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With wind on our stern, we headed to Nassau.  The sail was phenomenal, brilliant blue skies, bright sun, and deep blue water.  However, we dreaded Nassau.  That was where we bent our bow pulpit last year going into a dock with fast current and wind.  Also we had heard that no slips were available due to the crowds coming in to christen the New Year.  We called on the VHF, located a slip at the Nassau Harbor Club, and were able to get in our designated slip with no trouble.  We ran into Dennis and Christine on Ting Um who had been next to us at Playboy Marina in Ft. Lauderdale where we had the boat hauled.  Dennis had worked on the construction of the Atlantis Hotel and had access to a pickup truck whenever he was in Nassau.  He drove us around to look for a 1 11/16 inch socket.  A miracle!  We found one.  Now if the pulley starts to become loose, Bob can tighten it again.  And when we get the new one, he will have the tool to install it.  In Nassau, we also saw Bill and Josie Roberts.  Bill worked at the same West Marine as I did.   It's comforting to run into people time and again along the way, like meeting old friends, even though you have known them a short time.

We left Nassau and had a beautiful sail to
Highbourne Cay over the Yellow Banks, so called because of the yellowish appearance of the coral heads in shallow water.  We have made that trip five times now, always at high tide and have not yet seen any yellow tinge to the water. Just this week the local mail boat sank in this area. 

The next day we went to
Norman's Cay where Dennis had recommended ringing in the millennium at their New Year's Eve Party.  We made reservations and went in about 8:00 p.m.   McDuff's is an open-air restaurant with thatched roof, only the kitchen and a portion of the dining area screened.  There were a few rental cottages and both the restaurant and cottages were festively lit.  The toilet is separate from the restaurant, down a little path in an enclosure with three walls and no door, an amber light focused on the throne.  There is a sink but no roof at all so you can sit there and study the stars while you relieve yourself, hoping no one comes before you're finished.  The evening was an intimate affair with only 50 people.

This is the island formerly used by the Columbians to run drugs.  Last year, I described a plane which had crashed in the bay during the drug-running days,slowly deteriorating from the salt water.  The island still has an airstrip used by private planes to fly in for a holiday.  Apparently the bullet holes don't cause a major problem since five planes on the tarmac for New Year's Eve.  The island-style buffet cost $12 and included ham, roast beef, mild and hot wings, potato salad, slaw, and rolls.  Dinner was served at 10:00 p.m. followed by fireworks on the beach at midnight. The night was balmy with a light breeze and a zillion stars.  The quality and amount of fireworks were impressive, lighting up the sky in a kaleidoscope of colors.  We could see Nassau forty miles away when their fireworks went off.  If you didn't know it was New Year's, you might think they were being bombed!  Most people were casually dressed, but a few were decked out, some with only a nod toward formality such as the gentleman with shorts and shirt, barefoot, wearing a cummerbund.  The proprietor Mc Duff had long blond hair somewhat unkempt and was unusually clad in a formal white bow tie, black tuxedo jacket, and thong.  The next day, an announcement was made over the VHF that there would be a free pig roast at 5 p.m., attendees asked only to bring a covered dish.  We took a dish and went at 5:00.  The packaged kit included a pig in a metal box, inside a wooded box with a grate for charcoals on top.   The pig wasn't put on until 1:00 p.m. and was checked at 5, 5:30, 6, 6:30, and 7.  We finally left about 7:30 to go home and prepare dinner.  Don't know if the pig ever got done enough to eat.  It was a nice thought but apparently the first such effort to roast a pig in a kit.  Problems were that they had the box sitting above ground so that the wind was cooling it and  the directions said not to open the box which they did so frequently that the heat kept escaping.   Back at the boat, we complied with tradition and ate black-eyed peas with ham, can't really do hog jowl on the boat.

