Sailing Logs | March 2020 | Part 2


We stayed at The Old Bahama Bay Marina at West End today. We left the customs dock and anchored just outside of the canal to run our water maker. Once our water tanks were full,
we came back in and pulled in to our slip. Our slip neighbors, Matt and Lucy, who also arrived the day before, helped us with our lines. We took the dinghy outside of the canal, in to the ocean, and found some spots with small rock shelves to dive. We looked for lobster and fish to pole spear, though had no luck with either. We saw beautiful leafy coral, lion fish, a sting ray, and an array of gorgeous fish. That evening we chatted with our other slip neighbors from Canada, while sitting on our respective boats. The marinas bread lady came by with a cart and we bought still warm and delicious banana bread and coconut bread. Ronnie, a man from the office, was kind enough to grab us two SIM cards while he was in Freeport, and brought them to us at our boat.


We woke up and got some last minute shots of the marina and planned our day out for our sail to Lucaya. We officially met the neighbors on the other side of us, Matt and Lucy, and talked briefly. Coincidentally, they were also headed to Lucaya. Brian and I left West End and sailed south. I hoisted the head sail and was at the helm all day. We passed three cruise ships that were anchored outside of Freeport, by the oil rigs, either waiting to be cleared to come in (unlikely), or actually had positive covid19 cases on board (neither of which we know for sure). Brian tried fishing off the side of the boat, but with no luck. We pulled in to Lucaya and found a perfect anchorage in front of the resort, just to the left of the inlet entrance. Matt and Lucy were not far behind, and anchored deeper inside the canals. We later dinghied to them to say hello. We had a few drinks and shared great laughs and conversation, and left just before sunset. That evening I sat on the bow listening to the sounds of a soothing bird before falling asleep.




Matt and Lucy came by on their dinghy to ask if we wanted to go to the Soloman’s grocery store with them. We declined their tempting offer because we were getting so much productive work done that morning. Not long after, while sitting in the main cabin, we heard a shouted “Captain!!” I ran to the deck to find a local man on a small boat, practically touching our stern. “Give me the captain!”, he shouts. There were others on the bow of his boat, tourists it looked like, who were awkwardly smirking. Brian comes out to inspect. “You can’t anchor here, it’s dangerous, there’s sewage lines, we gave you one night, one night!, we didn’t harass you, but you’re still here, you can’t be here, you must leave, the signs say no anchoring, you’re still here!!!…”, the absolute aggressive behavior was shocking, and we could hardly get a word in as he wasn’t pausing for breaths between his own words. Brian says “our charts showed this as an optional anchorage, where are the signs?” The man replies, “do you think I’m lying?! Get in my boat! I will take you to the sign!” During the confrontation, we noticed his boat was from the Grand Bahama Yacht Club, a marina within the canal. Brian gets on the mans boat. “Are you coming?” the man says to me. “Absolutely not!”, I replied. “Then I hope you can handle your boat.” “I can!” The boat takes Brian up to the sea wall, where apparently there was a small sign, with small writing, pointing in the opposite direction, making it completely impossible for a cruiser intending to anchor to see. I continued to hear the aggressive voice echoing over the water and its unsettling laughter. Eventually, the man brings Brian back, but to the side of the boat instead of the back transom, where Brian had to hoist himself up over the life lines. He tells me they are forcing us to either leave the canal, or stay in a marina. The man leaves, and we pick up the anchor. We stay at a nearby marina, and purposefully not the Grand Bahama Yacht Club. The evening’s marina was just around the corner. We thought of anchoring by Matt and Lucy further down the canal, but we did not want to risk being seen passing to their spot and having them be kicked out of their anchorage as well. We pulled in to a slip at Port Lucaya Marina, and met the neighbor on the Oyster sailboat next to us who was waiting for a weather window to go back to the states. The marina was attached to a very large outdoor mall, filled with trinket shops, bars and restaurants, no doubt a spot for cruise ship passengers. We dinghied to Matt and Lucy to tell them the news, and then made our own one mile trek that evening to the grocery store and gather more food. The store was surprisingly large, and well stocked. We bought as much as we could carry and made our way back to the boat. That night the port’s market blasted club music all night, which we found slightly more obnoxious as the night dragged on, like a close dorm room party you didn’t want to be invited to.


It was a very productive day. I worked on an article recounting the boat yard days, and Brian made a lot of progress on a video. We got a text from Matt and Lucy informing us to check the news. A covid19 case had been reported in Nassau. The Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Dr. Hubert Minnis, declared the islands were to be under a 9PM curfew, there was to be no reporting to non-essential work, no groups of ten or more, and to not leave your house unless for essential purposes. We saw hardly any movement at the marina all day, except for those who had a boat on the dock. No one picked up in the office when we hailed them on the VHF. That evening, a boat full of young men, which we suspected to be a treasure hunting boat, made a startling midnight screaming match. The energy of Lucaya was changing, and there was no music that night.


