Monday March 18th – Sunday March 24th.
Monday March 18th found us still in Lucaya with a busted water heater.
It rained heavily all day, just to compound our misery at not being able to move on to Exuma. Charlton Knowles from the boat yard, as promised, swung by Sonas on his way home on Monday evening. He took a quick look at the water heater and agreed that it was done for. He told us that there was no chance of getting a replacement on the island and he would have his contacts back in Florida look for one. After he left we donned our rain jackets and headed for the pool bar to drown our sorrows. We had started to become good friends with Kelli the barman!
We just hung around the marina on Tuesday waiting to see if a replacement heater could be found. Paul took a cold shower on the boat while Sian went up to the marina and used their shower. Charlton reported back that a direct replacement could not be found at short notice and would have to be ordered. Paul told him that, for now, we didn’t need an exact replacement for what we had, any manufacturer would do, and it didn’t need to be a 20 gallon model, just big enough to get us through our cruise.
Finally on Wednesday he informed us that he had a heater put aside in Florida. He would fly over (on his own plane) and have it in hand by end of day. So we made plans to leave the Grand Bahama Yacht Club marina and get to his boat yard down the coast as soon as he opened on Thursday morning.
We pulled into his yard around 8:30 the next morning. He had the water heater and two of his guys waiting on the dock. They came aboard, ripped out the old unit (emptying it of all of the sediment when they got it on the dock) and put in the new heater. We were away from the yard at 10:15. They were efficient and courteous and did a great job. A yard we would highly recommend if you need one in the area.
Since we got a late start on the day we could not make our planned first stop at Cabbage Cay half way down the Berrys, which gives an easy hop through New Providence and into Exuma. So we aimed for Great Harbour in the northern Berrys.
Half way down we saw a cruise ship approaching from the south east. Our AIS told us that we would be passing within a half mile if we continued our course. Amazing that across hundreds of miles of water we would bump into a cruise ship! So we adjusted a couple of degrees and passed by the stern of The Disney Dream by over a mile.
We then passed through some heavy rain squalls and arrived just as two more cruise ships had completed getting their passengers off their “private islands,” and were getting under way. The Great Harbour anchorage was well protected and we had a comfortable night.
The next day, Friday 22nd, brought a weather forecast indicating that the run through the Northwest Passage and into New Providence would be rough. So we spent the morning at the anchorage doing some cleaning and engine room tidy up. Sian took the opportunity to keep up with her yoga, and do some laundry.
After lunch we ran a couple of hours down the Berrys island chain to Cabbage Cay so as to get a jump on our trip to Exuma the next day. There were two other boats in the anchorage, and we watched as they took their dogs to shore. We have been thinking a lot about Grace this trip as she was with us the last time we were in the Exumas and has been gone exactly a year.
We checked the forecast again on Saturday morning and we were good to go. It was calling for only two foot seas into New Providence and one foot seas from there to Exuma. Perfect!
We were awake and up before first light on Saturday, eager to get going. The night before Paul had taken a nice moon rise shot of the sailboat anchored behind us, and got another again this morning of the sunrise behind it.
We were out of the anchorage at 7:15 and headed south east. As forecast the seas were calm so we rode from the fly bridge. It always amazes us how quickly you leave the Bahamas Bank and get into really deep water.
As we approached New Providence we saw a Carnival cruise ship leave Nassau heading back to Port Canaveral (based on their AIS) and right behind us came a Royal Caribbean cruise shop heading into Nassau.
The first time through here we called Nassau Harbour Control and asked for permission to transit the harbour. Then we wanted to pass through and see the cruise ships and take photos as we sailed past Atlantis. However it can take some time to get permission and then it is a slow zone all the way through the harbour. So now when we pass through New Providence we use a cut to the east which avoids the harbour altogether.
We were through New Providence by noon and set course for Allen’s Cay at the northern end of the Exumas. We arrived at the Allen Cay waypoint around 3:30 to find a number of boats already in there. We tried a couple of spots but found them too close to the rocks given we had an easterly wind pushing us that way, so we opted to go back out and down to the more open and safer anchorage at Highbourn Cay.
We had our anchor down by 4:30, amid a number of other sail and power boats and a few mega yachts with their toys. The end of a longish day, but worth it – because we are here! And to celebrate Sian put the swim steps down and completed her inaugural swim around Sonas! Though when we threw some bread out the next day and a number of baby sharks chomped down, she was less than thrilled!
Sian: I had promised steak for our first night in Exumas and even went as far as suggesting the blog entry be titled “Tonight We Eat Steak in Exumas!” Well, you know about pride and what it comes before!
I defrosted steak after breakfast and was quite surprised when I went to marinade it to discover it was pork! Never mind, time was on my side so I pulled out another parcel of steak and left that to defrost. Only to discover that too was pork! And yes, I had written that on the package! Oh, and guess what we had just eaten for lunch? Yep, left over port!At this point it felt like we had a version of the Monty Python skit going on but instead of “spam,spam, and more spam” we were doing pork!
During the evening the wind got up into the low twenties and stayed there through Sunday. So we remained at the Highbourn Cay anchorage tidying up the boat, checking the engine room, and planning our stops for the next month or so. We also took the opportunity to use our new watermaker to top up the tanks. We had some milk that would be going out of date and, for those that follow our blog, we treat milk like gold dust. So we froze the remaining milk in usable portions to use for bread making.
Sian: AND I finally found the steak buried deep in the chest freezer!