To Nassau
Bimini - Monday & Tuesday Apr 18 & 19 

Sunday - Our three boats, Iffin, Sea Angel and Kindred Spirits, anchored overnight off the Venetian Causeway near Star Island,  It has some of the most expensive homes in the US.  Online real estate listing lists one at $50,000,000 and several more at $25,000,000.  Tour boats keep passing, pointing out celebrity homes, like Oprah Winfrey and Janet Reno.  Shaq O'Neil and Madonna also either have to do live here.  It's a comfortable and large anchorage that's protected on all sides except the North, with a great view of all the cruise ships leaving Government Cut.

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Monday - We left at 6:45 am, since the weather window looked great.  We had SE winds about 12 yesterday and they were forecast to last until tomorrow.  The crossing was picture perfect.  Almost flat seas, even in the Gulf Stream, until the last few hours, where they were about 1 foot.  

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As we neared Bimini, we called ahead to Weech's Bimini Dock and found slips for all 3 boats.  It's not fancy, but it is cheap, for Bimini.  Now the challenge was getting into the Marina.  Supposedly the channel that was dredged in 2006 has now silted over and the marks removed.  Unfortunately, we didn't know which of the two channels that was.  We had downloaded the latest version from Explorer Charts and used that (and the markers) to come in at dead low tide, with Sea Angel leading, since they have 6" less draft than we do.  No problem.  Never saw under 7 feet.  We later heard of a boat that went aground shortly before we arrived.  Barry checked in at Customs/Immigration, around 100 yards from the marina, and they gave us a cruising permit for 120 days.  We had been reading about cruisers receiving only 30 days and needing to find another check-in in a remote area, so that was one problem we didn't have.  

We explored on foot, headed north.  Bimini was disappointing.  There is a huge resort marina on the north end, too far to walk to, but otherwise it was sort of grubby, with miniscule stores and even tinier restaurants.  We walked as far as Joe's Crab Stand, which was closed.  Behind it was a mountain of conch shells.  I wore the wrong shoes, got a blister on my foot, and headed back.  The nicest marina near us is Bimini Game Club, which has a nice restaurant.  As we passed, we stopped for our first conch dinner.

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Tuesday - Went to the beach for shells.  Found a very interesting beachcomber (see photo).  Went swimming in the afternoon and tested our snorkels. 

 

The Banks - Wednesday Apr 20
Heading across the Great Bahama Bank (water about 10 to 15 feet deep) is the longest voyage on the trip, even longer than crossing the Gulf Stream.  Since it's 80 miles to the nearest island, we decided to anchor on the banks about 60 miles out, near a slighly protected area.  Wind was SE 15 to 20 and waves were around 3 feet.  Not a comfortable day.  Sea Angel and Kindred Spirits go around a half knot faster, so they passed us and were dots in the distance.  When we anchored the seas were only about a foot, but the wind picked up and we sloshed all night.  Around 4 am I awoke and went above to check our position.  Kindred Spirits was no longer off our port beam.  Started the computer and The Capt'n.  We hadn't budged, but were was Kindred Spirits?

 

Frazer's Hog Key - Thursday Apr 21 

Around 7, discovered that KS had dragged around a mile (fortunately headed west, where there was nothing to cause trouble).  They were idling slowly towards the NW Shoal light.  Sea Angle and Iffin picked up anchor and followed.  Chubb Cay is now a very expensive private resort (over $4 a foot) so we headed for Frazer's Hog Cay, which had been praised by several friends.  Couldn't raise them on the radio.  We pulled in to their dock (KS picked a mooring) and still no one in sight.  Restaurant closed.  Bathrooms locked.   Found a guy who said the owners were in Nassau for the day but would be back at 4.  Then 6.  Never saw them.  In the morning, someone was there.  I argued that since we had no services, we should pay only the mooring, not the dock fee.  Still was too much.  My book said $12.50 and he said $25.  But at least it was better than $2 a foot!

 

Nassau - Friday - Apr 22 to Monday Apr 25

Friday - Nasty crossing.  20 knot wind from east, and 4 foot seas on our bow quarter, with some on the beam. At least it was only 32 miles.  I took a half dramamine and put on my pressure point bracelets.  It started laying down around a hour from Nassau, when the island broke some of the fetch.  Bow and sides of Iffin are covered in salt crystals.

