Sunday, May 4, 2008

Nassau as a Cruiser

We had heard and read a lot of negative things about Nassau. Just recently, a few boats got broken into, in the harbour as well as in a marina. The anchorages looked frightening: bad holding, lots of wake from passing boats, a lot of current, big ships everywhere, all kinds of debris on the bottom, and no full protection from the winds. Then, there was, of course, all the other city crime, the noise from bridges, traffic, and night clubs, and the overflow of tourists from three to four cruise ships, every day!

Nassau couldn’t be avoided, though. My parents were flying out of there, and so was Mark, to go to his brother’s wedding. We also needed to fix and obtain some important things, and being back to civilization wouldn’t hurt for a little while. By the time we arrived in Nassau, we were actually looking forward to some good food, fresh produce and meat, reliable internet, Chinese food, solving some annoying boat problems and stocking up on all kind of things.

When my parents left, Mark and I moved Irie to an anchorage closer to town, at the eastern end of the harbour. We made sure the anchor was set well. Of course we would totally turn around every six hours, because of the current. With the wind coming out of the same direction most of the time that meant no breeze would come inside and we would be rocking all the time. The current was stronger than the wind. A lot of jet skis and other pleasure craft zoomed by constantly, creating even bigger boat motions.

One evening, a nice boat dropped its anchor right in the middle of three other boats, without checking whether it got set. Moments later, the boat started dragging and almost hit our neighbour. The crew decided to move and wanted to pick up one of the mooring balls around us. They almost mistook our trip line for a mooring, but luckily realized their error in time. They would have pulled out our anchor just like that! Of course we needed to keep an eye on these guys, meaning we were stuck on the boat until they left…

Another evening, the wind turned. We turned as well, but noticed that we had barely moved or fallen back on the anchor chain. Closer inspection showed that our anchor chain was wrapped around something big and heavy on the bottom of the harbour. Three times! Mark stood at the bow giving directions, while I mastered the wheel and the engines to carefully drive Irie around the thing on the bottom. Three times! Then we fell back so far, that we ended up on top of a mooring ball. Not good. So, we had to move once again and re-anchor. Of course we hadn’t planned all this and soon it was dark as well. With his thoughts still on the anchoring chaos, Mark forgot to hook the grill up to the propane tank. Seconds later, propane gas was spewing all over the cockpit. When the grill finally and correctly started, there was so much left over grease on it, that the whole thing caught on fire. Flames surrounded the grill and we got lucky that the cushion in front of it, which we use to block the wind, survived without any stains. The two of us used the last of our energy to blow the fire out. We then had some canned food for dinner and went to bed…

The good part of our Nassau stay (other than a fun afternoon in Atlantis with Cindy and Gray, see their blog was that we got a lot done. It was a little hectic at times, but we managed to obtain propane, diesel, and gas, lots of groceries, liquor, and overly expensive dog food. I applied for and received an extension for my Bahamian visa (Mark got a new one when coming back from Boston), mailed some postcards, and met some new people. We cleaned, rinsed and filled our whole water tank and sun showers. The mainsail got taken down (hard work), brought to the sail maker (heavy walk), fixed, and put back where it belongs (harder work). Mark bought spare and needed parts for the boat. He had a good time at Tim’s wedding in Boston and enjoyed being with his family for the short three day trip. In the mean time, the dogs, Irie, and I stayed in a marina, rocking along in wind, current, and wake while the fenders didn’t stop creaking. I tried to run as many errands as I possibly could and at the same time spend some valuable time with Darwin and Kali. We also managed to find good internet connections for the price of a drink. One was at Mc Donald's in the town center, the other was at a gas station.

Our stay in Nassau turned out to be a productive one, as short as possible. With full boat and bellies, and our fill of Chinese food (for now), we left the capital of the Bahamas. We stopped a few days in Rose Island, to fix the steering problem, and the thru-hull, before heading out for part two of our sailing trip.

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