Sunday, April 20, 2014

Farewell to The Bahamas

Green Turtle Cay to Powell Cay, Abacos
April 6 ‒ 10

After Sean and Maggie left, it was time for the first leg of our journey home—heading north around the Whale Cay passage. Because the Sea of Abaco is shallow between Treasure Cay and Green Turtle Cay, most cruising boats have to leave the Sea of Abaco, go out into the Atlantic around Whale Cay and back into the Sea of Abaco. Going through “the Whale” is something of an accomplishment because this cut is notorious for treacherous waves during conditions called a “rage.” Rage conditions are frequent where a large body of water such as the Atlantic funnels into a smaller, shallower area such as the Sea of Abaco. When northeast swells surge, the Whale quickly becomes impassable even for cruise ships. It’s not unusual to have to wait a week for an opportunity to safely transit this passage.

White Sound, Green Turtle Cay
Once around the Whale, we spent a few days in White Sound, Green Turtle Cay, to wait out yet another storm. During the night of April 9, fifty-knot winds roared through. An anchored catamaran dragged loose and pulled another sailboat aground with him. Déjà vu! The last time we were in the same harbor, in April 2008, we were involved in a very similar situation. In the middle of the night high winds picked up and a catamaran next to us dragged anchor. Their keel pulled out our anchor and we were bound together, our anchor chain wrapped around their keel. Hurtling loose through a dark and crowded harbor, we were T-boned against another boat and had to stay there for the night. We learned from that scary experience. This time we were tied up at Green Turtle Club Marina. And one of us (Joanie) slept through the entire squall.
The Tranquil Turtle Beach Bar, Green Turtle Cay

As we prepared to depart The Bahamas, we reflected on ways the trip turned out different than expected. We didn’t get to remote islands we’d hoped to visit, such as Cat and Long Islands. We did a lot of waiting. Waiting for my cast removal. Waiting for weather. Waiting for weather again. Waiting.

On the other hand, unexpected delays put in motion a chain of other enjoyable experiences. Like taking a little vacation-in-a-vacation when we spent four days in Nassau for surgery follow-up... Meeting wonderfully kind and gracious people, especially Dr. Neil... Receiving help and support from our friends on Ihana and Rag Doll… Renting a car on Eleuthera during a weather delay and finding Lighthouse Point Beach… Spending extra time in Marsh Harbour and attending a very enthusiastic church service with our friend George, who makes conch salad on the waterfront… Making new friends at Mangoes Marina. We wouldn’t want to exchange the gifts we were given for those we originally hoped for.
Gratitude embraces all of life:
the good and the bad, the joyful and the painful, the holy and the not-so-holy.
We do this because we become aware of God’s life,
God’s presence in the midst of all that happens.
Henri J. M. Nouwen
Up to the last minute, there were good gifts. One last grouper dinner. One last beautiful anchorage at Powell Cay. One last amazing wildlife sighting there: White-tailed Tropicbirds (creatures as beautiful as these should not be camera shy, but they flitted so fast we couldn’t get a decent photo). 
Look closely to see our picture of White-Tailed Tropicbirds,
Powell Cay
White-Tailed Tropicbird (photo credit: Jean-Luc Baron)
One last dolphin sighting on the Little Bahama Banks. 
Also slightly camera shy
One last sunset blast on the conch horn…a fitting farewell to The Bahamas. 

The wind-blown and frayed Bahamian courtesy flag
that flew on our boat.

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