Sunday, March 12, 2006

Docked in Nassau

All kinds of information go into making a decision about a longer passage. In this case we had to leave our mooring in Hope Town around noon, high tide was at 1PM (necessary to make our way out the long, shallow, narrow channel), the reef cut out of the Abaco Sound needed to be passable and weather conditions for the passage, do-able. A cold front was arriving the next morning bringing some higher winds and possible thunderstorms so we wanted to be at our destination around dawn. Eleuthra was difficult as we needed full daylight to enter the channel there and by that time the weather would have deteriorated so we decided to go to Nassau. The entrance to the harbor there is very wide and deep. We exited the Abacos bank through the north Man-O-War cut and had a clear, sunny day with light winds as we motorsailed south along the reefs. At nightfall we passed Cherokee Landing and Scott heard a call for help over the VHF radio. A fisherman had lost power and was stranded near the reef. His radio was too weak to reach further. Scott arranged for calls to his family and they sent out another boat with help.
It was a clear starry night and the wind started to build, unfortunately mostly right on the nose. This is one of the many times we're glad we have our big heavy boat and engine. For a number of hours we were bucking wildly as we pounded into the wind and waves. As predicted though it veered west later and our sails filled, stabilizing the boat. When we entered the New Providence Channel we encountered many huge ships. Tracking their lights and positions on the radar is a full time job for whichever of us is on duty. I always try to get the sunrise on my watch - it's a dramatic, beautiful and longed for event. In this case the lights of Nassau were welcoming us ahead as well. We rounded the lighthouse and shot up the channel at 7:20AM.
At this point the winds were 20 plus knots and gusty. The first anchorage was full and many of the boats were dragging and trying to reset their anchors. We tried three times to set ours on the opposite side but when we finally appeared set, a barge operator ordered us to move. We gave up there and tried another anchorage to the south. There the currents and difficult entrance made it equally hard.
 We did manage to settle ourselves but we were not comfortable. In addition our outboard wasn't working and it was clear we could not row to shore with the difficult currents. We threw the budget considerations out the window and called the Nassau Boat Haven.
Maneuvering into a slip there with the wind and the currents was very exciting. I had so much adrenalin in me after we tied up, I had to lie down. It was fantastic to step out onto that solid dock! Scott and I had a wonderful lunch at their restaurant and then went fast to sleep.

So we're waiting here for Sean's arrival on Wednesday, the 15th. Our "to do" list is enormous but we're slowly checking off each item. After a morning of work, we take long walks and explore Nassau and Paradise Island. We visited the Atlantis Resort and took a time share sales pitch in return for dinner at one of their restaurants. It's quite a complex!
We've met a number of couples here and several old friends of ours are on their way from Florida. We spend an hour plus each day keeping track of the weather and it looks good for heading across the banks to the Exuma chain on Thursday or Friday after Sean arrives. We're keeping our fingers crossed.