If there’s a theme to the 2018 cruising season in the Bahamas, it must be “Waiting out the Nor’easters.” In the same way that a New Englander can tell you about every school closure and flight cancelation due to snow this past March, a cruiser can tell you where she got stuck, usually someplace unplanned or undesirable, waiting out those northerly blows. That’s how we initially ended up at The Marina at Emerald Bay. We needed to stop playing in the Exumas, and dive for cover yet again. Our buddy boats pressed on to Elizabeth Harbor a couple of hours south on Great Exuma Island. But Sanitas and her crew craved a few days of marina amenities.
The Marina at Emerald Bay was just the ticket; providing a nice contrast to the past couple of weeks of living on the hook. It provides a large, protected harbor with floating docks, hot showers, free laundry, access to beautiful running trails, and beaches. Oh, and best of all, they provide an unadvertised special rate for cruisers. If you don’t need to be connected to shore power, you can tie up for $1.00 per foot – an unheard of rate in The Exumas. Plus, as an added bonus, our friends Pat and Melana on Tapati were here! The last time we’d seen these St Petersburg friends, we were sadly watching them sail east from Rodriguez Key to Bimini without us, as we instead headed north to Miami to perform some boat repairs. We eagerly anticipated catching up and hearing about each other’s cruising adventures.
For once, our timing was impeccable, and Sanitas was safely docked just in time for the weekly manager’s happy hour event. Since there’s little that cruisers enjoy more than free food and free drink, the club was full by the 5:30 start time. We enjoyed meeting a new crowd, and matching faces to the boat names we’d heard on the radio, such as Archipelago, Full Circle, and Polaris. And it was great to hear of Tapati’s journey across the central and southern Bahamas, while we had taken a very different route to the North.
We grew to appreciate our good timing and safe harbor even more the next day, when we watched a large fishing boat get washed up on the rocks guarding the mouth of the harbor. Everyone aboard escaped safely, but the vessel itself was lost; good only for salvage. After that, our daily routine included a walk to the bluffs overlooking the harbor mouth to view the white capped waves, and to trade guesses with the other cruisers on when it might be safe to leave again. And somehow, our plan to stay in the marina for a couple of days turned into EIGHT nights. That’s one good thing about living on a small boat – $1 per foot doesn’t add up very fast when you’re only 37 feet long!
We put the time to good use, continuing to perform boat repairs in exotic places. Capt. Mike gave Sanitas an oil change, and I washed the deck and all the port lights (sort of like a spa day for boats). It took two days to do all the laundry, fill the diesel and water tanks, top up the propane, and reprovision. Mike fixed the strike plate on the cabin door, refilled all our spice canisters, and defrosted the fridge. Most importantly, we continued our quest to FIX ALL THE LEAKS by scraping, cleaning, and re-caulking the port side toe rail, all the way back to the chain plates. That’s a continuation of the work we started in Miami and Marsh Harbor to keep sea water out of our forward cabin. Hopefully, this last attempt does the trick, and any additional repairs can wait until the next time we have Sanitas hauled out in a boatyard. A huge sense of accomplishment here!
Unfortunately, the marina is a bit isolated with nothing in walking distance but a liquor store. So we had to resort to piracy, inviting ourselves to a nearby resort for pool time, sushi and surf ‘n turf, and evening entertainment. The resort had a very diverse clientele – all kinds of middle aged white folk – so after showering and donning our best athlesiure wear, we fit in just fine!
To celebrate the successful completion of our leak project, we hosted a little party our last night in Emerald Bay. The bad thing about living on a very small sailboat, is there’s not much space for entertaining. But we squeezed the crews of Archipelago and Wavelength into the cockpit; broke out every one of our plates, bowls, and cups; and enjoyed a lovely spread of charcuterie and cocktails during another amazing sunset.