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Published: January 26th 2010
It’s almost the end of January, and we feel like we are just getting started on our winter cruising. About Time, our Beneteau First 405 has spent more time at dock this year than other years, and we have certainly enjoyed the amenities that dock life offers. Water , electricity, cable tv , swimming pools, hot tubs, have been nice, but the trip down to Exuma reinforces that this is what we like best! Yes….. Winter again in Paradise!
We spent 2 really nice months at the Ocean Reef Yacht Club and Resort, in Port Lucaya, Freeport this year, starting Nov 18th. Some cruising friends had recommended the Ocean Reef as a very nice, safe place to stay at dock, and within our budget. It proved to be all of that, plus we met some great people on other boats that made the stay even better. We soon got into a routine at the Ocean Reef, of starting off the morning in the hot tub, planning the day with other cruisers, and resort guests, then playing tennis, then maybe a trip out to the reef in front or exploring the canal, and then believe it or not it was
time for lunch. Some days we did do work on the boat (the justification for going there) but at the end we still had a fair sized to do list that we will get to. Afternoons involved going to one of the two pools, again the hot tub, and before we knew it, it was time for one of the resort activities, or just relaxing on the boat. Some days we would venture into Freeport which has the best grocery stores, and availability of supplies that we have seen anywhere in the Bahamas. When we got bored we could wash the boat, a luxury of free fresh water that we are not used to in the Bahamas.
While we were at the Ocean Reef, we did some island exploring, going to visit the Lucayan Waterway, the Lucayan National Park and beach, Barbary Beach, the Fish Fry at Taino Beach, and of course the fantastic show every Friday night at the Lucayan Marketplace. If you ever go to the show, stay to watch Ronald, limbo under 2 beer bottles! We were very surprised at how nice the reefs were to explore and the abundance of fish and lobsters, right out
This is not the Bahamas
Doug and Ella skating during our visit home.
in front of Lucaya. In the past we have only spend enough time in Freeport to clear customs , so we were so impressed at how nice a place it is, and well worth spending some time. But…. By the time January comes it starts getting cold in Freeport, one morning it was 52 F when we got up in the morning. Now for the Bahamas, that is cold!
Another of our reasons for staying so long in Freeport was that we wanted to go home for a couple of weeks at Christmas, and WestJet has a reasonable direct flight between Freeport and Toronto. So we left our boat at the Ocean reef and headed home to see the kids and grand kids for 2 weeks at Christmas. We stayed at Dawn’s and for two weeks had the luxury of seeing our grandchildren Ella and Gavin every day. Ella, is incredible, she is growing up so fast, and Gavin, is about the cutest most content little guy we’ve ever seen. Our son Steve, really likes to hang out with his neice and nephew so we got to see Steve a lot during the two weeks we were home. Steve
Lucayan National Park
Very beautiful beach at low tide.
had also come to visit us while we were at the Ocean Reef, and we think he had a nice break. Steve has a big holiday planned this winter to go to the Olympics, so his visit to the boat was short, but nice.
After Christmas Sharon and I headed back to the boat on Dec 28th, and on Jan 1, Dawn, Paul, Ella and Gavin came down to the Ocean Reef for a 10 day visit. With a 3 month old baby, it was much more comfortable with them at a dock, where they could use all the facilities like the swimming pools and hot tub. Unfortunately while they were there, the weather turned cold, perhaps the coldest it has been in the Bahamas in years. We still managed to do lots of beach visits, hang out at the pool, we took Paul out snorkeling, and he got his first Lobster!
On Monday January 10th , Dawn and her family left, and we wasted no time casting off and heading further south. On Jan 11th, we said goodbye to all our new friends at the Ocean Reef, and started heading further south. Our first night we stopped
at Great Harour in Stirrup Cay , and the next day we pulled into Nassau. This winter I have been doing a little work in the Bahamas for Centennial Optical , and we had to stop for business in Nassau. Many cruisers, avoid Nassau and go out to anchor instead at Rose Island. The marinas in Nassau are not great for cruisers, (especially compared to Freeport/Lucaya) so we would have avoided Nassau if we could have. We ended up docking at The Harbour Club in Nassau, as we feel this is the best marina for cruisers. They are really working hard to improve this marina, and Peter, and all the staff at the Harbour Club are great. Additionally we felt very safe there. I completed my business by Saturday, and on Monday we had good weather to head south. We had a nice moderate North West wind to help us make good time crossing the banks, and getting to Exuma.
Our first day leaving Nassau, we made it all the way to Staniel Cay, an incredible distance for a one day sail!. We did anchor in the dark, which we wouldn’t recommend, but the Big Majors anchorage is open
Happy New Year
Celebrated at Bikini Bottom, Freeport, Grand Bahama.
and easy to enter in the dark. The next day we pushed on to Georgetown, and that is where we are while writing this.
George Town is one of our favourate places anywhere. It has one of the nicest ocean beaches on Stocking Island, with miles of the whitest sand and turquoise blue water anywhere. We are not sure of our plans for the rest of the winter. There is a saying among cruisers that plans are made in jelly, and this year ours certainly are. We currently don’t have any visitors planned so who knows, Long Island, Jumentos, Ragged Islands, Cuba, Conception, Cat Island, there are lots of options. So… we’ll see where the wind blows us (and the motor) this winter!
Take Care, and as always, we are thinking of all of our friends and family back home!
Sharon and Doug
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