From Norman's we went to
Staniel Cay, home of Thunderball Cave.  We spent 3 nights there, waiting for a weather window to continue south. On our way out, Bob caught his first fish.  Was he ever excited!   It was a jack, really good eating.  We had Sam and Jerry over for a community dinner.  Sam brought fries, Bob grilled the fish, and I prepared a salad and lemon squares.  Great meal.   We spent two nights at Galliot Cut and then left the shallow turquoise water of the Exuma Bank to head into the deep blue Atlantic to George Town where we arrived on Friday, January 8.  The weather was beautiful, the water turquoise, the sky bright blue, and during the early afternoon, it was HOT!  The Bahamian water was truly amazing.  In Ft. Lauderdale, the water had a yellowish tinge, as if someone forgot to flush.  And this was the city water we used in the kitchen and the bathroom!  Bahamian water was crystal clear. 

George Town is small with two grocery stores, a bank, and various restaurants and small businesses.  Chores to maintain the boat such as laundry, groceries, phone calls, and such must be done during the day when businesses are opened.  Last year at the peak of the season, there were over 400 boats here, scattered among various anchorages, a marina, and a boatyard.  Many people schedule activities such as volleyball, yoga, walks on the beach, potluck dinners, etc. if a person is inclined to get involved.  We are anchored at Hamburger Beach so we have about a 20 minute dinghy ride to shore. 

At night, it is pitch black dark except for lights along the far shore and the anchor lights.  The anchor lights make the respective harbors look like a fairyland with the lights rocking gently atop the boats in the black of  night, like hovering fireflies with the nearest ones reflecting pale streams of light across the water.  The distant twinkling stars in the black sky provide yet another panorama of lights.

We have a new toy, a sailing dinghy eight feet long and only big enough for one person.  It has one sail and is very tipsy.  It could even be a bathtub.  You can stay dry, more or less, depending upon your skill at sailing.  It is very restful to sail about the anchorage, leisurely looking at all the other boats.  There's a world of difference between sailing a big boat on the ocean where you just set the sails and stay on the same tack and sailing a tiny boat around in circles in fluky breezes.  Sailing the little boat teaches you the skills to handle the sails on the big boat, so they say.

We made arrangements to have the engine parts shipped and to order new lifelines since one of  them had broken.  Bob finished installing the solar panels and the wind generator so we had auxiliary sources to charge the batteries in addition to the engine. He also secured the microwave and the new freezer so they won't slide around when we're underway.  The water maker had a problem but now it's fixed.  At the moment, the only thing not working is the salt-water wash down at the windlass for the anchor.  It's always something, but Bob is amazingly adept at repairs.  Then wind generator malfunctioned so we had to wait for another part which necessitated another week or two in George Town. 

After four weeks in George Town, the part for the engine arrived, but did not fit.  The part we needed had to be ordered from England.  It finally arrived but they sent the wrong bolt and washer.  Fortunately the old ones, though damaged, could be used to attach the new pulley. 

We are now at the docks provisioning, getting the propane tank for the stove filled, doing laundry, receiving and sending e-mail, getting fuel, and generally preparing to leave.  We spent Friday, February 11th, here at the dock then went to anchor at Fowl Cay to "stage" or prepare to depart the next day, weather permitting.  Last year, our friends Dick and Kathy on Arianna made the trip we're facing.  We copied all of their e-mails and made a "book" which we are reading as we prepare to head out.

Bob caught his first three lobsters! These are warm water lobster without claws but they have delicious tails.  (He gave the third one away so as to share the enjoyment.)   Bob's success at lobster hunting was due to Ting Um, Dennis and Christine, the friends we met at Playboy Marina in Ft. Lauderdale, the ones who took us to buy the socket wrench in Nassau.  They have a trawler and took us and Rainbow's End out of the harbor to an area where they snorkeled and found the lobster.  Dennis showed Bob what to look for, pointing out the first lobster.  After that, Bob found two more on his own.  Hopefully, as we get to the out islands, we'll eat lobster more often.

While at George Town, we attended Ham radio meetings and got the Ham U software which I haven't had time to study yet.  We  took a Caribbean dance class taught by an Italian woman whose body moved like a sexy snake, ate local food, met and talked to a lot of fellow travelers, and partied.  It has been interesting but we're ready to move on for more adventure.  We have to get to Tobago Cays by July 1 in order to comply with insurance requirements so we need to get going. 

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