission from the boat to work on it, which is an easier job then originally thought. Of course the part has to be ordered, and will take a few days to get here, Steve is also ordering a rebuild kit so if something else goes wrong down the road we will have the parts and will just need to find someone to do the work, ½ the battle. After lunch we walk down to the downtown area which when we were there for the parade everything was closed. So we go look at all the tourist shops located downtown & by Prince George Wharf. We can see why people on a cruise ship that only get to only see this part of Nassau are not too impressed. Good deals on Cuban cigars, and the straw market was a maze of people trying to make you a deal on stuff you don't want. An interesting afternoon. Friday my cold is still hanging on so we spend the day doing boat chores, all those things that you put off doing until you “have time”, well now seems to be that time. It is amazing how many little projects there can be. Saturday after lunch we go to the Asian market downtown where Steve wanted to get some cooking ingredients. I am still suffering from cold symptoms, can't remember when I ever had one last this long, so we decided to take the bus into town. The bus stop is right in front of the marina on Bay St. which is a one way street heading east and of course downtown is west. The bus system is not real specific and has several numbered 20 seat buses going to different areas. Even the locals ask if the bus is going where they want to go, as there may be several going in the general direction, and even if it's not really the right bus they tell you to get on or tell you to try one of 3 different #'s. We are not in a hurry, and know it will get to downtown eventually so we hop on and get a great tour of the neighborhoods on the east side of the Island. The bus driver has a friend riding along and they talk & holler at other bus drivers we pass and to their friends on the side of the street, at one point we pull into a parking lot of a liquor store and we think he is getting door to door service but we wait and a few minutes he comes back out with 2 beers, one for him & of course one for the bus driver. It really is a fun way to see parts of the island we can't get to and we finally get let out downtown. The walk back with several stops is much shorter. Sunday we go to the supermarket to re-provision, knowing we will NOT see another grocery store for a while. This just makes you want to stock up, but we have limited space so it is always a catch 22 of what to get and what to say no to. I take a mile walk over to get my Cherry Garcia Ice Cream as they only sell it over on Paradise Island & don't feel so guilty about eating it as I walk back over the bridge. Monday the transmission part finally arrives late afternoon and they fix & install it by 5, too late for us to leave. But everything is ready for us to leave in the morning anxious to get back to the quieter Islands of the Exuma's.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Highbourne Cay

Sunday 2 January – Wednesday 5 January

We are heading out East of Nassau Harbour by 9:30 Sunday morning, light winds and calm seas. By 10:30 we are sailing between yellow bank & white bank, still having to watch for coral heads but not as many if we had taken the yellow bank route. According to one of the dive boat operators with a 6' draft he said 98% of the time with a 6' draft in yellow bank you should have no problems. Since we are 6'3” and new to navigating around coral heads we chose the slightly longer route between the banks and only had to alter course once to avoid a coral head. It's a beautiful day on the water, by 12:30 we turn east and have to roll up the genoa. By 3 we are approaching the Island, not hard to see where the anchorage is, as there are quite a few boats already there and along with us about 6 more coming in over yellow bank. By 4 we are anchored along with 23 other boats at Highborne Cay. Of the flags we could see 12 were Canadian, Steve said he felt like we landed in a flock of Canadian Geese. We had been told the water in the Exuma's is even clearer then the Abaco's and Nassau, we are amazed how true this is. They say the water is “gin” clear and if you have ever seen a bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin then that is what the water in the Exuma's looks like. It is a little hard to tell the depth as we are getting ready to anchor I am wondering if we are going to run aground first as it looks like we are in 5' of water when we are actually in 15'. There are two beaches right by the anchorage and they are packed with boaters to watch the sun set. At 9 that night we hear fireworks, so go up on deck and the power boat behind us is shooting off fireworks from his swim platform. These are not bottle rockets and sparklers but “real” fireworks that go up, make loud booms you can feel, and wide displays. He does 3 sets and everyone hoots & hollers & claps after each set. Afterward we take some time to enjoy the incredible stars lighting the sky. Highborne Cay is a private Island, with a marina so a few people who run the marina live on the Island, they limit access to that part of the Island to marina guests only, boats at anchor are allowed to use the beaches by the anchorage and can go into the marina for supplies, which we do on Monday morning. On the way here our transmission leak got worse, so Steve wanted to see if there was anyone on another Island that might be able to do the work or would we need to return to Nassau. Picked up a couple of bottles of transmission fluid just in case. Back to the boat to pick up wet suits & snorkel gear and we head over to Leaf Cay & SW Allan's Cay to see the Rock Iguanas. You are not supposed to feed them but the guide books say everyone does so when you land your dinghy they all rush the beach to see if you have food. What a sight, they won't get too close just come to see if you brought them any food. On the way back we stop at a reef called Octopus Garden. We anchor the dinghy and jump in, even with wet suits the water is still cold. We swim up a ways then let the current bring us back. There are a lot of reefs in the area and many of the boaters come out to snorkel. Tuesday a lot of boats left, only 7 left in the anchorage. We have both picked up something and are having sinus problems and not feeling well. So we spend the day taking it easy enjoying the beautiful scenery watching boats come and go. Go to the beach late afternoon to stretch & walk around, deciding that going back to Nassau will be the better option to get the boat fixed. So Wednesday morning we leave this beautiful remote island to go back to the “city” of Nassau to have the boat work done. Looking forward to coming back here in a few days without having to worry about a leaky transmission.