I finished my article and sent it in to a sailing magazine. This was my first time ever submitting an article, and I was very excited. Brian continued to do great work on his video. The marketplace at the docks were quiet and deserted. Again, no one answered the VHF when we hailed the marina office. Our neighbor, in the Oyster sailboat, tried to leave the docks to go to a restaurant and a security guard would not even let him leave the marina gate. The treasure hunting neighbors left the docks, but not before shouting “fuck you, coronavirus!” to the oblivion. We weren’t sure what our plans would be with what was happening, and even more confused as to how the new order effects us. We decided to stay one more day at the marina before anchoring out near Matt and Lucy, where we planned to continue to watch any covid19 developments.


We spent the morning working on the narration audio for the videos. The Oyster neighbors left for the states before we woke up. Again no one answered our VHF hailing, and we never saw anyone else at the marina, or at the port’s shopping areas. We left the docks around 3PM and anchored near Matt and Lucy. It was past the Grand Bahama Yacht Club, which we held our breath while passing, and around the corner to the right. A small round anchorage, surrounded by a rock wall and puffy Bahamian trees. There were a few townhomes, but far enough off to not feel like you anchored in someones backyard.


The anchorage is a perfect spot! We spent the day working on our projects. We saw a man “lobstering” in the area, snorkeling the walls in a wet suit with a cooler in tow, so we later tried ourselves (minus the floating cooler). We did see lobster, but they were just babies. Four sailboats flying the Canadian flag came in and anchored farther down the canal. One sailboat with a Norway flag came in to our anchorage and dropped anchor much too close to Matt and Lucy, and butted right against the sea wall – were a north wind to come, they would surely crash in to it. The coronavirus continues to be a scary, ever-evolving pandemic. We’re not sure as cruisers what to do – many visiting Bahama cruisers are unsure – and it seems the vast majority are already going back to the states. We’ve decided to continue with our plan, respectfully and cautiously, to go south to the Berry Islands when the wind is right. In times like this we need to be very careful about our fuel consumption.


Another morning spent working on our projects. We’ve begun to create a schedule for ourselves these last few days in order to stay productive. First, coffee and breakfast, then personal project work until lunch time, where we break and eat. Then we wrap up our work for the day and the remainder is free time. After our projects, we did some major house cleaning and organization. We have a rule of not wasting food, but our sausage that smelled like fish had to go. We tossed it overboard and the fifty plus seagulls had a FIELD DAY! More Canadian flagged boats anchored down the canal, along with a few American. The Norwegians rode their dinghy to our boat today. They are an older couple, perhaps in their late 70’s, strong and weathered. They questioned how long we would be on our hook for. They, somehow kindly, passive aggressively informed us the spot we were anchored in is their usual anchorage spot, and that some time ago they were just where we are for an entire month, and it had the best holding. At 7PM the Prime Minister made an announcement with an updated order. There is now a 24 hour curfew, no inter-island transit, no leaving your house unless for essential gatherings and for essential items (in which all essential businesses have strict guidelines of how many people can be in a building together at one time). The Prime Minister says visitors and Bahamians did not take the first order seriously enough, and The Bahamas cannot afford to loose 800 people in a day. Their coronavirus case count is slowly increasing in Nassau. For the time being, we will stay put in our anchorage until an update to the order has been made on March 31st. Matt and Lucy are still here as well.


Another morning spent working on projects. The previous days Canadian sailboats left that morning, to which I assume back to Canada. We went for another try to find some lobster in the rocky wall at the anchorage, but again no luck. We briefly saw and spoke with Matt and Lucy as we were swimming in the water. They are planning to leave soon, heading to Beaufort, North Carolina and then to Chesapeake Bay. Considering the worlds situation, we are interested in the idea. A few more Canadian boats anchored down in the canal. The Norwegians came by again and kindly harassed us on how much longer we would be in “their spot”, circling our boat in their dinghy until the conversation became silent and awkward. Close to evening, another small sailboat came to the anchorage, making for some very cramped quarters!


Matt and Lucy re-anchored in the adjacent bay. Whether it was due to the new sailboat or the crazy close Norwegians, I’m not sure. Funny enough, the Norwegians took their spot almost immediately. Brian and I spent the day filming our first YouTube video, which we had fun with. More sailboats continue to anchor overnight, just to leave the next morning, heading back to their respective homes.


Matt and Lucy left for their trip back to the states. The Norwegians came up to our boat and asked about how much longer we would be in the anchorage in general. Their glaring faces looking up at us, contemplating their stealing of the entire anchorage’s real estate to have the swing, and we think to potentially spend their time on deck in the nude instead of their underwear. Their sailboat is quiet large, a 53 footer, and a mast with three spreaders. We continued working on our video, though we ended up happily drowning the afternoon away with whiskey once we made amends after a trivial and tense fiasco over a “you said this, and I did that” filming disagreement. By evening, I went for a swim as the sunset. The man on the smaller newly anchored boat was at the bow and we three began to chat. He was from the Chesapeake Bay and said it was well worth the trip to go, even if just to see the wooded canals and never go in to the towns. We are heavily considering the change of plans.


