Preparing to Leave West End

"Bird-of-Paradise"

“Bird-of-Paradise”

The last couple of days have gone by quickly. Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, we mainly hung out on the boat. This was Christy’s last full day with us, so she and Cindy spent as much time as they could in the sun, despite cool temperatures in the upper 60’s and a coldish north wind. When the sun was out, which was about half the time, it wasn’t too bad. For the few moments I laid out with them by the pool, I was using my beach towel as a blanket! We put up Beatitude’s Christmas decorations, including our pretty little four-foot tree. After dining at the resort restaurant, we settled in to watch the newer version of Miracle on 34th Street. I love that movie!

The Ladies on their way to the pool

The Ladies on their way to the pool

Poolside

Poolside

Brrrr!

Brrrr!

Aah! Sun!

Aah! Sun!

"O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!"

“O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!”

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Today, we rented a car again to transport Christy back to the Grand Bahama Airport in Freeport. It was so nice to have her visit, although her time here was much too short. I was hoping to find a place to watch the Georgia-Georgia Tech football game, so I went to the Port Lucaya marketplace where there are several restaurants/sports bars. Unfortunately, none had the SEC Network, so we just had lunch and moved on. (In retrospect, perhaps it was a good thing that I didn’t watch, since Georgia lost the game to its most hated rival, despite being heavily favored to win.)

About to say good-bye at the airport

About to say good-bye at the airport

Christmas Tree at Lucaya Marketplace

Christmas Tree at Lucaya Marketplace

Christmas decorations at the Marketplace

Christmas decorations at the Marketplace

After lunch, we stopped by Solomon’s, a good-sized grocery store in Freeport for a few supplies. The prices were not too bad for most items, although some things were a lot more expensive. One of our beverage staples, Diet Pepsi, was 8.99 for a 12-pack. Needless to say, we passed. Fortunately, we stocked up on Diet Pepsi pretty well before leaving, but it will likely not last throughout our time in the Bahamas. After leaving Solomon’s we stopped by the ACE Hardware store, where, I believe, every Bahamian in Freeport was doing their Christmas shopping. It was the most impressive ACE Hardware store I’ve ever been to. And, they had what we came for – rat traps! You see, Friday evening, while we were watching our Christmas movie, we had a visitor in the cockpit. When I looked out through the cockpit door, I saw a rat trying to get in one of the lockers. By the time I could open the door to chase after him, he had quickly disappeared. This happened three times before we went to bed. This evening, I set the traps in the cockpit. We’ll see what we catch!

Our Grocery Stop

Our Grocery Stop

Cleaning out some of the cockpit lockers (aka., checking for rodents)

Cleaning out some of the cockpit lockers (aka., checking for rodents)

Tomorrow, around 7 a.m., we are pulling away from the dock at Old Bahama Bay with the goal of motoring to Grand Sale Cay, a 57 nautical mile or so journey across the Little Bahama Bank, a rather shallow sandy area of the northern Bahamas. I’m not looking forward to it, and at first, wasn’t sure if I would go. We decided to go with Bella Luna, the 44′ catamaran docked behind us. We’ll buddy boat for the next couple of days. The wind for the next two days will be 15-25 knots from the ENE… Exactly, the direction we are going. (It will only be stronger later in the week.) We will also be beating directly into the waves, which are forecast to be 1-3′. After our Gulf Stream crossing, in which the waves were twice as high as predicted, I’m a little gun-shy, but we’re giving it a try. I’m expecting an uncomfortable day with the foredeck slamming into the waves all day. I pray my expectations will be disappointed.

On Monday, from Great Sale Cay, we will either motor another 30-something miles to Crab Cay to anchor for the night, or we will motor on to Green Turtle Cay, a 55 or so nautical mile trip. We have a slip reserved at Bluff House Beach Resort and Marina, where Beatitude will stay while we return to the States for work and the holidays. More on that to come later. The deciding factor as to whether we make it all the way to Green Turtle Cay or stop at Crab Cay will be how exhausted and beat up we are by that time.