We received permission to enter Nassau Harbor from Harbor Control and cruised past the cruise ships and the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island to Nassau Harbor Club.  Sea Angel and Iffin share a 100 ft. slip.  The others are filled by 100 footers!  Peter Attaloglou (dockmaster, manager, etc.) is friendly and helpful.

Nancy and I went to City Market (owned by Winn Dixie) across the street.  It's probably the largest supermarket in the Bahamas.  Think Piggly Wiggly after a run on its stock.  Puny ice cream selection and no bakery.  A half gallon of non-premium ice cream is over $10.  Cereal is very expensive - between $5.50 and $10 a box, so I'm glad we don't like it!  But lamb chops were only $3.29/lb, green beans were 99 cents, a a whole pineapple was $2.99.  

Got internet connection at Starbucks for the cost of a cup of iced tea, so we could let everyone know we're OK.  Everyone brought meat to grill over to Iffin.  I made cole slaw, Nancy had potatoes, and Laura had appetizers, so we sat on our upper deck and watched the sunset and the lights over Atlantis.

Saturday -  Marina has filled up for Easter weekend.  We had planned tp leave tomorrow, but it looks like we'll be here until Wednesday because the east wind is still at 20 knots and no one wants to go out in it.  Went back to the grocery and bought the stuff I'd scouted yesterday.  Also picked up some rum (Fire in 'de Hole) for $8.

Bought Internet service for $7 a day.  Since we have the router, we buy it and the others connect to us, so we can all use it together.  

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We all walked over to the dive shop and stopped for a few things en route to Paradise Island.  A taxi guy in the shop said he'd take all six of us to Atlantis for $3 each, so we went in style instead of walking.  The recession certainly hasn't affected Paradise Island!  Mega yachts and restaurants with prices to match.  Think cheeseburger for $29 (but it has truffle mayo).  Across the street of "Marina Village" is the Paradise Island shopping center.  It's like crossing the tracks to the poor guys area.  T-shirt shops and souvenir stands.  We found a cab to take us back for $10 (shorter going back because of the one way street arrangement.)  Sat at the pool a while and then "dressed" (clean shirt) for dinner at the Poop Deck, about 3 blocks away.   Had dessert at Dairy Queen and planned an Easter dinner.

Sunday - Easter dinner prevented a minor disaster! I volunteered a pork roast, and when I went below to retrieve it from the freezer, found that the contents were partially thawed.  In the sloppy crossing to Nassau, a box had fallen off the bed and pulled out the freezer plug!  Fortunately, everything was still 2/3 frozen, with ice crystals still in the rest, so we just pulled out the pork roast and plugged back in.

Our slip is right across from a 72 foot ketch, 61 years old, with a couple and their two daughters, 3 and 7.  They're from Maine and have been cruising for two years, as far as St/ Barts, home schooling their older daughter on the way.  Imagine leaving with a 1 year old still in diapers!  They're on their way home and will sell the boat, after the big adventure. 

Easter dinner was aboard Kindred Spirit.

Monday - Nancy, Peter, Barry and I decided to walk the mile and a half to the seafood and produce market under the Exit bridge.  We got there around 11 and most of the stalls were closed, partly because it was early and partly because the Monday after Easter is a Bahamas holiday.  Conch salad was $10 at every stall.  The produce was more than at City Market and the whole place smelled of urine, so we kept walking and made it all the way to downtown Nassau.  The straw market burned down some years ago and the new one isn't finished, so the market is in a huge tent.  Picture hundreds of tiny stalls, most of which carry the exact same merchandise.  Straw purses decorated with Disney characters, wooden carvings, t-shirts.  In front of each stall is a black woman announcing how her prices are better than anyone elses.  "$15 for the t-shirt.  For you, $12.  But it's a slow day.  $10."  Many stalls had shawls (made in Indonesia).  I decided I'd buy one if I could find a red one with a turtle print.  No one had that.  Red with flower prints.  Black with turtle prints.  As I left the market, one woman ran out and found me, waving a red turtle shawl in her hand! 

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Laura and Bill showed up and directed us to Senor Frogs, a restaurant/bar/shop around the corner.  But we had just had lunch the island bargain spot - Sbarro's Pizza, who sold Bahamian style fried fish with peas and rice and a soft drink for $6.99.  And it was really good!

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We walked a few blocks and found the #19 bus to take us back to the marina, where we spent a few hours around and in the pool and talked to Peter (manager) about tomorrow's weather and our chances of leaving.