Nassau, Bahamas to Warderick Wells
01 February 2005
Nassau Yacht Haven Marina, Nassau, Bahamas.
We had a nice walk and bus ride around town; Brent and Jane and I. Then Brent and I had a couple beers and dinghied around looking for an anchorage. We plan on leaving the marina soon and need someplace to drop the hook. We saw s/v Betty Ann and stopped to say ‘hi.' They were next to us at the Chub anchorage. We talked with Phil and Kerstin for about half an hour because they were kind enough to give us a beer. And when someone is handing out beers, we stay and talk. Then we cruised around a little more before coming back and having diner here on Galena. Jane had made a great dinner and we had beer and cake. Then we played cards till about 2000 hrs and called it a night.
02 February 2005
I met Pete from s/v Gemini. We had seen him months ago in the Dismal Swamp, then again a couple of times elsewhere on the ICW. Now he's here in the marina in Nassau. He has a marina (Cole Point Plantation) on the Potomac River and invited me up for a couple of days on the way back. I may take him up on that. Very interesting guy; ex-Navy. He's been sailing around here for years.
03 February 2005
Jane and I did a little grocery shopping. That is: Jane shopped and I pushed the cart. We cleared out of the marina and motored out into the harbor to anchor at N25-04.7 W077-18.5. That's all of about half a mile from the marina and a hundred feet behind s/v “Betty Ann.” We've dropped two anchors, one up-current and one down-current.
But we ended up being in the deep water of the Eastern channel. Although it's not marked, the big inter-island ferries and freighters run through that deep water as they leave Nassau to the east. I should have known something was wrong when we dropped the anchor in 20 feet of water. But what really drove the point home was when these very large ships started passing within 30 feet of us… at speed! But it was getting dark, so we spent an anxious night waiting to be run down. First light, we'll move.
We also watched as the Royal Bahamian Defense Force boarded a small sailboat just west of us. After they had left we talked with John (s/v Voyager) and he said they were very nice, but they closely inspected his papers and went through some of his stuff. It was just a courtesy inspection.
04 February 2005
Nassau Harbor Anchorage
We have moved. Just a few hundred yards west and north. Now we're close to shore and in 9 feet of water. The big boats are now a good 200 feet away when they go by. Some other people have
The middle of Nassau Harbor.
Nassau Yacht Haven is lower left and our anchorage is upper right.
We visited the Atlantis Resort today. I dropped way too much money at the craps table. Brent came out over a hundred ahead from the blackjack table. They have a very cool aquarium there.
The aquarium is the blue windows along the bottom of the picture
From there we went to a bar downtown Nassau named Senior Frog for drinks, then to the Cracked Conch for dinner. Then to a small Bahamian bar for more drinks. All in all a nice day on the town.
Looks like Jane is not quite big enough to drink at Senior Froggy's bar.
One of the many “Booze & Cruise” tourist boats that went by our anchorage several times a day
05 February 2005
Nassau Harbor Anchorage
Just a quiet day at anchor and walking around town.
Building in Nassau.
Back street in Nassau
Riding the bus in Nassau
07 February 2005
Nassau Harbor Anchorage
Checked the fuel tanks. We're at 24 gal (stbd) and 32 gal (port) plus the 15 gal on deck in jerry cans. I'll put the jerry can fuel into the main tanks (that's the last of the Stateside fuel) and refill the jerry cans with the local stuff. I should not need to put it in my tanks. From here to Georgetown and back to Miami is only 400 miles. I have enough fuel in my main tanks to go about 500. So I could motor all the way and not need to use the local fuel.
Tom (s/v Missa Giai) had an encounter with the locals the other night. These locals have the old Bahamian boats with the huge lateen sail with booms that hang way out to the side when running downwind. They also come and go all night with no lights, no engines, and no sound. Tom awoke to a crash in the middle of the night and found one of these boats had let its main boom rake his boat (he was anchored with the other 5 of us). The major damage was that it shattered two of the blades on his wind generator. There's no recourse, of course. The local boat didn't stop and couldn't be identified. RBDF was escorting them out of the harbor when it happened but they wouldn't respond to radio calls, even though Tom thinks they were aware of what happened. Now he's running the engine to make electricity while waiting for new blades. Tom has his wife and two children with him and they need things like refrigeration. So he has to have generation capabilities.
