It’s the Bahamas, mon!

img_3892-800x579In a nutshell: settled weather, cold front, mostly settled, calm, cold front: repeat. Projects in paradise, cell phone works or maybe not. Wifi- oh yes, then oh no. Island Life and if you remember to set your clock to island time, it’s all good.

Our first time in the Bahamas (2011-2012) I don’t recall what we did for phone service but it wasn’t much. We had Sirius/XM weather on the chartplotter and at times would hear weather reports along the way. Wi-fi was readily available at many places: marinas, cafes, and laundromats. In George Town we’d lug our laptop in to town and pay for wi-fi where you could sit and plug in for a while.

Then the Bahamas began making cell service and data more readily available, so if you replaced your SIM card with a Bahamian one you could buy phone and data time. Kinda pricey but easier and not as much need to dinghy in with that oversized laptop. Then we took a year off and RV cruised so the Bahamas could make more progress. Last winter (2015-16) we landed in Bimini and purchased a SIM card for my cell phone which I inherited from Cap’n Russ who got an iPhone 6 that fall. That gave us a Bahamas phone number. Local calls run 15cents/minute for outgoing and incoming local calls are free.  You can text locally too for dirt cheap.

How it works is that you put money on your account, which is a two-part deal; one is calling and the other is data (web, email, local texting). That worked well for us. If you are brave you can try to keep that same phone number alive by putting $5 every month or so on your account. When you return next time and exchange the US phone chip for the Bahamas one, you hope it all works…. and it did! We then put more money on so we could have 5gig of data to use. This data used to expire in 30 days but now it’s longer; a nice improvement on the part of BTC.  You can check your balance easily and Russ keeps track of both balances; calling and data. Good thing too.

In the middle of a call to Marsh Harbour Marina, the call drops and my attempts to call back elicit a voice message insisting we have a lack of funds. This being only my second call since arrival, with an account balance of $13.93, no way did we spend more than $2 so far. Sigh. Russ emails BTC and two days later, no reply but our account now has $13.  Who knows what happened, but I’m not asking.

With two weeks until our marina reservation and three until the best thing a New Year could bring (wanna guess??) we had plenty of time to work our way east from Green Turtle Cay before ending up in Marsh Harbour.

WOW! A newly paved road. Never seen this before in Bahamas

WOW! A newly paved road. Never seen this before in Bahamas. Green Turtle is happy!!!

We walked around the settlement (beaches too), checking out the lobster dinner specials, purchasing the always beautiful Bahamas calendar and spending over $7 for a pineapple. Oh and then add 7.5% VAT ( which is really a sales/use tax on just about everything). Not sure how the average Bahamian affords food, household goods, etc.

Church

New Plymouth , Green Turtle Cay. Church looking festive.

 

A real fixer upper

A real fixer upper, ready to fall any moment

After the winds abated we waved good-bye to Green Turtle Cay.  No turtles spotted; however we did see a Swallowtail Kite. (no, not a kite; the bird)

We managed “Don’t Rock” passage without hitting the rock or the sandy bottom :-), walked the beautiful beach at Treasure Cay and ended up anchored in Fishers’ Bay at Great Guana Cay; all in one day, making water along the way. After a tasty lunch at Grabbers and perhaps just a tad too many sips of their signature drink- what else? The Grabber, we walked through the settlement. Alas, no Milo in his little yellow shack (rumors of his demise may or may not be true) and Dive Guana has moved to a huge space at Settlement Harbor from many years at Fisher’s Bay. Troy says in addition to more rental boats he will be selling fish and lobster.

Feral cats- dontyou hiss at me

Feral cats- don’t you hiss at me. Yes, I fed them some grouper scraps.

 

Home built power cat- they can beach it,

Home built power cat- they can beach it, but wow it sure is small.

 

Fishers Bay sunset & sv Aquila

Fishers Bay sunset & sv Aquila

Russ managed to squeeze in some paddle board time in between, let’s call it,”trying to diagnose and fix our watermaker stench”. The ferry route goes in between Sandy Cay and Garden Cay, off Man o’ War and what great timing to be there as the ferry zooms by. Russ went from standing to sitting in an eye blink.dsc04373-800x476

After a one night stop off Man 0′ War we headed into Hope Town for four nights. Pick a mooring, any mooring! Woo Hoo! Not exactly empty but plenty of moorings available from all of the various places. We like to support Truman (Lucky Strike) who has a sparkling reputation for well-maintained moorings; look for the double green floats and plop the loops one to each bow cleat and you are golden.