MARCH 27TH, 2020 – – – VIDEO WRAP UP
We spent the entire day wrapping up the video. The small boat and the Norwegians have both gone, and we now have the anchorage all to ourselves. We had a lot of fun today, drank a bottle of champagne, and my bum got burnt!


Brian worked on editing the video and I spent what felt like hours in the kitchen cleaning up after the past few busy days of filming. We took the dinghy out in the afternoon to the ocean to see if we could find food in the reef closest to the channel. The waves in the ocean were high and rough, and by the end of the day the dinghy was flooded from barreling through them. No luck finding anything to eat, it was a fish desert. It was also discovered that I cannot pull the roller on my brand new pole spear more than halfway up the pole. Until I can order a Hawaiian sling, Brian will be the pole spear master. Once we returned to the boat, we did a small batch of laundry, and hung the clothes in the sun to dry. That evening we realized the release for the pole spear was missing, most likely lost in the ocean, and we made a makeshift one out of a clip I spotted on the bear pepper spray can. The Norwegians also snuck back in to the anchorage while we were at the reef.


The coronavirus news is becoming surreal. Our downtime these days is spent reading of its happenings around the world. Our plans for sailing seem to change almost everyday. Will we continue through the Bahamas? Will we go back to Florida? Will we go to the Chesapeake? Will we still try to get through Panama? The Bahamian government has updated its 24 hour curfew order with now essential stores only to be open from 9AM to 1PM, and grocery stores to be open to people by last names only on specific days. Grand Bahama, the island we are currently on, now has a few confirmed cases, non being related to recent travel. We ran our water maker and filled up our water tanks today. During it, as we switched to fill the aft tank, Brian accidentally switched the wrong thru valve and the water pressure in the lines blew a hose off the A/C unit. Water went everywhere, so we spent an hour cleaning it up and drying it out with the fan. We then went for a dive in the anchorage. Brian was on a mission to find a fish or a lobster. I spotted a schoolmaster snapper, but it was too small. We were, again, not lucky with our fishing.


I made breakfast and then spent the morning killing flies. Yesterdays morning bacon drew them in and it’s been an annoyance ever since. After breakfast, Brian set out to the Grand Bahama Yacht Club, our marina nemesis, with an empty fuel can and propane tank, to ask about how he could fuel up. He came back just ten minutes later, telling me as he neared the dock, the man in the office spotted him and headed straight for his bike, which he got on and quickly pedaled away (a real wicked witch of the west move). He went further down the canal to the Port Lucaya Marina, where we previously docked, to find a sign on the office door saying “temporarily closed”. Around noon we took the dinghy to a new reef spot farther out in the ocean. It was beautiful! Big, colorful coral and rock shelves. Brian held the spear, and I hunted with my eyes, periodically telling him of spots with potential. All kinds of fish! Angelfish, snappers, grunts, jacks – all beautiful! I became good at spotting conch shells, but no one was ever home. After an hour or so of trying to find a suitably sized fish, we got back in the dinghy and tried a few other spots with no luck. All of the reefs there were “nurseries”, we called them, all filled with baby fish. During our reef time, I dove to grab a conch I spotted under a rock shelf. I saw a seemingly small fish inside but far enough away from the conch that I payed no mind. I reached inside and as I touched the shell a fat cute puffer fish emerged in to view. His mouth, round and wide, and his eyes were bulging. He slowly got rounder and it startled me! I drove us back in through the channel, and to the boat. Brian dove in the anchorage and came back with… a lobster!! I made a buttered caper meal with the meat, and we ate well!


All day was spent working on our projects. Brian had planned on leaving early and walking to Freeport to fill up our propane tanks – but the walk would take all day, over eight hours, and we decided against it. Public transportation is not running, and cabs are not picking up anyone either. We tried calling Grand Bahama Yacht Club to see if we could pay anyone to fill our propane for us, but no one is helpful. It seems as though our presence is not welcomed and, in some ways, I could understand. We let out more scope in our anchor to prepare for the front that is to hit us late this evening; predicted 20+ knot winds from the north. We are planning on making an extensive grocery trip within the next few days, and once the front passes fully, we are heavily considering starting to make our way back to the states. Too many people are writing in forums that the government and defense force are not taking lightly to cruisers continuing on for pleasure. Since we don’t know how long this is going to last, we can’t seem to get our propane tanks filled (which we need to cook), and we don’t want to wait in the same anchorage for another month of prolonged updates, we want to move along and become fluid with a new sailing plan.

  1. Dennis
    | Reply

    Good, tightly written narrative. Enjoyed reading about your adventures.

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