Paradise Next Door - Bahamas Cruise
Decline of the Concubine
| ~ Wally Cutting Coconuts
Cruise Preparations Gone Wrong
Prior to sailing off to distance shores, we’d consigned both
the tender and the outboard to Marathon’s best known inflatable dinghy repair man. To
cruise economically, our intention of anchoring offshore made sturdy, dependable transportation to
shore essential. Sadly, Dinky Duck’s transom was leaking like a screen door and her engine was about as reliable as the National Enquirer.
After several weeks, our ‘refurbished’ inflatable and
‘mended’ motor was brought back to the dock, just days before our planned departure. We plunked
the Duck in the drink, and before the cloud of dust left by the mechanic’s hasty escape had settled,
an ankle deep pool of seawater had seeped into our tender.
The transom was no longer ‘like a screen door’; it literally
was a door in that it was now only attached to one side of the tender, making our little boat as buoyant
as a bowling ball. Apparently, Elmer’s glue was not the proper compound with which to attach wood
to Hypalon! Note that I stated we went to the best KNOWN maintenance man - not the best SKILLED maintenance
The Zodiac’s warranty had lapsed while in this
prominent mechanic's possession, and knowing we’d be sailing off in the not so distant future,
he managed to become extraordinarily inaccessible. Left with no other recourse, we were forced to siphon
several thousand dollars out of the cruising kitty, and make a last minute portable transportation purchase.
We’d already relinquished the car to a relative
at the time we took possession of Dinky Duck II, so we heaved the hundred pound RIB to a nearby ramp for the launch, and rowed her out to Re Metau’s mooring. I won’t succumb
to the temptation of documenting slanderous particulars here, but rest assured I’d sent many
a vehement curse out to that scoundrel’s karma.
I have referred to Re Metau’s inboard Yanmar engine as Don’s mistress because he spent a lot of time on his knees putting expensive, shiny baubles on her, trying to keep her
happily humming along on those long, windless passages. This relegated Dinky Duck’s outboard motor
to the status of concubine. The Mercury was only used for quickies across the water and therefore didn’t
qualify for the same level of Don’s time and effort. Often, it was just easier to let someone
else tend to her needs. Given the slipshod repair done to our dinghy, we’d grave misgivings as to
whether the concubine was suitably appeased. But not wanting to further drain the travel budget, we’d
reluctantly decided to put that concern aside.
| ~ Diana at the Great Cay Harbour Cut ~
The Dinghy Outboard Begins to Fail
Alas, our first full day on Great Harbour Cay began with much trial and tribulation
trying to get the concubine aroused, an occurrence that sadly would become far too common
during our travels. We were seeking to encounter genuine Bahamian culture, and our cruising
handbook promised that the government dock on the northern tip was where we’d find
the “hub of island activity”. This meant a dinghy ride back out the
channel and around to the outer western edge of the island. Don
pulled the starter cord repeatedly, spewing his own obscenities out with each yank. After
multiple unresponsive rips, he unlaced the hoist harness, popped off the top, squirted some stuff
in the carburetor, tripped the throttle, yanked on the cord some more and finally got a reaction.
In a noxious cloud of fumes, we thus set off in a fractious mood.
We arrived at the government dock to discover that, once again the Cruising
Guide had misguided us. It’d stated that the quay in front of the public park was a good
place to tie up a tender. Huge tires strung up as fenders
along said seawall, and the colossal cleats anchored in the concrete made it quite
evident that very large vessels docked in the area described. We just weren’t comfortable
with the thought of our brand new tender getting squashed should a boat befitting these docking
fixtures arrive while we were gallivanting about Great Harbour.
And then the cantankerous concubine crapped
Don went into his dink starting sequence again;
jerk, curse, yank, swear, tug, fume, wrench, cuss, squirt, damn, flick, swear, twist,
cuss, tweak, sh**, pull, fume, rip, damn, and finally a sputter. More curses were placed upon
the head of our Marathon mechanic, but there was one palliative in knowing our dinghy could never
be stolen since Don was clearly the only one with the magic touch for getting the Merc going.
Great Harbour Cay Marina
We concluded the marina was a more likely landing, so retraced
our wake to the inner harbor and up the well marked channel. The very accommodating dock master,
Thorren assured us that it was fine to land the dinghy anywhere, and then supplied us with
a visitor’s guide which included a very helpful map of the cay. Thus, we discovered
Re Metau was anchored in The Bay of Five Pirates (now seven and a half - counting Neptune
in our crew).