On the beach: “Just for you… Half-price… only today.”
08 February 2005
Nassau Harbor Anchorage
Cajynn II is going to Rose Island for a day or so. He has a friend (Eric) visiting from Texas and they want to do some serious snorkeling. But the weather is too cold for Jane to go in, and we're in such a good spot, and the anchors are set so well, that I just don't want to move. Reminds me of the song that goes: “…some folks go sailing, I go anchoring.”
Kabuki left this morning, along with a bunch of other boats. She's heading for Allan's Cay, as are we. But we're waiting for that package. Maybe we'll catch up with them down the road.
Jane took the dinghy for a little joy ride today. First time she's done that by herself. She was looking very cool zooming around this little cove. When I said that she said, “So, did you take any pictures?” Of course I hadn't. I'm not very good at reacting those Kodak moments.
I took a couple of sun sights with the sextant this morning and fixed our position to within 2-miles of where the GPS said we were. Two-mile accuracy is the best I've done with that sextant. Of course the GPS was saying it had us fixed to within 6 feet.
Still no sight of the package the Michelle mailed.
A very large ferry maneuvered between us and the shore. He was going to lift a crane off a barge moored there. They worked their way in between us and the shore very skillfully. Then said we had to move so they could come straight out. They are bigger than us, so we moved a couple hundred feet to the east. We dropped just one anchor, thinking the ship would leave and we could go back to our good spot. But as the sun began to set we realized that we were there for the night. So we tried to set a second anchor. But we were too close to s/v Missa Giai. So we hauled both anchors and started over again. This time we were too close to the shore (there was a chance of a southern wind later and we wanted room to swing, even on two anchors). The third time we looked OK and I dove them both to ensure they were set.
Island ferry coming in to take the crane off the barge
Now all that happened on a day when Jane and I were sitting around drinking wine and rum all day. Neither of us were in the best of shape to be moving the boat. But stuff happens and you have to deal with it.
I am reading Treasure Island for the first time. Good book
09 February 2005
Nassau Harbor Anchorage
Still no package.
I finished “Treasure Island.” Started “Interview with the Vampire.” Actually, I've read about 8 books so far. I'm starting to catch up with all those “I should read that some day” books.
Bill and Jane in a bar in Nassau
And Brent, too.
10 February 2005
Nassau Harbor Anchorage
I finally did the fuel thing. That is, I put the fuel from the deck cans into the main tanks. We now have two full main tanks (35 gal each) and I'll be filling up the deck jerry cans when we go into the marina tomorrow or the next day.
Still no package.
The throttle lever is loose again. I'll have to tighten that up before we move tomorrow.
The winds are down to less than 5 kts and the sun is shining. It's very warm and is one of those “this is what it's all about” days.
11 February 2005
Nassau Harbor Anchorage
The cold front came through last night. The winds went from almost nothing to 25 kts, and the temp tonight is 66 degrees; and that's cold for these parts.
Brent and Bill during a rather cool night of drinking on Galena
We were going to head back into the marina to re-supply and get cleaned up. We were going to do that at slack tide in the morning (0848 hrs). But the wind was still howling. Then we were going to wait till the afternoon slack tide (1500 hrs). But with the cold, the wind, the gray skies Jane is depressed with being stuck here on the boat. So about 1300 hrs, I hauled up the anchors and we heading into the marina. Because of the weather they were just about full. I had to do circles in the harbor while they walked around looking for a vacant slip for me. They found one. But it was way back in a corner of the marina. The guy says, “Hey, Captain. We're a low water so you'll have to be very careful coming into this slip.” He said, “Make the turn to starboard really wide, then the turn to port really tight, then the next turn to port really, really tight. Then the turn into the slip. The wind was pushing me north, the current was pushing me west. But the guy on the dock was very supportive. “You can do it, Captain. Nice and slow. A little more to starboard,” Etc. As I backed down hard to stop Galena right in the middle of the slip he says “You've been doing this for some time, haven't you? As smooth as a hand into a glove” he says. I was standing there with a huge shit-eating grin thinking “Man was I lucky on that one.” But his appreciation of the effort makes it all worthwhile.