Old Bahama Bay Beach

Old Bahama Bay Beach

The next blog post will hopefully come from Green Turtle Cay in a few days.

A Bahamian Thanksgiving

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Small waves whose tops were brushed with silver gently rolled in from the Little Bahama Bank. As I lay, sprawled upon the hammock in the bright Bahamian sun, I was serenaded by the serene splashing of these incessant waves upon the bright, white sand. A strong north wind sounded a pedal tone over which all the other sounds of the beach improvised. The girls were relaxing and soaking up the sun on lounge chairs not far away. This was how we spent the better part of this Thanksgiving.

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I believe this is the first Thanksgiving, a truly American holiday, that we spent on foreign soil. But, we truly have much to be thankful for. We are thankful, of course, most of all for the kindness and grace of God in extending his never-ending mercies to us. We are thankful for our families and friends spread across the U.S.A. We are thankful that we have been blessed to live a life of which many only dream. We have sailed our own boat to the Bahamas and are spending a beautiful day on a gorgeous sandy beach overlooking crystal clear turquoise waters. Thanks be to God!

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We thought we would not be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with the traditional turkey and fixings. But, we were mistaken. Just this morning we found out that the resort is serving a buffet this evening with all the usual American Thanksgiving foods. We were also excited to discover that to further enhance our Bahamian Thanksgiving, we would be treated to Junkanoo. Junkanoo is a Bahamian street parade with music, dance and costumes very similar to Carnival or Mardi Gras. Junkanoo takes place each year on Boxing Day, New Years Day and Bahamian Independence Day.

The food at our Thanksgiving feast was excellent. The delicious meal consisted of salad, cole slaw, rice and beans, Bahamian macaroni, yams, cranberries, turkey, dressing, ham, and pumpkin pie. It was as good as any Thanksgiving dinner I’ve ever had. Our dinner was made more special by the company of some new friends we’ve met at Old Bahama Bay, Gord and Debbie Moon, aboard S/V Bella Luna, an Antares 44i Catamaran. They made the crossing from Florida on Tuesday, the same day we crossed. We enjoyed sharing stories and future plans over our Thanksgiving meal. If the weather cooperates, we may cross the Little Bahama Bank to the Abacos together in a few days.

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At the close of our feast, a group of locals held a small scale Junkanoo celebration for us just outside the beachside restaurant. Men and women dressed in colorful costumes rang cowbells, beat on drums, and played brass instruments as both they and the diners celebrated Thanksgiving with rhythmic dance. It was great post-meal entertainment. Today was a Thanksgiving day unlike any other, and likely unlike any other to come.

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Twins in the Bahamas

It is always tricky to coordinate having families and guests aboard Beatitude while cruising. The old adage is that you can plan a rendezvous at either a time or a place, but not both. One never knows what the weather will do, nor what will break and need repairing on a boat. So, we were nervous when planning to meet up with my wife’s twin sister, Christy, in the Bahamas. Initially, we thought we would meet up in Marsh Harbour, but our delays with boat repairs made that impossible. We then hoped to meet up in West End. This barely worked as we arrived a day before she arrived. Thank God!

The Bahamian Courtesy Flag which is now flying off the Starboard spreaders of Beatitude.  The Q flag was taken down and this was raised in its place once cleared into the country.

The Bahamian Courtesy Flag which is now flying off the Starboard spreaders of Beatitude. The Q flag was taken down and this was raised in its place once cleared into the country.

This beautiful Heron standing outside our boat this morning.

This beautiful Heron standing outside our boat this morning.

