We are so deliriously happy about being here.
This isn’t even the most beautiful island I’ve been to, but somehow, reaching here on our own boat makes it such an accomplishment that it is the best place on earth. And it is great – nice people, good food, cold Kaliks. But it doesn’t feel like a “vacation” place, which also makes being here on our boat so amazing. We are finally doing what we set out to do – we are exploring a new country on Summer.
So, ok, the crossing. It was blissfully uneventful. Leaving in the dark was mighty scary, Brian had charted us right over a channel marker that of course was unlit, and the seas going out were super choppy. Remember, we’ve never been out alone at sea in the dark!
We turned on the radar and watched out for other boats, and soon enough the sky was lightening and the seas calmed. We set our course, unfurled the jib, and left the engines chugging at 3000 rpm, because we just wanted to GET THERE.
Amazingly we were approaching the channel around 11 AM. We were in total disbelief – how could we have covered 50 miles in the time it took us to do half that in all those months on the ICW?
We knew the buoys weren’t charted, so we kept a sharp lookout at the entrance, and lo and behold they were easy to spot, and the channel was wide. Wait, I thought this was supposed to be HARD!
We hailed the marina on the radio and they said, just come on in. Um…where? But it was easy enough to spot the dock so we just drifted up to the t-head and JR moseyed on over to help with our lines. We were tied up before noon – whaat??
I left Brian to sort out the rest of the lines, threw on a polo shirt, and adventured out to get ourselves checked in. JR pointed me up the road for customs and then back down the road for immigration. Customs was a breeze – all I had to do was hand over my papers and $300 and a few stamps later I was out of there. They didn’t even want to see my health certificates for the cats! So once all sorted there, I walked back down to the immigration office. The door was locked and it was just before 1, so I figured everyone was at lunch. So, I sat myself down and took advantage of the free wifi to let everyone know we were safe and sound.
When 1 o’clock came and went, and still no sign of anyone, I thought I might want to ask one of the ladies at the nearby shop what was up. They told me that no, no one was in that office, I had to go to the police station. And just then a man who I think was from the ministry of tourism came out of his office and offered me a lift. While I assiduously follow my mom’s decree to never take a ride from strangers at home, somehow here it felt like an ok thing to do. He delivered me the quarter mile safely, I got ourselves 4 months in the country, and I was walking back to the marina in no time.
We immediately set about raising our Bahamian courtesy flag, another amazing sensation. It sounds stupid getting so excited about these little things, but raising a courtesy flag in another country is something we’ve read about on so many blogs, and finally it was our turn!
Next order of business was lunch. We told JR we wanted good and local, and he sent us up to CJ’s. Awesome. For $30 we got huge plates of amazing fried conch and fried lobster and beers. There were a few tables outside facing the beach, and that was fine for waiting for our food, but the minute we sat to eat the flies swarmed. Oh dear, what shall we do?? Oh, you know, just take our plates down to the beach and stare out at amazing turquoise waters while we ate.
We figured we could get a few more beers in us before we passed out, so we headed out in search of a watering hole. We wandered into Big John’s, and we met our new buddy Tom. Definitely drunk and/or stoned, he immediately launched into full on hustle mode. He conned us into buying a few cheap “Bahamian license plates” (too bad we don’t have a car) – well mine was free, Brian’s was $10 – told us he could get us anything we wanted, all of dubious to definitely illegal in nature. He was such a trip though, with dirty jokes and tall tales, that we really couldn’t help but indulge him a bit.
We got a chance to meet a few new cruisers there, and by 5:30 we decided it was high time to get ourselves home. When we got back to the marina, we were very happy and relieved that Drena and JR from Journey had arrived safely. We had a few beers with them, and then Brian sent me home to bed. Apparently though he had a wonderful meal of the Wahoo JR caught and stayed out until 11:30, I’m very sorry that my lack of sleep caught up with me!
I have to say, it was one of the best days of my life. We accomplished huge milestones – first Gulf Stream crossing and first true open ocean sailing with just the two of us. First sail to a new country. And most importantly, first trip to the type of place that inspired us to do this in the first place – clear blue water, white sand beaches, palm trees, friendly people.
P.S. Sorry for the lack of pics/no explanations of the few I’ve posted, I’m posting this from my phone, but I’ll get lots put up soon!