The Package Arrived.
Jane took a shower and I tried to make Galena look presentable. A week at anchor will take its toll. We hopped on the bus to go the post office. Now, I hadn't seen the web site where Michelle said she had included Shirley Street in the address, so I just went to the main post office. There was, again, no package. Now I'm bummed. Another weekend in Nassau. Jane talked with Michelle on the phone and found out about the address. We hopped on another bus to go back to the Shirley Street branch (near the docks). It was 45 minutes till closing time. We made it to find that, yes, a package was waiting for us…. at the main post office. We were given a slip of paper that we had to take to the basement of the main post office in downtown Nassau; the place we had just come from. We had 30 minutes. We went outside to look for a bus. None in sight. We waited a few minutes. Finally a taxi came by and said he would take us there for $7. We made it and the package was presented to us. I had to open it in front of them. All they were interested in was to see that there was a copy of the Temporary Cruising Permit inside.
Now we can leave. But the weather is saying we have to wait till Monday or Tuesday for a favorable wind.
We'll be heading down to Allan's or maybe the next island south (Highborne Cay). Cajynn II wants to travel with us.
12 February 2005
Nassau Harbor Anchorage
Jane went shopping and I stayed on Galena all day and drank. I met a guy who has the Molds for the WS32. He's also the guy who sold the Westsail to Walter Cronkite.
Brent came over about 1700 and Jane made sloppy joes.
We were jammin' to tunes on deck and could be heard all over the marina. Ron (“Samana”) stopped by. He thought he was hearing an American bar downtown and was surprised to find just us. We invited him to join us. He went back to get his drink and brought his wife, Mercedes, with him. She's the real sailor of the two; and much better looking.
We finally made it to the Exumas.
We (Cajynn II and Galena) motor-sailed out of Nassau this morning at about 0930. We were aiming for Allan's Cay, and were on a direct route. But the wind was from about 85 degrees and that was just too close for us to sail, so we motor-sailed. We went through The Yellow Banks without incident. We could plainly see the coral heads. We were concerned that we wouldn't be able to distinguish them from the grassy spots, but there was no mistaking the heads. There were four boats together as we went through the field (which took about an hour of sailing time) and each boat had someone on the bow watching and directing the helmsman. Three of the boats were following Galena, as if we knew what we were doing.
Galena leaving Nassau Harbor with Jane on the bowsprit taking pictures
But just after clearing The Yellow Banks, we decided to change plans (and course) and head to Highborne Cay, instead. The 5 degree shift in course allowed us to move under sail power alone so the engine went off. By 1500 hrs we were in 15 kts of wind, sailing with jib, staysail, and reefed main making 6 kts.
Nassau to Highborn Cay (37 nm)
Jane was at the helm for all but the last half hour of this trip. Then the heat and the increasing weather-helm tired her out and I took over the helm.
This was also the first time we sailed in warm, sunny weather and somewhat alone, so I was sailing in the nude and Jane went topless.
We heard from m/v Sailor (who was at Allans) and s/v Kabuki (at Normans) They were talking on the radio to someone else and we just had to butt-in and say ‘hi.'
We decided to go to s/v Cajynn II for dinner.
16 February 2005
Just got the weather report from Chris (4045 kHz). Looks like light E-NE all day. That means we wont have to move as we had feared we would. We're on the west side of the island and any wind with a strong westerly component might make this spot a little rough. There are about 8 other boats here with us. There is a marina in the cove and it's about full. There are a lot of very big yachts around here.
Recap. The last few days at Nassau were both boring and hectic. Boring in that where was nothing new to do. Hectic in that there was stuff we COULD do (shopping, laundry, etc) so we HAD to do them.
I felt bad about ignoring m/v Sailor. We'll have to spend some time with them later down the road.
Now we're finally at our destination. Now we have nowhere else we have to get to. We're in the Exumas and we can relax. It has taken 3 ½ months to get here and we have only 2 months left to explore. I really want to hit just a few islands.
I just want to see Norman, Warderick Wells, Staniel, Sampson, and Georgetown to have a complete and successful cruise.
