Arriving at Great Guana Cay Bahamas on Monday was such a dream. But we always have to wake up. If we are still alive. So, wide awake Tuesday morning, we headed southeast across the Sea of Abaco to Marsh Harbor to clear customs. We were illegally hanging out in the Bakers Bay area, with our Q flag flying. Bahamas are pretty casual, with a well know reputation of “Bahama time”. This means that things will get done when they get done. I suppose we were just following this custom.
We dropped anchor in Marsh Harbor and took the dinghy to shore, backpacks full of all our papers: passports, Alembic documentation, cash. They didn’t like this. We were to go back, bring Alembic to the dock for a full clearing in. Ugh. We hate docks. Especially those with pilings and docks that I can’t jump onto. We are spoiled by New England’s floating docks. When Bill motors up, I take a flying leap and land on the dock with lines and quickly tie up before we crash into anything. Here, the docks were so high above the water, I’d have to be an Olympic High Jumper to land on the dock. We figured that we would sustain some damage as Bill motored up to the pilings with me frantically trying to lasso the pilings to bring us to a stop. Luckily, two boaters were there to catch our lines and prevent this damage. We scrambled up a ladder to thank Dean and Susan, our new best friends!
Back to Bahama time, the marina workers (who couldn’t leave their office to catch lines) considered the time, 3:30. “We close at 4, so it may be too late to call Customs” Knowing that I should adopt this new state of mind, slowness, I still wanted quick action. I’ll slow down soon, I promise. Summoning my kindest voice, I asked if they could please try to call. The woman considered this request for a while and finally dialed the phone. When she hung up, she said that they may come today, maybe tomorrow. Wow; I was working hard to adapt.
Walking back to Alembic on the rickety pier, I realized that life isn’t so bad. Waiting until tomorrow would not kill us. We couldn’t or shouldn’t galavant into town before being checked in, but what’s the hurry? Before I had a chance to lounge much, the customs and medical officers came aboard. Surprise! The two young ladies were incredibly efficient, friendly, and helpful. So, we untied the lines and headed back to the anchorage, where, I kid you not, a double rainbow welcomed us. No sign of rain anywhere. We lowered the Q flag (the yellow one which symbolizes entry into a new country and that we are in quarantine until the medical officers deem us healthy enough to proceed ashore) and raised the Bahama courtesy flag. Now we officially could wander about anywhere. So this is what we did. We dinghied to shore, walked around and stopped for a beer with Susan and Dean.
Marsh Harbor has a bad reputation for Bill and me. It represents work. This town (the third largest Bahama city) has an airport to the US, a huge grocery store that rivals any US store, and several marine hardware stores. It is the project town, not the swim and enjoy island. My project is to continue to provision to keep as much fresh food aboard as possible, and Bill’s project of the moment was a “quick” overhaul of the head. He had the overhaul kit, but needed just one part. Back at the boat, I busied myself with finding storage spaces for the abundance of food, and Bill started taking apart our head. My job was easy, but I broke out into a serious sweat anyway, and Bill’s was going relatively smoothly as well. Until he finished. This is when he realized he had barely begun. All put back together, with new seals, etc and the thing didn’t work at all. I had to zip over to the sailboat Copper Penny to tell George and Cindy we would be late for our Happy Hour date. After a miserable hour of messy, ugly exploration, Bill realized that he needed more parts, but the stores were closed, so we might as well go over to Copper Penny, after a cleansing swim of course.
Back to the hardware store early in the morning, Bill purchased the parts to “fix” the head, and we headed out of this project town. Our plan was to sail to Hope Town, and enjoy the glorious snorkeling there after the quick “fix”. We executed the plan: the sail to Hope Town, the “fix” and the snorkel. The sad part was that the “fix” wasn’t successful. I kept reminding Bill that we had another head, so this one could be decommissioned. Our other head is a compost head, with no plumbing (and no odor I might add). If you know Bill, this doesn’t sit well with him. He always has to fix things. He gets obsessed. To make a very gross long story short, he continued going to Hope Town’s tiny store to get more sanitary hose for the next two days and finally finished this “quick” job. Our old plumbing had become so calcified that when he cleaned the system with vinegar back in Marsh Harbor, all of the calcification deposits let go and clogged all of the hoses from the intake, past the head, and the exit of the head. The 2.5 inch hoses were reduced to zero inside diameter. No water could travel. Or anything else.
OK, enough of our gross details, and on to our glorious life of snorkeling, leisure walks about quaint island communities, and easy Abaco sailing. Hope Town has always been a special place for our family. Best know for its unique Light House, it also boasts a well protected harbor and friendly people ashore. Trick or Treaters were out and about on Halloween and the Sailing Club put on the scariest Haunted House that I have ever experienced. We snorkeled all three days we were there. Fish were everywhere the first day, and Bill speared two fish. Somehow, they both escaped between the end of the spear and the opening of the catch bag. How they swam so quickly with a hole through their bodies baffled me. Poor guys. We felt terrible injuring fish. The second day must have been a less than ideal spot, because there was much less edible fish. Plenty of beautiful reef fish, but we were in search of grouper, hog, snapper, or queen trigger. The third day was fabulous, but just as we were getting in the groove, Bill spotted a black tipped shark and back to the dinghy we swam, and fast. We will get used to the shark in these warm waters, soon.
After hours of dinghy riding, Bill was getting concerned about the old 8 hp Mercury. It was overheating and not flushing enough cooling water. So, you know what this means: back to Marsh Harbor, the project spot. Many of you might imagine that our lives are pure pleasure and blissful days of warm sunshine. While Bill and I are ever grateful for this fabulous opportunity to travel, we continuously exert our minds, bodies, and wallets to keep up with our plans. Luckily, we fix almost everything ourselves, so the wallet part is the least challenging. We are working on patience as a new virtue. We are not there yet, but we all need goals.