Previously, on Sailing La Vie Dansante …
(Details, some relevant and some just amusing, about why we’re heading to Nassau; taken from portions of Barbara’s stream-of-consciousness text to her sister on the subject … and other stuff)
We made the mistake of ordering something from the US, now it is stuck in customs so we are going to Nassau to try to get it. I’m not hopeful. Apparently I have to hire an agent to get it through customs but can only use an approved agent and the website says that there aren’t any approved agents and everyone I talk to on the phone says something different.
So, unless you bring something in a suitcase to the Bahamas, forget it. I’ll never see jalapenos again. Kalamata olives are $15 if you can find them and just forget about cilantro!
Aphids consumed my cilantro that I was growing. F*&%ers. Idk where they come from but every time I grow cilantro they get all over it so I threw that overboard.
But the sad part is that I broke a camera lens when I was riding my bike downhill at a crazy fast speed and hit a speed bump and flew over the top of my bike and all my s%&# went flying.
The good part is that it’s Valentine’s Day on Friday so we are …
OK, that’s where I’ll pick the narrative back up.
Having made the decision to venture out of our way a bit to retrieve Barbara’s lens, we weighed anchor in Rock Sound and headed west toward New Providence Island and the City of Nassau.
Breaking the trip up into two day-sails meant we’d have to anchor mid-way. Ship Channel Key, in the northern Exumas, wasn’t on our original itinerary for the islands, but it was about halfway to Nassau from Rock Sound and offered both a passage through the Exumas and a pretty good anchorage for our brief stopover.
We wound up being the only boat in the anchorage at Ship Channel – something I hope happens more often down here – and had an uneventful stay in typically pristine water with an atypical view of sculpted, shallow cliffs rather than the standard beach shoreline. Next morning it was anchor up, sails up and course set for Nassau. Even with picking our way through hundreds of visible, and potentially disastrous, coral heads on Yellow Bank, we made great time on an easy sail, entered Nassau via the East Channel and found a decent place to drop the hook.
A pick up, an unexpected tour and a bright spot
Heading to shore the next morning, we made picking up Barbara’s lens a priority and started out on the mile and a half hike to the DHL center. We quickly discovered that most of Nassau isn’t anywhere close to paradise. Something like 80% of the people who live in the Bahamas live in Nassau and its crime rate is the highest in the Bahamas, including a recent rise in armed robberies. Most neighborhoods we passed through on our quest for the lens were pretty sketchy.
The walk to DHL had me on guard the whole time but we made it there without incident and picked up Barbara’s lens … after paying a $150 Value Added Tax (VAT)! Ouch!
New lens in hand, we visited a nearby general store to pick up a few things and catch a cab back to the dinghy dock. While we were checking out, we asked a woman bagging groceries where we might hail a cab. Her response surprised us
“I’ll take you. I have a car. Come”
Sure enough, we stepped out of the store, loaded into her car and proceeded back toward our dinghy … kind of. First, we had to stop by every venue where someone she knew was a proprietor and every place “Gloria” considered a hotspot. What should have been a 10 minute ride turned into an hour and a half tour of the island with bad music and a lot of traffic.
Finally, right smack in the middle of the central Nassau tourist district, we asked our impromptu driver to let us out so we could walk the rest of the way. Compensating her for her time, we made the last mile to our boat on foot. Our trip with Gloria had saved us only a half mile of walking and cost us much of the afternoon, but at least we avoided some of the more perilous parts of New Providence Island.
One bright spot in our visit to Nassau was our Valentine’s Day date at Syrah, a local eatery that refers to itself as a “cellar café”. It was awesome! The staff did a great job making us feel at home and giving us a great experience. And the food! Man! I satisfied my beef urges with the filet mignon and Barbara tried Hogfish, something she’s been wanting to try since we got to the Bahamas and heard how good it was. Both plates knocked it out of the park, and the wine selection, while not as extensive as you’d expect from a “cellar café” was good enough to provide us a nice red blend to enjoy with dinner. I wrote an OpenTable review on Syrah, and suggest giving it a try if you’re ever in Nassau.
Our second day in the anchorage, the local Nassau constabulary passed through asking boats to move in closer to shore to clear the channel for the mail boat. There really wasn’t any “closer to shore” for us, because we were anchored right up against a charted ship wreck in that direction. While the other boats jockeyed for a new position in the small, tumultuous anchorage, Barbara and I decided this might be a good time to relocate.
I had made a call to nearby Hurricane Hole Marina earlier in the day to see if we could tie up our dinghy there for a day visit to Paradise Island, where the Atlantis resort is located, and they seemed like nice folks so I called them back to see if they had room for our cat. They did, and we made the quick hop over to check in.
Hurricane Hole isn’t the swankiest marina on Paradise Island – that would be the Atlantic Marina – but it was once part of the Atlantis complex and offered a great location for checking the block on a visit to the attraction.
Normally we wouldn’t splurge on a marina, but we had the need for more than just somewhere to tie up. Our “unlimited” data through Google Fi was now throttled to the point of being unusable after we crossed their “slowed data” threshold. Now in Google’s data penalty box, the Marina’s free wi-fi seemed very attractive, as did the opportunity to do laundry, charge up the batteries on shore power and run a little air conditioning to dehumidify the boat.
You don’t always get what you pay for
As a last-minute guest, Hurricane Hole Marina put us along their entrance wall, and we rocked up against the fenders the whole time – sometimes mightily – from the same boat traffic that had rocked us at anchor. It was a nice enough marina, with ample amenities, but I was relieved to get out of there. The washing machine created by ridiculous amounts of speed boat traffic combined with a 3’ tide had us adjusting dock lines and fenders day and night. In fact, one particularly tumultuous day resulted in a fender getting stripped right off its rope and floating away!
On our short walking tour of Paradise Island and Atlantis the next day, we saw their renowned aquarium habitat and walked out to “Dolphin Cay” – the man-made grotto where trainers introduce tourists to a series of dolphin experiences – and got a nice beach-side view of them before one of the workers noticed we didn’t have the right wristband to be outside the patio designated for spectators. Nobody had asked us for one, so we had just wandered right in to where the action was!
If you have the money and like pricey tourist resorts, you might enjoy Atlantis when visiting the Bahamas. If not, you wouldn’t miss much in skipping Nassau completely unless you absolutely have to go there for something … like a package hung up in customs.
Business in Nassau concluded, we were now ready to head for the open beaches, beautiful waters and teeming sea life of the Exumas!
SITE UPDATE: Visit our crew page for a new special piece on Barbara!