At dawn on 3rd May, we arrived at Highborne Cay in the Exumas, after an
overnight passage of 75 miles, where we entered from the deep Exuma Sound
onto the shallow Bahamas Banks. After stopping for breakfast, we continued
over the banks for a further 40 miles, being particularly careful over an
area called the "Yellow Banks" to avoid shallow coral heads.
Close to Nassau on the eastern side of New Providence Island there are all
manner of shallow areas, rocks and coral heads to avoid. We cleared Porgee
Rocks, then took a narrow channel very close to the shore of Rose Island,
rounded the western tip of Rose Island and anchored close to the beach on
the northwest corner for the night.
Leaving Rose island early on 4th May we had a fairly intricate journey back
around Rose Island, then around Porgee Rocks and into the eastern channel of
Nassau harbour. All boats must first call Harbour Control, give details of
boat and crew to gain permission to enter. Iza handled this while Geoff
negotiated the shallows. It was during this journey that Geoff lost his best
shirt. We had a wind on the beam across the cockpit and it was cold. Iza
threw the shirt up into the cockpit to Geoff. A couple inches before Geoff
could grab it, it was whisked aside by the wind and overboard. We went back
to look for it, but in vain. There was a sizeable chop in the water, a
strong cross wind and a very strong current.
Entering the Nassau Yacht Haven, where we had reserved space was a little
exciting. We had to turn across the harbour channel and across current
through a gap between a marked reef and larger commercial boats. We then had
a tight turn back to the east against the current which was so strong, that
the only way to then enter our slip, which fortunately was just inside the
end "T" was to ferry glide with the current until the slip was in line then
accelerate against the current to straighten the boat, with hopefully the
ability to slow her down again before reaching the end of the slip. A little
adrenalin flow but we made it!
The marina was on the New Providence, south side of the harbour. Looking
north across the harbour to Paradise Island, we could see Atlantis Resort
We immediately set off to the US Embassy and were advised to fill in new
visa forms and return at 0700 the following day. We returned the following
day, went through
the finger-printing and interview procedure, finished by 0900 and by 1400 that day we had passports back with new 10 year visas.
In the meantime during the two days in Nassau, we managed to explore the
bits we had missed on our way down to the Exumas.
We visited Fort Fincastle at the top of the Queen's Staircase, dating from
1793 with views over Nassau.
We visited St. Augustine's Monastery planned by Father Jerome and in which
he spent the last 6 years of his life. (For the full history of Father
Jerome, see our Long Island highlights).
And we visited Atlantis resort on Paradise Island which forms the northern
side of Nassau Harbour. Atlantis is out of this world as an outstanding
landmark, outstanding design and attention to detail and outstanding
concept. Created and owned by the owner of Sun City in South Africa as a
casino, hotel, resort, almost a self contained city. The sea aquarium in
Atlantis is amazing. Fed by fresh sea water flowing through the hotel
development, you can view most fish in the many shallow pools around the
hotel gardens. Go down two floors and you looking in to the main sea aquarium with all
the garden's shallow pools connected above so fish have the choice of the pools or
the 20-30 foot deep sea aquarium. The decor inside the sea aquarium is styled on
the designers idea of the lost world of Atlantis.
The creation of Atlantis seems to have rejuvenated Paradise Island and much
more tasteful development is now taking place. The main
Atlantis hotel building is by far the largest structure on New Providence and stands
out as the first and last thing you see when arriving or departing Nassau.
Although Nassau is home to resorts and cruise ships we were pleased to see
that it still retains some old Caribbean island charm.
We received an email from Wanda while in Nassau to advise us that they had
left Royal Island, taken advantage of a weather window and headed back to
the US. We hope to catch up with them in Charleston.
We had hoped to catch up with That's It, either in Nassau, Rose Island or
in the Abacos, but we received an email from them a while we were in
Conception to advise us that their engine repair was complete but that they
had to head back to the US.
On 6th May, we left Nassau Yacht Haven to venture out into the main channel
and through Nassau Harbour's western channel. The harbour is very busy and
there seems to be no speed limit. In amongst the many tour boats, fishing
boats, mail steamers and cruise ships is the occasional landing or take off
of Chalks Flying Boats Grumman Mallard and Albatross seaplanes. There are
also many shallows in the harbour to avoid.
With a sense of relief, we left the harbour and headed northwest for Royal
Island, north Eleuthera, 52 miles away.