Sunday, 30 December 2007

The Bahamas

We left West end and sailed southeast to Port Lucaya, arriving in early afternoon. The wind had clocked around to the north so the swells were blocked by Great Bahama Island and we were able to broad reach in 18 – 20 knots of breeze and virtually flat seas. Passing the industrial harbour of Freeport, we made the narrow, but well marked entrance into Port Lucaya, and the Grand Bahama Yacht Club. The harbour itself is about the same size as False Creek, but is connected to the east with a series of canals that were excavated for various housing developments. The marina’s water taxi took us over to the Port Lucaya Market Place, and Count Base square. Here we found a collection of nice restaurants, and a bunch of tourist stores. After dinner, in a very nice Greek taverna, we ran into a family we had met in West End, and enjoyed a drink aboard Equinox, their new Kady Krogen trawler. The boys were entranced with Ally (their 15yr old daughter) and her 48” plasma screen TV, while Janine and Gary admired the other features of this fine yacht. In 2 or 3 years when their daughter goes off to university they plan to do a long slow circumnavigation. Leaving to catch the last water taxi, it was back to the TVless High Five for the night. The next day we caught a bus into Freeport for some shopping at Kelly’s, and the Ace hardware. The fish that we had hooked on the crossing from Florida had taken our best blue and white “Cedar Plug” so some new fishing lures were in order, and as we were unable to find Janine’s mask and snorkel, Santa showed up and we found her a new one. At 0230, yes 0230 the next morning the alarm went off and High Five left Port Lucaya headed for the Berry Islands. A little after 0300 we were motor sailing towards Great Stirrup Cay 56 mile to the SE. Little Stirrup and Great Stirrup Cay, are used by the cruise ship lines as their “beach resorts” so as we passed we could see the cruise ship anchored, some development on the beaches, and parasailers flying around. Continuing south down New Providence Channel we joined Losloper, an Albertan boat whom we had met in West End, at anchor in behind Market Fish Key. Here is where we saw the crystal clear waters of the Bahamas for the first time. Although we have read countless descriptions of the clarity of the water, none can adequately prepare you. Pulling in the fishing lines as we prepared to enter the anchorage the bottom suddenly came into view some 75ft below. Navigating to the anchorage we must have checked the chart and the depthsounder a hundred times as we could not believe the water was deep enough. After anchoring in 12 ft, we donned our masks and snorkels and jumped in. You could easily see a hundred yards and felt like you were flying instead of swimming. After swimming around and around the boat, and checking the anchor, we took the dinghy ashore, ran on the beach and talked to the crew of Losloper. As the anchorage was a bit rolly, the next morning we headed further south to White Cay, at the south end of Hoffman’s Cay. As we were leaving Gary started to put out the fishing lines and in a few minutes one of our hand lines had hooked a 2 ft Barracuda! Teeth and attitude, along with the possibility that Barracudas carry Ciguatera poison, it was released. Moments later another strike, and an identical fish was pulled up to the boat, and spat the hook at the transom saving us from another battle with the teeth. Within 5 minutes we had another strike this time on the rod, providing us with a 2-3 lb Spanish mackerel, which Janine had for dinner the next night. After sailing for a few hours, and no more fish, we entered the cut between Devil’s Cay and White Cay. Again careful attention to the depth sounder, as our eyes cannot, or will not believe what they are seeing. 25 ft of water looks like 4’ or 5’. White Cay sports a fine sand beach, which we quickly covered in footprints. The area around the anchorage includes at least 10 similar beaches contained on half a dozen cays. Friday night we talked to Salt and Light on the Satellite phone. Early Friday morning Salt and Light, Solange had left Florida and were now anchored north of Bimini! Also San-I-Ti, Meander, and Sucia II had left an hour behind them and were all at the docks in Bimini. It was such good news to hear that everyone had made it across safely. Hopefully we will see them all in a few days.

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