Bahamas - The Wind Sends Us to Back to Nassau
The next day we slept in. The sky was overcast and the wind strong. We lay in the cutty and listened to the rain spatter down on the hatch. Bill was anxious for us to move on; we had a certain number of weather delays built into our schedule, but we were running low on them and the storm seemed to be firmly entrenched.
He went around the docks seeking information on conditions. I heard yelling outside and stuck my head out. On a pier a little ways down, Bill, Antony, and the pilot who'd warned us to shelter the day before were yelling back and forth to a man in a dingy. Bill returned walking in stride with the pilot, who called to me, "You don't let him go nowhere today! He try to go, you fly home! You try to go, I have you arrested!"
The news was that there were six foot swells. We had planned to go to Great Harbor in the Berry Islands, but that would have meant riding directly into the large swells. We talked about the possibility of returning to Nassau, a southwestern passage that would put the wind to our side. Bill went out and tested his new plan with Antony, who said it sounded like it could work.
A few minutes later, Bill returned and said that a small boat was leaving the fuel dock, they were heading toward Nassau, and we could follow them. He said it was up to me to decide. I asked how big the boat was; it was two feet larger than ours. I asked how many people were on it. Two, aman and a woman. "Okay," I said. "If she can do it, I can do it."
We pulled in behind the twenty-four foot Audacious, a red, yellow, and white center console with a white canvas awning called a bimini top. As we slowly followed them through the no wake zone I was further comforted by the fact that they also had a dog on board. If a dog could manage to stay in the boat, surely with the advantage of opposable thumbs I would be able to as well.
Knowing the water, the couple stayed in sight of the western shore of Eleuthera. If we'd been alone we would have relied on the GPS, taking a straight course through open water.
The waves were large but to our sides and we plowed through the steep seas with little difficulty. The trip was made in two hours. We followed the couple around the the south side of New Providence and checked out a marina there. As we entered the marina's channel, Bill pointed out two large skates that were startled into movement by our boat.
The marina was devoid of character or facilities, so we decided to go around the island to Nassau. This time we entered from the east, passing numerous marinas before pulling into the one we'd selected from the Guide. I wanted to go to this particular marina because I'd read they had a good restaurant next door, and I wanted a good easy meal as soon as possible. I was reluctant to wander through Nassau again; I was too tired to deal with the predators.
We pulled into the marina with an audience of two men on side-by-side yachts. "You come all the way from Maryland in that?"
"Fort Lauderdale!" we responded.
There was a pause. One of them hoisted his beer in our direction. "Ya got nerve!"
We docked the boat near the dive shop and got air. Afterwards we went upstairs to the restaurant that overlooked the marina and gulped down large iced teas. There was a table behind us of eight college students whose conversation we could hear clearly, to our dismay. They were waiting for a charterboat captain to meet them. One of the girls squealed and jumped out of her chair. "There he is!" The table rippled with a wave of hysteria as the kids stood and craned to take a look at the captain, who was walking down the dock next to young woman with dark hair. "Oh my god, is that Andrea?" one of the girls said. "We should just blow her off!" The girls giggled. "I know it's immature of me," one of them said, "but I'm just not gonna say a word to her."
Bill and I caught each other's eye and smiled. "I don't think you'd like being a charterboat captain," I whispered.
We finished our meal listening to the captain relate the details of his journey from Miami. As that table was about to get up to leave, Bill went over and asked the captain what he'd heard about the weather. It looked like we'd be travelling directly into the wind again.
After dinner we took a walk around Nassau in the dark. We ended up back at the restaurant, where we went upstairs to get a pack of cigarettees and a drink.
The bar was crowded, mainly with people docked at the marina and also with a few landlocked tourists. One of the men who we'd talked to on the way into the marina sat down next to us. We started talking and by the end of the night all three of us were fast friends. Al told us that he had been on the water all his life, and had been an engineer on a boat before he became a captain. He'd been hired by a South American family to bring the boat to meet them in Nassau, but once here there was little use of the boat. The family was staying in a hotel and had only used the boat for one daytrip.
We left the bar together and we gave him a tour of the boat. Then he took us to his boat and showed us around; we were in awe. The size of it alone was unreal, compared to what we'd been living on so happily. The teak cockpit was gleaming under recessed lighting, its many gauges rimmed in polished brass. The three staterooms were large; two of them had walkaround beds. The engine room was Bill's idea of heaven. I liked the living room on the upper level.
We went back to our little boat and crawled into the cutty. And I suspected that at that moment I was at least as happy as the owners of the big yacht.
In the morning we woke to another overcast day. We fueled up, in front of a hundred-foot private yacht. One of the yacht's crew, identifiable by his duckbilled cap and collared shirt that were both embroidered with the name of the boat, was on the fuel dock. He took a line from us as we pulled in, and helped tie us off. The inevitable question: "You came from the States in that? More power to ya."
We made a quick right and waved goodbye to Al, who was on the deck of the yacht he was captaining. We reminded him to call when he was going to be in our area. This trip to Nassau had been a good one.