And the sail down here from Nassau:
We keep smelling “holding tank” odor in the cockpit. As when you flush the head and air blows out the tank vent. I went below looking for a leak, or at least an explanation.
Finally we found that on port tack, with some chop running, there is sufficient water pressure pumping up and down on the holding tank discharge through-hull to push sea water into the tank past the waste pump. We switched the Y-valve from overboard discharge to through-deck pump out and the odor stopped.
Brent, Jane, and I dinghied over to Allan's Cay today. Jane fed the giant iguanas. We stopped by to talk with m/v Sailor for a minute and then went snorkeling.
Me doing absolutely nothing and loving it
We plan on trying our hand at cracking conch tomorrow.
17 February 2005
Called by Kabuki at Norman's Cay. They had found water in a cistern that was potable. It's in a building behind some construction trailers. You need a bucket to lift it out and it's a little yellow, but it tastes OK.
They said Wandering Albatross is back at Norman's, just to get water.
We spent the evening drunk with Brent.
It was a windless night, and so far, another sunny, warm (hot actually) windless day.
We're planning on motoring over to Normans cay to have a change of scenery.
There's been so little wind, our anchor is only 20 feet away from us off the starboard beam and the chain is in a big, 100-foot loop.
I had dropped a spoon overboard last night and had to dive for it this morning. While down there, I found I had also dropped a fork.
While in the water, I scrubbed the hull down almost to the keel. There was a lot of grass and fuzzy stuff growing on us. The bottom paint is scrubbed away at places at the bow and rudder. I got about 2/3 of the hull clean. That is, I didn't go all the way down and around the keel.
A nice uneventful motor over here in calm, smooth seas. We arrived at about 1430 hrs. We found Sailor, Wandering Albatross, and Xapic here. We also met John and Cathy on s/v Miss Alice. Cajynn came along with us so we have a nice little community going.
Highborne to Norman's Cay (12 nm)
Diner with all the above, home by 2200 hrs. A beautiful day and evening.
Cathy, Jane, Chris, Mary Liz doing the modeling clay thing aboard s/v Xapic.
Norman's island is famous (infamous?) for having once been the home of Carlos Lehder, co-founder of the Mendellin drug cartel. Lehder lived on the island in the late 70's and used the island's airstrip to run cocaine shipments between Columbia and the States. This brief history is taken from Bahama Pundit:
The facts are that from 1978 to 1982 Lehder operated one of the world's biggest cocaine rings from Norman's Cay in the Exumas. One of Lehder's associates, interviewed in the 1990s on the PBS news magazine Frontline, put it this way:
"He operated on the island from the beginning because he had the blessing of the Bahamian government. They were funneling tons of money...The Bahamian government gave Carlos a promise. We will advise you. You will get a wink from us, a signal, when things are getting too hot and you need to move out of there."
Well, things did eventually get hot - for the Bahamian government as much as for Lehder. And those activities forever tarnished the reputation of Sir Lynden Pindling, severely damaged our national psyche and almost brought down the entire government in disgrace.
Heavy pressure from the US led to the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry in November 1983. And the following year its 500-page report published the unpleasant details of widespread official corruption and described the enormous social problems the drug trade had spawned.
The son of a German father and a Colombian mother, Lehder started out as a small-time car thief and pot dealer. But his notoriety as one of the founders of the Medellin Cartel, and his eventual megalomania, made him a legendary and feared figure much like Blackbeard - an earlier international rogue who once had free rein in the Bahamas.
At the time of his arrest in 1987 Lehder, then 37, was reported to be worth more than $2 billion. Throughout the early 1980s his airstrip at Norman's Cay was receiving cocaine flights from Colombia on a daily if not hourly basis, transferring the loads to smaller planes for distribution throughout the US.
To begin with he bought as much property on the island as he could and then chased off the remaining residents. Armed guards patrolled day and night and former Member of Parliament Norman Solomon was once threatened at gunpoint on the beach.
Lehder's social activities were also legendary: "Orgies," his one-time associate told Frontline. "Five males, 10 females and everybody runs naked and everybody switch partners and everybody drinks and smokes marijuana, and alcohol, and three days of Sodom and Gomorrah."
