Friday, 18 March 2016

Bahamas!!

We arrived at West End, Grand Bahama Island, got settled and gave ourselves a pinch.  We met another Canadian boater from Montreal almost immediately upon landing.  They came in about an hour before us.

Steve was on the boat trying to get a marine weather forecast.  He couldn't find anything and being in the Bahamas we have no data to look up weather on the internet.  There was internet at the Marina but if we were going to stay at the Marina we wouldn't need the weather.  Steve said....and I agreed....it was just irresponsible to leave without a weather forecast.  We talked to our Canadian friends who had already talked to Berkley Kemp.  Berkley was at the Marina everyday and seemed to know everything about everybody and everything.  Berkley was taking our Canadian friends to the BTC (Bahama's Telephone Company) store on the Island.  This would give us a sim card that we would insert in our phone that would give us Wi-Fi while on the Bahama Island, problem solved!!!  There was lots to do on the boat so I suggested that Steve stay back and get his chores done....there are always many.  Washing the salt off the boat after 9 hours across the Atlantic was a priority.

Back to the Marina after visiting a small village for the sim card.  Wi-Fi up and running on our spare phone so we can use that as a hotspot for internet and weather and safe travels.  During our trip to the BTC store we learned quite a bit about Berkley....everybody has a story and this guy has a story.  He played in the CFL until 1991 when he was injured.  He has won 2 Grey Cups.  He talked quite a bit about his women....and there have been many.  Berkley has 19 children, 2 sets of twins.  All have different Mothers.....oh the life of a pro football player.  He used to live in Quebec as well as Guelph.  He played for the Alloettes and the Argonauts maybe other teams as well...I don't recall.  He was punt receiver and running back.  He still receives a pension from the CFL and has just built a house in the village so his kids can come and visit. 

The Marina we stayed at after we crossed was also a resort.  We took a walk around but there didn't appear to be many staying at the resort.  There was a small beach and a pool.

Also a large play area with large chess and checker pieces. 

Since there weren't many people around Dexter had the luxury of being off leash.
The water here is crystal clear.
We walked out to the point of the Marina.  The birds were almost tame.  We could get so close without them being the least bit timid. 
Berkley had told us that fishing here was quite good.  We saw a few boats come in with their catch.  One boat came in with their swim platform covered in conch shells.  They are plentiful here.
 What most fish for here is a fish called Wahoo.  Not sure if that's how you spell it but that's how you say it.  Probably because that's what you say when you land one. WAAAAHOOOO!!  This is fishing weekend back home for Steve.  He ice fishes every year with his Sisters husbands and Nephews.  When we saw this boat come in we took a walk over to watch him clean his fish.  The meat looked absolutely delicious! 
 We got chatting with the fisherman and then Steve asked "do you think I could take a picture with that fish so I can send it home to my fishing buddies."  The fisherman laughed and said of course.  We sent this back to our nephews with the impression that it was caught by Steve. After a few laughs and a picture coming back of a huge fish that was actually caught by our nephew Chad, we came clean.  Didn't really catch that fish, but had some fun with it.   
As dinner time approached there were locals coming on to the docks.  One had fresh lobster for $5.00.....SOLD!  Then a woman came by with fresh baked bread....white or coconut....coconut bread?......SOLD.   The loaf of bread cost just as much as 1 lobster...... $5.00.  Our yummy local dinner...well all but the steak, salad and potato. 
The next day we head out toward Marsh Harbour.  It will take us a few easy days to get there.  We have already picked out our stops.  Our first stop was 40 miles away at Great Sale Cay (pronounced key).  The seas were calm and it was a great ride.  Ever wonder what happens to those birthday balloons that you set free? 
Approaching our first anchorage for the night.  It was a deserted island.  The shoreline wasn't all that great for Dexter.  We thought it was sand but as we approached it was sharp coral.  While we were on the bow of the boat getting set we saw black fin shark swimming around our boat.  No swimming here for us or Dexter! 
We had one of the best sunsets there that we have seen on this trip.  Even the water changed to a crimson colour. 

