……….The End

We ended our bahamas trip in the same place we started out. Great Sale Cay. Not only that, but we were stuck there once again waiting on good weather. I say stuck as if it were a bad thing. It wasn’t. It was a nice island. We did some fishing and met some really nice folks. And we actually ran into several people who had a boat exactly like ours. (Island Packet 31)
When we got to Great Sale Cay a second time, we were the first to arrive at the anchorage. 24 hours later, there were over 35 other boats that came in expecting to do what we were doing. We were all waiting on the right conditions to make the crossover back into the United States. We ended up having a few days to wait and get to know the other boaters. Now there are several ways you can get to know the other boaters. One is to just drive your dinghy up to them and say hi. Which we did. The other is to listen on the VHF radio and chat with whoever wanted to chat. Which we did. I will get to the radio part in a minute.
Right after we anchored, we went over to the second boat in and introduced ourselves. Keith offered to dive down and make sure their anchor was set good. It was. Then they invited us up for cocktails. This was working out pretty good. They were a very charming couple from British Columbia. Pierre and Carolyn on s/v Obsession. Their english was very good. Unfortunately our southern accent and euphemisms were a bit much for them to understand.  Sometimes they would look at us funny, so we would have to explain what we meant. We made plans to get together again and went back to our boat, where we met the third boat that had just pulled in. Joe and Tammy on s/v Tammera Sue. Their boat was identical to ours, so we chatted and made plans to get together for cocktails with them as well. This was fun. This is what was supposed to happen much sooner in the game. Not our last few days there. But it happened and it was loads of fun.
We had planned on leaving out with Pierre and Carolyn but our plans had changed at the last moment and regrettfully we were not able to reach them on the vhf radio to inform them. I hate that we didn’t get to tell them good bye.

So lets talk about the VHF radio. Most of you know what this is, but if you don’t, its a marine radio that is used to contact the coast guard and other boaters. Here in the states, its strictly enforced. You call on channel 16 but when you reach your party, you switch to another channel to converse. In the bahamas, its supposed to be that way too, but its not really enforced like it is here. But most boaters will still abide by the rules. We used it at the anchorage to glean information from other boaters as to when they were going to leave, where they were going and such. One night while we were sitting in the cockpit having a beverage, Keith gets on the radio and this is how the rest unfolds:
Keith: “Great sale cay marina, great sale cay marina, this is sailboat Otter.”
(now keep in mind there is no such place)
Silence.
Keith: “switching to channel 17”
Silence
Keith: “yes, I would like to request a room with a pool, and dinner and drinks and a turndown service.”
Silence
Mail voice on the radio: “was someone needing help with anything?”
Keith: “um, no, sorry that was just me being silly on the radio.”
New mail voice: “Yes, I’m coming in to the anchorage now, I don’t need any help but could I get a mint on my pillow?”
sometimes you just have to have fun.

I wonder how many of the 35 boats out there were listening. Its very common for others to switch their channels and eavesdrop on the conversation. I’m sure many of them were listening in. They must have thought we had lost our minds at this point.

 

The next night we had found out by listening to the radio, that several boats were leaving in the morning. We decided to be one of them. Several of them were actually going to the same location as us, so we figured it would be a good time to leave and tag along.
We were the first ones out. We were quickly followed by 4 other boats. This is called ‘buddy boating’. We all sailed the 9 hours or so, to the ‘bank’, where we make our crossover into the gulf stream. We couldn’t always see each other but we were fortunate to be able to talk to each other over the radio during that time. Once the first boat made it into the stream,(we were eventually passed)  they radioed back and let us all know what the conditions were like. It was comforting to know ahead of time what to expect. As the night wore on, we all went different speeds and lost contact with each other. It was good while it lasted. We picked up speed once we hit the gulf stream. There were times when we were going 10 knots. Thats double what our boat usually does. It felt like we were flying through the stream, waves and all. I have been trying to convince Keith to buddy boat, and now that he’s finally done it, I think he enjoyed it more than he thought he would. I rest my case. Its good to be back in the states. Life is good!

very last sunset in the Bahamas

very last sunset in the Bahamas

fishing

fishing

fishing in the dinghy

fishing in the dinghy

Contemplating being back in the US

Contemplating being back in the US

Military meals ready to eat.

Military meals ready to eat.