Other than a half-dozen streets, there wasn’t
much else denoted on the map. A good stretch of the legs took us outside of the
marina, where we received a friendly greeting by an islander. Wally was quite the
philosopher, sharing his wisdom on love, life, and music all the while meditatively chopping
coconuts with his machete. He welcomed us to his island home with a refreshing nut full of
milk served with recommendations of all the people we should meet and places we should explore.
| ~ The Clubhouse Ruins ~
Biking Around Bullocks Harbour and Great Harbour
With the layout of the land in hand and
indigenous introductions made, we headed back to the boat for the bikes. Not wishing to delay,
Don left the Mercury running while we stuffed the Dahons into the dink. The bridge between the island’s two towns, Bullocks Harbor and Great
Harbour offered a decent place to beach. It was an area that gave us some rocks to tie up
to and, at low tide, a spit of land onto which we could haul up the cargo. We popped up like
a couple of trolls on wheels and headed toward the hub.
The ride around Bullocks Harbor was short and sweet; a main settlement
so diminutive that most all the shops, markets, and public facilities were situated within
people’s homes. There was but one main road running from the government dock, which
remained ship-less, to the cut into the Bay of Five 1/2 Pirates (Neptune remained onboard).
The “hub of island activity” seemed, at the moment, rather inert.
Desiring to encounter a little more local repartee,
we paused at the WhiteWater Bar & Grill for a cool drink. A barstool resident
encouraged us to try the establishment’s infamous Bahamian specialty – macaroni
and cheese. Though garnished with bits of red and green pepper, it definitely came from
a non-native blue and yellow box. But it was presented with such pride that we gobbled
it down with gusto. The friendly satisfied smiles definitely improved the flavor. Our
chat concluded, Don turned to me and recounted the old adage “There’s not
much going on 'round here”, and thus concluded our tour of Bullocks Harbor.
~ The Beach Club ~
A Little Bit of History
We crossed the bridge over to Great
Harbour in search of a little bit of history highlighted in the Cruising Guide
that alluded to this Bahamian out-island’s brush with fame. Seeking
to create a paradise for the privileged few, development of GHC began in the mid
1960s. An exclusive marina for luxury yachts, a premiere golf course with opulent
clubhouse, and waterfront villas all served to attract the likes of Brigitte Bardot,
Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and the Rockefellers. Sadly, the rich and famous eventually
attracted the villainous and infamous, and by the 80s, cocaine smuggling and weapons
trafficking turned this refuge for the notable into refuse of the notorious.
Though less exclusive,
the marina was the only enticement left in operation. The golf course was
closed, and the Clubhouse stood in ruin. Its former 1960’s glamour was
still palpable in the architecture of the floating main stair case, the huge
circular bar surrounded by now smashed shards of mirror, and the scraps of
metallic gold-flocked paper strips that clung to the walls. Signs of a disastrous
kitchen fire smudged the entire lower level, but I could find no chronicle
of the building’s ultimate demise. With the roof almost completely gone,
a forest had begun to gobble up the ostentatious 60s, the 70s vices, and the
avarice of the 80s. Whatever had gone on there 30 years past was now left
The Beach Club
We left the dilapidated
monument to elite infatuation, and peddling down the road to the Beach Club
and its magnificent unobstructed ocean view. A beautiful little place of notoriety,
this secluded set of circular bungalows appeared to have been built with plans
to avoid the invasion of patrons altogether; neighboring absolutely nothing
and affiliated to no one. Only two other guests graced its stools.
Clearly, Great Harbour Cay tourism had vanished.
Endeavors to peddle this remote outpost like a harlot and seduce the illustrious
had definitely failed. Our own little jaunt here had not been without some
tribulation. But ahh - encircled by that magnificently exquisite view, we’d
become the elite few. We’d traveled to this lovely island and were greeted
with genuine pleasure, approached with dignified regard, and free to savor
the stunning scenery in peaceful solitude. For that, we felt truly privileged.
© 2015 Diana E Reynolds - SV Re Metau. All rights reserved.
wanted freedom, open air and adventure. I found it on the sea." ~ Alaine Gerbault