We left the next morning to our next anchorage.  It was well protected from East winds and had a nice sand beach for Dexter to run.
The winds picked up and direction was changing to the Southeast.  The anchorage we were in did not give much protection from the South so we decided to move about 4 miles to a more protected anchorage in a SE wind.   This anchorage was my favourite of the 3 so far.  There was a sand beach for Dexter.
Steve took the plunge and went for a swim.  We didn't see any sharks here but doesn't mean they're not there.  The water is so salty he was very buoyant.  He didn't need to tread water at all.....just relaxing. 
The water was a beautiful colour and the marine life on shore was fantastic.  We saw many live conch.... 

 ....a huge starfish that had a vibrant red colour....

  ....a sea urchin
Dexter had a blast here!
Later in the day a boat pulled in to the anchorage.  The captain launched their dinghy and then came to our boat....after taking their 4 DOGS to shore to relieve themselves.  He asked if we had any knowledge of the weather as he thought he would be able to get it on his vhf radio.  We gave him the weather forecast then chatted a little.  They are "all in"....the boat is their only home.  As we talked he said they are going to the British Virgin Islands and yes they have 4 dogs....all rescues, so they are still learning their manners.   Not only do they have 4 dogs, he and his wife have 2 teenagers and his wife's Mother.  WOW!!  Groceries can be a challenge with 2 people and a small dog.   Can't imagine how you would store groceries for 5 people....2 being teenage boys and 4 dogs??  I wonder if anyone ever sleeps in the dinghy?? 
We loved this anchorage and the wind was blowing.  It wasn't blowing to the point that we couldn't leave we just didn't want to.  We stayed here for 3 days then moved.  We were so tempted to take a star fish or a live conch but couldn't bring ourselves to interfere with the natural beauty of this spot.  It was so beautiful and appeared to be untouched by man.  Not commercialized in any way.
Our next stop Green Turtle. We passed Cooperstown on the way to Green Turtle. 
We were on a mooring ball here as the anchorage is very small and holding not so great as the bottom is grassy.  There are just 3 small Marina's in this area of Green Turtle, called Blacksound, and all of the Marinas were full.  The other area of Green Turtle is called Whitesound.  The mooring balls there are $20 a day as apposed to $10.  Blacksound is much closer to the town so we were just as happy there.   
We took a walk up to the very small town, New Plymouth.  There was a restaurant called Pineapples that was part of the establishment that owned the mooring balls.  There was a swimming pool that overlooked the ocean....and yes that's the restaurant...a bar with stools...and a pool. 



We walked in to the town.  The streets are very narrow and there are many churches.


This is the old jail.  I'd imagine the prisoners were pretty laid back otherwise....why wouldn't they just hop the wall?
We went in to the liquor store, although we purchased nothing.  The cheapest bottle of wine I saw was $18......but what a novel idea....put a bar right in the liquor store!
This is a shot of one of the 3 isles in the grocery store.  We stocked up on groceries before we left the US.  Ketchup was $10.00!!

We will leave here tomorrow and head further toward Marsh Harbour.  We are only 20 miles away but we want to stop at a place called Nippers.  Apparently not to be missed.  We wanted to experience some of the local food so we thought we would go up to Pineapples for lunch. 

We found a local cleaning conch which they will cook at Pineapples.  He had a whole bucket full!

There is a difference between Canadian service and Bahamas service.  We went up for lunch and were back at our boat about 3 hours later.  The difference??......well the service is much slower but far more entertaining.  We met Willis, a local that was so full of energy!!  Willis is a Grandfather but has the energy of an 18 year old. 
  He poured a concoction of rum and something red and walked around and poured it in everyone's mouth....being very careful not to let the glass touch the lips. 
 With about 1/2 left....and it was strong....our server finished it off.  It made for a fun afternoon.

We left our anchorage at Green Turtle and head toward Marsh Harbour.  There are many shoals as we were approaching the anchorage so the channel is well marked.  This is what a marker looks like in the Bahamas......oh and it's a green.
We passed by Bakers Bay.  This is a very prestigious establishment and is closed to the public.  Willis, the local from Pineapples Restaurant showed us pictures of him at Bakers Bay.  He has met Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio just to name a few stars that frequent Bakers Bay.  A building lot here costs $4 million plus.
We arrived at our anchorage Great Guana Cay.
 We dropped the dinghy and went exploring.  First stop was Grabbers.  We could see our boat in the anchorage from the bar.  We could also hear the island music on our boat from the bar.
All of these bars have swimming pools.   From what we have seen so far the bars are like resorts they just have no where to sleep. 

