The Road to Nassau Dec 29 2006
We capped off our stay at Marsh Harbor by attending the weekly Rib Night at the Jib Room. The Jib Room is a gathering spot for cruisers. We often found games of dominoes or backgammon in progress, laundry cycling from washer to dryer or laptop updating. And yes, that's right BBQ ribs (or chicken) with slaw, potato salad, biscuit and beans...are we in Texas or the Bahamas?! We put in our reservation early in the day and had a delicious meal (meat literally fell off the bone it was so tender) and caught up with old friends - Sea Horse from Spanish Cay, Double JJ from Green Turtle and of course, our common partners in crime (aka general exploring and sundowners), Alize. We pulled anchor and headed for Little Harbour at sunrise on 12/21. The winds were as forecast at 25 knots and seas had rolling swells. We double-reefed the main sail (to reduce sail power with so much wind) as well as flew the jib...we sailed at 7-8 knots. We made it to the harbor entrance at mid-tide and entered slowly. Kinda spooky with waves breaking on the cliffs on either side of a narrow entrance with potential channel depth of 3.5 feet (low tide). Once inside we are well protected from all wind and worked for some time at getting the bridle set on the mooring ball (we are used to anchoring).
We are often joined in the harbor by turtles! They swim beside the boat, take a breathe while checking us out and then dive underwater and swim away. They vary in size and curiosity of us but all are fun to spot...at the moment Chris has spotted many more than I have. Little Harbour is remote and lush in the best ways possible; six boats in the harbor, passed only five people on our walk, locals still live here, one watering hole (Pete's Pub - www.petespub.com) and associated Gallery. Randolph Johnston (died in 1992) and his family came here in the 1950s and initially lived in the caves while creating bronze sculptures. There is a complete foundry to cast their world renowned sculptures and gold jewelry. One of the most notable pieces, St. Peter: Fisher of Men, rests in the Vatican's Museum in Rome. The legacy continues with Randolph's son (Pete) and grandsons (Greg and Tyler). We explored the foundry (after an invitation was extended the night before at the pub) and were amazed at how equipment so industrial creates art so delicate and beautiful.
Dinner at Pete's Pub was amazing! We took Trouble to shore and used a stern anchor as well as a loop around the dock (due to tides and the fixed dock) and walked barefoot to the establishment - can it get any better?! We settled in for a Kalik beer and house rum drink - our toes in the sand and our elbows on a beautiful wood bar (found after washing ashore). Out came the white board with the five options for the night. We both chose garlic and black pepper grilled snapper on a salad of lettuce, mandarin oranges and red onion with an awesome ginger dressing...really flavorful and soooo fresh. We met a bunch of nice folks who have been coming to Little Harbour for years as well as some that grew up here. More walking the island and turtle spotting filled our days. Those who grew up here have a marvelously lyrical accent...English with an accent somewhere between, South African, Irish and Scottish. This is a special place with marvelous people - it was hard to leave.
However, it is Christmas Eve and the seas have calmed and the winds have lightened. We will take this opportunity to make the 75 mile run to Nassau...hopefully we will get in before Santa. The passage was good - rolling seas but spaced far apart and clear sunshine. The water is an amazingly dark lapis blue since we are in deep water (depth meter again has no reading). We motor sailed at approx 8 knots hoping not to get in too much after sunset...never our favorite way to enter a new harbor. The fishing rod was set and Barefeet caught a fish!! Erin slowed the speed to idle and Chris reeled in the catch. It was a beautiful 2.5 foot barracuda...not so good to eat so Chris maneuvered between the big teeth, removed the hook and tossed it back. The rest of the trip was less exciting and the seas became a bit short and choppy right on the beam (very wobbly for us). We checked-in the the Nassau Harbor Control via VHF radio in order to request permission to enter. Permission granted and we anchored in the harbor...unable to rouse a marina at 8pm on Christmas Eve. While anchoring we noticed a hitchhiker - a flying fish. We have heard stories of these guys getting into cockpits, etc. but we thought our 7 ft of freeboard (water to deck) would make it all but impossible for a fish...no sir! A quick shower then onto the deck for cheese and crackers with holiday cocktails. We heard several celebrations on other cruising boats complete with drums and guitars. We enjoyed the surrounding festivity and marveled at the star filled night sky.
What a great Christmas present - dock space at Nassau Yacht Haven. Four elves (cruisers docked nearby) helped us tie up to the fixed dock...no simple task with 18 kt winds and a big sightseeing barge behind us...quite a tight squeeze but all went well (except the winch that got jammed...will look at that later). We had a great reunion with Bill & Louise of Andelen from Barrington, Rhode Island, and decided to meet later for sundowners and snacks. But first it was off to Atlantis! Wow - this is an amazingly massive place. Before even entering the buildings we passed the marina - soooo many mega-yachts that it makes Nantucket look like a Boston whaler convention. Chris went straight to the craps table and promptly turned $50 into $310 - that was success enough for us and we cashed out. We explored the pools, aquariums, beach and galleries of shops and restaurants. Everything is Atlantis themed - right down to the shell framed mirrors, sea horse chandeliers, octopus light globes and on and on. To get to Atlantis we walked over the bridge to Paradise Island from Nassau. At the foot of the bridge on the Nassau side (Potter's Cay) was a collection of small food stalls no bigger than a counter and a table or two. They all offered fresh fish and conch...hmmm...how to get Chris over there for some sampling?!
The next few days were a combination of seeing the city, boat work and hanging out with Bill & Louise. Chris even indulged me with a breakfast run to Potter's Cay - yellow grits and sausage for $1 each. We walked the city and saw many of the points of interest; including the Queen's staircase - a 66 step staircase carved out of sandstone by slaves in 1793. The walk took about 2 hours and we were pooped. We revived with dinner at a second floor Greek restaurant that overlooks the main drag...lots of great people watching. We also got boat work done despite a constant roll due to wakes from harbor boats; washed the boat, filled water tanks, investigated and repaired winch (all okay after a windy docking), set up stern anchor for boat, laundry and a couple of other odds and ends. We ended the day with sundowners and another fun night with Bill & Louise.
Junkanoo!!! Wow, we finally saw this colorful spectacle. We had attempted in Marsh Harbor to see the Junior Junkanoo (aka kids) but rain canceled it and rescheduling was outside our time frame. In Nassau it was canceled for Dec 26 (Boxing Day) due to strong winds and possible rain... rescheduled...and we could make it. Junkanoo is a parade somewhere between Mardi Gras and Mummer's Parade. Groups make costumes, choreograph dances and play music (think college marching band) with horns, drums and cow-bells. Each group tells a story through their costumes and dancing with two thirty minute spots in front of the judges. The costumes are often carried/worn by a single person...thus to keep the weight down they are constructed largely of papier mache, crepe paper and feathers - their creatin is a closely held secret until they are unveiled at the parade. The groups are judged and prizes are awarded (www.junkanoo.com). The parade began at 8pm and did not end until 7am the next day - yikes!! Needless to say we only made it for a few hours. There is lots of rivalry between the competing groups and folks on the sidelines watching are often jeering the rival groups. Junkanoo is serious business!