Apr 15, 201309:37 AM
Swing Set: Cruising Full Time
Port Lucaya on Grand Bahama
We prepared ourselves and the boat on Saturday for a planned departure from Bimini Sands Marina on Sunday morning. I went to the dockmaster's office on Saturday to pay for the last night we were to be there and was told to wait until morning, someone would be in the office before 7 a.m. We roasted some chicken for our last Bimini meal and added some local seafood to the menu as well. Illegal local seafood. Hey, a guy was selling some "summer crabs" at the dock. If we didn't buy four of them, someone else would.
By 7:20 Sunday morning, I was still waiting for Donnie to show up and burning daylight. The wind was due to pick up in the area we planned to travel to by late afternoon, and I wanted to be gone. I left a note on the counter telling them to charge our credit card and we cast off. I called on the VHF on the way out and finally got in touch with the person who'd promised to be in the office before 7. Donnie said there'd be no problem with them just charging our card. We'll be checking.
There were light winds and some waves as we made our way up the North Bimini coast. By the time we were an hour out and just past the Northern Rock, we were being tossed side to side on a beam sea and the ride was uncomfortable. I tried a turn to the east to head into the waves and wind and quickly realized that heading to the Berry Islands to the east like we'd originally planned was a bad idea. The wind started blowing waves over the top of the boat and soaking us. I turned back to the northeast, and we figured we'd stick it out.
As we left the Bahama Bank and into the Northwest Channel, and into much deeper water, the waves got bigger but further apart and the ride became tolerable, but just tolerable. One comforting thing was that in our 60-plus mile crossing we saw plenty of ship and boat traffic. We didn't feel like we were all alone. I used our Spot device to send a couple of "We're OK" messages to those on the list. I hope they care.
We sighted a huge tanker sitting outside of Freeport Harbor about 30 miles from the coast, and then we saw land at the expected 20 miles out. We took a turn more to the east and followed the Bell Small Boat Channel to the Bell Channel Inlet, pictured above, into Port Lucaya.
Old Bahama Bay Marina looked deserted, and we had read that they no longer had fuel, so we turned to our port and found the Port Lucaya Marina and pulled in to top off our tanks. We took on 69 gallons at a very reasonable price of $5.55 per gallon. The rent at the marina is a bit steep, twice as much per foot as Bimini Sands, but electric is metered and water is a flat rate of $10 per day for all you want. After a tiring crossing, plus a desire to wash down the boat, we signed up for one night.
We were tucked in behind a big Ocean Alexander and just across from a big Hatteras Convertible fishing rig. We had rich company while we washed the salt from our own boat. Another Sea Ray pulled in while we were finishing up, and they had a little Yorkie aboard. Turns out the girl wanted to finish a hair cut that she had started, but forgot to bring her dog clippers. We loaned her Holly's clippers so she could finish the job.
You can see part of Port Lucaya in the background of the picture above, and even the local Pizza Hut. This part of the Bahamas has more of a "Disneyland" look to it. The little bar/restaurant village was built just for tourists and is probably not indicative of the real Port Lucaya, but we were tired and hungry, and just before sunset, we gathered up Holly and took a walk into "town."
Coronas and Miller Lites were offered up at Rumrunners at two for $5. A good deal here. We struck up a conversation with a local who scooted down to another bar stool to give us room to sit, plus we met some other folks from the U.S. and Canada, down here on vacation. One girl asked us where she could find the "real" Bahamas. We said we intended to find out soon.
Holly looks like she is about to fall asleep on her feet, but was really just blinking from the flash. She actually behaved well at the bar and made some friends. She dismissed a couple of shady characters in her typical way, but overall, was fairly accepting of all who came by to pet her. We think she may be elitist.
After a couple of beers and walk around, we stopped by Pizza Hut and got a pizza to go.
WiFi service is very good here, therefore the blog tonight. In the morning, I need to check engine oil and coolant levels. I'm going to clean out the sea strainers, particularly the starboard one, because that engine was running hotter than the port engine on the way over. I hope it's not the raw water impeller, but if it is, the one on the starboard engine is easiest to replace and I have spares.
By mid-day, we should be heading up the Grand Lucayan Waterway the divides the island in two. We should be able to get back on the hook as the north side of Grand Bahama is filled with lots of bays and cays, offering plenty of protection from wind and waves coming from any direction. We'll be in the Abacos by mid-week, but then again, maybe not.