One drink at Grabbers and we were on our way....
........looking for Nippers.  We could see signs so we followed the signs....
.......past the cemetery......
....past the painted tractor.......
....through the mangroves.....where are we going??
and then it appeared!
We figured they were so far out of the way so they could play their music really loud.  The restaurant/bar overlooked the beach where they danced to the music.
.....and they danced to the music at Nippers as well.  We had a great time watching everyone of all ages enjoy the music and the sunny hot day. There were small children walking around and even people with dogs on leashes.  Only in the Bahamas!
This bar also had a pool.  We didn't think swimming here was a good idea. 
One drink at Nippers and we head back to the boat.  As we were leaving Steve said....I guess if you don't Nipper you Grabber....Yaaaaaa that's how they named them!  Takes a man to figure out that one!

Back to the boat and we all took the plunge to beat the heat of the gorgeous day....even Dexter!

 Pulled anchor the next morning and head toward Marsh Harbour.  We spotted a sea turtle along the way.  Love this clear water!

Once settled in our anchorage we took the dinghy to shore and walked up to the grocery store.  There is a much larger store here with everything you would need.  Ketchup here was only $2.35.  On the way to the grocery store we passed a school.  The class was outside for gym. How fortunate are our children at home!
We left Marsh Harbour and head for Treasure Cay.  Treasure Cay is a small resort...there are no large resorts or any all inclusive resorts here. 

We stayed just outside the resort on a mooring ball.  The beach was just across the street and is pet friendly.  Anything goes in the Bahamas.  It was a great afternoon in this beautiful turquoise clear water.


The Bahamas seems to be a very popular spot for Canadian boaters.  There were many at Treasure Cay.  Oh the red and white!!
Treasure Cay has been our favourite beach so far on this trip.  We leave with fond memories and lots of laughs.

We were heading to another anchorage that was reported to be a don't miss.  We get our information mostly from Active Captain which is an App that gives reviews on Marinas and anchorages.  Also tells if they are pet friendly, water depths and if you can go to shore.  I can't imagine doing this trip with out Active Captain. 

As we travelled to our next anchorage, I was looking on Active Captain and noticed an anchorage where we just had to stop.  As we pulled in to the anchorage we could see wild pigs.  Even though the pigs are wild they are very tame.  You can see how close you can get because the pigs are pigs...they love their food and people bring food.  Needless to say we didn't stay here.  Either a pig or a Jack Russell would have been killed. 

There is no fresh water on this island.  The pigs depend on people to bring fresh water.  We talked to a man there that said many bring food but they really need water.   This man doesn't own the pigs he just helps care for them.


We were told that 2 pigs were put on this island about 3 years ago.....it only takes 2.




We arrived 5 miles away from the pig island at our next anchorage....Manjack Cay.  When we first arrived, I said to Steve...oh no there is a house right there.  Typically when you anchor outside someone's house you can not go to shore.  You can anchor anywhere but you can't go to shore anywhere.  There were many boats in the anchorage and even dinghies on shore so I checked on Active Captain and not only are boaters allowed to go to shore here they are encouraged to do so.  The only restriction was that dogs had to be leashed because the owner has pet chickens that run free.....no problem!
A shot of our boat and all the others, from the beach in the anchorage at Manjack Cay

There are hiking trails here that the owner has marked well.
You can walk for 1 mile to the other side of the Cay to the ocean side.

We decided to take that hike.  The owner stopped, welcomed us and chatted for a bit then was on his way.  You could tell he was very proud of this property....so he should be!
Trekking through the well marked trails.  We were laughing because they seemed to go on forever.....

and ever....
and then.....

We were pretty sure the chickens were safe all the way here so Dexter had a run on this beautiful private beach.

and the sign said.....
so we did.....

We left the beach and trekked back to the boat.  As we were approaching the dinghy in very shallow water, a stingray passed at our feet. 

We stayed at this anchorage for 3 days.  We took a hike to another beach that was in another direction.  It wasn't quite as far and not as nice as the first beach we visited but still beautiful. 

There was weather approaching so we decided to head back to Blacksound where we would be secure on a ball until the storms passed.  We arrived a day before the storms hit.  The day the storms hit we listened on the VHF radio for people trying to get a slip in a Marina or a mooring ball.  There wasn't a spot to be had.  Everyone was looking for safe harbour.



