Bahamas!! With its Turquoise and Crystal Clear Waters!
We spent the night at the dock in Bimini. We got our cruising permit, filled up on fresh water, emptied our trash, and checked out the local store for some fresh items. Unfortunately the store only had some potatoes and some poorly looking tomatoes. Afterward we continued our way down south along the Bahamian Cays (pronounced Key) and Islands.
Our next night was spent on anchor in shallower waters in the Bahama Banks, about halfway to our next destination, Chub Cay. It was a tad bit too far for us that day, and we weren't in a hurry after all.
So our next days anchorage for an overnight, was just beyond Chub Cay by Bird Cay, as we waited out some thunderstorms. A bit rocky and rolly....😳 but we were safe from the storm.
As we headed off towards Nassau, which we had planned to skip, some nasty weather with strong winds and thunderstorms was headed our way. Nassau provided a safe spot to be, while waiting out that storm. This produced some gusts up to 60mph ( 96kps)!
We enjoyed a safe dock tie, got some groceries, took care of trash, fueled and got fresh water. We even treated ourselves to a Pizza!!👍🏻
After the storm blew over the next morning, we made our way towards Highbourne Cay. Crystal clear waters all around us. What beauty!
As we continued on towards Warderick Wells in the Exhuma Land & Sea Park the next day, we called the Park Ranger on VHF radio to reserve a spot. We wanted to explore and enjoy the park.
Making that anchorage, in a mooring field that was U shaped, was going to be a first for us ( the way we would do it).
We ended up backing in!
There was a super strong current running through there, and we were going for a mooring ball at the very end of the U after we called the Park Ranger and got our ball assigned to us, number 22. So we motored down one narrow side and had to back up all the way to the other narrow end (we have better maneuverability with a strong current going backwards). Sandbars/land are shown in green in the picture below.
Here we spent two nights, and it was soo worth it.
We explored the island, hiked all over, snorkeled our way through the mooring field several times, drifting with the strong current, dinghy intow. We got to see huge rays, sharks, turtles and beautiful reef fish, even a couple fast passing yellow fin tuna!
Our next stop was Staniel Cay, with Pig Beach and Thunderball Grotto. (James Bond movie of the same name was filmed here)
Pig Beach, has swimming pigs, and it got its name because farmers had pigs that smelled bad to them, and were released onto this island in order to avoid the smelliness where they lived.
Now, every time a boat approaches, the pigs swim towards it as they associate that with feeding time. Fun to see.
And of course we had to swim, snorkel the Grotto as we are huge 007 fans! 👍🏻👏🏻
It was a beautiful cave with many different fish.
Continuing on slowly along the Cays, anchoring here and there, enjoying the turquoise waters, we very much looked forward to what was awaiting us "around the next bend".
Catching barracudas, pretty much every time we cast our lines out (just to release them again), kept us entertained while underway! We also caught the occasional grouper and even a nurse shark.
The nurse shark ate one of our groupers that took our lure. It was quite some work to pull him up to get the hook/lure back .
He was a good 7feet long! But we managed, without doing any harm to the docile shark, and left him with what was left over from our caught grouper. We were just happy to get our lure back!🙄🤣
Most anchorages were super busy with boats anywhere from mega yachts, to super yachts, to catamarans, to mono-hauls.
But we did find some anchorages with just one or two other boats for the night. Those we enjoyed so much more as it was much quieter from noise and wake.
When other boats drive through anchorages not all are considerate towards wake caused by them to other boats.
On to Georgetown we sailed, but in order to get there we had to sail through a cut in the Island chain to get out of the too shallow waters, out into the Atlantic just to go back in a couple days later.
A lot of the Bahamian waters are super shallow, in many spots too shallow to sail through. And many areas require good sunlight and clear days in order to see hazards in the water, like reefs or rocks.
So crossing into the Atlantic Ocean is required.
Here we caught our first Mahi Mahi! YAY and YUMM!
Georgetown on Great Exuma Island was going to be our next, longer stop, but as we were going to arrive in the dark, in an somewhat difficult Harbour, with a very narrow navigational channel, and not being familiar with it, with strong winds, we decided to spend the night at anchor back in a cut, behind Soldier Cay and move on the next morning. Big breakers crashing, rocks, wind and current made this in and out a nice , nerve racking challenge.
Our approach into Georgetown the next morning was so much more relaxed as we could see all that was needed to be seen in order to make it a safe entrance.
Spent several days here at anchor, exploring, hiking and snorkeling our way around.
Fresh food, trash, water and fuel was to be taken care of here as well.
