While our journey might sound like it will be one long Jimmy Buffett song — and believe me, if it didn’t have some aspects of that, we wouldn’t be doing it — there’s a lot more to it than that. In this post and likely others, I’ll try to set the record straight. Mind you, this is coming from the perspective of someone who has yet to make this trip. Nevertheless, I’ve spent enough time aboard my boat, on charter boats in the islands, and with cruisers who have gone before me, to disabuse me of any overly-romantic conception of cruising to the Bahamas will be like.
Getting to the Bahamas is Quick and Easy
Even by air, getting to the Out Islands of the Bahamas — i.e. those islands other than New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport), where we are headed — is not an easy undertaking, requiring a full day of travel IF everything goes right. When you consider that Nassau is 961 miles from Annapolis, as the crow flies, you realize it’s a long trip by vessel that travels 8 knots (@9.26 miles per hour) under perfect conditions. And, of course, the conditions are highly unlikely to be perfect, and we won’t be traveling in a straight line. The wind may blow too little or too much; currents may be unfavorable; we may spend more time in the ICW than envisioned; we may need to make stops for repairs; etc. That’s why, given that and our other our assorted commitments, we’ll consider ourselves lucky to get to the Bahamas by mid-December.
It’s Going to Be All Frozen Drinks and Sunsets
When we are close to “civilization,” you can be sure there will be frozen drinks! I can already taste a frozen Nipper from that fine establishment of the same name on Great Guana Cay in the Abacos. But we sure as heck won’t be making them ourselves. I’ll be giving up many electrical appliances like my hair dryer (which will be replaced with the “marine blow dryer” — sitting on the bow of the boat in the breeze and hoping my hair doesn’t dry into some crazy style); they just use too much electricity. So a blender is not part of our plans. Similarly, ice will be a luxury used less-generously than we might have at home.
Winter in the Bahamas …. Sounds Dreamy
We’ve traveled to the Bahamas many times, and the weather is a prime attraction. But I warn everyone that if they want guaranteed good weather, they shouldn’t go December through March. Why? Because those same cold fronts that can make Disney World chilly in January aren’t slowed much by the Gulf Stream, though the further south you go, the better your odds. This past March, of the 7 days we spent on Cat Island, 5 were downright brisk (see trip report here: http://islandtime.homestead.com/CatIsland2013.html) . Of course, the other 2 made it worthwhile. Usually, it’s not that bad, but there are no guarantees. However, if you go when the weather is more reliably pleasant, you’re a bit too close to hurricane season for comfort. And both prudence and our marine insurance company don’t look too favorably on that.
Still, It’s Going to Be One Long Vacation
Indeed, it will be a vacation from traffic, work, regimented hours, slush and snow, and the 24-hour news cycle. But though some concerns and commitments will be wiped away, they will be replaced with others. Like figuring out how to stretch 100 gallons of fresh water until the next time we can get more. Like finding a cell signal or WiFi so we can pay our credit card bill. Like knowing when the next mailboat comes in so that there’s a chance of buying fresh vegetables. Like worrying about whether our anchor will drag in the middle of the night, or whether someone else’s anchor will drag them into us. Like making sure we get to the bank in time to get cash.
You’re Not Really Going to Make Your Bed Every Day, Are You? You’re Just Going to Sleep In It Again…..
Yes, Rick, I am. And your bed too.
We’ll be living in a space that’s 40’2″ long, and 13’4″ wide at its widest. In this space, we cram not only the necessities for living (food, water, clothing, supplies) but also our means of conveyance (engine, fuel, mast). It’s not much room, even at our neatest and most efficient. So having random rumpled bedding crowding it is not going to work for me. I’m a slightly compulsive neatnik, so unmade beds are going to drive me nuts. Even if it takes time to make the beds every morning, I will do it.
You’re Going to Have Lots of Visitors
We’d love to see each and every one of you. But for all of our sakes, most of you should do it from shore, and plan to enjoy yourselves without us in case we can’t catch up with each other — I can suggest a lot of terrific places for you to stay. If you’re lucky, I’ll tell you the name of the place where they did a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue shoot, but where the garden baths sometimes feature wildlife in the toilets:
As I’ve mentioned, space onboard is tight. But beyond that, it’s going to be hard for us to know where we’ll be at any given time, and airports aren’t always handy. Flexibility and contingency plans are key. (We are used to this. Given my weather and travel misadventures, I can change plans on a dime. See: http://islandtime3.homestead.com/bvi01pro.html and http://islandtime.homestead.com/Nevis2008.html). The first time we visited Skip and Harriet, on departure day the conditions and their plans required us to take a water taxi from Sampson Cay to the un-manned landing strip on Staniel Cay in the Exumas, and then charter a plane to get us from there to the “international” airport in Georgetown so we could catch our flights home. We got the charter pilot’s name from the bartender at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, and made our “reservation” using only first names and cell numbers. The second time we visited, the weather left Moondance stuck at a marina; we never sailed at all.
You and Rick Are Going to Get Sick of Each Other