We weren’t worried about running out of diesel. We had only used about half of what we carried since leaving Miami. Pretty good. But we did feel the pull of topping off the gasoline we use to run our small Yamaha generator. Once we leave the Nassau area, it may be hit-and-miss finding gas. I remember last season, we were in Black point and the whole island, as well as nearby Staniel Cay were completely out of gasoline. The supply boat had broken down just out of Nassau headed this way, and the whole area was shut down waiting for the supply boat to be back up and running again. Keeping this in the back of my mind, we needed to fuel up when we could.
We turned up toward the entrance to Nassau Harbor and waived to a passing patrol boat. They waived us down and came up alongside. There were five uniformed persons aboard, one holding a scary looking gun pointed down but at-the-ready should we decide to flee.
They asked permission to come aboard and inspect our papers and boat. We welcomed them warmly. In my mind I was trying to remember all that I had previously read about what to do when boarded. I guess it’s different depending upon which country you’re in. So the Bossman started speaking to Bruce while another younger guy completed a form. I went below to gather our documents and brought them up to the girl.
She seemed surprised to see that it was my name on the paperwork, but recovered quickly and went about asking me questions… that were already answered on our papers…
The man was asking Bruce questions and Bruce was busily filling him in with all sorts of inaccurate information. He is really bad at remembering details. I filtered all of this and decided that none of it needed correction, so I held my tongue. Bruce was just making chit-chat and the Bossman seemed to be warming to it.
Paperwork done, Bossman asked to come inspect down below. He followed Bruce right past Jezabelle, who was lounging without concern in the cockpit. No, they did not ask to see our pet permit. What a disappointment….
All done. Bruce and Bossman appeared back up and the three officers left the boat after obtaining signatures stating that they had indeed been pleasant and polite, and that they had indeed NOT damaged our boat in any way. We requested to take a few pictures, granted, and they fell away from our boat with smiles and waives.
I hailed them on channel 16 and was instructed to switch to 9. I told them our name, nationality and documentation number and that we intended to enter the channel from the west and stop at Hurricane Hole Marina’s fuel dock before exiting the harbor to the east. Permission granted.
We skedaddled on our way and turned our concern to the dual bridges spanning the harbor. I had done my homework and found a minor discrepancy in regards to the bridge heights. The published clearance was 21 meters, almost 70 ft. Plenty of room for our 62.5 to make safe passage. But there was one note that a 57 ft sailboat had his mast brought down by one of the bridges… hmmm…
A fellow boater heard my inquiry and hailed us with local knowledge. He clarified which part to pass through and confirmed that a boater had dismasted recently, but they had used one of the northern sections of the bridges… clearly an error… and hit the span. I felt better after speaking to another cruiser but we were still (as always) watching in amazement as we passed beneath the bridge. It just doesn’t look like we’ll clear…. but we do.
With wind behind us and current going the other way, I brought us gently alongside the fuel dock as Bruce tossed lines to the awaiting dockhands. Ahhh. Disaster postponed if not averted. Who puts the fuel dock between two bridges where there will be strong currents and brisk boat traffic???
OK, time to put on my Big Sailor Panties and get this baby off the dock. Docklines tossed, I backed hard against the wind and felt the boat responding favorably. I watched as the easternmost span loomed… I threw it into forward gear hard but the oncoming tide overpowered the bow making it impossible to bring it around going forward. I reversed again, taking us stern to the west, causing the bow to fall to the east even against the current… but that’s all I needed. I shifted to forward gear again and powered it for all it’s worth to gain purchase on the wind and water.
I felt relief as the boat responded to my direction enough so that I could now decrease throttle and guide us through the appropriate section of bridge… just when a couple of small speed boats and one commercial tour boat were heading for it. I dashed to the starboard side and turned down to the bridge as the oncoming traffic passed us port to port. Nobody seemed the least bit concerned. We passed beneath the bridge and I felt my legs begin to shake. I did it, but I didn’t like it.
We struggled against the oncoming waves and made it down around Porgey rocks then made our turn to port. Just under 2.5 miles to go until we rest. The waves rolled us side to side for a while, then we made our final downwind course adjustment and headed for the barn.
|Time to check the anchor...|
We rocked and rolled our way inside and sounded out the anchorage. I chose my spot a little further from the lee shore than I would like for the north winds, but with the current winds strong out of the south, it was as close as we dared. We would move in the morning after the wind shifted.
With the sun dropping and winds moderating, we enjoyed our sundowners and reviewed the events of the day. As I’ve said many times, no two days are ever the same out here and you really just never know what each one will hold. Today I felt that I had honed my skills. We dealt with the unexpected in rapid-fire fashion… thinking and reacting on the fly. For some reason it made me think of Wily Coyote. Remember those Saturday-Morning-Cartoons? Bugs Bunny and the Coyote eternally at odds… Wily coming up with crazy schemes to do the the Bunny in… and it never goes like he planned it? This evening, I felt “more wily” than before.
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