Ahhhh, well rested on Thursday morning we awoke to sunshine and cool breezes. We’d made it! Brian got our day started by listening to the weather on our Single Sideband (SSB) receiver. This will become our new morning routine as forecaster, Chris Parker, provides wind reports each morning at 6:30am. Boy, that’s early! What about this so-called “island time?”
Our goal for the day was to safely get ourselves to the Great Harbor Cay Marina and clear customs. After breakfast, Brian called the dockmaster on the VHF. “We’d like to come into the harbor for fuel and customs,” he stated. “Fuel is on the right as you come in, marina is around the corner take the first empty slip,” was the reply. Ok, that sounds simple. Again using the charts and depth sounder we kept to the channel. As the guidebook forewarned there were missing navigational markers, but our chart seemed to be dead-on. We were quickly getting acclimated to the clear view of the bottom through the water. We entered the harbor through a rock wall lined channel and peeking around the corner we spotted the fuel dock. Hmm, how exactly do we dock? There was a long, high dock extending out between several pilings. It seemed logical to just tie up along the end of the dock, so that is what we did. The gentleman helping us informed us that people usually pull into the slips, now visible on either side of that long dock. “This is ok,” he reassured us. We must have made an entertaining morning for him! The fuel dock is also the fuel station for cars, it is open daily until 12:00pm.
After fueling, we made our way into the harbor and found the Great Harbor Cay Marina. Two gentlemen were waiting at the slip to assist us. While docking, I got a quick lesson on how to rig a spring line (Brian usually does this but of course he cannot drive and rig lines simultaneously). Settled at the dock, the dockmaster provided customs paperwork and I got down to business completing multiple copies with our information. I think I now have our documentation number memorized as well as our gross tonnage (8), net tonnage (7), length (32), width (11), and engine horsepower (55). Once completed we waited for customs to arrive. They came and reviewed our paperwork and took our fee of $300 (still being debated whether boats 35ft and under are $150 or $300). All clear!
Next we found internet access at the marina office and sent off messages to our parents letting them know we were docked, cleared, and A-OK. We returned the iPad to the boat before we set out exploring and were treated to three manatees swimming by. They were so strange! Their tails reminded me of a beaver tail and they barely moved as they floated by. I was able to capture them just in the knick of time.
Brian and I set out walking in search of the Beach Club with only spoken directions from one of the marina staff, James. It was great to stretch our legs after another four days on the boat. It was warm, but not too hot, and we took in our new scenery. Along the way a car stopped and a very friendly woman, Andrea, offered us a ride with her to the Flats. “Great, thanks!” We hopped into the car and got acquainted with Andrea. She and her family have been wintering at the Bahamas since the 80’s; this year she is here with her parents and her siblings and nieces and nephews come and go as they are able. They have a condo that is exactly across from our boat’s slip at the marina. We arrived at the Flats, a beautiful stretch of sandbar at low tide. We walked in the warm water and searched the beach for sea shells and sand dollars. Andrea was a pro at finding sand dollars.
Afterward, Andrea drove us to the Beach Club and then into town to show us where the grocery store, liquor store, and hardware store are. She drove us back to the marina and we welcomed her aboard Rode Trip. What a great start to our Berry Island explorations!