Life in Great Harbour Marina-

Great Harbour Cay

The marina is a hurricane hole. Protection from all directions, good water depth, the marina piles are good and strong.  A row of townhouses boarders the north side of the marina, back dropped by tall trees. The sailboat next to us, sat Hurricane Matthew out here in October, which went on to devastate Grand Bahama.

We are stuck here with 20-25 knot easterly winds keeping the whole fleet of boats here. The long range forecast is not very promising. We’ve been here since Friday, and now its Friday 13th. A week already, and the forecast pretty glum for departing much earlier than another week.

Jenny and I have taken a couple of long walks. The island is only about 7 miles long by 2 miles wide. Much of the infrastructure has been left to the elements. Great Harbour Cay was developed as a playground for the rich and famous. Elaborate club house was built on one of the highest points of the island, with a golf course, pool, and million dollar views to the north across powdery white sand beaches and deserted cays.  And the beautiful hurricane hole marina was cut through the south side of the banks, and the marina which protects us now was built.

The old club house has no roof- only the rock and cement walls still stand and a foot bridge across the road to the golf course. I have seen some old photos of the rich and beautiful lounging in the pool with drinks in hand, looking at the blue ocean in the distance. Great Harbour Cay (GHC) is typical of the false starts and broken promises of many developments in the Bahamas. 30 million spend in the 1960’s, with FAM trips bringing potential buyers over from Miami and Ft Lauderdale. A list of who’s who the target audience. The developers planning to reap the benefits of the real estate sales, and then the hope of a casino license to really start raking in the dough.  It seems that the few that got in early in the buying scheme did so in a more speculative buy, hoping to resale once the place took off, after the casino was built.

The casino license never came about, and the resales had no benefit to the developers, and the place just sort of went to seed. Not enough work or tourism to keep the local population employed. A 4500 foot airstrip later turned out to be very valuable for the later enterprises.  A secluded island, 125 miles from Miami, with a first rate airfield, and sparsely populated, and GHC was a great drop off point for first square groupers (marijuana bales) and then more efficient and easier to transport cocaine trafficking.

The township, Bullocks Harbour lies about a mile from the marina. Jenny and I walked over to the township and back one day. It’s unusual to see tourists walking very far from the marina or the beach, and we are often asked by passing motorists if we would like a lift.

The island is very friendly. When we came in last week, we did not plan to stay in the marina. We were hoping to instead drop the hook off the south side of the island. But as the winds were blowing SSE, it was obvious that the anchoring would not be very pleasant. Thus we followed the guidebooks and came through the narrow manmade cut and into GHC marina. Once inside the narrow cut any thoughts of anchoring were quelled when we spotted 2 other yachts, just outside the channel. Not enough room for a fat trawler, and so we called over on the VHF, to the marina.

After a few minutes, GHC marina came back and announced that there was some room for us in the marina. Jenny and I are still getting used to handling Southern Star, so every docking or departure offers some heightened excitement. Our new person to person head set is really an amazingly good device for communicating with each other without having to scream. We simply speak in a conversational voice, and Jenny can spot the starboard transom corner for me, and tell me how far away from the dock  I am, and the thrusters do the rest.

We found the allocated slip at the marina, directly in front of the marina office, a 42 foot yacht with its dinghy alongside was to be our new neighbor, the dinghy making the docking a bit more challenging as I had about 2 foot to spare between the dink and the dock. Alongside the finger dock is a 55 Fleming trawler.  And the marina was full of people watching us spin Southern Star around and ease her into the slip.

Jenny talked me through the distances and we were soon finished up  with an uneventful docking. As soon as the lines were tied up, we were welcomed by the marina staff, and the entire yachting population of the marina. While signing in at the office, we were asked if we wanted to partake in the Friday night “chill and grill?”  For only $10 each, we get BBQ, or Ribs and a side- or for some more you can have lobster.

And so, still salty from our 60 mile passage from Port Lucaya we were sitting under the gazebo with a dozen or so other cruisers, telling our story.

A real community comes with the small marina, and the staff are very proactive in making everyone feel welcomed. Monday night is Pot Luck where each boat provides a dish for shared consumption. I grilled four large chicken breasts as our contribution. Thursday, we learn is pizza night, a 16” pizza is delivered directly to your boat, with the time slots allocated for the delivery. Our 5:30 pizza arrived about 6:15, but its all island time.

We have met a number of unique characters already. The Fleming, Shalaylee owned by Lee and Cheryl are from Martha’s Vineyard. Jenny noticed the Patriots flag on their bow and she and Lee were soon discussing the playoffs and a shared hatred of the Giants and Broncos.

Everyone is waiting for the weather to break, and most are heading south to the Exumas. And everyone too is getting impatient with the weather.

Jenny and I are learning to adjust to the lack of schedule. It is too easy to keep thinking of the next place, to want to move on. But we are trying to live in the moment more. And the waiting has been good for some chores. I had an issue with the ship’s laptop- and our main navigation system before we left Port Lucaya. I was able to get it back up for the run over to GHC, but could not get the AIS (Automatic Identification System) to read on the laptop.  The marina has great WIFI and I was able to update drivers, and reconfigure the input ports into the laptop and finally able to see the AIS targets on the chart.

Jenny has had problems with the technology provided by AMP to enable her to continue to do contract work for them, and after several attempts I think I’ve made progress on that too.

Yesterday, I removed the Alpine stereo system which came on the boat, and install the new Fusion stereo, that I had shipped here with our personal goods from NZ.  I sit in the wheel house now, with some of our cool tunes playing, the smell of fresh bread wafting from the galley as Jenny tries a new bread recipe, and our left over pizza cooking in the oven for lunch.

We are planning another walk this afternoon once the bread has cooked, and Jenny has already worked out a low impact fitness routine which she does up on the boat deck, much to the amusement of other passing cruisers.

I have waxed the morning shady side of the fly bridge today. So we learn to relax (??) and wait for our weather window.

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