We finally got fed up with free wifi and bought some time (for wifi that actually works!)  We’re staying at the Bluff House marina on Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos after crossing over last Friday.  We spent a quiet Thanksgiving day anchored in Lake Worth.  Our friend Joe (Onward) came over for turkey and fixings.  He planned to discuss the weather report but dropped it in the water.  That didn’t stop him from trying to peel the papers apart and read it anyway!
Joe trying to read his weather forecast

Our alarm went off at 4am in preparation for leaving.  I was nervous about the crossing and leaving in the dark.  It’s tricky leaving a crowded anchorage in the dark with about 6 other boats trying to do the same thing.  I was also concerned about the wind which hadn’t turned south yet and was still blowing over 15 knots.  We talked to Joe on the radio and he convinced us to leave and see how it was out there.  If it wasn’t good for crossing, we’d come back.

Somehow we managed to pull up the anchor, dodge boats and day markers, raise and reef the mainsail and head towards the inlet without any problems.  Heading out the tide was coming in the inlet and slowed us down to almost a standstill.  I kept looking at a green buoy that didn’t move at all!  Fighting big rolling waves and going only about 2 knots we finally made it clear of the inlet and set our heading for West End.
Sailing across the gulf stream

Even with the rolling waves subsiding outside the inlet there was no way we could make West End without motoring straight into the wind.  After a quick consult with Joe we decided to head towards Memory Rock (further north) and stop somewhere on the Bahama banks.  Since Joe sails by himself and has no one to take watch, he needs to make a call about longer trips.  He agreed so we turned off and put out the head sail.

We had a great sail once we turned off the wind.  With SE wind around 15 knots we turned the motor off and sailed across the gulf stream.  There’s not a square inch of our boat that didn’t get sprayed with salt water.  I was sitting under the dodger when a wave went over the bow and pushed a sheet of salt water under the dodger and all over me!  I have to say that I never felt seasick this trip.  I think it had a lot to do with making the crossing in daylight.  Even though the waves were around 2-4 feet and we were well heeled over, it felt good.

The wind finally shifted more southward right as we approached the beautiful shallow waters of the Bahamas banks.   We continued to sail until reaching the  anchorage behind Mangrove Cay (really just a small island that gave a little protection from the wind.)  We anchored with about 6 other boats–all Canadians!
Sailing on the Bahama banks

We left right at sunrise on Saturday morning and motor-sailed to Spanish Cay where we tied up at the marina and checked in with customs and immigration.  They were very efficient and gave us a visa for 120 days.  

Spanish Cay Marina
Spanish Cay Marina
We met John and Cathi on Makani at the marina.  He had just “friended” me on Facebook because we have several mutual friends (Slipaway, Coyote and Kanau), most of whom I hadn’t met in person either.    We enjoyed a drink on their lovely cruising boat–a Gozzard 44.  Afterwards, we had dinner at the marina restaurant and turned in early.

Sunday morning we sailed a short way to Green Turtle Cay and docked at Bluff House marina.  They’re having a ‘deal’ where they credit anything you spend at the bar, laundry or restaurant towards your docking fees.  It’s a nice place with very friendly staff, clean restrooms and a fresh water pool.  They’re having a bit of a laundry crisis–only one washer and 4 marginal dryers.  The food here is just okay.

We rented a golf cart on Monday and drove into the main town of New Providence.  The road leading out of here is full of potholes making for a jarring ride until you reach the ‘main’ road that’s paved.  We stopped at the Lizard lounge for lunch.  It’s a small bar above the pool at a new development called Leeward marina.  The fresh fried grouper sandwiches were delicious.  The woman cooking said that she didn’t have fries, only onion rings.  Okay, we said!  We watched her take out fresh onions, slice, batter and fry them–outstanding!

Driving further into town we found most businesses to be closed for lunch.  I managed to find a fresh loaf of Bahamian bread but I never did get into the nice local crafts store.  Of course we had to find Miss Emily’s Blue Bee bar and sample the original Goombay Smash!
Home of the Goombay Smash!

We started back under a darkening sky and quickly found that there’s not much protection from a deluge in a golf cart.  We got soaked and Skip couldn’t see the road so we pulled into the Leeward marina until the rain subsided.

We met some really nice cruisers at the marina.  Dave and Beth on Grateful Attitudes know a lot of the people we know in New Bern.  Bill and Margaret on Margareta remembered us from last year in Exuma Park.  We met Linda and Vince on Fortnight last year in Long Island.  We also met Jeff, Anne and Trish on C’est la Vie who came here directly from North Carolina on a Morgan 34 (much braver than me!)  They needed fuel so we sold them our 15 gallons of diesel that we keep on deck. We can get some more when the fuel tanker arrives later this week. Our boat neighbors on Odyssey desperately want to make friends with Bailey and keep feeding him cheese (hope they don’t run out!)

Yesterday we walked over to the Green Turtle Club for lunch. The food was much better there. The conch chowder was excellent. We checked out the bar that’s covered with dollar bills.
Green Turtle Club

We discussed leaving today as the weather was calm before the next front (which is coming through now) but Joe couldn’t leave until after noon when the tide was higher.  We were sitting by the pool relaxing and the more we discussed it the lazier we felt.  We decided to stay a few more days.  After all, we’re here and there’s no rush!
Bluff House Pool

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