link to pictures;

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nassau / Paradise Island Bahamas

Wednesday 29 December – Sunday 2 January

As we approach New Providence (Nassau) and Paradise Island we can tell it is different as we can see tall buildings from a good distance out. Most of what we are seeing is the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. It is a very busy harbour so we have to call Nassau Harbour Control to announce our arrival, giving the name of our vessel and where we are going. Once in the harbour we pass by Prince George Wharf where all the Cruise ships are docked, then under the two 68'9” bridges connecting the two Islands. We are tied up at the dock at Harbour Club Marina by 2:30 pm. After checking in we take a quick walk across the street to a shopping center to see what is there. We feel like we are in a town in Florida, with a Starbucks, KFC, Subway, Domino's, Grocery Store, Drug Store, Liquor store, Sporting Goods store all right there across the street. Walk down the street & have 4 marine stores to choose from. We are a good 2 miles from the “downtown” area where most of the shops & restaurants are, a pretty good hike but we are not here to visit the tourist area. We have a hard time keeping track of what day it is and of holidays, so when we get someplace and are told places will be closing early or closed due to holiday it always catches us off guard. We get all our provisioning and personal maintenance (haircuts) done on Thursday while everything is open. Friday we head over to Paradise Island and boy does the name fit. From the moment you cross over the bridge the beautiful landscaping and “new” buildings and hotels are a big contrast to the streets of Nassau. We spend a FABULOUS day walking the grounds of the Atlantis Resort. We started with the Aquarium which is unlike any other we have seen. First you have to find it, as it is hidden under parts of the Casino and interwoven with water slides and restaurants, it is as if you are in a maze of what the ruins of Atlantis might look like. The highlight of the day is the Dolphin interaction. We get to hug & kiss & pet & play with the dolphins up close & personal, including being “foot pushed” across the pond by one of the dolphins at 20 knots it was a blast. As we work our way back out we go through the marina where they have Mega Mega Yachts !! Definitely a first class resort. Walk back over the bridge at dusk a good last day for 2010. At midnight they have 2 sets of fireworks going off in the harbour to welcome the new year. One of the barges is right off our marina while the other is ¼ mile to the west so we get to watch them both, a great beginning to 2011. There is also a Junkanoo parade scheduled that is supposed to start at 2 AM and run thru 8 AM. Well it has been a LONG day and no one is exactly sure of the exact time the parade starts (back to Island time). So we decide to get some sleep and wake at 6 to catch the end of the parade. Glad we did not try to come at 2, as we got there at 7:30 it had started NOT long ago. We have a great time watching the amazing costumes and floats. The high energy level of the participants is amazing as they dance and perform along the parade route. Not sure what time it started, don't think we missed anything as it is finally over at 11:30. Think the 2 am was when the “staging” of the parade “started” for them to get their costumes & floats ready to go. Walk back to the boat to get ready for our Sunday departure. For some reason we had no internet connection, so unable to do any Skype calls, or email updates. Steve finally got connected around 10, by which time I was in bed. Sunday we got up early again to do last minute emails and recheck weather before leaving at 9:30 headed for the Exuma chain of Islands.

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