Nassau Tales from Jeff

January 1, 2008

We finally were able to escape from Fort Lauderdale mid December. Although we had a lot of fun there, it was mostly hard work (can I have my job back, Charlie?) It’s a real undertaking trying to get a complicated machine like Antares ready to go in such a short time.  However, we were able to play quite a bit, with good friends (and yacht broker) Joel and Vela (thanks for the many free dinners at the Lauderdale Yacht Club), my mother, who lives nearby, and my whole family, who came down for Thanksgiving.

We sailed for No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne, Miami (remember Nixon? He lived there), thinking we had it all together. It was a glorious first trip. Unfortunately (this word will appear frequently), we discovered a problem with, what we thought was the heat exchanger on the engine, across Biscayne Bay (no technical explanations here, unless they add to the narrative). It was getting close to Christmas, when the whole boating supply, repair, and extortion industry shuts down for 2 weeks. Also, we had to leave the state by Jan 1, to avoid the 10% sales tax (mucho dineros), and, Lyle and Shannon were scheduled to fly to Georgetown, Great Exuma to meet us early in January. Pressure! On vacation! Oy!

What followed was a hilarious (if you weren’t there, and paying for it), series of events. We found a wonderful mechanic (Mike), known all over the Yanmar (our engine) world, who did everything he could to fix our heat exchanger, which ultimately was replaced (mucho dineros). Unfortunately, it turned out that the heat exchanger wasn’t the problem, although this was no fault of Mike’s. We did, in the process, discover other hidden demons, so all was not in vain. The process involved numerous round trips from No Name Harbor, across Biscayne Bay, and up the Miami River to Mike’s place (Anchor Marine). The Miami River is a somewhat decrepit but otherwise very cool place (old Miami). It was on the Miami Rive that we first spotted our stowaway, an adorable little gecko named Gary Fausone (really). I fed Gary flies that I caught, or hamburger meat when we ran out of flies. I finally had to let him go in Nassau; I couldn’t stand his constant chattering. Last seen, he was headed to the Atlantis hotel, to check out the action.

I have another theory about what’s wrong with the engine, but I’m not saying what it is, until I turn out to be right. The good thing is that unlike before (a few hours ago), I’m not worrying about it.

We have some other problems (they’re known as boat gremlins), but, we’re going forward.

We departed Miami for the Bahamas 12/23/07. We made it across the dreaded Gulf Stream, and anchored out on the Great Bahamas Banks just north of Bimini.  This is quite an experience. The Bahamas are basically a huge underwater mountainous plateau, rising abruptly from thousands of feet depth, which, in most places, doesn’t reach the surface (it is generally about 10 to 20 feet below the surface). In a few places (the Cays), the land rises above the water. This system was designed to support the Bahamas boating and hotel industry. Anchoring on the banks is a wondrous (to some of the crew) or terrifying experience (to others of the crew). One is literally anchored all alone in 15 feet of water in the middle of the ocean, with no land in site. Not many are dumb enough to try this, nor live to escape the wrath of the admiral for doing so.

We crossed the banks in three legs, anchoring out each night. Then we crossed the NW Providence Channel to Nassau, where we cleared in to Customs and Immigration, proudly raising our Bahamas courtesy flag (even though we cheated a little by not clearing in immediately upon entering Bahamian waters). In Nassau, we did some boat chores, cancelled our Blue Shield insurance, and saw Atlantis, a truly extraordinarily something hotel (mucho dineros).

The highlights so far are how well the boat sails (9 plus knots under sale in 15 knots of wind, 7 knots at cruising rpm’s under power), how comfortable and beautiful she is below, the amazing water maker (180 liters per hour; Phyllis can clean and shower as much as she likes). The electric sails make it easy, and the dishwasher is very cute. We have yet to use the microwave or clothes washer. The admiral is a wonderful cook, producing gourmet meals nightly (although she’d rather go out to eat someone else’s gourmet meals.)

As I write this, we’re anchored off Highborne Cay in the Exumas. It’s perfect. The anchor is dug in (I know, because I dived on it). The water is, as they say, gin clear (an appropriate expression for this boat.) The sky is full of stars; the wind is blowing softly at 12 knots.

Yesterday, we looked around and had an odd feeling. Twenty plus years ago, we were on essentially the same boat (although a little smaller and less complicated), doing the same thing. It’s as if no time has passed, although for some reason, the skipper has less hair.

More to come.

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3 Responses to “Nassau Tales from Jeff”

  1. Mark Luoto said

    It great to hear about you guys.You are missed.The whole family including our granddughter, Eve, is here for the holidays. We are definitely getting on each others nerves, but it’s been good. Off to Job Care this am., wipe that shit-eating grin off of your face, Jeff. Warmly, Mark

  2. Jeff…….your writing is wonderful and Phyllis, you are such a fantastic illustrator…….what a wonderful pair!!!!Are you getting on each other nerves yet?

  3. Maybe I put my comments in the wrong spot…if so see above…….miss you guys

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