Aaaahhh….finally got some real sleep! And, now that we were fully rested, finally got a chance to see just how clear the water below us was, and how beautiful our surroundings were. Being here felt like a dream and we had to keep pinching ourselves to realize it was no dream and we were definitely in the Bahamas! After spending a peaceful night at anchor at Manjack Cay, we headed south a few miles to White Sound in Green Turtle Cay where we picked up a mooring ball for $100 for a week. The winds were really supposed to be kicking up over the next several days, so we just wanted to hang out somewhere with some protection from these winds.
First order of business was getting the dinghy back in the water so that Jim could head over to the customs and immigration office in New Plymouth to get us officially checked in to the country. He dug out a nice collared shirt (we’d heard that you want to dress nicely when checking in), gathered all our documentation and $300 in cash for the check-in fee and was on his way. A quick 45 minutes later and he was back. Our boat could now stay in the Bahamas for one year, and the two of us for 90 days (we will renew this for another 90 days before the first 90 are up). Our $300 fee also includes a fishing license and an endorsement to use our new pole spear.
While Jim was working on making us legal, I was back on the boat (only the captain is allowed to step off of the boat until you’re all cleared in to the country) tearing apart our v-berth. Ugh. On the passage across the Gulf Stream the bow had been pounding into the waves and we apparently have some sort of leak from the anchor locker into the foot of our bed. When we take water over the bow, some of it inevitably makes its way into the anchor locker, which has a small drain going back out the front. However, something in this drain must be compromised and there was a good bit of water which made it under our bed, and into the storage area below the v-berth (where our precious beer is stored!). Sooooo….while Jim was checking us into the country, I was busy spreading our sheets, mattress pad, mattresses (we modified two twin mattresses to fit into our v-berth space) and other miscellaneous items all over the boat for the world to see!
When Jim got back, we replaced our quarantine flag with a Bahamas courtesy flag and then it was time to start exploring our new surroundings! We were anxious to start doing some snorkeling and seeing some marine life, but the ocean side of the island, where the reefs are, was just too rough during most our stay at Green Turtle. We did get in a time or two, but really didn’t see too many of the beautiful reef fish we were hoping to see, or the lobster we were hoping to spear! We did see several HUGE starfish (they had to be 18″ to 24″ across!), sea anemone, a turtle, sea cucumbers, and sea urchins. So, all in all, not too bad.
We ended up spending just over two weeks on the mooring ball at Green Turtle Cay, and during that time we explored almost every bit of the island that we could. We spent time beach combing, enjoying the wildlife, and doing boat projects. We checked out the three little grocery stores on the island, bought a loaf of hot out of the oven delicious coconut bread from Moma’s Suga Shak (the local ice cream store!), and found a bakery where we bought a rum cake (which we ate on the beach for breakfast that morning!). We enjoyed Goombay Smashes at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, watched the Super Bowl with a bucket of Kalik beers at the Bluff House Marina (on a very cold and windy night!), and celebrated our arrival with a champagne toast on the bow of the boat. We bought grouper and mutton snapper to cook on the boat, ate conch fritters, and taught ourselves how to break into coconuts. We went to a local flea market, played cornhole at a beach bar, and did mini workouts on the beach. We tried to help our friends who had run aground coming into a channel near low tide, helped some older folks who were unsuccessfully trying to grab a mooring ball, and watched anxiously as a catamaran dragging anchor got to within about six feet of us before finally getting their anchor off the bottom so they could re-anchor elsewhere.
It felt like we were starting to grow roots, and the winds were finally dying down, so we knew it was time to leave. The day before heading out, we filled our diesel tank and jerry cans ($3.949/gallon) to replace what we’d used crossing the Gulf Stream. The next day, we did a load of laundry ($5 per load) at the marina, and hung it out on the lifelines to dry because I just couldn’t bring myself to pay another $5 to dry them! While the clothes were in the washer…we couldn’t help ourselves…we snuck into the marina showers and had a nice long fresh water shower. Aaaahhhhh! Felt so good to be clean and salt free for a few minutes! We also made sure our fresh water tanks were full, and for possibly the first time in our lives (we have well water at home) we had to pay for fresh water at $0.25/gallon. And finally, we untied from the mooring ball and were on our way!