Genevieve rested, like a Snow Bird, in Ft Lauderdale while we headed to Blighty for a few weeks over the New Year. But in early February we pulled away from our home-away-from-home dock in Florida to re-explore the Bahamas, the destination to which we first took Genevieve in 2016…read on.
Despite the fact that we had scored a lovely dock for Genevieve and a lovely house to stay in for ourselves, we had a bit of a rough time in Ft Lauderdale this visit. We were scammed out of a pile of money by an unscrupulous diesel mechanic who left us in the lurch with an engine in bits, parts missing, and a few dents in our faith in humanity. However, we managed to do the necessary maintenance, gather all the parts that were missing or needed replacement, and put the engine back together ourselves. We learned a LOT about our engine and our ability to work things out on our own given a few trusty mentors, YouTube, and a dense engine manual! (Oh, and we now know how to file a Police Report too). We also managed to go to the gym every day, eat healthily and took a two-month booze break, so it was not all bad.
In early February, weather checked, we motor-sailed out of Port Everglades inlet and pointed east towards the Bahamas. The Mahi-Mahi were biting, the weather calm, so instead of pushing on through the night we decided to anchor out on the Bahama Bank, completely alone, no land in sight, but with only 10ft of water to float in. Come a beautiful sunrise, we weighed anchor and were soon in fancy Chub Cay Marina checking in with Bahamian Customs & Immigration. The wind picked up (a theme of this season, as it turned out) and we were pinned in the marina for four days before we could sail across the Tongue of the Ocean to New Providence Island (another Mahi on the way!) and onto the Exuma islands.
We won’t bore with a litany of locations and anchorages, but look at the photos and you will see that the Exumas are one of the loveliest places on the planet! It seem strange to us that the Caribbean islands (the Bahamas are not in the Caribbean people…look at a map!) are so well known and frequented, but that many areas of the Bahamas are unexplored and undeveloped, boasting amazing natural beauty, seclusion, breathtakingly blue water, and hundreds of uninhabited picture-perfect sand-fringed islands.
This season, COVID fears and restrictions waning, we managed to share the lovely Exumas with many good friends. We experienced with them the famous–but not altogether friendly–swimming pigs, feeding tropical fishes frozen peas inside 007’s Thunderball grotto, snorkeling a Drug Lords crashed plane, finding the best beach in the world at the end of a mangrove dinghy ride, exploring deserted Conception Island, hiking to the Monument on Lee Stocking for a sublime panorama, horning the Sun as it dipped below the horizon, trying to count how many hues of brilliant blue we could see, and eating fresher-than-fresh conch salad at the George Town Regatta. We feasted on our own plentiful supply of fresh caught fish and even found some good grocery stores to replenish supplies. It was a privilege to show our chums the lovely islands and it was also amazing to see them get off their (often very small) planes laden with spare parts and treats for us!
But it was WINDY. Locals and seasoned sailors all agreed that the weather was unusually dynamic. We had some bumpy sails and some anxious overnights at anchor with gusty winds and lumpy seas. But when the isobars stopped crowding each other and the seas laid down, we experienced some incredible sparkly sailing days, speeding over the banks at 9 knots with only a few feet of water between the keel and the starfish. And on a few occasions, the distance between the keel and the starfishes evaporated completely and we bumped the bottom…luckily at low speed and with no damage to anything apart from our navigational pride and the blue paint on the keel’s underside.
May eventually came around, and we started the trip north back to Fort Lauderdale, more or less re-tracing our track via New Providence and Chub Cay. As it happened, the last two weeks of our time in the Bahamas brought perfect sailing weather: consistent and moderate wind out of the right direction (a rarity!) to sail home.
So now we are in Fort Lauderdale at the fancy and spendy Bahia Mar Marina. John will fly home to mow the reawakened grass and will be replaced by two Brit pals, Neil and Andrew, who have just bought a sailboat themselves (brave fools) and want to experience the joys of a non-stop five-day passage from Florida to New York City. I hope it does not put them off for good! Let the adventure continue…and read about it in the next blog.
Enjoy the pics.