Yesterday, we rented a car to drive into Freeport to pick up Christy from the Grand Bahamas Airport. Renting the car was so easy! We asked the Old Bahama Bay Resort staff the day before, and a car was delivered right next to our boat at 9 a.m. this morning. After two or three minutes of paperwork, I had the key in hand and we were shortly on our way. In the Bahamas, as in England, the driving is done on the lefthand side of the road. I drove in England for two weeks a couple of years ago, so this wasn’t my first time. Right away, though, when I approached the gate to exit the resort, I pulled up to the gate and waited for it to open. Soon, the attendant poked her head out of the door and informed me that I was at the entrance, not the exit. I had pulled to the right side instead of the left. It’s hard to break old habits. I did pretty well the rest of the day with not too many near accidents. 🙂

Cindy waiting in our rental van which was delivered directly to the dock beside Beatitude.

Cindy waiting in our rental van which was delivered directly to the dock beside Beatitude.

Christy had good flights and arrived on time. She had failed to get the name of the marina we were in, so they were not going to let her into the country since she didn’t know where she was staying. Fortunately, the guard escorted her out of the immigration area to find us, so that we could supply the information. She was also given a hard time because she didn’t have a return ticket. We waited until the last few days to buy her ticket since we weren’t sure if we would make it to the Bahamas on time. We hadn’t bought her return ticket yet. Fortunately, once again, they allowed her into the Bahamas.

We told Cindy "someone" would be at the airport holding up a sign with her name on it.  Little did she know it would be us!

We told Cindy “someone” would be at the airport holding up a sign with her name on it. Little did she know it would be us!

Christy, just arrived in the Bahamas, but already in trouble!

Christy, just arrived in the Bahamas, but already in trouble!

Twins reunited outside the airport

Twins reunited outside the airport

It was lunch time, so I asked if we wanted an authentic Bahamian meal or something more “American,” the choice was… Pizza Hut! The Harris’ have never been the most adventurous in their dining choices. Actually, the pizza was quite good and I enjoyed it. I hadn’t eaten at Pizza Hut for years. Speaking of authentic Bahamian food… The evening we arrived at West End, Cindy and I had dinner at the resort restaurant. I ordered the blackened grouper which came with broccoli and roasted potatoes. I knew I was in trouble when I tasted the broccoli. Who knew broccoli cold be so spicy-hot! It was actually quite good and I consumed it all. However, when I attempted to eat the blackened grouper, it was too much. I enjoy spicy, hot food, but apparently I’m not up the demands of island food. It was intolerably and painfully hot. I managed to eat about 1/2 of it, but it took a while for my taste buds to recover.

When asked what we wanted to do next, now that we had a car, the answer was… Shopping! So, we drove to Port Lucaya and the Lucaya Marketplace where their is a wonderful little shopping area with a mixture of more upscale shops, local Bahamian vendors, and a few restaurants. The local ladies drew Cindy and Christy in with “Come, here gorgeous,” and “Come on in here beautiful.” They had fun and bought a few trinkets, while I went to “Sparky’s” and had a nice cold bottle of a local Bahamian Beer called “Sands.” I’m not much of a beer drinker, but it was nice and refreshing.

Christy at the Freeport Pizza Hut

Christy at the Freeport Pizza Hut

Lucaya Marketplace

Lucaya Marketplace

Fountain at the Marketplace

Fountain at the Marketplace

Marketplace

Marketplace

Marketplace

Marketplace

Cold Bahamian Beer

Cold Bahamian Beer

Ladies shopping

Ladies shopping

By evening, a cold front had pressed through the northern Bahamas and chilled things off quite a bit. We were all “cold” when we arrived back at the boat with brisk north winds and temperatures dropping into the 60s. I made a rum cake to celebrate their birthdays. After that, we settled in to watch a couple of movies. The night’s featured films were “Music and Lyrics” starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, and “The Young Victoria,” a wonderful film telling the story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Upon returning to West End

Upon returning to West End

Making Rum Cake

Making Rum Cake

Happy Birthday!!

Happy Birthday!!

The next day held the promise of sunshine, but cooler temperatures in the low 70s and a continued brisk north wind. We’ll probably spend the day on the beach and at the pool.

Cindy's rope-burned fingers are healing.

Cindy’s rope-burned fingers are healing.