Gun Cay to Chub Cay, The Bahamas
Monday, January 5, 2004
We now no longer have internet access because the cell phones no longer work and, probably, won’t until we return to the states in a few months. Relying on Chris Parker’s, now, day-old e-mailed forecast, today will continue with moderate winds from the east, lightening up as the day goes on. He forecasts this pattern to continue throughTuesday before winds get strong, again, so we decided not to visit the Cat Cay Club but continue on to Chub Cay, some 77 miles distant. We know this will be another night landfall, but we still have Airborne for company and the GPS chart plotter gives us amazing navigational accuracy so running at night is of little concern.
We passed through the narrow cut between Cat and Gun Cays to cross the “Banks”. This is the stuff The Bahamas lie on. Imagine, heading across about 60 miles of water, never deeper than 20 ft and sometimes as little as 8 ft. There are virtually no landmarks. Leaving Cat and Gun astern, they soon disappeared from view leaving us with no land and no other boats, besides Airborne, in view for hours and hours and hours! GPS makes navigation easy today. It leaves us a bit in awe of the folks who, not so long ago, navigated these waters by compass and dead reckoning. Bill teaches navigation but would be loath to attempt such a crossing without modern instruments!
We began to get a bit low on fuel so, while underway, we added about nine gallons from the spare fuel cans we carry on deck. This would easily get us to Chub Cay but we thought we’d like to refuel at Chub Cay before carrying on to Nassau.
Otherwise, the day was without incident. Except for occasional radio conversations with Airborne, we were left with our own thoughts and observations of the clear, blue water and clear, blue sky. Since the waters were much calmer today, Sandy did some cleaning below and cooked up a storm. She’s been trying out new recipes since we have the time. She made marinated green beans and then made a great vegetarian chili which we had for dinner. We discussed anchoring on the Banks overnight, but the water was a bit bumpy for comfortable sleeping, the moon was full and the sky was clear. We decided to continue directly to Chub Cay as originally planned. A couple of hours after dark, we passed NW Channel Light and into 500 – 1,000 ft deep water, again. Finally, we entered the channel into Chub Cay and anchored at about 10:15 PM among several other boats.
Once, again, as we anchored, we could clearly see the bottom under the nearly full moon. The effect is to give you a feeling of vertigo as you walk around on deck. We’re used to seeing only the water’s surface and it doesn’t seem like far to fall (about three feet) should you fall overboard. With this super clear water, it looks like the fall would be more like twenty feet! Strange.
Again, the anchorage was a bit rolly but we slept fairly well.
Chub Cay to Nassau, New Providence Island, The Bahamas
Tuesday, January 6, 2004
Awoke to a beautiful blue sky and warm temps – high 70’s.
Chub Cay is a small place but it has a nice, resort marina. We were tempted to stay for a day, refuel and head to Nassau tomorrow. But, this was forecast to be an easy day to do the last 36 or so miles to Nassau and we decided to press on. Airborne agreed to transfer one of their spare fuel cans to us for a reserve for this leg. They carry lots more fuel on deck than we do … a habit borne of lots of long passages around the Gulf of Mexico and South America.
We had company on this leg. Though they mostly left early in the morning … like between 5:00 and 6:30 am, we could hear them talking on the radio occasionally. The day turned out to be mostly windless with smooth water and an easy motor … again, mostly into the wind so we didn’t sail.
The skyline off New Providence Island and Nassau began to rise from the horizon and about 2:45 pm we cleared in to Nassau Harbor Control. Airborne called ahead, by radio, and secured reservations at the Nassau Harbor Club Hotel and Marina. We tied up in a slip at about 3:15 that afternoon. We’ll stay here for a few days to rest, to do some laundry and maintenance and for some R&R in this Bahamian tourist Mecca before continuing on to the Exhumas, which begin just a few miles south of New Providence.
The marina gave us the appropriate paperwork to fill out and arranged for Customs and Immigration officials to meet us at the marina as is the practice in this city. Uniformed, professional and very polite officials soon turned up and processed us in. There was no problem, not that we expected any, but we suspect they were even more polite than usual as there’s been a recent fee increase and it seems some cruisers are staying away because of it.
Bill took the opportunity to attempt to see what was wrong with the head (toilet). It’s not flushing correctly. He took a valve assembly apart, found a spring had slipped out of place and began to reassemble it when he accidentally pulled a hose fitting out of the porcelain bowl. Damn! The fitting resisted his attempts to reinstall so the job will wait until tomorrow. There’s always a bucket or the head at the marina.
We explored the immediate vicinity of the marina and took much needed showers. Bill looked to purchase a phone card ($1.00/min to the US) so we could call home to let folks know we’d arrived safely. We tried to use the card but couldn’t make it work so we used our AT&T phone card. For supper, Bill shared a Domino’s pizza with Major and Rose while Sandy had a salad and some cold, marinated green beans which she shared with Bill.
We’re glad to be here!
It turned out that for at least the next two days the wind blew hard, like 25-30+ knots from the north and east. That made us very happy that we crossed when we did and that we didn’t delay enroute. It was a rather long three days, but worth it to be here, now!
Nassau, New Providence Island, The Bahamas
Wednesday, January 6, 2004
Bill found coffee at a mini-market down the street. The cappachino machine mix part of his brew was ok but the coffee was instant from a machine. He’ll try to do better tomorrow! Sandy started the day with a walk. She headed downtown and crossed the bridge to Paradise Island. Paradise Island is the glitzy tourist area of Nassau with the expected high prices for everything from marinas to restaurants.
So, let’s see what’s broken and needs to be fixed. The indicators on the battery charging and monitoring equipment are malfunctioning, though the charging system seems to be working correctly. The toilet repairs need to be completed. And, the electric bilge pump quit! (We DO have a manual backup.)
First, the battery monitoring system. There must have been a corroded plug because unplugging and reinserting three plugs and the problem was resolved … they should all be so easy! The fitting for the head also, finally, responded to an attack and the fitting loosened up so that it could be reinstalled. It was a battle, getting a wrench on the nut, but it was finally sealed back in place. Head status: operational!
That left the bilge pump. Bill verified that power was flowing to the pump and that the pump motor was not running … a bad pump. A walk down the road to one of the two, well-stocked marine stores and Bill had a brand new replacement pump in hand at not much higher cost than in the states. An hour later it was installed and operating!
Bill returned to one of the marine stores to get some electrical connectors and continued on to the Batelco (Bahamas Telecommunications Company) office to get the skinny on phone cards. He was using the card incorrectly, but the system was down anyway. So, he bought a couple of $20 cards that DO work now and headed back to the boat.
A bit later, showered and feeling fresh, it was time for a haircut for Bill and a walk downtown to the area. We walked a couple of miles to the area of the cruise ship docks. Lots of souviner, jewelry and apparel shops and restaurants here! We also found an internet café and used the opportunity to check e-mail. For our return, we boarded one of the many small busses that ply the city and were back in a few minutes.
That evening we went to The Poop Deck for cocktails and complimentary conch fritters. Returning to the hotel/marina, we picked up a container of veggie fried rice at the Japanese restaurant on premises and enjoyed it and a salad back on the boat.