Abaco, Bahamas – Green Turtle Cay to Florida, USA
Ships Long Entry 62
6-11-12 to 6-14-12
We are finally getting closer to home and could be there in about three days if we went straight through. We like it here in Green Turtle Cay so we might stay awhile.
Green Turtle Cay is located in the "Abaco Out Islands" and is 3 miles long and 1/2 mile wide. It was named after the abundance of green turtles that inhabit the area. The population of the island is about 450 and its main settlement is New Plymouth which was established in the 18th century. The architecture of the older homes in the village is unique in the Bahamas, with steep-pitched roofs, originating with settlers from New England. It contain a post office, a bank, a customs and immigration office, four grocery stores, several restaurants, bars, churches and also a museum featuring the paintings of noted Bahamian painter Alton Lowe. While cars are allowed on the island, golf carts and bicycles are the usual mode of transport.
Next to Hope Town it is our next favorite place in all the Abaco’s. Carol is getting antsy and looking forward to going to Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, which is famous for her favorite drink “The Goombay Smash”. Just what it does in fact, is it creeps up on you until you are totally wiped out.
We first came to Miss Emily’s in the early eighties when we chartered our first sailboat from BYS (Bahamas Yachting Service), out of Marsh Harbour. They have since gone out of business due to a hurricane, which wiped out all their docks.
Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar is a local tradition and the central gathering place for Green Turtle Cay locals. It guarantees an upbeat experience as visitors, carefree during vacations and enjoying the warm weather and stress-free living of the islands, mix it up with locals who appreciate their lively presence. The Goombay Smash, a tasty cocktail, is the specialty here and packs a potent punch as Carol knows. It was perfected by the notable Miss Emily herself and the tradition is carried on by her daughter, Violet, who's now in charge of the Blue Bee.
Carol over the years has come up with her own version of the “Goombay Smash’ and it’s really close but not quite like Miss Emily’s.
We went into Green Turtle the next day and first stopped at Lowe’s, one of the local grocery stores and bought some of the famous Abaco home made bread. As far as we are concerned, the New Plymouth home made bread is the best you can buy in the islands, as we have visited quite a few island stores over the past few years.
We then walked around town to see what had changed since we were here last in 2008. We stopped at the Wrecking Tree Restaurant/Bar and we each got a conch burger which will probably be the last one for quite a while. We walked into a few gift shops but found only some stickers that caught our eye. Now it was time for our stop at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar for our “Goombay Smashes”. They were even better that we remembered but after two our legs were getting a little wobbly and we knew it was time to leave. I don’t know exactly what all she put’s in them but as advertised they really pack a mean punch.
We walked back to the dinghy and dropped off our bread and then took a ride into Black Sound. We had to stop at Brendall’s dive shop and say hello to Brendall but he wasn’t there. His son who is over 6’ tall now was minding the shop and we still remember when he was just a little tike. Gosh, time sure has a habit of flying by.
The next day after a leasurily breakfast we left for Manjack Cay which is the next Cay up. It was an hour trip because we had to go out in the Sea of Abaco to avoid some shallow spots, and then come back in.. After anchoring we took the dinghy and went exploring.looking for our friends dock, Bob Gascoine and Jane Minty from Wavely Line Charts. We met them in 2008 on our way south in Atwood Harbour, Acklins, Bahamas aboard their sailboat Majic. We walked back through the forest and found their place which is in the middle of nowhere. We saw quite a few houses on the island where in years past there were none.
When we got back John dove the bottom of the boat and cleaned the prop. He said the bottom of the boat still looked great.
Wednesday June 13th we departed around 0640 and headed for Great Sale Cay. This was the last of our internet and phone service until we get back.
We put our fishing line out and also our hand line with a new lure. A fish hit our fishing pole and before we could stop the line the fish got all our line again. The hand line lure broke off and we must have had a big fish. John put a new lure on our fishing pole and this time we caught a 12’ Baracuda. We finally got him off our line and decided we just weren’t great at fishing so we gave it up.
John got a weather report and we had two choices. 1} to keep going all night and stay ahead of the weather system approaching or 2} stop at Great Sale and hang out for who knows how many days before we would get another weather window to make the crossing from the Bahamas to Florida through the Gulf Stream, which at times can get real ugly. We opted for plan #1 and just kept going. It was a good choice because later the next week people were still stranded in the Bahamas because of the weather.
We did one SPOT, (Satellite GPS Messenger) at 1800. After dark the ocean got like a washing machine. We must have had 3’ to 4’ waves breaking over the port side, but for once, none got us wet in the cockpit. We did another SPOT at 1200 and one at 0600 to let our sons and Carol’s brother know our position via an e-mail that is sent to them. We had talked to them before we left Green Turtle Cay so they knew we were on our way and would be out of internet and phone service for a few days. By 0700 the seas were finally starting to lay down and it started to be an enjoyable sail. At 0800 we were 22nm from Ft Pierce, Florida. When we were 8 miles out we were able to get phone service so we called both our sons, John & Steve and told them where we were. They said they had been up most of the night getting our SPOT reports to make sure we were O.K. We came through the inlet around 1100 with an easy passage through.
We tried to call the customs agent to let them know we were back but they said to give them a call when we got to a marina. They would not let us check in if we were going to anchor out. We had no option but to go to a marina.
Outside Vero Beach it started raining and started making the trip miserable for awhile. The intercoastal didn’t look the same since most of the mangroves were gone. Now we just saw water everwhere but we definitely needed a chart to tell us where we were. There certaintly wasn’t any money problems here for we saw very large new homes just built or in the process of being built.You definetly had to stay in the channel or I’m sure we would be hard aground, especialy since our boat has a 6’ draft.
When we got close to Melbourne our son John called and said he was going to watch us go under the Melbourne Causeway bridge and to be out on deck because he was going to take some pictures of us coming under the bridge. He was at the Eau Gallie Yacht Basin when we got there to help us get into the slip. What a disaster that turned out to be. The wind had picked up and John was trying to back in and each time he tried the wind caught the bow and swung it around. Another fellow came by around that time when he saw the problems we were having. After about 5 to 6 atempts, John finally made it in by throwing lines to our son John and the other fellow from the marina. They had to literlly pull us in. It’s amazing we didn’t hit any boats on the way in.
Nice Boat but definetly not the clean waters of the Caribbean
So now ends our four-year adventure and for those of you who have followed us along our journey, I hope the articles and pictures kept you informed and interested and wanting to hear more about the many trials and tribulations that happened along the way. Also thanks to the many friends we made along the way that helped make our trip one to remember for a long time to come.
John & Carol from the S/V Sweet Caroline