Well last week we finally left Nassau. It’s been an eventful two weeks so I thought we might fill you in.
Nassau was not our favorite locale. It is a great place to grocery shop and eat out; but it is also crowded, touristy, and very expensive. One thing that frustrated us a little there was that there are not really any good anchorages. We found a couple that provided adequate shelter, but not much to do once you arrived. Perhaps you could take your dinghy to shore, but then it would be a $20 cab fare each way to the grocery store. To get close to things like Starbucks or restaurants or provisioning, you had to stay at a marina- with its daily fee and extra $$ for electricity and water.
After a few days of trying to find a good anchoring spot, we gave up and headed to a marina in anticipation of our son Clint’s visit. He and his girlfriend Sierra arrived in Nassau February 7, after their cruise celebrating her birthday. This was our first visit from home! We decided we would do some sailing and anchoring at an island off the coast near Nassau, then return to the Atlantis resort marina for the final part of their stay. This allowed them to manage their luggage and cab rides with ease. It also gave us all some variety throughout their visit. Atlantis, while expensive, was still a good value compared to renting a room there. The price of the marina stay included access to the pools, restaurants, and water park. We had a very enjoyable Sunday there cruising the water slides and trying out a few of the restaurants. I don’t know that I’d rush back there, but it was fun to try once. I will say that the marina was top-notch. Docking was relatively easy, and the ambiance around the place was upscale. Definitely a step up from your average marina.
I must confess that I was a bit blue when Clint and Sierra left us. It was a wonderful visit, and it made me not homesick, but perhaps family-sick. I did really soak up the time with people who know us and love us. It made me look forward to the next visit with family.
The next morning we cast off the lines and motor-sailed all day to Eleuthera. It was a little bumpy; we were sailing into the wind and the seas, which is not comfortable as compared to sailing with the waves coming from behind you. But we really, really wanted to get somewhere other than Nassau. And we were glad we did! It took us about 6 hours to reach an anchorage at Royal Island, an uninhabited island on the northern end of Eleuthera. The next morning we did some laundry, worked out, cleaned up, and motored one more hour to Spanish Wells, where we picked up a mooring ball right near the town.
For our non-boating friends, a mooring ball is like an anchor that you sail up to rather than bring with you. It’s usually a heavy object (stone or concrete) with a buoy and a line attached. The line has a loop at the end, and you attach to lines from the bow (very front) of your boat through the loop and back to your boat. It is usually very secure. It is also, we discovered, difficult to pick up with just two people. We got a line attached to one side of Gratitude but were having trouble getting a line in from the other side. (We decided we need some longer dock lines for occasions such as this, to make it easier.) Fortunately, a guy in the boat moored next to us got in his dinghy and paddled over. He ran the second line through the loop for us. Turned out he was a fellow Mariettan! His name was Thad, and he lived in Marietta for about 11 years. We dinghied over later that day with some beer and our profuse thanks and had a nice visit with him.
Our time in Spanish Wells was very laid-back. We checked out the local restaurants and rented a golf cart for a few hours to explore the town. It is the opposite of Nassau – a working town, no glitz and not touristy, except for some rental properties for a few families who vacation here every year. No resorts, just a quiet secluded beach. Great seafood, because their primary industry is fishing. Two supermarkets, but not like Publix back home – more expensive, less selection, but you can find almost everything you really need.
You may have seen on Facebook that we took one day away from the boat and visited Harbor Island. To get there, you go to Pinder’s Supermarket the day before and tell them you need a taxi to the ferry dock. They’ll tell you what time to be back there the next morning. The water taxi takes you across the channel to North Eleuthera. The captain ties up his boat, gets off, and disappears for a few minutes – he’s gone to get the passenger van. You transfer yourself into the van, which takes you to the public ferry dock on the other side of North Eleuthera. The captain tells you what time he’ll be back at that public ferry dock, and that if you are even one minute late he will be OUTTA THERE. (He’s quite emphatic about this.) Then you get on the government ferry boat (one is always leaving or arriving within about 10 minutes of each other) and you ride over to Harbor Town.
Our captain (a very crusty elderly gentleman with some interesting stories) told us that Harbor Island was Sin City and that he guaranteed we would not want to stay long. What does it say about us that we absolutely LOVED it? Ha! It is clean, full of friendly people, and has the Pink Sand Beach, at which I could happily have stayed for a week. You rent a golf cart right across from the dock. You drive that cart about three long blocks to the public beach access. At the end of the access road is a fabulous (albeit crazy-expensive) restaurant and a little shack that rents chairs, umbrellas, towels, snorkel gear, paddle boards – anything you might need for a beach day. And bottled water. And Cheetos.
We plopped ourselves down on two chairs and beached, all day. It was heavenly. The only thing I neglected to do was take a picture of the pink sand. Truth be told, the pink is very faint. It is mostly white, with a pinkish tinge, from coral they say. But it is glorious, because it was the softest sand I have ever walked on. Not hot at all – cool and smooth beneath your feet. If I’d had a little more time, I’d have rented snorkel gear too and swum out to the reef to see if I could find some fish. That’s okay, though – I have already decided I will find a way to come back here.
The only bad thing that happened to us this day was having to leave to go back and meet Captain Crusty at the ferry dock. Oh, and our dinghy had some water in it when we got back. We don’t know why – it wasn’t alarming, but it’s yet another problem to solve. So we counted this as a very successful day.
Today we spent the day cooking and cleaning. We are going to start tomorrow sailing back toward Ft. Lauderdale. We knew when we left that we would need to go back in a few weeks to get some issues resolved with our newly-installed solar panels. And our time away has revealed a few other things (like that busted eye on the dinghy that sent Andy crashing into the sea!) that need repair. So tomorrow we will leave Spanish Wells for a series of day sails – back to New Providence (anchoring away from Nassau), then to Chub Cay in the Berry Islands, then a long sail to Bimini, where we will be only 50 miles from Florida. We hope to be back in Ft. Lauderdale on Friday.
After our return, the plans are to host some friends on the boat for the weekend, then for me to get a quick visit home. I’ll return to Gratitude with our son Kyle and Andy’s dad (“Papa”). They’ll be with us for a week, and I can’t wait! I’m also excited about touching base at home, seeing my family, and of course working out with my Crossfit III squad. Andy will supervise our boat work and see if we can get ready for a return to the Bahamas, Part II. But of course, we hold these plan loosely. We’re learning.