Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Back in the Bahamas!

Sunday, January 2 - Friday, January 7, 2011

We’re in the Bahamas!!! We’ve finally made it, and are currently in Nassau at the Harbor Club marina. We’re sharing a 100’ slip with friends, LA and Susan, from Genesis, and plan to leave for the Exumas in the morning.

Our weather window came through for us, and we were able to leave Miami’s Government Cut at 7pm Sunday evening. We had an incredibly calm crossing; the journey from our anchorage in the Venetian Causeway to the end of the ship channel was more stressful than the rest of the 160nm to Nassau! If you aren’t familiar with Miami, it’s a massive port city filled with cruise ships and commercial vessels. We had six cruise ships in port on Sunday, all of whom headed out to sea shortly before we did. We also found ourselves racing a container ship as it left its dock in Fisherman’s Channel. One minute it was still tied to the dock, and the next – just as we were alongside it, mind you – it was on its way to the inlet. Yikes! We managed to get over to the far side of the channel ahead of the freighter, only to end up dodging speedboats, ferries, tugs, and jet skis en route to the fuel dock. After the requisite fuel, water, and pump-out, we motored over to Fisher Island to await Genesis. We watched the progression of cruise ships leave the port, along with another container ship, and felt better about our departure time; at least we wouldn’t be dodging those things on the way out! Silly us, we forgot one simple thing: as long as the cruise ships were leaving the port, none of the commercial vessels could come in. Where were they? Waiting at the end of the inlet, of course! The first monster turned into the channel just as we approached the jetties. Apparently the captain didn’t like having to share the inlet with a couple of sailboats; five loud horn blasts, the boating signal warning of a potential collision, soon filled our ears. We were already trying to get outside of the channel to give him plenty of room. LA and Susan were right behind us, and they too got their five-horn salute from the freighter. Oh, well…crisis averted…right? Nope! This commercial ship was simply the first in a very long line. Looking to the north, we could see a dozen other behemoths waiting to come in. We quickly set a course south of the channel and out of the way. Next stop, the Bahamas!

After the initial excitement of our Miami departure, we enjoyed calm seas all the way to the Bahamas Bank. We reached Mackie Shoal around 9am and anchored on the bank to sleep and fix a few things. Rene had noticed a sharp decline in RPMs and speed at one point overnight and figured it was likely a fuel filter problem. LA gave him a few suggestions over the VHF that gave us a temporary fix, and Rene pulled out the filter once we were anchored on the bank. Obviously it had been awhile since we had replaced the filter, because that thing was nasty! We spent the day at anchor and left at 8pm for the 80nm trip to Nassau. We had another calm trip through the “Tongue of the Ocean” (quite a feat considering its 9,000’ depths), and reached the Nassau Harbor Club marina at 10am. The customs and immigration process was much easier than expected, and we were declared “legal” by noon. First up: take down the yellow quarantine flag and raise the Bahamian visitor flag. Woo hoo!

Most people visiting Nassau for the first time would probably do the usual touristy things: go to the Atlantis resort, see the beach on Paradise Island, go to the straw market, etc. What do cruisers do? Take advantage of a fresh-water source and clean the boat! We thought it would be a two-hour job. Seven hours later, we finally called it a day. There was a Starbucks across the street from the marina that had wi-fi (not easy to come by in the Bahamas), so we spent some time calling our families, checking weather, and updating the blog.

We have a weather front coming our way on Thursday, so we’ll leave Nassau for a protected anchorage in Allan Cay and will likely be holed up there for 2-3 days. We won't have internet until we get further south in the Exumas, but will send SPOT updates whenever we reach a new anchorage. Hopefully we'll also find some good internet connectivity that lets us upload photos. We know we have some beautiful islands coming our way, and want to share them with everyone. :-)

Pictures with this Blog chapter:

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