And he was also a Nazi, dressing in military fatigues and comparing himself to Hitler. According to Tamara Inscoe-Johnson, who has written a book on Lehder: "He spent untold hours plotting a political career, aiming at the Colombian presidency. As his goals expanded, so did his fascination with Nazism; after all, Hitler’s goal was to take over the world, and it was the same with Lehder."
Before Lehder, Norman's Cay was a popular anchorage for visiting yachts. It was developed in the early 1970s as a small residential community with a clubhouse and marina. But in 1978 a Bahamian company called International Dutch Resources began buying up land there. IDR was set up for Lehder by a regular trust company in Nassau, which conveniently managed his working capital.
According to the New York Times, Lehder was responsible for 80 per cent of the Colombian cocaine reaching the United States, mostly through the Bahamas. And the interest in his current whereabouts is ironic in view of the recent renaming of Nassau international Airport after Sir Lynden Pindling, "the father of the nation".
Lehder's Bahamian empire collapsed in mid-1983, when NBC television broke the news that Bahamian officials were on the payroll of Colombian drug lords. At first the story generated howls of protest (and some lawsuits) from top Bahamian officials, including the prime minister.
But soon afterwards, they began singing a different tune. In 1985, after the Commission report was published, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Hanna called on Sir Lynden to resign and opposition Free National Movement leader Kendal Isaacs condemned the 'nation for sale' scandal as the worst in modern Bahamian history.
19 February 2005
A cold front came through at 2200 hrs last night. By 0100 the wind was North at 15-20 kts. By 0230 hrs I took down our flags and laundry that was drying on the rails. Galena danced and bounced at anchor.
We went to shore for a little happy hour. Talked with the usual crew. Met a few new faces. We retired to Xapic for drinks and partying. Long evening of revelry.
Mary Liz, the Internet Pirate.
Stealing a little bandwidth from the hotel on Normans Cay.
20 February 2005
Spend the morning recovering. Lunch with the usual crowd at McDuff's then back to the boat for naps. At McDuff's ML got yelled at for using their internet access without permission. I don't know why they don't just charge for it instead of trying to prevent cruisers from using it.
The winds are supposed to die down this afternoon and we might all go to Warderick Wells tomorrow.
Sundowners on the beach at Normans Cay
21 February 2005
Carried well water down from the abandoned house on the hill (N24-35.4 W076-48.9). We had used 10 gal since 15 February. That's only a couple gallons a day. Not bad. Now we have 95 gallons of water plus a couple of 5-gal buckets on deck for washing.
Brent came over for dinner. He's heading back to Nassau to pick up his girlfriend, Pam tomorrow morning. We're heading down to Hawksbill Cay. We plan on meeting with him again at Warderick Wells.
Brent left Norman's at 0800 after dropping off some of our food he had in his refrigerator. Most of the cruisers were leaving Normans by 0830. We were also on the way out. We decided to sail off the anchor. We started the engine, just in case, because there were so many other boats around. But we never had to put it into gear. We sailed out just fine. Jane did a great job driving between the other boats and getting us out of there.
We sailed at 3.5 to 4 kts all the way to Hawksbill Cay. We sailed into the anchorage. That was a trick since we were heading right into the wind and had to tack back and forth a few times to get in. There were several coral heads that we had to dodge on the final approach. But it worked out well. Again Jane was at the helm during this while I just stood at the bow and handled the anchor.
We did a very good job and dropped the hook right between two of the other boats that were there.
Norman's To Hawksbill Cay (18 nm)
Hawksbill Cay has a bunch of small beaches that are sort of secluded from each other by rocky outcroppings. We went to the smallest one to the south and, on landing, christened it “Jane's Beach.”
It was a nice little beach. We walked, read, drank, and lay in the sun. Me naked, Jane not so much.
Later, back at the boat we were visited by Mary (“s/v Samara”). She rowed over to introduce herself. She and Larry are down from Robinhood, Maine. She said that she had seen that I was the only other person nude on the beach so she figured we would be cool people to talk to. I didn't mention that one of the first things I had noticed was that she was nude on the beach.