Thursday was night #2 of a three night run of the St James Players’ “Christmas in Bethlehem Gulch”. Tickets an affordable $10 and a chance to check out the newly completed Community Center; was good to get into the spirit. Lots of singing and no shortage of “the true meaning of Christmas” in the story which takes place “out west”.

The girl below couldn’t bring herself to wave her hand through the flame even though I showed her how. Smart kid to be wary.

Torch lights path to community center as we head in for the play- Christmas in Bethlehem Gulch

Torch lights path to community center as we head in for the play- Christmas in Bethlehem Gulch

The cast of 50+ hardly fit on the stage. An excellent show.

Maine Cat has a new MC38. Read that it won best sailboat at the Newport Boat Show this year. We got a look when Captain Ron (Engle, not Rico) brought one in that will be in charter

Capn Ron brings in the new MC38, sv TinTin

Cap’n Ron brings in the new MC38, sv TinTin

The lighthouse was getting a glass facelift; soon she’s going to need repainting. The Saturday we were there (Dec 17) was not only a tiny farm market but the Lighthouse gift shop celebrated one year anniversary with 20% off. We did laundry over at the Lighthouse Marina, zooming over to the market and lighthouse to kill time in between. A very successful morning.

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Working on the glass panes

Working on the glass panes

A few years ago we rented a golf cart with Keith and Masha (his crew) to tour the beaches, bars (no ballads thank you) and scenery around Hope Town, further than one can easily walk. While the guys enjoyed a coldie at the Abaco Inn, Masha and I hunted for sea glass. I wanted a do-over of sorts, but the golf cart turned into two bicycles (it’s all flat he said) and we even forgot to bring water. But we did bike a few miles down to the beach near the Abaco Inn and collected a few handfuls of sea glass.

 

Biking. Too bad we didn't really stop at Firefly.

Biking- I survived. Too bad we didn’t really stop at Firefly.

Windy conditions persisted all weekend but Come Monday the wind backed way down; perfect to head down two miles to Tahiti Beach, and so we did, anchoring just above Bakers Rock and making water. We spent two nights, starting off each morning with a low tide beach walk that if you know me, was more of a slow stroll with a lot of stopping to pick up treasures. I was thrilled to find well tumbled sea glass pieces scattered about as if an Easter egg hunt for two-year-olds was taking place. Pretty shells and coral helped fill up the snack baggie I’d brought.

Did you know that beach walking is an acceptable way to work on your tan without appearing to do so? 🙂

Tahiti Beach

Tahiti Beach

Can you see the face!!?? Over Lubbers Quarters. A bit Grinch-y

Can you see the face!!?? Over Lubbers Quarters. A bit Grinch-y

Matt Lowes Cay

Matt Lowes Cay- near Marsh. We spent a day to make water and relax.

Matt Lowes Cay- the ferries race each other

Matt Lowes Cay- the ferries race each other. Wait for me, wait for me, wait for me, Hope Town Ferry!

Thursday Dec 22 found us anchored in Marsh Harbour and Russ with a loudly complaining lower back. The walk up to Maxwell’s ruined him terribly, but we managed a short trip in again to A&K Liquor Store.

Friday morning we fueled up at Marsh Harbour Marina (& Jib Room) and our C-6 slip was perfect for us. I even got to practice lassoing the pilings. Ok, so we won’t give up on anchoring. 🙂 The electric worked wonderfully and was metered. Solar helped keep the dial from turning too fast. Water is take it or not at $5/day. Pricey, uh? We stayed 10 days. Used lots of water but since it’s well water with bleach we couldn’t put any in our tank. It’s easy to bypass though, just attach our water hose to the dohickey at the stern, turn off the internal water pump and voila! you are using water that’s not from your tank…. and you don’t have to listen to the pump noise!!

I’d tell more about our pleasant stay but then I’d have to relate another biking story where I agreed to go to one place but since it was closed, why not ride just 1.5 miles more to Maxwells, the big grocery, and sure we know the way and who cares if  the roads are narrow, the drivers crazy and my bike has a floppy pedal? So yea, you don’t need to hear all that. :-), so how about this:

Wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy, Blessed New Year. And remember, “Don’t be mean in 2017”.

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