This was our last week with friends at Boat Harbour and there were lots of “farewell activities.” First we enjoyed a lovely dinner at Mangoes (Coconut Shrimp) with Margo and Dennis (Pizzazz) who had recently moved their boat over to Harbourview Marina for the month of April. Then Brian and Lydia who are liveaboards on Luna Blue invited us for afternoon “tea” and a visit after which we showed them our slides from our days of trekking and building schools in Nepal. And the next day Margaret and Ben invited us over for a farewell dinner of Shrimp Fettucini aboard “Diva.” “Alesto” had recently arrived from a season in the Exumas and we arranged to meet with them at Wally’s for lunch. The day before they had leased a car for the day and unexpectedly experienced a harrowing drive through a wildfire with flames leaping up on either side of the road as they made their way south to Sandy Point! These uncontrollable wildfires happen here all the time with the Bahamians completely unequipped to deal with them. Local hunters apparently light small fires to flush wild pigs from the bush but these fires almost always get out of control with smoke and flames a constant threat during the 3 years we’ve been here.
On March 28th, we enjoyed a final breakfast with Ben and Margaret at “Anglers,” said goodbye to our friends on Dock 4 and headed north toward Spoil Island where I hoped to spend a final afternoon collecting shells. But once outside of the harbour, Tom and Diane on “Minden” spotted our boat and suggested that if conditions were “right” we should attempt to cross the “The Whale” together instead. So that is what we did! The tide was running out and the Atlantic confused and choppy but the winds were 12knots out of the north with waves only 4’ and once we left the southern Whale Passage and began rounding The Whale itself the waters settled down into predictable swells and it wasn’t all that uncomfortable. Although another boat travelling with us thought “otherwise” and ended up turning back after saying “This isn’t what we signed up for--it’s supposed to be fun--we’ll try another day!” I guess after all these years, we’re becoming hardened “old salts” used to rough conditions. When we reached the relative calm of the northern side, we headed for the anchorage at Manjack where we anchored for the night along with 16 other boats. When Mike and Georgie on “Alcyon” saw us leave that morning, they suddenly decided to go to--but we had an almost 2 hour head start on them and so they ended up crossing without us. About 4:00 however, they too arrived at Manjack and dinghied over to our boat to invite us aboard for drinks and dinner. The lasagne was good, the company great and the wine cold--another very happy ending to an almost perfect day.
The next morning however, was anything BUT perfect! After waving goodbye to Alcyon and watching them sail away towards Great Sale and the USA, we began hoisting our own anchor. However, once we were “free” and I was in control of the boat, I discovered to my horror that I had no control over the gearshift whatsoever--something was terribly wrong with the transmission. Vince quickly dropped our anchor back overboard and we prayed for an instant “catch.” With so many other boats around us in the anchorage, we didn’t want to run into one. When the engine was inspected, he found that the shaft had pulled free from the engine and therefore the gears could not engage. Had this happened the day before, on a passage round the Whale, it could’ve been disastrous for us. As it was we were in a safe anchorage, only a few miles away from Abaco Yacht Services and we had sails on our boat to get us where we wanted to be. Wind conditions were also ideal. And so we sailed off the anchor and slowly made our way to Green Turtle anchoring--again under sail--just off the beach at Bluff House where we decided to spend Easter Weekend.