The long slog home -- Nassau

Thu 8 Apr 2010 23:52
25:4.75 N
77:21.25 W

We made it to Nassau Harbor today, from Allens Cay. The trip took about 6 hours on the Banks, in about 15 knot winds in
the morning, which tapered off throughout the day. We reefed the sail to begin with and then ended up motorsailing the
last half when our speed fell to below 5 knots. The waves were awkward, beginning the day at around 2 feet and ending at
about 3 to 4, but close together and choppy. If we kept up a certain speed we were able to surf them, mostly, but Sea
Fever does get tossed around. The sun was blazing hot the whole trip. We really need a bimini. For me (Lilly) it was
unbearable at times, and I had to go below to get out of it. Rose refused to go below and suffered the worst, eventually
dowsing herself with melted ice water from the cooler, which helped a lot. Tomorrow (Friday), we will be sailing from
dawn, possibly till noon on Saturday about 130 miles to Bimini. That means we'll be on the water, under the sun, for the
entire length of the day. Rose has promised she will go below to get out of the sun, at least occasionally. I think the night passage portion
will be a huge relief.

Our entrance into Nassau Harbor was surreal, coming from the Exumas. Here, there was boat traffic of all kinds,
freighters, mega-yachts, monolithic cruise ships, zodiacs, jet skis, tourist boats, fishing boats--every possible water
craft imaginable. We tied up (taking two tries) to what we thought was the fuel dock. It had a giant Texaco sign on it,
and said "Open." Well, it was neither open, nor a fuel purveyor. The girls and I waited on Sea Fever, tied up to the
dock, rocked and dashed by wakes from passing boats. Garth rowed Amazon to another dock, where he was able to get both
fuel and a gas can (we wanted an extra for the long trip to Bimini). As he returned to Sea Fever, he remarked that he
wasn't able to get anything else (not the hoped-for ice or ice cream). He was overheard by two guys on the dock, one of
whom said he would open a gate at the end of the dock and show Garth where the shops were. Off Garth went again, to return a long while later ladened with ice, ice cream, apples, oranges, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and grapes.

We passed through the harbor, past the massive buildings of the resort Atlantis on our right (Rose thought
the buildings looked like evil fortresses in scary movies) and past an enormous Carnival Pride cruise boat. Docked
next to it is our old friend Grand Caribe, which is completely drawfed by the Carnival boat. The Grand Caribe looks like
a bath toy sitting there. The girls are fascinated by the cruise ship. (Isabel calls it Cleans Potties, a reference to
C.P., our toilet cleaner.) We watched a gargantuan freight boat come in, nearly as big as the Carnival boat. It lowered its ramp and out came one tiny-seeming truck. There must be more to come.

We've positioned ourselves at the far West end of the harbor, away from most of the boat traffic. We can hear the sounds
of the city. Sirens, cars, humanity, and thousands of sea birds (I think we're near the dump). Tomorrow morning at
first light, we'll head out into Northwest Providence Channel (of which I'm terrified) and begin our Nassau-Bimini leg,
which we have estimated will take 24 hours, but since passages always take longer than we think, we've given ourselves
some padding to get into Bimini by noon, after which, the forecast becomes less pleasant. A big front is moving in with
winds up to 25 and 30 knots next week. We'll be tucked into safe harbor in Bimini to wait that out.

We're very glad to have gotten this far today!