Friday, February 29, 2008

First Visitors

While on Green Turtle Cay, the arrival date of our first guests approached quickly. Michael and Sabine, German friends we met in Mexico during our overland trip, were scheduled to arrive in Marsh Harbour on Sunday, February 17th. We wanted to get there the day before. But first, we had to overcome the challenging Whale Passage by Whale Cay. This is another one of those areas where opposing winds and current make for a dangerous place to be. The weather prediction for that Saturday was pretty benign, but by the time we entered “the Whale”, the predicted 8 knots of wind had mysteriously become 16 knots! The ride was pretty bumpy, but just when my stomach was about to give up, we reached the other side. From there on, it was an easy sail to the harbour of Abacos’ biggest city.

Marsh Harbour is a great place to sit out bad weather and to provision. The grocery stores have a decent amount of fresh food and the Island Bakery provides an awesome array of freshly baked treats. Other than that, and the fact there is an international airport, the place is all but attractive. From the moment our friends would arrive, we planned to head out of there and visit Great Guana Cay. Weather permitted, of course.

After some stocking up and cleaning, Sunday afternoon appeared. Mark and I waited at the public dock, hoping for a quick and easy arrival of our friends. Four hours later, we were still patiently looking for a cab with the right people in it. What could take so long? The airport was only three miles away! Another hour later, it finally started dawning on us that something must have gone seriously wrong. Did they not know where we would wait? Was there an accident? Did they miss their flight? We managed to check our emails a few times later that day. Nothing…

Monday morning, we discovered that Sabine and Michael had missed their flight (there’s only one AA flight a day to Marsh Harbour), and would try to catch that day’s plane. We wouldn’t believe what had happened, they wrote… On Monday afternoon, we decided to wait for our friends at the airport. Big was our relief when we saw two familiar people step out of the airplane. Soon after, we learned about their terrible experiences with the check-in lines, security lines and security personnel of Miami International Airport. To top it off, their luggage got send to Marsh Harbour the previous day, and one of the bags was now lost. After spending another couple of hours at the airport, dealing with the luggage issue, it was finally time to take them on board Irie and treat them with a well-deserved cocktail and a late lunch.

The next day, we lifted anchor, and sailed to Great Guana Cay. We settled in a shallow harbour and jumped in the clear water. It was an interesting experience to just stand in the sand, next to the boat, with our head above water. Before the weather turned bad again, we took a quick and easy shower in the sea. The afternoon was spent on a nice ocean beach along the beautiful water, and in a colourful bar overlooking that very same scenery. The little town was nothing special, but it had much more of a Bahamian feel to it than Marsh Harbour.

Sabine and Michael had booked a fancy resort for the last four days of their Bahamian vacation. On Wednesday afternoon, Michael’s bag was waiting for us in the harbour. After picking it up, we walked our friends to their new room and enjoyed an awesome cocktail at the pool. Over the next few days, we would still spend some time together, hanging out, eating dinner, sailing on a little Sunfish, and watching a small Junkanoo parade. On their last evening, we had dinner on the boat again, in true cruiser’s style. The sun set against a colourful sky, making place for a bright night with lots of stars. While we sat in the cockpit, more stories were exchanged in the presence of tasty fluids and snacks. Mark cooked a wonderful meal on the grill and everybody was content. Michael en Sabine shared their fond thoughts about Irie and their visit. The boat life suits them and they are seriously considering taking sailing classes and buying a sailboat. But first, they will stick to the current plan of circumnavigating the world in their new camper…

No comments: