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Posted By Robin & Jim

The days here in Nassau have flown by thanks to the company of good friends and the warmth of the Bahamian people.  Having a Dairy Queen right across the street is good for the soul, too.  We had a suprise two day visit from Betty and Jill on LiLi - which meant more dinner parties and a big group trip to the grocery store to stock up on local favorites and fresh veggies.  We also stumbled on the Bahamas Hand Print fabric factory and shop - and they showed us how they print the fabrics, which was interesting.  I could only afford a small placemat for our coffee table, but they had beautiful things!

hand print factory

We've been hanging out with our friend Hampton from DeFever 43 SMALL WORLD, and we've really enjoyed his company.  Since gusty winds and storm fronts have extended our stay here in Nassau, we all decided to go back over to the Atlantis Resort and pay to see the aquariums.  It was a splurge, but when in Rome...

atlantis

There are multiple aquariums with a wide variety of marine life, all very well done - from the elaborate big tank with two small manta rays...

manta ray

...leopard sharks, eagle rays, and plenty of jacks and topical fish, to a lagoon with lemon sharks, huge sawfish, big tarpon, and bonefish, to another pool with golden cow rays and little week-old rays, a few sea turtles, lionfish, jellyfish... and even some fresh water tanks with alligator gar and pirahnas. 

aquarium boys

It was really fabulous, and well worth the $40 fee.  We wandered all around from 10am until 7pm, and capped off a perfect day by walking to the outermost docks in the Atlantis marina and finding another DeFever boat that we know.  CASSANDRA JADE is a Grand Alaskan 65 with friends Carol and Bob Bryan (and dachshund Sallie).  It really is a small world!  They were looking to move to a less expensive marina and we suggested ours.  They're also heading to the Exumas so all three boats will travel together to cross the Yellow Bank.  More dinner parties... another visit to Dairy Queen... talking with the warm and lovely Bahamians... haircuts... more grocery shopping, and another visit to Potter's Cay.  Everywhere we go, the Bahamians always say a warm "hello" or "good afternoon".  They are very gentle and kind and friendly and their smiles are warmer than the sunshine.  It has been an unexpected two weeks, but we certainly succeeded in "making lemonade from life's little lemons"... "with sugar", as the gal in the marina office said!

big atlantis chair


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

Who knew a dental emergency could turn into a great adventure?

We are getting ready to (finally) leave Nassau after two weeks of dental visits and now waiting for the wind to settle down.  Tomorrow we head back to the Exumas where we can get back to snorkeling, diving, hiking, and kayaking.  We've had a series of strong fronts come through since early April which is unusual for the springtime.  Hopefully the trend will go back to normal soon and we'll have nice settled weather.  In the meantime we have had a ball here in Nassau, thanks to a series of friends who have passed through or are still here with us. 
We arrived two weeks ago, back-tracking from the Exuma Park because Jim broke a tooth.  We were feeling a little gloomy at the prospect of sitting at a dock in town and dealing with dental work, but we decided to mix a little exploring with some chores and make the best of the time.  The second day we were having lunch overlooking the harbor when we saw friends on FINALLY FUN come into the dock.  They were delayed a few days waiting for weather to cross back to the US, so we had a great time together touring and walking around.  We visited Potter's Cay where the various mail boats come to load and unload from their runs to the different out-islands, and we bought some produce from the market stalls there.

boy in market
There was an interesting array of fruits, vegetables, and peppers, some things we couldn't readily identify,
market peppers
as well as land crabs and dried conch in this interesting (but malodorous) arrangement.
 dried conch
We went over to Atlantis Resort another day just to see how the other half lives.  The marina charges $7/foot which is a staggering price, especially when you consider that most of the yachts were around 150' long!  Some even bigger.  Oh, and power and water are extra.  We wanted to see some of the aquariums and more of the resort, but you have to pay $40 a person to get into the lobby or aquariums or any cafes or restaurants.  We've heard their aquariums are amazing, but we decided to just wander around the casino where we could see the Chihuly art glass and the marina village where we could watch the behemoths pack into the basin.
 atlantis yachts
The next day another DeFever boat with friends arrived in our marina - SMALL WORLD, so we expanded our planned dinner party to include the whole gang! 
 defever dinner party
It was a terrific evening and a farewell for FINALLY FUN heading back to Florida, and for two of the three fellows aboard SMALL WORLD who were flying back to Florida.  Oh, and the next morning Jim was having his root canal - what fun!  Stay tuned for more adventures from Nassau...