Our British Columbia Friends Pierre and Carolyn

Our British Columbia Friends Pierre and Carolyn

Sharks, barracudas and a naked man

Is this everything we thought it would be? Did Kenny Chesney and Bob Marley get it right when they sang about life in the Islands? I have to say that so far this has been quite the experience. I will also say that I was expecting  more partying with  other boaters and sharing stories. I envisioned having dock parties, and sundowners with others like ourselves.  That hasn’t really happened. We have pretty much been to ourselves. (could you be with your spouse 24/7 for a whole month?) We have met a few people and shared drinks with them, but it wasn’t in the capacity I was expecting. To be fair, this is our first year to be here. I guess to be part of the party, one would need to be at the right marina. But we didn’t want to spend all our time just at marinas. Because of chance and weather, we found ourselves at certain anchorages to avoid the direction of the winds. We did take advantage of what each anchorage had to offer. Let me explain.

Since leaving the marina at Spanish cay, we have been to several islands. The first one was munjack cay (pronounced key). It was so nice we ended up staying 3 1/2 days. The snorkeling was great. The fishing, not so great. All we caught was bait fish which ended up in my freezer to use as needed. Riding around in the dinghy was awesome. We saw lots of turtles and a pair of spotted eagle Rays, black with white spots. It was gorgeous and we were loving every minute of it.

the town of New Plymoth on Green Turtle cay

the town of New Plymoth on Green Turtle cay


If only it were true!

If only it were true!


baked barracuda

baked barracuda


Catching barracuda, yes we ate them.

Catching barracuda, yes we ate them.


Keith's conch

Keith’s conch


our boat at anchor

our boat at anchor


beautiful water with our boat in the background

beautiful water with our boat in the background


snorkeling

snorkeling


memory tree selfie

memory tree selfie


Keith climbed the tree for a good spot to hang our sea biscuit

Keith climbed the tree for a good spot to hang our sea biscuit


Leaving our mark on the memory tree

Leaving our mark on the memory tree


memory tree on Allens-Pensacola cay

memory tree on Allens-Pensacola cay


nice day for a sail

nice day for a sail

Then we headed to green turtle cay for a few days. We rented a golf cart and explored the island. Green turtle cay is fairly small. About 450 people live on the island. They have 3 small grocery stores where we were able to get what we needed for about 3 times what we would pay in the states. Then we found a laundromat. That wasn’t cheap either. But it was nice to have clean smelling clothes and sheets again. We were docked next to a nice guy who had a boat like ours, only bigger. Archie, on s/v slip away, was pretty interesting to talk to. He worked in the control tower in New York on 9/11. He had some stories to tell. I always like meeting other boaters. Most of them would give you the shirt off their back. And they all seem to have pretty neat stories to tell.
Once the weather cleared up, we left Green Turtle and had a great sail to Allens-Pensacola cay. We had read about this place and it lived up to our expectations. We fished, and hiked and snorkeled. One interesting thing there is this memory tree that boaters have decorated. It’s a small hike over to the Atlantic Ocean side, and once there, you are greeted by this large tree decorated in all kinds of boating paraphernalia. Since we had read about this, we decided to leave our mark of being there. We have been collecting these cool sea biscuits and one in particular was large enough to write our names, the boat name, our home of Jekyll island and the year. Keith was able to get a line through it and hang it from the tree. Keith and Lynn were here!
We met another boater there on s/v Abraxis and fished with him. He shared his snapper with us and we shared our barracuda and conch with him. He was an interesting fellow. The first time we met him, Keith and I were in our dinghy going over to his boat to say hi and take him some brownies that I had just made. As we got closer, I quickly realized that he was wearing nothing but a smile. So we turned the dinghy in the other direction fairly quick and decided to explore a reef first. Later we went up to his boat to introduce ourselves. I noticed that he ducked down below just before we got there, probably to put some pants on. After that, we just called him on the VHF radio.
One day we went out to fish and we were told that conch made good chum to attract the fish. Keith snorkeled for a bit and found the biggest conch I have ever seen. We used part of it for chum and ate the rest. Since we ate the conch, we got to keep the shell. Snorkeling was great. Lots of things to see. It is a little scary to see a barracuda while you are snorkeling. I quickly removed all my jewelry. Just to be safe! We always snorkeled before we fished. No need in luring the bad guys until we are out of the water. Those pesky Sharks were still coming around whenever we would catch a fish. One time while we were fishing, our dinghy anchor got stuck and wouldn’t come up. Keith put on his mask and snorkel and dove in and got it. I don’t know if I could have done that. Kudos to Keith!
Since the weather is expected to get rough in a couple of days, we decided to move north and duck into a marina that we have wanted to check out. Not to mention, we are low on fresh foods and ice. If all goes as planned, we will stay there for a few days and then head west a bit to anchor out and stage ourselves for crossing back over to the states. We have some things that we need to do and our son is flying home from Alaska for a week and we can’t miss that opportunity to see him. These last few weeks have been fun and challenging. Weather has played a large part in what we did and where we went. But as nice as its been, I’ll be glad to be back in the states. Life is good