The trip across the Great Bahama Bank was long enough to break into two days. The last time in, we had arrived after dark and anchored where the Andros to Nassau/water barge makes it’s turn. To not repeat that mistake, we anchored on the bank, just short of the Northwest Channel. That evening was Jean’s birthday and we soon had a nice barbecue going. Next, a parade of local fishing boats and mainland gamefishers paraded thru the narrow channel just off our anchorage. The former headed home for the Christmas holidays and the latter outbound for some of the superb fishing off Chub Cay and in the deep waters of the Tongue of the Ocean. We slept well with full tummies, a nice breeze and a gentle roll.
The next morning for the short run to the north tip or Andros, both poles were rigged with ballyhoo for an elusive Mahi or Wahoo. About an hour into the trip, the port line began to sing to a strong pull. With the boat in neutral, Jean took in the spare line and grabbed the camera. It took about an hour to land a big, beautiful bull Mahi-mahi. During that time we got several jumps from this beast that only seemed to get stronger as he neared the boat. Gaffed to the swim platform, it was a difficult task to get him thru the stern door and into the cockpit. Weighing in at an estimated fifty pounds and over five feet, we would have fresh fish for weeks.
The arrival at Morgan’s Bluff found a vacant harbor and lots of choices to anchor. So we selected a spot closest to the inner harbor and launched the dinghy, just as the weekly high-speed ferry departed for Nassau. Later that afternoon three sailboats arrived from the Florida coast. We felt pretty smug as they parked far from the entrance to await the customs inspector. We had five days and just 40 Mn to cover in order to meet the kids in Nassau…this should be a piece of cake. The sailboaters brought disturbing weather news. A front would descend on us late Sunday and the following wind/sea conditions were not going to be good for the next leg. Saturday was fine as we visited with the locals; Willie at the bar, Shalom the harbormaster and Monroe the conch-man. Sunday turned nasty and at about 10 PM the anchor began dragging. We headed into the inner harbor and were quickly secured to a tree near the fuel quay by helpers from Willies bar. Their music went on well into the morning hours, but we were content to be in a safe harbor.
Monday we walked into Nicholls Town as far as the Day-Shell bar. It was a long walk and arriving at noon we found the town elementary school principal…Shelley hard at work decorating for a country music fest. After a fascinating chat, we headed off on the road to Morgan’s Bluff. We were soon picked up by Reverend Phil Campbell and his wife. We saw their new two-story church that he described as “…more finished on the inside than on the outside…”. Wonderful company, we were soon back at the boat. On Monday, Bill visited the Mennonite farms for some fresh fruit and vegetable. Their produce proved to be far superior to anything we have had in the islands.
Tuesday and Wednesday were blustery and the approaching rendezvous on Christmas day began to wear heavily on our thoughts. Each night at our precarious, but calm perch, we were awoken by the arrival or departure of an island mailboat. It seems that these vessels come and go mostly in the dark. On one occasion a rubbing sound brought us to the bow, where one of the big steel vessels had begun to lean onto our bow anchor. A VHF call and horn didn’t get the captain’s attention, but a sharp tug on the sleeve of a deckhand, finally got a response. On Christmas Eve we moved out to the anchorage, determined to meet the kids in Nassau with beds (…in a manger…) for the night.