What navigation marks - well we were warned

Position           25:10.64N 078:01.64W

Date                1520 Saturday 17 March 2012

 

Some time after 0100 we crossed out of the Florida Channel and the Gulf Stream.  We passed ½ nm abeam of North Rock and its attendant beacon and light; well I suppose that we did.  ‘Did not see a thing Officer and certainly did not hit it’.  We were warned that in the Bahamas such things were optional and not to be expected to be working.

 

Heading on over the Bahamas Bank was a little scary when the depth under the keel goes down to about 50 cms.  We also had to head directly into the wind for the next leg to Mackie Shoal so on with the iron topsail to keep moving and on a very precise track; not a great deal of room for manoeuvre here.  Dawn came up at 0700 and as we passed Mackie Shoal and were able to bear away, set full sail and dispense with the engine.

 

Mike and Jean on Sestina had described the interesting state of the next marker at North West Channel and for the record here it is:

 

 

It has certainly received attention from passing boat heeling at an even jauntier angle than the Nab Tower.

 

Freeing off further for the run down to Morgan’s Bluff and finished the trip with great reach passing into the harbour at 1500.

 

 

We finally come to anchor in the shelter of the disused water tanker jetty at 1520.  The channel is marked although some of the buoys are missing.  I later found one of the missing markers:

 

 

 

We were greeted on anchoring by Bruce and Gina from the US registered Island Packet 44 Dream Catcher.  Bruce had incidentally circumnavigated in his yacht in 2004/5.  As it was Saturday and time was getting on they very kindly took me ashore to try and catch customs and immigration and clear in to the Bahamas.

 

Whilst there was a customs lady officer in the harbour she was only there I to clear in a ship and did not have the correct forms.  I had been advised before leaving, by Fritz, that there was a man by the name of Mr Lee who could facilitate clearing in at the airport for $40.  Sure enough Mr Shalom Lee was summoned by said customs officer and he took me off the 12 miles or so to the airport.

 

An interesting drive!  It took some time for me to wok out which side of the road they drive on; if you are interested it is the left; most of the time.

 

Of course at the airport the customs officer on duty had vaporised and after 30 minutes of fruitless searching the charming immigration officer decide to do the job herself which involved finding keys to the customs office, then the forms and then working out what to do with them and how to issue the cruising permit (a quick $300 for 90 days).

 

These somewhat lengthy forms and permits seem to be completed in triplicate and as whatever self carbon impregnation there was had evaporated in the sun this involved each copy being individually completed.  All of this however was completed with cheerful charm and eventually some 90 minutes later I emerged cleared, immigrated and permitted and Shalom duly returned me to the bar at Morgan’s Bluff where Bruce and Gina were occupying themselves using the bar’s WiFi and dining off fresh conch salad.  Shalom certainly earned his $40.

 

 

More on Morgan’s Bluff later but suffice it to say it is off the cruiser’s track, the anchorage whilst shallow is not crowded, 3 yachts, and the bar prices at $3 for a beer and $1 for a coke are very reasonable.  The locals seem pleased to see everyone and are noisily sociable; well it was well into Saturday evening and dominoes, which appears to be more of a contact sport, was in full swing.