Saturday, 14 April 2012

I saw Nassau

I saw Nassau

We arrived in Nassau after a lovely sail... That's right a sail! The prevailing easterlies let up and we had a nice broad reach to Nassau. It sure was a delight to turn the motor off and sail 5 to 7 knots in 10 to 15 knots of breeze with 3ft swells on your stern. We arrived in Nassau Harbour where you must get clearance to enter and leave. So all governments waste money. We went past the monster cruise ships, and saw the shallow anchorage. We went under the first bridge and saw a fuel dock. The current was going probably 3 knots, and we had put the bumpers and ropes on the wrong side.  So after our first attempt and being nearly pushed into the second bridge, we switched sides and let the current push us into the dock. A pretty tricky maneuver.

After that escapade as well as reading that the holding ground was littered with garbage, we decided to stay at one of the cheaper, and popular amoung cruisers marinas, Nassau Yacht Haven. It was worth it, we managed to sleep and get lots done in town. Except find half decent wifi... Sorry.

After we tied up, and considering how the current pushed us into our slip we concluded it would be a smart idea to put bumpers out if the marina needed to put a boat in the slip beside us. The forces that be (wind and current) were going to push the lucky boat into us during there docking attempt. The lucky boat ended up being a 47 ft Benateu full of not so friendly french Canadians. We heard the boat fast approaching and Dave grabbed the only available bumper which was the tiny blue dingy bumper, and I worked as fast as I could to untie the big bumper which was a foot shy of the major impact zone. The captain looked at us as if we were crazy. Then out of no where the tide and current grabbed him, the Captains panic set in. No one on the Benateu was prepared to fender us off. One woman sat oblivious to the events unfolding with her book in hand, the others just watched. The Benateu's stern collided with Dave's perfectly placed blue bumper and our radar post. After the impact one of the women attempted to push us off to no avail and the captain struggled to control the impact he was about to have with the dock. When it was all said and done the Captain's arrogance remained in tact with barley an acknowledgement of the crash or follow up to make sure no damage was done to our boat. All I can say is I am happy that we own an old solid boat that is able to effortlessly bounce the new 47 foot boats off her side.

After all the excitement we went exploring. We ended up under the Bridge where we found all these cool little fish fry stands, and small vendors selling fruits and vegetables. We went to Raquel and James' Seafood Haven, where we met Raquel the woman who ran the stand. As with most Bahamiens she was a little stand offish at first, but eventually she warmed up and fell in love with Jennie. It's a strong woman thing. All the guys loitering around called her the boss lady. She gave us her story about her boys and Hondurian step daughter who just got her Bahamien residency. Her husband tied his boat out back and would go fishing while Raquel would man the store front. We had amazing conch fritters for $3. Then we went back to the boat.

The next day we walked a ton. We went to downtown, which is a cruise ship stop. It was full of over weight north Americans wearing drinking shirts from token tropical bars and doning bright red sunburns, and Europeans smoking and coughing in everyone's face. We went to the RBC bank to see if we could use their phone to get our north American RBC cards working, the first told us to go to another branch, and that branch told us their phones don't dial out. I was outside with the dog (where as in Canada the banks have dog treats) waiting or else I would have asked how they contacted the police when they get robbed. Or how they phone their clients to up sell them in on something they don't need?  Banks suck.

Next we stopped off at the post office, then we got more fritters, and took Dex back to the boat. Our feet were pretty sore, but we decided to check out Atlantis. What a waste of time. It cost $150 per person to use the water park and see the attractions, for a day. If you do want to do that, just stay at their marina at $4 a foot and get unlimited access. So we went to the grocery store instead. Prices weren't much different from what we are use to in Canada, maybe a bit more than the US though.

We ate a delicious meal of fresh Mahi Mahi and amazing mango slices. Then we went to do 4 weeks of laundry. To save money, we wash them and let them air dry while we sail. We kind of look like a human trafficking boat, luckily there are no authorities to pull us over here.

As laundry was finishing, I happened to look under the sink and notice our water filter hose was leaking. A stainless steel braided sink faucet hose... Water and metal will always rust, these hoses were a bad idea. Frustratingly we lacked a replacement. I haywired in a hose that was smaller, by heating up the ends with a lighter, but 3/8 pipe does not like to fit over 1/2 inch fittings. One more thing to find in Nassau.

The next morning we woke up and walked all over town to two marine stores and two plumbing stores to find a replacement. We finally found some half inch tubing and some hose clamps. Then we went to try to find wifi.... Again.

At the gas station we found wifi and our friends from Free Falling (the young cruisers destined for The Dominican). They had anchored, but with a 4.5 ft draft that is pretty straight forward in these parts. We chatted, and they might show up in Allan's Cay tomorrow.

Before leaving I talked a charter boat captain from Quebec. He gave me advice on the trip down to the Exumas and how to get out of the harbour safely. All the guide books say that the yellow bank that lies between Nassau and the Exumas is 6ft at the shallowest point. Plus the bottom is cover with massive coral heads. He said we will have lots of water, and he takes a 6.5 ft draft boat across all the time. Good enough for me. Actually charter boat captains are the only ones who take deep draft sailboats repeatedly through waters and are probably the best to ask for "local knowledge", it's the un-captained bareboats to watch out for.

 If your looking for a relaxing paradise you will not find it in Nassau. It was not as bad as the books say, unless you are on Paradise Island in a chotchy hotel packed into busses and tour boats with other sweaty sunburnt people, or nursing a hangover or food poisoning from a cruise ship. The people were nice, women probably would feel uncomfortable walking around alone. The thing about Nassau is its like every other major city, except they love honking their horns and yelling at each other while they speed around in their cars. Also don't expect the person you ask for directions to know, even if they are local, I can't count how many people we asked where a grocery store was. Plus they need to clean up their harbour (well all the islands need to clean up the garbage). I remember someone telling me that in the Bahamas you can see a beer bottle twenty feet down in the water. I thought the comment was a little cynical until I saw Nassau harbour, all the ocean floor is littered with garbage and empties in crystal clear water.

By David & Jennie

Shot through 30 ft of water

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