Return to Great Harbour Cay
As that great philosopher, Jimmy Buffet crons, "The customs man says she has to leave, But she's got a plan hidden up her shrewd sleave" (Manana, Son of a Son of a Sailor)
We had a good weather window to depart from North Palm Beach. It’s a good thing, when the weather cooperates with the officials. We were nearing the end of the time Jenny could stay in the US on her VISA. And of course, we don’t want her to become an ‘illegal alien.”
We stayed in the Bluffs Marina, near Bob and Mel on N57 Istaboa. We caught up with them frequently over the course of the five days there, including sharing a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with them. They generously offered us a car to do our final provisioning. We also caught up with other friends, Larry and Sue on N46 Beverly S, and we spent the night with Clark and Michelle on Roam 2, their new (to them) Nordhavn 55.
We rented a car for a day while we stayed in Old Port Cove Marina. OPC feels like home to us, as we have stayed there every year since we purchased Southern Star. We took delivery of her there, Dec 2016.
We were able to briefly see Ex vice Admiral Dixon Smith on his new to him Selene, Highlander as he waited to load on at freighter at Riviera Beach Marina. Sadly we missed seeing Kiki, but they are clearly enjoying their new life on board. We had last seen them in Washington DC two years ago after meeting them at Trawlerfest that year.
South Florida marina space is at a premium, and we were only able to get into the Bluffs because Bob and Mel have personal relationship with the manager there. But we had to leave as the long term tenant was returning, and luckily scored the slip at Old Port Cove.
We maximized our last minute work in So Florida, although I felt rushed to leave. It seems that as we may not ever return to the US, that I was having nightmares of breakdowns in 3rd world countries with no spares. We got more oil, more filters, had the port side stabilizer cylinder replaced by Tony Fields at Yacht Tech. Yacht Tech was fabulous and fit the work in last minute for us. I left that cylinder and one other used one, for them to rebuild so I had two spares.
We checked out of the US, turned in our US cruising permit, got the all important exit stamp on Jenny’s passport, and dropped off the car. The next day we planned to depart, but the weather forecast still had some northerly direction, which causes the Gulf Stream to be rougher.
We waited and departed Thursday 6 Dec about 12:30 pm. We were out of Lake Worth and through the cut in a little over an hour as ebb current pushed us along. The day was fabulous, calm and the seas were very nice and flat. We were heading directly to Great Harbour Cay, which puts us a bit northerly against the Gulf Stream. We set the auto pilot for 20 degrees south of our rhumb line course and we were underway.
My off watch I slept so soundly in the forward cabin, it felt like we were at a dock. We had quite a bit of cruise ship traffic, but the ride across was remarkable – the flattest conditions we have experienced on our multiple Gulf Stream crossings.
We arrived in Great Harbour Cay Marina (GHC) at about 10:00 am Friday morning. We had made reservations prior, and Jenny kept contacting the marina as our departure from the US changed. And so we had a marina spot ready for us. The marina was very full; we heard the staff on the radio telling others without reservations that they had no more space. A lot of boats had taken advantage of the great weather window and there was a queue of us entering the gorgeous cut into the protected harbor.
We tied up, after backing up to the fixed dock, plugged into power, finished our logs and the customs and Immigration officer came to the boat and cleared us and the boat into the Bahamas.
We learned that the new rates for cruising permits go into effect in 2020. As we were here Dec 2019, we were able to get the old rates, which are $300 for the boat, with a maximum of 12 months. New rates are $300 for the boat but only for 3 months. Then you pay again, if you want to stay.
Score… We are heading onto Panama in 2020, and we had planned to stay only 3 months here in the Bahamas, then on to Turks and Caicos. So now the pressure to depart was off.
And we are sitting here in GHC with a cold front on top of us. We have been here nearly 2 weeks, and agreed to the monthly rate (pay for 2 weeks stay 4). The long range weather has shown poor weather through at least Christmas, almost a week away.
And so we are getting back into island time. We try to do a project each day. Our second day was a major wash down of the entire exterior, followed by a shammy of all surfaces. The wash down water is from the local well and has high salt content. So it does spot if you don’t shammy it afterwards. Even with the shammy we still had spots on the stainless steel. So the next few days chores were to polish the stainless. Each morning of work is followed by a long walk on the beautiful beach on the east side of the island.
We revisited the old ruins of the rat pack hotel. See my story I did two years ago with a brief history of GHC. (2017- Great Harbour Cay)
We’ve run the water maker, discovered a leak, and fixed it. The list of chores goes on: more stainless polishing, now we are waxing and buffing the gel coat, worked on the tender- fixed the running light, replaced fuel line, greased the crane when it wouldn’t move past middle point to the left. (Still looking at this…), polished the galley, chased the coolant leak on the engine (hose that goes to the hot water tank), checked battery charger, checked and test inverter.
And a few naps in there for me as well.
We are now nearing Christmas. And the weather shows no sign of letting up until after the big holiday. The marina has filled up with others that are ducking out of the bad weather.
We have met some nice fellow cruisers, being here over two weeks we are long termers now. We’ve enjoyed a couple of cruiser pot lucks, a chill and grill evening when the marina bbqs chicken and ribs for $10 each.
Life is good once you slow down some.
And with that, we wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Felix Navidad, and a great New Year. Here's to 2020.