Moriah Harbour just a couple miles south of Georgetown was a beautiful anchorage for us too as we continued on, down the Island/Cay chain. It has beautiful white sand beaches.
Here we met back up with friends from Isla Mujeres Mexico, S/V GraindeSable and S/V Blackfish! Spend a wonderful evening catching up.
Heavy rains and winds were forecasted the next day as we left, but we made it through most of it in the rain by motoring from inside our aft cabin, nice and dry.
We did decide to stop however for a couple hours at White Cay, to take a rest. So we set the hook, just off the island, wind protected, and took a short nap.
It is a bit exhausting to maneuver in shallow waters, around rocks, reefs with heavy rains and winds where one cannot see hazards/obstacles easily. Solely trusting a chart plotter or unmaintained navigation aids can be foolish.
After our short rest, we continued towards Thompson Bay, Salt Pond on Long Island.
This was so far by far our favorite Island. Laid back, quiet and only a few boats in a beautifully, peaceful anchorage. Getting rid of trash, getting a few groceries and exploring was what was on our agenda.
Beautiful hiking over from one side of the island to the other, where we could go and swim in the Atlantic Ocean on a gorgeous beach with beautiful pink sand!!
Here too, we met up with S/V GraindeSable and S/V Blackfish, and enjoyed their company!
Matthew Town on Great Inagua was our final destination in the Bahamas, and it took us a total of two months to finally make it here. With us leaving The Florida Keys, going North, crossing over through the OWW, then down the ICW, to staging ourselves for our crossing through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti, to finally continue on to the Panama Canal.
But as I always say, it's not the destination that matters, but it's the journey!
It took us roughly 40hrs to nonstop sail down to this last Island from along Island. We had some caaaalm seas during that sail! 😳
Unfortunately most of our sailing through the Bahamas wasn't sailing at all, it was mostly motoring. Just didn't have the right winds. Either the direction was wrong or not strong enough.🥴
Here we re-provision, take on fresh water and wait for our weather window.
On our sail down here, I caught our very first Marlin, swordfish! He wasn't very big about 3-4feet ( about 1m). The only kind of catch I had of him, is when he jumped so beautifully out of the water, I caught a glimpse of him, as he spat out my lure, and escaped. I guess he didn't like his dinner choice, and I am kind of happy he got off.
It was a beautiful nighttime approach under a full moon. We anchored out, and finally got some good sleep after running for almost 2 full days .
The next morning we pulled into the little harbour, tied off to the wall and took care of business. Part of that "business" was, to explore!😉
Here we took care of Exit clearance to leave out of the country, by getting the required papers for our possible next arrival port, either Jamaica or Panama, getting rid of trash, and fresh food shopping, AND doing laundry!! Not much fresh food was to be had, as the barge wouldn't come in for several more days .🙄
We were going to spend two nights here at the wall, but with the many, many no-see-ums and mosquitoes, we quickly got "run out" by them, back to going on anchor! Yikes! Almost got eaten alive .🥴
The Harbormaster Lady, Elrika, and her hubby Nelson run a little food shack/place Thursdays through Saturdays with comforters (appetizers), fried grouper, chicken and conch fritters. And we were invited to check it out! Local food! Just what we like. Off the beaten path kinda stuff, unknown to most.
We usually don't go out and splurge on dinners, lunches or even breakfasts as we are on a budget, but once in a while a treat like this, IS a MUST!
And it was delicious! And worth it! Great job Elrika, and Nelson! We even got to try out their national brew.
As we bid farewell to the Bahamas, it's beautiful turquoise and crystal clear waters, and it's tangerine sunrises and sunsets, we THANK YOU Great Inagua (but NOT to the biting bugs), our other favorite Island, for your wonderful hospitality, your very warm people and all your kindness, from asking whether we needed anything just walking and exploring the streets, to offering us lifts to make our exploring the island more tolerable in the heat! 🤣
Just like Steve did when he offered us a lift, and ended up driving us around most of the town and giving us a history lesson. What an awesome "guide".
A little info on Great Inagua.
It has the Morton Salt company extracting and exporting its salt from here, and is the largest employer here on the Island.
It has the largest pink flamingo colony in the western hemisphere. (It was too far for us to go to and see, and a tour-guide was needed, but none available)
One of the most beautiful bird sanctuaries and migratory bird viewing area. Saw the Bahamian Parrot!! Noisy but beautiful birds!
We once again find ourselves, sitting at anchor, on Glacier Gem, cherishing and living life and enjoying our adventures she brings with her, waiting for our weather window to continue South to the Panama Canal!
Please stay tuned for our next update, as we continue sailing into more sunsets and sunrises at sea, continuing our journey... enjoying our adventures!