Wednesday, 8 January 2014

January 5, 2014

The morning of December 30th, with less than 10 knots of wind and calm seas, we headed east out the Inlet.  The Gulf Stream was very well behaved and was what some sailboaters would call a “trawler day” (flat seas and light breezes).  These conditions suited us perfectly for our first crossing of the Gulf Stream.  On the west side of the Gulf Stream the wind picked up and we had a nice sail, the rest of the way to Old Bahama Bay Resort Marina, West End, Grand Bahama Island.  Ten and a half hours later, we were tied to a dock, completing our goal of building the boat and sailing to the Bahamas.  

The Old Bahama Resort Marina in May 1976 was the location of the Grand Bahama Hotel, where we came for our honeymoon.  We wanted to see what it looked like now and the village of West End.  The Grand Bahama Hotel was bulldozed years ago and is approximately where the marina is located now.  We biked into West End, as we did years ago, to see what changes had taken place since 1976.  Back then it was a cute little village with brightly coloured buildings, with a few small shops.  It hasn’t faired well.  In about 2005 two hurricanes, within weeks of each other, struck West End and the community has still not recovered from that event.  In spite of this, the people are as happy, friendly, and helpful, as we remembered.  The future is looking better for West End as a failed resort development is being resurrected, this will bring a lot of new jobs in the construction and running of this resort.   

The day after we arrived, another cold front came through, preventing us from leaving.  This was not a bad thing, since it was New Years Eve.  We were invited for champagne and chocolates on a boat we knew from Indiantown, along with another couple.  After visiting for awhile, we all decided to check out the band outside the restaurant.  It was really bad and we started to head back to our boats.   On the way back, Dave stopped to talk to a young guy who was part of a Junkanoo demonstration.  He showed us his costume and explained about the significance of Junkanoo.  It goes back to the slave days when the slaves would receive a box of new clothes the day after Christmas and parade around showing off their new clothes.  The costumes they individually make, can take up to 3 months to create from cardboard and paper mache and can cost as much as a thousand dollars.  These costumes are worn for about 3 hours and then dismantled and the process starts again for the next year’s Junkanoo.  We decided to come back and watch the parade at 11pm.  We were glad we did...the costumes were spectacular!  Some day we’ll have to go Freeport and see the main parade where there’s thousands of people dressed in their own colourful creations.  

The following morning, New Year’s Day, we had a local guy come to our dock, selling fresh lobster.  We bought two to try to cook for supper that night and they turned out pretty good.  The people in the boat next to us had gone out to a reef, spear fishing and came back with several lobsters and reef fish and proceeded to clean them on the dock.  Their boat was equipped with blue lights on the bottom  these lights attracted a lot of small fish and in combination with the blood and guts, they’d thrown in the water, it attracted two 7 to 8 foot Bull Sharks.  It was quite the show, the Bull Sharks got agitated and hit the swim ladder on their boat and bumped the bow of our dinghy out of the water a couple times .

The weather was not supposed to get any better during the next couple of days, so we used this time to get ready for the next weather window... fueling the boat, laundry, and trying to re-stock some of our supplies.  This involved riding bikes into West End to visit three grocery stores.  Another cruiser had described them as a poorly stocked Seven Eleven stores.  We weren’t able to get much but we did meet Moses, the best fisherman in West End and his friend, Charles on the step of the liquor store (they hadn’t quite finished celebrating their New Year’s holiday).  

There was a small weather window starting Saturday morning.  They were calling for winds of 10 to 15 knots from the east, not great but would allow us to get out before the next window a week away.  We untied our lines and headed to the Indian Cay Channel.  The Indian Cay Channel used to have poles down the centre of the channel marking the deeper water, these have been missing since 2006.  To go through here we had to wait for high tide and use the way points on our GPS/chart plotter and depth sounder.  We had about 7-10 feet at high tide and it took about an hour to travel the length of it.  On the east side of this reef we were on the Bahamas Banks and we had 10 to 14 feet of water  all the way to Great Sale Cay.  We arrived at Great Sale Cay and dropped the anchor just as it was getting dark, that left enough of the day for a quick supper and to bed.  

It would have been nice to explore Great Sale Cay, but the next cold front was supposed to come Monday, so we were up at first light and left and turned south to Green Turtle Cay.  As we travelled down the Sea of Abaco we could see a lot of the Cays that we had read about in the guide books in the distance.  There are endless areas where you could spend time exploring here.  We arrived at White Sound in Green Turtle Cay at sunset and low tide.  The trip in the channel was a bit unnerving as the water is crystal clear and very shallow (saw 5’8” on depth sounder, we need 5’6”).  The docking at Bluff House Marina was far from our best, we were not prepared for the style of dock ( 4 posts) and tying up after dark.  We were so tired at the end of the day we had quick showers, a really nice dinner at their restaurant and drinks (Tranquil Turtles).  This finished our day.

Leaving Lake Worth Inlet for the Bahamas

Junkanoo costumes New Years Eve
Junkanoo Wanttabe

Lobster delivered to the dock Old Bahama Bay Marina

Police Station in West End, Grand Bahama Island 

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