High ZZ’s has reached another milestone…two different island chains in the Bahamas! We have gone from establishing just a toehold, to establishing a foothold in another country. A lesson, too often re-learned, was taught in the meantime. I have never followed the “herd mentality”, most often choosing to go our own way….you know…making a hot tub out of an antique runabout, not just teaching wildland fire, but actually participating, retiring early to sail off into the sunset with no intention of cashing in on my “consulting” opportunities; the list is endless. But this trip, we succumbed. We had every intension of waiting in the secure and quite surrounds of our anchorage in north Bimini and departing for the Barry Islands at midnight Saturday, after the wind and eight day’s worth of wind-driven swells, had subsided, and mild motoring into 5-10kts of headwind, and only 2 ft seas, would make for a boring but easy passage due east. But instead, we saw boat after boat with our friends leaving early Saturday afternoon, in the light conditions that were prevalent in the lee of North Bimini.
So we succumbed; headed out with them with the idea of anchoring outside in the lee of the whole island, and then leaving at midnight to cross the Great Bahama Bank. But as soon as we got outside the harbor, we noticed a wicked westerly swell (coming out of nowhere, unpredicted) that would have made anchoring “outside” very uncomfortable. So, as the rest of the herd was deciding to just press on, all but us going further south to Nassau, we also decided to press on. After rounding North Rock, we found the same mild conditions that our friends were talking about on the radio that they encountered on the bank south of Cat Cay…but it did not last long. At dinner time, we had to slow down to keep the plates on the table as the 2ft seas had become 3ft. And then, about 2000, those 3 ft. seas became 4ft, and near midnight, they became 5ft out in the middle of the bank. We had to slow to 3kts, just to avoid heaps of blue water sweeping the decks…and we lost another running lights bulb, as the bow would submarine, and the cool water shattered the hot bulb (another $10 down the drain). A 16 hour trip became a 19 hour slog that we would like to be smart enough to avoid….lesson learned again. Don’t follow the herd!
But the bashing was worth it in the end! Bullocks Harbor/Great Harbor Cay is beautiful. It is everything Bimini was not. No stinky litter on the streets, no mega-yacht harbor, no casino, no super-rich playground contrasting with broken down poor local housing. Just simple cruising folk, a smattering of US invested vacation housing, and most refreshing, a Bahamian population that takes pride in their surrounds, maintains their properties, doesn’t just toss empty beer bottles in the street (or at least picks them up on a regular basis)…we could stay here a month, if we had the time.
And there is lots to stay for, Sugar Beach, great snorkeling in neat places like the pictured, drug smuggling, plane wreck, the biggest lobsters I have seen, friendly people, an organized cruising community with lots of activities (like the green flash dingy-drift). Deb even learned how to make baskets (guess which one was her second). But Shush! Cruisers say that the Berrys are too far off the beaten path, nothing to see/do…don’t tell anyone! The Harbor entrance cut is a bit intimidating!