Later, at George Town, Larry, also on Samara, would tell the story thus:
“We saw them heading south past the island, then they were heading toward the island, then not, etc. So we didn't know if they were coming to the anchorage or just passing by. We would say ‘Yeah…aww…Yeah… aww' I'll leave it to you to decide which was while they were heading toward us and which was while they were heading away.” Thanks Larry.
The stove alcohol fuel we had bought in Nassau has a tendency to soot-up the pots. We won't buy it again. Straight denatured alcohol may evaporate faster, but it burns a lot cleaner.
Jane on the Hawksbill Cross-Island-Expressway
We spent some time looking for the well that was marked on the map but couldn't find it.
Two other boats came in today: “Leisal” and “JJ”
We went ashore to Bill's Beach (just north of Jane's Beach) and climbed to the cairn. Along the path, there was a mailbox with a bunch of guest books that people had signed and made entries in. But the latest was full. We have a spare composition book and will leave it here.
Park sign on Hawksbill Cay.
24 February 2005
Last night was very, very bouncy. Steep chop from the south caused us to hobby-horse all night. The past couple of nights have been perfect. But the wind was then out of the east. Now it's out of the Southwest and this chop is not good.
Jane made spaghetti and we had a very nice evening.
We decided to go to Warderick Wells tomorrow. Warderick Wells is the headquarters for the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. So to get a mooring there (there is no anchoring in the harbor, but you can anchor a bit further south near Emerald Island) you have to be on VHF 16 at 0900. That's when they give mooring assignments for the day, and when they take names for the list for then next day. Once you get on the list, you have to wait for someone to leave before you can be assigned a mooring.
We called for a morning for tomorrow. That means we have to be at the radio at 0900 to get a mooring assignment, if one is available. If no one leaves tomorrow, then we will have to wait until the next day, etc. Or we can just anchor out.
Last night was not quite so bad. But still, we bounced to a two-foot chop at a 2-second period. I had let out a total of 75 feet of chain to lessen the pressure on the anchor. The extra weight helped a little with the bouncing.
We got up and went to shore for Jane to do here exercises.
We were back at the boat by 0900 and got the mooring assignment. So we sailed off the anchor and out to the southbound route. Sailing to the west was easy. When we turned southeast, we had to turn about 20 degrees further than we wanted. And the wind was light. We tacked back and forth a few times. We were sailing twice the distance we were actually covering. Our speed was only 3.5 kts. So we decided to motor sail the last two-thirds of the trip. With just a little engine thrust, we were able to hold the desired course and make 4.5 to 5 kts.
Hawksbill Cay to Warderick Wells (20 nm)
Galena is just about... here
Mooring ball #22 is the last one in this J-shaped mooring field. The field is a single-file line of balls, each with a boat on it. And the channel width is only about 100 feet. And of course we were entering at low tide. We made it all the way around without grounding or hitting any boats (although a bunch of the other boat owners came out to watch us maneuver in) But we took two attempts to pick up the mooring due to my lack of piloting expertise. Actually, the problem was that the direction all the boats were pointed was into the wind. But there was a current in the opposite direction and that foiled my attempts at stopping at the ball. I forgot that for Galena, it's Current then Wind.
We'll stay here a couple days and wait for the forecast bad weather to pass then head further south.
26 February 2005
Winds were west at 10 today. It would have been a great day to move here from Hawksbill Cay. But we didn't know it would be that way, so we came yesterday.
Storms are forecast for tomorrow night. We figure we'll stay here for about 3 days. M/v Sailor is at Staniel Cay and hurrying south. We can hear the Georgetown Cruiser's net on VHF 68. So we're close to the end of the line.
27 February 2005
Note from a drunken sailor: “When you loose your balance and a hand reaches out to steady you against the rail, and a second or so later you realize that it's your own, then you are really drunk.”
28 February 2005
Still at Warderick Wells. We walked around the island a little today. Not bad.
We also heard from Cajynn II. Jane actually squealed when she heard him call us on the radio. Brent and Pam have just left Norman's Cay and will be here tonight. All the moorings are taken so he will anchor out near Emerald Cay. The wind is about SW at 20.