Storms passed and time was flying.  We had to keep a close eye on the weather because it was almost time to take our 90 mile trek across the Atlantic Ocean to Fort Pierce Florida.  It looked like the following Saturday was going to be a good day so we started to head back to West End, Grand Bahama Island.  We would take 3 days. 

The first day we stayed at another beautiful anchorage.

and another beautiful beach that we had all to ourselves..

The marine life right at the shoreline was very impressive.  This spot was noted to be a good spot for snorkelling as well.

We went back to the boat and put on the snorkelling gear.  Steve found a gorgeous conch.
Later that day when Steve took Dexter to shore he found another trail through the bush.  We got up the next morning and decided to check it out.
This trail was not nearly as manicured as the previous one on Manjack Cay.
We could hear birds as if they were stereo speakers in the bush.  I was half expecting a monkey to jump out of the bush.
You not only had to watch where you were walking but you head to keep your head up too.......or should I say down.
I guess this means we are going in the right direction.

and then.....


We went back to the boat and pulled anchor.  We were still about 85 miles from West End so we would have at least 2 more days of travel before arriving.  We went about 43 miles that day to an anchorage that we shared with 10 other boats.  I guess everyone is looking at the same day to cross to Florida. 

The next day we were up early and travelled with most of the boats that were at the anchorage the night before.  Many stopped only after 20 miles at about 12:30.  We had heard that we could be in for some pretty severe storms so we thought best to go straight through to the Marina for safe harbour. As the day was coming to an end the sky was getting blacker and blacker.  I called the Marina for a slip and was told they were full.  However, a Marina will never turn you away if it is not safe to be on the water.  They told us to come in and they would find us a slip.....and they did.  Whew!

We left our VHF radio on as there was much chatter with people trying to find safe harbour....and then it hit.  High winds, heavy rain.  I couldn't imagine being at anchor and was so glad we decided to carry on when others stopped early.  We heard the following day that they had 50 mile an hour winds at their anchorage which was not well protected at all.

During the storm we heard someone call the Marina on the VHF radio.  The vessel stated that he was in a boat that was new to him that he just picked up that day.  He filled it with gas and had travelled about 100 miles but now he was on empty, in a storm, 5 miles away.  Not a good feeling if you're in that boat. The Marina answered saying they would keep in contact with him until he was safe in the harbour and told him if he ran out of fuel to drop anchor and they would come fetch him.

About 3/4 of an hour later the distressed vessel radioed and said they had just come through Indian Cut and were only a mile out and storms were not beating them up so much.  They were sure they were going to be OK.

About 15 minutes later another call from the distressed vessel....calling Mayday.  Our hearts sank.  As a boater that's just a word you don't ever want anyone to have to call over their radio.  The Marina responded saying "are you out of gas?".  The distressed vessel said "no we have run aground in the Marina Harbour"......ugh?  The Marina responded saying they would be right there.  Within minutes we saw a boat heading to the Marina entrance.  Another boater also responded on the radio asking if they were taking on water.  The distressed vessel said "no we aren't in the water".......ugh?  Then he was asked if anyone was hurt and he said no just our pride.  We felt so bad for this couple.  First day with their new boat.  It was dark when they came in and they were likely so relieved to have reached the Marina safely they took their eye off the prize. 

The wind blew in gusts for most of the night so I thought our window to cross to Florida would have closed.  It settled at about 5am....I know because I didn't sleep much.  We were up at first light and head for Florida.

So sad as we left the Marina to see the vessel that was so close yet so far.  At least no one was injured.

We loved the Bahamas! We were there from March 3rd - 26th,  everyday was a new adventure and we felt as safe there as we do in the US.  So glad we took the time to visit these islands.  We have just arrived in Fort Pierce where we have already met up with old Looper friends that we have met on our previous travels.  We will have drinks with them tomorrow and then carry on North....homeward bound...."One Bay at a Time."






































2 comments:

  1. Looks and sounds like your having a great trip. Safe boating and Happy Easter.

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  2. Hi guys we've been following your blog all the way and what a wonderful adventure. I really enjoyed your last blog when you refer to places on our waterway. Janice,if you are as great a grandmother as you are a writer then Sarah and family are in good hands. Looking forward to your return and all the stories LoLove Norma and Larry

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