Mid-winter Visit to Bahamas with Guests

As planned, we escaped some cold weather in Raleigh, and Karen and I flew down to Tahina early January. We had moved Tahina to the Bahamas for the winter back in November, with the intent to visit a few times if possible. My sister Teresa and her husband Norm live in Pennsylvania, and were even more anxious to escape to warmer climates, so they were joining us for over a week.

We arrived a couple of days early to clean up and do what I thought would be a minor repair on the dinghy motor. Turns out the problem was beyond just the impeller on the motor. Something was blocking water flow inside the engine. I ran wires from both ends, cleaned all the water cooling jets (no blockages found), and even shot air through the system with a scuba tank. All to no avail and many hours wasted. The last thing left is to remove the whole lower head – which involves a gasket for which I didn’t have a spare. So, we decided we would just have to do without the motor. We used the oars and paddled our way to shore when needed.

Meanwhile, Karen and I cleaned and tidied, and then while cleaning the guest toilet, the pump died. Fortunately, I had a spare, but I had a helluva time connecting one of the wires inside the bilge and a lot of cussing ensued before that was done. Also, the fridge didn’t wake up from being turned off while we were gone. Couldn’t get a repair guy out soon enough. So, we opted to use the big freezer as a fridge instead. That worked out fine. We made a run to the groceries and paid hand over fist for foods, but we got a good selection. We also got the linens washed at the local laundry.

Teresa and Norm arrived the next day and the taxi brought them to town and I got a water taxi to take us back to the boat with their luggage. They were thrilled to be in the beautiful sunny skies and 80 F temperature. Spent the rest of the day settling them in, and confirming Karen’s menu selection was happily accepted. We enjoyed relaxing on the boat and planning our travels to the Raggeds. I gave them the news that tides demanded an early departure the next day, and they were too excited to complain.

We left before dawn relying on our lights and radar to avoid the many other sailboats in the harbour. We even sailed for a bit while we headed out of George Town, but the wind angle forced us to motor the rest of the way to our first island. We continued through Hog Cay cut – the shallowest point – just past sunrise and high tide. By mid-morning we arrived to our first stop. The Blue Hole Karen and I had visited last year when we first came here. After anchoring close to the hole, Norm and Teresa got to try out their snorkel gear and were thrilled to see all the many fish and reefs around the hole. Underwater photos will come later.

Watching sunset

Watching sunset

We spent the next several days anchoring off several of the Ragged Isles. We even visited one new island, but it we found we liked Flamingo Cay the best. It has three nice beaches, good protection, and some nice snorkeling too. We also spent a day sailing off shore so we could troll for some game fish. Teresa caught a big barracuda on the way out, and later Norm caught a nice sized Mahi Mahi which we saved for dinner (two nights). We had some fun exploring a couple of islands on shore and Teresa and Norm liked our favorite beach as much as we did. We also had a great encounter with two dolphin who danced off our bows for 30+ minutes. I’ll have photos and a funny video from that experience later. We also saw some nice sunsets and sunrises and enjoyed some nice meals throughout the week. Picture to right of Norm, Teresa and Karen watching a sunset.

We had one windy/cloudy day with a couple of very light rain showers. But, otherwise our weather was remarkably nice. We had a breezy ride back up to George Town and sailed the whole way including through Hog Cay Cut. Sailing was great! We got back two days early so Teresa and Norm could arrange for a bone fishing guide. They invited me to go along and we spent a whole morning learning about bone fishing. We all hooked one – they are big fighters! But, Norm was the only one to bring one all the way in. Norm also got compliments from the guide on his fly-fishing. It was a great experience, and I will have to do that again sometime!

We also went for dinner at St. Francis resort one night and Norm and Teresa got to try some conch (they had already seen live conchs while snorkeling and the empty shells on the beaches). They really liked the conch.

Below is a collection of photos from the visit – mostly from my smartphone (Galaxy S6). It does not yet include photos from our guests’ cameras, and I need to process underwater photos and videos as well. I’ll probably do another post later and/or add to this slideshow.

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All too soon, Norm and Teresa had to depart. They were nice enough to totally clean up their room and the head before leaving. We organized both a water taxi (Elvis water taxi – yep, he must have retired to the Bahamas!), and a car taxi to the airport for them. Unfortunately, they were greeted with below zero temperatures when they got home. Brrrr!

We had two other pump problems while we were out with our side of the boat. I’ve fixed one already, and will fix the other one when I order a new one and bring it back next time. It was frustrating how many things went wrong this time, but since we haven’t been using the boat regularly things like this happen.

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