We had a very short window to make it across the Gulf Stream, then as far as possible, yet arrive before sunset, to a protected (but not too expensive) marina & clear customs before 5:00 PM. We decided on Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands, Bahamas. This meant re-positioning ourselves to Miami, to a protected anchorage, yet with a quick & easy passage to get out in the dark. Yes, dark, to make the 130 miles before 5:00 PM. We awoke at 2:30 AM & got underway at 3:15 AM. Within 10 minutes it began pouring rain, just as we were turning to head into the channel leading out to the mighty Atlantic. Of course, there is always one boat (usually a sailboat) anchored at the edge of the channel without a proper anchor light – just a dim flashing solar light from the dollar store (I might have lit him up with my spotlight – sorry if I woke you up :))
Our trip went fairly well – not our smoothest crossing – but not a bad crossing either. It had been windy for days with the wind only having dropped for less than a day. While the waves were only 2′ – 3′, they were very short & choppy. We slowed down & sped up to avoid several rain squalls. It didn’t really calm down until a mile out of Great Harbour Cay, but we successfully docked at 4:45 PM.
We tried to delay customs until the next morning, but to no avail. I was beat & not in the mood to fill out a stack of paperwork then endure the “song & dance” of clearing customs. One of the “discussions” is the duration of your stay. The most they want to give you is 90 days – you can apply for an extension, but only at certain ports & only less than 3 days before expiration – never after. Every year (except one) I have negotiated (begged) for 120 or 150 days & received it. This year I asked for 150 days. She hemmed & hawed , then said she’s have to phone her supervisor – fortunately, the call went right to voice mail – after more what-to-do, what-to-do – BAM, BAM, BAM of her rubber stamp, we’re in!
It is deja vu to be here at Great Harbour Cay Marina for Christmas, as we came here after our first crossing in 2011 with Benj & also stayed for Christmas. With the wind forecast to be 20 – 35 knots for at least a week, we’ll hunker down completely protected – the wind at our slip is only half of what is showing elsewhere. While we’re still less than halfway to George Town, the most difficult portion is over & we can make smaller jumps thru the rest of the Berry Islands, to Nassau, to the Exumas & finally down to George Town – we’ll make it!
Here’s an interesting History of Great Harbour Cay. Up until 1960 it was a typical Bahamian island with fishing & quiet island life. However in the 1960’s, it’s raw beauty was discovered by the rich & famous who wanted, of course, to develop it with a new airport, houses, private clubs & a championship golf course. During it’s short heyday, the rich & famous flocked here, including Cary Grant, Brigitte Bardot, Jack Nicklaus, The Rockefellers, Douglas Fairbanks, Ingrid Bergman, among others. It’s the Bahamas ‘mon, so it didn’t last long – for many reasons. You’ll have to read all about it by clicking the link above!
Wishing all a Very Merry Christmas from Russ & Lori!