May 22 will mark one hundred days since we entered the Bahamas. It seems like living on the canal in Key Largo was a lifetime ago and that our awesome family vacation in Hawaii even further back.
A quick summary of our time in the Bahamas:
We entered the country, February 12, in Bimini after a dreadful Gulf Stream crossing when we were chased by a thunderstorm, 4 out of 5 people got seasick and docking in the high wind and current took three tries. Brown’s Marina, the first one on the channel, became our home for about 10 days as we recovered from our crossing, explored the island by golf cart and met our first cruising friends.
Next we had a 5 day weather window which we used over the course of 4 days to travel from Bimini to Spanish Wells where we left the boat and spent a week with Mom and Dad in Governor’s Harbour. On the way we stayed at Great Harbour Cay and relaxed at a beautiful beach on the east side of the island. We found and broke our first sand dollars and started to learn how to anchor properly.
Governor’s Harbour or more appropriately Pineapple Fields was an awesome reset after spending 6 weeks on the boat. The resort was amazing and having a vehicle to explore the island was great too, though driving on the wrong side of the island took some getting used to. A sad good bye and my parents headed out to the land of ice and snow. The boat was still there in great shape in Spanish Wells. While waiting for a weather window we provisioned the boat, feed the no-see-ums and sampled the local cuisine. Window in hand, we headed south toward the Exuma Islands.
Our first week in the Exumas we were trapped at Alan’s Cay weathering a cold front. As the high winds pounded us we were disenchanted… Our boys, mainly James, developed a hatred for all dinghy rides due to the fact that there is no such thing as a dry dinghy ride. We met Eve and Elaine from Velvet a french couple with a ton of experience in the Exumas.
Shroud Cay was the next stop, we took the dinghy up a tidal stream from the Caribbean side to the Atlantic side. We also met our first real close cruising friends – Bob and Teresa on Spunky and Wayne and Gaye on Celebration. Wayne assisted us in our first mooring ball capture while Bob blew up his dinghy engine going up the stream.
Next stop Warderick Wells where we spend almost a week avoiding another cold front. Our days were spent on the boat or at the beach as we endured the front. By this time, we had had enough of the semi-salty water we had loaded in Spanish Wells and Salty Dog was nice enough to give us 10 gallons of water from their RO unit. After Warderick we sailed to Big Majors Spot.
Big Majors had pigs on the beach which would try climb into the dinghy thinking you were going to feed them. We also really connected with Wayne and Gaye from Celebration here. The boys had a sleepover and we toured the island we them by golf cart. We had several cold fronts and had to re-anchor on the back side of the island to avoid them, however the boats were too close and Wayne and I spent a night pushing Celebration and Viatori away from each other our boats responded differently to the strong winds and current. We also met Bill and Phyllis on Oh My on the radio and planned to reconnect in Georgetown for a sewing date.
We felt we had exhausted Big Majors so we headed to Black Settlement for a buffet at Lorraines Cafe. Our time at Black Settlement was spent re-provisioing, hauling water and doing a months worth of Laundry. Several cruising boats that we had met in passing ended stopping in Black Settlement. Shamballa and Baccaleau, both kid boats, to name a few. Trisa and Steve on Family Business, friends of Wayne and Gaye, showed up and we had a couple great night with them. Family Business headed north and Celebration and Viatori went south to Farmers Cay for a night then off to Georgetown. Also in Georgetown were Oh My, Ursa Major and Spunky all anchored at Sand Dollar Beach with us.
Another sleepover for the boys aboard Celebration, many wet and wild dinghy rides the mile across the harbour to town and lots of get gathers for lunch, dinners and sundowners in town and on various boats. A good time had by all. The Bahamian Regatta, which is a week long series of races in traditional sailboats, seemed to double the number of people in town and the number of cruisers in the area, with at least 200 boats in the harbour. We anchored in the middle of hrabour and watched the boats round a mark, chased the boats in the dinghy for pictures and enjoyed the carnival like atmosphere of the town. With a slightly different demographic we might have spent more time in the PM people watching the Bahamians as they partied the nights away.
A 40 mile motorsail to Conception Island with Family Business and Celebration was uneventful and fast with an average speed of over 7 knots. Our early start and running hard got all three boats anchor down at the same time. Conception had two good beaches, a creek filled with turtles and lots of sandflies after sunset. Two nights in conception and we parted ways with Celebration and Family Business. A tearful good bye for all of us…
Back to Georgetown to wait weather until heading south to Cuba, instead of heading to the Turks and Caicos. Ernesto and Natalia on Taia and Jonathon and Cynthia on Horizon, We met Candy and Phil on Elizabeth Pearl, another Defever 44 – the same model as Oh My.
What has changed on board since we got here? I think we have realized that we need to take each day as it comes, not live to a schedule beyond what we are going to do today and maybe tomorrow. The weather sets the schedule and we must move when the weather allows. Cruising is about the people you meet and the places you visit not one or the other. Your kids don’t change their personalities because you live together full time. You will have more fun with your spouse cruising than you can in “normal” life. You will have more disagreements with your spouse cruising than you can in “normal” life. Cruising changes the way you look at life, the world and your goals for the future.