Miami to Georgetown, Bahamas
19th - 24th February 2006
|As soon as our weather router, Chris Parker, gave us a good forecast to cross the Gulf Stream from Miami to the Bahamas we were off. After spending a night anchored behind Fischer Island, right at the mouth of the Miami Harbour entrance, ready for a quick get away, we left at dawn for a very comfortable Gulf Stream crossing, even if the trip had to be made with the assistance of our trusty motor.|
By mid afternoon we were passing north of Bimini
and heading onto the shallow Bahama Banks, early enough for a starfish
counting competition to be held aboard. On reaching 30 of
the large cushion starfish apiece in the space of only a few minutes both
the port side and starboard counters decided to call the competition a
Aside from the odd stressful moment dodging boats anchored right on the rhumb line across the Banks and unlit fishing boats spending a night at anchored, an indication of just how calm the sea was, we had a very peaceful trip and arrived back in deep water ahead of our ETA of dawn, when it was still dark and unfortunately too early for any successful fishing. Our plan to pass through Nassau harbour and head straight for the Exumas without stopping was abruptly changed when Nassau's Harbour Master directed us onto the dock to report to Customs and Immigration.
Tying up on the town dock was a challenge, mostly as the dock was severely lacking in anything to tie a rope to! Finally with the help of two passengers from our neighbouring cruise ship, we managed to tie Anju alongside and while Phil set off in search of the local officials, Christine was left to enjoy the washing-machine-like ride aboard the boat provided by the wakes of passing local boats. Suddenly there was frantic activity behind Anju on the dock, a powerboat with four armed officials escorted a Haitian sailboat, docked under sail with impressive skill, onto the dock. It seemed that the Bahamas were experiencing an influx of illegal immigrants from Haiti and judging by what we witnessed on our journey south, the Haitian boats are seized and burned by the authorities, presumably with their crews being removed first. To us it seemed a terrible waste of perfectly good boats.
Burning Haitian Boats on Elbow Cay
By the time we were officially checked in to the
Bahamas it was too late to continue our trip across the White and Yellow
Banks to the Exumas, so we spent a night in the very suspect holding of
Nassau Harbour's anchorage.
Our next destination was Shroud Cay. Our crossing of the banks had a few moments of excitement when a US Coast Guard helicopter hovered behind Anju's stern for several minutes at low level. Presumably this was part of a campaign against drug running in the area and all American boats in the vicinity were hailed by the VHF radio by the Coastguard and their particulars recorded. On arrival at Shroud Cay we found time to explore the mangrove swamps after anchoring at around 4 pm.
At Big Major's Spot the following day we finally
tracked down the piggies, which were considerably less elusive than on our
previous visit a year earlier, when all we found on Piggy Beach was a dozen
feral cats. In fact the pigs were easily tracked down napping at
the water's edge, too contented even to take an interest in the snack we'd
brought them. Later we noticed that a favourite hobby of the piggies
was stalking dinghies as they headed to the beach and wading out into the
water to accost their occupants. Perhaps arriving at piggy
siesta time had been a good move.
Pigs in Paradise
Next morning we dinghied over to the famous
Thunderball Cave off Staniel Cay, one of the best snorkelling spots we've
visited. At low tide you can swim right inside the cave without
getting your hair wet, to be surrounded by a multitude of colourful fishes,
eagerly looking for snacks. As on our last visit we took along
some bread to feed the fishes but one carnivore grouper seemed put out by
the lack of protein based snacks and took a chunk out of Christine's finger
instead. It was the first bite we'd had since arriving in the
Bahamas! Those groupers certainly have sharp teeth and it managed to
draw blood which luckily didn't attract any sharks to the area!
Our final stop before catching up with Chris and Vivian in Georgetown was in Black Point where we were able to enjoy the convenience of a payphone which worked before being deafened by the local children, whose latest craze seemed to be whistles.
On our trip south-east to Georgetown our fishing lures again failed to be alluring!
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