Nassau, Bahamas and on to Highborne Cay. Across the Yellow Banks.

Nassau and on to Highbourne

We spied Nassau about 10 miles offshore. Looking ahead we see some of the large buildings in the skyline, thinking they were ships at first. The VHF came to life with all vessels having to request permission to enter the harbour, and we heard Shalaylee request permission ahead of us.

We came in on the range markers of the harbour entrance, keeping the white lighthouse of Paradise Island on our port side. We had received permission to proceed into the harbour and as we turned 90 degrees to port behind the island, right in front of us were 5 massive cruise ships, tied stern to the quay.

After long and tiresome slog, and the frontier and isolation of the Berry Islands, Nassau was quite a contrast.  There was boat traffic everywhere, and the harbour was lined with marinas, full of superyachts.

But too, after the friendliness and safety of Great Harbour, Nassau was noisy, busy, dirty and a bit scary when wandering around. We planned two nights here, one to recover from the two days of lumpy travel and lack of sleep  at Soldier Cay, and a second night to take advantage of the weather predicted for Friday which promised perfect conditions to cross the shallow Banks to the Exumas. This also allowed us a full day in Nassau to take advantage of access to facilities and provisions.

Although we were both shattered from lack of sleep, Southern Star had to be cleaned once we had docked, and we dragged out the hoses and cleaning gear, and started washing her down. We are usually very thorough when we clean, but we agreed we just had to get the salt off her. It was also getting dark which was a happy excuse to hurry through and pack everything away. We sat in the cockpit listening to the sounds of the city, and we could see the red lights on the towers of the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island. It felt a bit like being in Vegas after the laid back Berry Islands.

We had been warned about security in Nassau, for ourselves and for the boat. At dusk, the marina security guard came to the boat and introduced himself, noted the name and people onboard. We had thought about trying to meet up with Shalaylee at a marina close by, but he recommended getting taxis even though it was only a short walk away. We decided against it, but mostly because we were so exhausted.

We had a list of things to do:  conscious that this was our last opportunity to purchase any significant items for the boat before moving on to the remoter Exumas. We browsed a couple of marine stores and bought another set of charts for the outer islands as well as various parts we needed. We considered buying electronic charts for the new Simrad that we have decided to install up in the flybridge, which will give us a completely redundant second navigation system. But the additional cost of such items in Nassau was too much and we will need to get the charts delivered hopefully by a future guest.

Our marina was perfectly placed across a busy road from a good sized shopping complex which included a Starbucks, Batelco office, bank, pharmacy and supermarket. We stocked up on essentials and the girl who packed our bags at the supermarket offered to walk the trolley across to the boat, finding a ramp down to the dock that we didn’t know existed, and handed our bags to us on the boat.

Ted spent the rest of the day revisiting the engine room blowers which were still performing inconsistently. I took a book over to the pool adjacent to the marina, had a swim and returned to find him thinking he’d fixed it, only to have subsequently blown a fuse somewhere. Eventually he decided to call Robbie who luckily answered the phone and amazingly was immediately able to suggest what had probably happened. Within five minutes, Ted had located and replaced the fuse and blowers were working again.

The next morning we were up early, filling up the petrol tank in the dinghy before walking two empty containers the 50 yards or so along the busy road to the petrol station next door to the marina. $35 for the two cans, which we trolleyed back to the boat. We haven’t launched the dinghy since we did it with Robbie in early December.

We were underway by 9.00am, checking out of the marina and notifying Harbour Control of our departure to the east and to Highbourne. It was a beautiful day – sunny, warm, no wind, flat seas. A lot of boats around us as we left the harbour, but no trouble in making our first waypoint and onwards. The water was as clear as glass, we could see the bottom the whole way, and stayed in the flybridge all day. As we started onto the Banks we could easily spot the dark coral heads to be avoided, although we had a high tide so would probably have passed safely over most if not all.

It was one of those days that we reminded ourselves was what we dreamed of when we undertook this adventure. It was one of those days that makes everything else worthwhile – broken blowers, unforeseen marina costs, weather delays….  and makes you grateful to be here, to be alive and enjoying this gorgeous boat.

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