Friday, 21 December 2012

No 42 Berry Islands

Hi from Clare,                                          Wednesday 19th December, 2012

So we left Miami last Tuesday 11th December cutting it fine; one day before our USA Visa ran out. We had a fast beam reach sail across the Gulf Stream and arrived as planned the following morning into Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands. We were last here when crewing on Pacific Dream in 2004. We asked the Islander who took our lines "so what's changed since 2004?" his reply was "nothing" and he wasn't exaggerating, e.g. the Bahamian flags that surrounded the Bar are still there but now in tatters.

The tree lighting ceremony and Innamorata looming up behind

We meet up with our English friends Carol and Steve on "Innamorata" and also the people from two yachts that came through the 23 bridges with us on the way to Fort Lauderdale. We had Carol and Steve on Eye Candy for drinks before the eight of us met up at a festive gathering in town that evening for the annual lighting of the Christmas tree. There was dance music and the town folk provided dinner. Everyone was very happy and after endless official speeches the local Member proudly announced that by December the Berry Islands will have its first bank and by January its first resident Doctor - I guess we are not going to get Internet Access here!

The following day we sailed 26 miles with "Innamorata" to Fowl Cay where we took shelter from the strong Northerly winds for two days. But there was plenty of entertainment with yachts dragging due to a strong current running through the anchorage. Fortunately for us we were some distance away and tucked up nicely behind a small headland. We could see during the night when the wind dropped the other boats rolling violently and we listened to their distress calls to each other "I think we are dragging" The following morning most of them relocated; two ran aground.

At Fowl Cay we meet Pete and Raewyn on the Kiwi yacht "Saliander". We have been speaking with them on the radio net for some time. Eight of us had morning tea on their boat and Raewyn cooked fabulous date scones and also very tasty cheese scones. Pete is a keen fisherman and went out in his dinghy each day catching fish in the changing tides or collecting Conch from under his boat. He would definitely do well on the TV series Survivor.

On Saturday "Innamorata" headed for Nassau on New Providence Island. We decided to sail 43 miles to the west end of the island. We spent the next two days relaxing, enjoying wonderful sunsets and of course doing some boat chores. The waterfront homes in this bay are part of a gated community and most of the beach is private. There is a public section at the end of the bay where we went for a walk. We met a chap sitting on the beach watching his children at play. As soon as he spoke we established that he was an Aussie with comments like "where are you going?, ah there's nothing here mate." We were a bit amused but the purpose of this story is to highlight the difference between the hospitality of the American people as opposed to the Australian way. You may recall that in previous newsletters we have raved about the generosity of the American people who have offered us the use of their car or driven us around for endless shopping. Well our little Aussie on the beach said "there's a pretty good shop over there if you need food, but it's a bit of a hike though." (so where is the offer of a lift?). We thanked him for the information and we were glad we didn't need any food.

Bahamian Sunset and our anchorage in Nassau

We sailed 13 miles along the island and into the Nassau on Monday. We met up with "Innamorata" again who had organized us a mooring ball as they have long standing friends who live here. We had dinner on Innamorata last night and met their friends and tonight we are having drinks with both "Innamorata" and "Saliander".
Since arriving we have managed to obtain some internet access on the boat. Believe me it wasn't easy, it took two days, three trip to BTC (Bahamian Telecom) and four hours of sitting in front of a Customer Service Rep who clearly, for whatever reason, was having great difficulty processing our request for a sim card. One Rep was wrapping her Christmas presents while she "worked". The following day the same Rep spent two hours with one customer. Andrew told me later that they were talking about the customer's marriage break down. The three Reps kept disappearing out the back for prolonged periods of time and the cashier was engrossed in a private phone call. At one stage Andrew asked the customers "Is it always this bad?" and they just nodded. Anyhow eventually we got some internet access. However it is very slow and Skype is out of the question. So whilst we are in the Bahamas we will be relying on WiFi connection which I guess will be hard to find.

Today Andrew has been researching buying a new outboard for the dinghy. He has been up to the Mercury dealer twice asking questions and has come back very despondent. He said "they are not the slightest bit interested in selling anything." At one stage he was locked in the sales office alone and just left. If it wasn't so frustrating it would be funny! He will try again tomorrow when he has the energy to do battle.

We will stay in Nassau for the next few days waiting on the right weather to travel south down the Exuma chain. There is a bit of a blow coming and so we will wait for that to pass so we can travel slowly and stop off in all the lovely spots along the way.

Love Candy xx

At 1:00 PM17/12/2012 (utc) our position was 25°01.48'N 077°32.94'W

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