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Paradise Next Door
Bahamas Cruise
2011
Don Looking Buff
~ Don Looking Buff ~
Sailing to New Providence
Paradise Lost
The weather gods remained complacent for the 40 mile trek across the Tongue of the Ocean to New Providence Island. We sailed across smooth, sapphire blue depths of over 8000 feet, at a pace perfect for trolling pelagics. Don had both the Cuban yoyo and the rod running, and snagged a couple of throw-backs before a keeper took the bait. The bend in the rod and the bursts of iridescent silver, blue, green, and gold told of a big, beautiful mahi-mahi bull, but just when the time came for the gaff the line snapped and the prize was liberated. So it goes when fishing from a sailboat.

By early afternoon, we hailed Nassau Harbour Patrol to announce our arrival and promptly received permission to enter. As soon as we passed the Paradise Island Lighthouse, our bubble of paradise induced bliss popped. The port was teaming with cruise ships, mega-yachts, fast ferries, mail boats, booze cruises, jet skies, pontoons, and noise – so much noise! We'd woken up to rooster crow and would fall asleep to riotous clamor.

Our plan was to top off our reserves and hasten out the other side of the harbor, so with white knuckled nerves, we crossed through the mayhem to anchor off the Eastern Channel. Holding in Nassau Harbour was notoriously poor, the current was strong, and space was tight, causing us to make 3 stressful attempts before successfully setting the anchor.

Paradise Island Lighthouse
~ Paradise Island Lighthouse ~
Dealing with a Manual Windlass
Our Hans Christian 33T came equipped with a robust, all bronze manual windlass; the device used to deploy and raise our anchor. Although electric windlasses with effortless, pushbutton activation were readily available, we'd never gotten motivated or cash flushed enough to upgrade. Of course gravity took care of deployment, but weighing anchor required lifting the chain rode hand over hand, then cranking it link by link.

To put it in layman's terms, 60 lb. Bruce + 1.4 lbs. per foot x 200' chain = 340 perfunctory profanities from the deckhand doing the dirty work. A previous retrieval incident that'd left me incapacitated for weeks had thus and forever more relegated Don as that deckhand. The upside was his upper body had gotten rather tone during our travels and his biceps looked bodacious!

Pleased to have safely completed another deep-water passage, settled in civilization, and satisfied we were secure in our anchorage, we shut the engine down and took a moment to catch our breath and let our senses acclimate to the overstimulation of the populous.

Amongst the background babel, I heard a faint voice repeating "sailing vessel Ramatta...sailing vessel Ramatta".

"Hummm…sort of sounds like Re Metau" I ruminated.

Cruise Ship Docked in Nassau Harbour
~ Cruise Ship Docked in Nassau Harbour ~

I looked around the flotilla of boats to see what this Ramatta sailboat looked like, when I caught sight of some fellows waving their arms from the end of the dock off our stern, and then realized the voices were coming from our radio.

I picked up the mic and stated "This is sailing vessel Re Metau, the canoe stern cutter anchored off the Eastern Channel. Are you attempting to hail us?"

"Yes, this is the Nassau Harbour Club. We're expecting a large yacht to arrive tonight and we're concerned that they won't have enough room to maneuver. Could you please move?"

To which Don replied "F****$%&@??!!"

Luckily he wasn't holding the mic.

I should've played dumb and never answered the call. Mind you we were anchored leagues away, well outside the boundaries of the marina. But we'd already had our personal space intruded upon by mega yachts such as those we'd seen on our way through the harbor, and didn't doubt they'd feel justified in bumping us out of their way, uprooting our anchor, and sending us adrift in the middle of the night. Alas, Don had to do some more deltoid drills before we, our moored neighbors, and the marina was mollified.

Atlantis Marina
~ Atlantis Marina ~
Farmer's Market on Potter's Cay
Then it was time to drop the dink, hang the outboard off the transom, and go exploring. We took a little water-side tour around Potter's Cay, located under the bridge that connected Paradise Island to the north and New Providence Island to the south. The shipping hub for all the Bahamas' archipelago, Potter's Cay was a jetty that led out to a half-square mile wharf where freighters, commercial fishing boats, and ferries offloaded their holds.

Caribbean music poured from the colorful shanty shacks lining the jetty, and the aromas wafting through the air spoke of fresh seafood, citrus fruits, Caribbean spices, and all manner of fried culinary treats. I looked forward to restocking our larder there at the next morning's farmers market, and hoped we'd find the time to linger for lunch.

Atlantis Marina ~ Paradise Island
We headed toward the western side of the port, to get a better look at the most prominent feature seen upon arrival, The Atlantis, an ultra-luxurious hotel, casino, and spa where those with adequately equipped bank accounts could be exceedingly indulged. Though of no use to our needs, we were drawn by the bizarre Greco-Roman-Egyptian-Mesoamerican-Oceanic décor, so Don navigated Dinky Duck up into the resort's yacht basin.
Nassau Harbour West End Anchorage
~ Nassau Harbour West End Anchorage ~

Talk about feeling like an ugly duckling in a pond full of swans! The marina accommodated a fleet of lavishly appointed vessels up to 250', of which there were many an opulently occupied slip. The amount of ostentatious wealth floating in that harbor was astonishing. And here we salt encrusted, windblown, scruffy sailors were, puttering around in a little rubber boat. I envisioned us mingling with the moneyed mariners, infiltrating some of the contrived entertainment, and sipping a few fruity cocktails under a cabana, but Don could not be goaded into tying the dink up to one of their pricey piers and trying to blend in.

The Green Parrot
We motored out of the basin and up the Paradise Island coast, looking for a less intimidating place to land. But this area had been developed primarily for gilded globetrotters, and nothing presented a 'lowly seafarer's welcome' vibe, so we turned the tiller towards the mainland. Our first priority was finding the Green Parrot – a restaurant recommended by fellow cruisers for being very cruiser friendly; providing a dingy dock, free Wi-Fi, 'Meet & Greet' parties, etc. However on this coast, all the facilities' signs faced the street and we'd no idea where this particular haven was along the cluttered waterfront.

There were far more vessels moored on the western side of the bridge, and we noticed another couple in their tender, shooting the breeze with a skipper on an anchored sloop, so we followed Captain Ron's advice to "pull in somewheres and ask directions". Surprisingly, I immediately recognized a familiar face in the group as Will, a regular customer from one of my Marathon gigs. He introduced us to the others who, having been in Nassau for several days, happily provided a plethora of invaluable information about what the area had to offer us sailors.

It turned out the Parrot was straight across from the anchorage, so we parted ways to go ashore and get our bearings. With the dink securely locked up to the dock, we felt compelled to show our gratitude for the amenities by patronizing the establishment and ambled on over to the bar for some frosty cold libations. But as soon as our world stopped moving, a profound sense of fatigue descended so we called it an early evening. We'd a big day tomorrow, grocery shopping, topping off tanks, and most importantly, contacting family members to let them know we were safe and sound.

Cruising Blogs
2011 - Bahamas
Paradise Next Door
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