Berry Islands

Hello all

On Jan 30th at about 4 pm, we set sail from West Palm Beach inlet and crossed to Lucaya, Grand Bahamas. The seas were lumpy as usual and we had many encounters with commercial traffic. But, our trusty new AIS receiver gave us the ships name as well as their Closest Point of Approach. This allowed us to radio any ship that was coming too close for comfort. And they would respond immediately. Dawn found us threading between the ships that were sitting off of Freeport. Most registered as Not Under Command or, in other words, just drifting.

By 9 am, we were secured to the fuel dock to get some diesel and clear Customs. Unfortunately, the marina no longer had fuel and they informed us of a $25 charge for clearing Customs. We filled out all of the paperwork and cleared Customs easily. Then Immigration showed up. She informed us that there would be an additional charge of $40 per vessel. By the time we paid the Customs fee of $300 plus the extras, our total was $365 which is about $450 Cdn. Yikes! Amost a full months spending allowance.

Leaving the dock, we started our search for a spot to anchor. The best ones were already taken. Eventually, we tied to a friend’s dock, Klaus and Marion Karn from Germany. Klaus was in the US but Marion, and her friend Ingrid, made us very welcome. Margaret & Steve on Lion’s Paw also tied up there. Both of Klaus and Marion’s large catamarans were in the US for repairs and thus they had lots of space at the dock.

The weather didn’t co-operate and it was over a week before we were able to depart. But, we shared some meals and cocktail hours with the ladies and Murray and Steve did some home repair jobs for them as well. I think that they were sad to see us go.

This past Monday, the 8th, we took the opportunity to sail to Great Stirrup Cay, at the top of the Berry Island chain. Tuesday, the strong winds came back and we hunkered down aboard. Luckily, we had found a nice patch of sand to set our anchor into as the holding there is not the best and the winds were howling through the rigging.

On Wednesday, the wind died slightly and we sailed on south to Devils/Hoffman cays and were anchored again by 1 pm. During the night, our anchor chain hooked on a piece of coral and the boat was sitting sideways to the wind and current, jerking and heeling over to one side. At first, we thought to wait for daylight to fix the situation but, eventually, after many tries, Murray managed to motor ahead far enough that the anchor cleared the coral. The boat fell back onto the anchor chain and lay quietly. Time to sleep!

Yesterday, we took a hike to the Blue Hole and also explored some ruins on Hoffman Cay. Several other vessels were in the anchorage now, so it was time for a beach party. Meeting new sailors, making friends and exchanging information is what makes this life so unique.

Today, we may take the dinghy down to Flo’s Conch Bar on Little Harbour Cay. Clarence Darville, Flo’s son, lives there now and runs a small restaurant. We try to support it whenever we are in the neighbourhood.

And tomorrow the high winds return. It is going to blow and be ugly for the next several days. Hopefully we have enough books aboard to last through all of the nasty stuff this winter. It has been a tough one with a cold front every two or three days. And the temperatures are much cooler than usual – 60’s with wind. Too cold to swim and even too cold for a cockpit shower. I am hoping that there is enough sun today to warm our solar shower bag so that we can smell good for Valentines Day.

That too is life aboard. Hugs from
Heather & Murray

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