Bahamas interruptus.

After finally escaping George Town it was time to head back to Lee Stocking for some more hiking, snorkeling, and lazing about on Boneham Beach. The Cruiser’s Regatta had finished so we joined an exodus of about fifty boats on a fantastic day for sailing.

We had a great, rollicking sail and joined about 25 other boats in the anchorage. Hmmm. Not what we had in mind, given that there were 8 or less the last time we were there. However, we figured a large number of the boats were on their way back north to head home. Since we weren’t leaving the Bahamas until late May, we decided to wait them out and let the crowds get well ahead of us.

Our strategy worked with more boats leaving each day, so that by the end of the third day there were only four of us, well spaced out. Ahhh. Much better. We needed to renew our immigration in a few weeks, so we decided we’d stay in Lee Stocking for the rest of the week, move north a bit, and then if the weather permitted we’d head to Barreterre and rent a car to drive to the immigration office in George Town, saving us a 25 nautical mile beat into the prevailing wind.

Enjoying the view from another hike on Lee Stocking.

We keep up with the news online while in the Bahamas, and as each day passed in Lee Stocking the increasing restrictions resulting from COVID-19 resulted in repeated discussions each day regarding whether we should consider going back to the U.S. early. Staying in the Bahamas meant a reduced risk of exposure (which is a concern given Jeff’s CHF), but there are only two hospitals in the Bahamas – both requiring an airplane flight to get there – and the quality of medical care in the U.S. would be better if it was needed. If we stayed in the Bahamas we could keep enjoying the beaches and the pretty water, which we couldn’t do in the U.S. We balanced the risks and decided to stay for now.

Then the U.S. issued a Level 4 travel warning, telling U.S. citizens to return to the states or be prepared to stay away for an extended period of time. Hmmm. Obviously they mean people that need to fly home should do it because flight cancellations were increasing every day, right? The fact that there people who can return to the U.S. on their own private vessel undoubtedly hasn’t crossed anyone’s mind in the State Department, right? Even if all flights were grounded we could still get back on our own. It would be unprecedented to close the borders to U.S. citizens, and some legal research on my part (you can never take the attorney out of the girl) revealed that it would be legally questionable. And even if it happened, they can’t guard the entire eastern seaboard, so. . . . Once again, we decided to stay for now.

Next, the Bahamian government gave the Prime Minister the authority to exercise emergency powers, and an order was issued establishing a curfew, closing non-essential businesses, and prohibiting inter-island travel for certain vessels. I participated in a robust debate on one of the Bahamas Facebook pages about whether that pertained to cruisers (there’s that attorney thing again), arguing that it did not. But once again we revisited the question of whether we should leave. We needed to renew immigration in 2 1/2 weeks. What if they wouldn’t let us renew? What if the restrictions became more severe? We didn’t have a legal right to stay in the Bahamas indefinitely unlike back in the U.S.

Frankly by this point a lot of the fun was getting sucked out of the trip. Other countries in the Caribbean chain were becoming increasingly restrictive to varying degrees – sure glad we had already decided not to go to Luperon this summer! – and we didn’t know what the future would hold in the Bahamas.

We didn’t want to leave the beautiful water and beaches, especially now that the weather was finally beginning to settle down. But it was time to put on our big boy and big girl pants and do it anyway. Bottom line, the health care was better in the U.S. if we should need it and we had a legal right to stay there forever. We had an excellent weather window starting in 36 hours, and there was no guarantee of similar conditions should we be required to leave at some point in the near future. It was time to go, and we knew it was the right decision for us.

8 thoughts on “Bahamas interruptus.

  1. Hi Kimberly and Jeff,
    Best laid plans of mice and …..! Very difficult decisions. I’ve been following some debates on Cruisers Forum which I know you are a part of. It appears you would not have a problem getting into the US but not sure where you could stay; lots of marinas are closing or precluding new arrivals.
    I have to presume, hope, that in 2-4 weeks things will start to return to normal. Anchoring out and going in via dink is not great but is obviously much safer. Some states have mandatory quarantines. You are probably aware of all of this.
    We are thinking about and wishing you the best. Stay healthy. Stay safe.
    Norman and Syl.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Norman. I appreciate the well wishes. We are currently on a mooring in Vero Beach and will stay here until things settle down. Hopefully we’ll be comfortable moving north (and able to) by the end of May. Kimberly

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  2. Thanks Kimberly. This is eerily familiar of the thought processes we were going through. As we were debating if/when and how fast to leave, I remember one consideration was “are we still having fun?” The answer was a hard “no”. I wonder, among the boats you saw on your return trip, were there many Canadians? That second border crossing and extra thousand miles of travel really weighed heavily in our thoughts as we considered our options. I’m guessing that, in general, Canadians started their exodus a bit earlier.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Thom – we actually saw quite a few Canadians once we arrived in Lake Worth, but not many since. I imagine most of them have been making tracks north. We were thinking of you and the added stress of knowing you had a second border crossing to juggle, and were grateful we only had the one to deal with. You’re 100% right about the fun factor – it was gone by those last several days. Kimberly

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  3. Kimberly, I’d vote that you made a good decision, which parallels our own very reluctant decision to leave Costa Rica a week ago “while we could” and come back Falmouth which is rapidly becoming minor Covid hot spot, in order to not be stuck there for the rest of the year, and yes, to have at least some chance of getting good medical care if needed. Tough decision but hopefully you, and we, made the right one. The other parallel was the unusually strong wind at your end of the Caribbean; for 2 months we had the same “4 days windy, one decent, repeat…” at the other end since we get the wind off the Caribbean, though I don’t know if the two are connected. Wishing for you and Jeff an uneventful trip home.
    We really enjoyed your posts on George Town and especially on Lee Stocking and “Boneham Beach”.
    Fair winds and stay well.
    – John

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s great to hear from you, John. It must have been even tougher to leave Costa Rica knowing the warm weather hadn’t arrived yet in Falmouth, but I do think that you two (and we) made the right decision. Take care and stay healthy. We’ll be sure to reach out when we end up your way. If not this summer, then the next. Kimberly

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  4. The right choice, Kimberly.

    We’re in Hawaii waiting this out. All of the nations of the South Pacific are closed. We’re trying to figure whether to stay here another year, head north to AK or straight to Puget Sound.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, John. You two also made the right choice not to continue into the South Pacific, although I’m sure it was disappointing. Staying in Hawaii for another year doesn’t sound too bad to us, especially if the South Pacific dream is still on the table for next year. 🙂 Kimberly

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