 
Posted By Robin & Jim

We headed down to Warderick Wells Cay, Headqarters of the Exuma Land & Sea Park.  We had to bypass a few beautiful spots because we needed good protection from another round of strong winds coming in.  The Park hosts a little sunset get-together on the beach every Saturday for all the visitors, and in addition to DeFever friends we saw a Great Harbor 37 that belongs to friends we haven't seen in years!  This was a huge thrill!

exuma park sunset

We first met Paul & Sue Graham at a TrawlerFest in the late '90s when we were all still in the "dreaming" phase of our boating plans.  Both couples knew what boat they wanted, but were still a few years away from purchasing.  We corresponded and met at TrawlerFest each year, until the happy day when we ended up at TrawlerFest with our respective new boats - we bought them in the same year - 2002.  But it's a small world and here they were - so we had a very happy reunion on the beach and we raised a toast to the fact that our dreams came true.

paul & sue

It was Easter weekend, and the Park graciously hosted an Easter pot-luck luncheon for all the cruisers at the Warden's quarters.  It was a lovely party and the views from the wrap-around porch were just gorgeous.  We knew a lot of people from the DeFever club - everyone cleans up pretty well!

easter defevers
We were able to do a little snorkeling, but the high winds made it difficult; fortunately there are plenty of hiking trails on Warderick Wells, and we did a little exploring.  We also hiked up to Boo Boo Hill where cruisers are allowed to leave driftwood signs with their boat names on them.  It's a nice little tradition, though the pile of signs looks like a pretty big mess up there!  Mother Nature comes along with a good storm now and then to rearrange things.  We found our sign from 2010 and Jim carved this year's date on it.
boo boo hill
Cruising plans are usually cast in Jell-O - flexibility is the name of the game. Unfortunately Jim broke a tooth on Easter, and he really needed to get to a dentist to take care of it.  The nearest dentists are in Nassau, and one of the Park staff recommended her dentist.  We talked with them on the satellite phone and they said to come in as soon as we docked.  We made the day-long run back up to Nassau and they took care of Jim right away - very nice people!  He has a temporary patch and he needs a root canal, so that will be done this week.  We'll stay around for a few days after that to be sure he heals, but then we're free to head back over to the Exumas to explore.  We'll keep our cruising plans a bit less ambitious in case of any further problems with the tooth, but there are a ton of wonderful places to enjoy.  In the meantime, the winds have cranked up and are really howling, so it's just as well.  We're exploring Nassau town, hanging out with friends, and catching up on a few boat chores.

 
Posted By Robin & Jim

Our last day in Marathon was highlighted by a marvelous Easter party hosted by the marina.  They had a big breakfast buffet set up, and while we feasted the staff hid hundreds of plastic easter eggs and several special golden eggs.  They gave us fancy baskets and it was hysterical watching all the adults scamper and run around picking up eggs.  The eggs were stuffed with candy and the special ones won prizes.  Just wonderful!

easter egg jim

The next day we had a nice crossing to Bimini in the Bahamas along with friends on LILI (Betty and Jill) and HARBOUR REACH (Bill and Mary).  We cleared customs and headed over to N. Bimini for a nice dinner to celebrate.

bimini celebration

We were going to make the long trip across the Great Bahama Bank to the Berry Islands, but one engine was running a bit hot so we stayed an extra day in Bimini to replace the thermostat.  Lucky for us the Univ. of Miami Shark Lab happened to be offering a tour, and that was just great.  They're doing very interesting work with the local lemon shark population, as well as many other types of sharks.

shark lab

We fixed the engine and had a glassy crossing of the Bank to the southern Berry Islands, and left again the next morning headed for the Exuma island chain.  Jim had fun playing with his new video camera, putting it down near the water while we were underway.

video on the bank

We made a short stop in Nassau to top off our fuel tanks - diesel was $5.28/gallon, and we needed 189 gallons to top up.  Nassau was a flurry of activity, with four cruise ships in port plus many mega yachts and people on spring break.

We anchored off Highborne Cay in the Exumas, but some unexpected weather moved in and we had a bouncy night.  The closest shelter from the west winds was in the channel on the south side of Norman's Cay, so we joined a number of other boats (some we know - small world) and stayed two nights while the winds blew.  The sky got ugly for a bit, but it never got bad, thank goodness.

stormy normans

I managed a nice long paddle in the kayak, and Jim went snorkeling with friends on the DC-3 airplane wreck, left over from the island's days as a drug lord's haven. 

The winds are clocking around and we need some good protection from the NE, so we'll head down to Warderick Wells Cay - the Exuma Park headquarters.  We'll have good protection, plus nice snorkeling spots and plenty of hiking trails.