After checking in, all we needed to do was answer a short, daily health questionnaire for two weeks and ensure we were somewhere on day five where we could get our follow-up Covid test. The immigration officer told us that our arrival day was actually day one (we had originally thought it was the day of check in). Since that was the case we only had two more days before our test. We could get tested at the local clinic, so we decided it made sense to simply hang around Green Turtle a bit longer.
We decided to treat ourselves and rented a golf cart for the afternoon so we could explore the cay more thoroughly than we had in the past. It was a lot of fun and we found a fantastic beach for our return visit in the spring. Green Turtle has made an enormous amount of progress since Dorian. In fact, with the exception of a handful of buildings in the settlement and scattered throughout the island, you wouldn’t have known it was devastated 15 months earlier.
Thursday was test day, but on Wednesday the weather finally settled down so we decided to check out of the marina. We have a saying on Pegu Club: sometimes you watch the show, sometimes you are the show. Well, we were the show getting out of the slip. It was much narrower than we were used to, and the dinghy got snagged between the boat and the piling. There’s a t-shirt you can buy that says, “I’m sorry for what I said when I was docking the boat.” That would have been a good shirt to have on Pegu Club. Number one. What does that mean? You shall soon find out, faithful reader.
After spending a nice night in our traditional Northern Abacos hidey-hole, we moved to the anchorage near the Government Dock and had our Covid test. This was our first experience with a medical clinic in the Bahamas and we were impressed. Did it have all of the expensive bells and whistles of a clinic in the U.S.? No, but it was clear that the clinic could handle routine medical situations (including several boxes of supplies clearly labeled for delivering babies) and get you stabilized if necessary until you could be transferred to a hospital on another island. It was very interesting to see.
Noses tingling and a bit more violated than they had been in Fort Lauderdale, we raised the anchor again, went through the Whale, and entered the Southern Abacos. We spent the night at the southern end of Guana Cay and moved over to Hope Town the next day.
Hope Town has made progress since Dorian but isn’t as far along as Green Turtle. The place where we enjoyed conch fritters in 2018 is completely gone, save for the now-partially-filled in pool and the tile patio, and the sound of generators and construction is everywhere. But they are hard at work and I’m sure even more will be repaired when we are back in the spring. We were able to get our first loaf of Bahamian bread and our first serving of Bahamian mac and cheese for the season at Vernon’s grocery. Yum!
The next day we had a nice sail to Little Harbor where we were planning to spend the night before crossing over to Eleuthera. We had been to Little Harbor before and really liked it, and we were overdue for some conch fritters and a Kalik beer. Little Harbor’s channel is too shallow for us to go through at low tide, but we were scheduled to arrive at a time with sufficient depth based on several Active Captain reviews which said the tide schedule was two hours earlier than the Pelican tide station. 100% wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
As we entered it was cloudy and we couldn’t read the water. The next thing I knew we had run aground. Damn it! A fisherman passed by, telling us it was dead low tide. To say I was pissed was an understatement. Normally I will ignore one Active Captain comment when it comes to something like tides, but if there are multiple comments I’ll give it more credence. This time we were burned – and yes, I’ve posted a review on Active Captain to warn others.
We were literally twenty feet from deep water. A boater on a charter came by to try to help us kedge off, but we didn’t do anything but dig a trench into the sand with our keel so we continued to wait while the tide slowly rose. A few minutes later a fishing boat came by and asked if we were aground. “Yes.” “You’re so close to the deep water!” (pointing 20 feet away). “Yeeessss.” “Would you like me to tow you off?” “YES, PLEASE!”. He threw us a line and with his 300 horsepower outboard quickly moved us off of the sandy shoal. Our cheers, and those from the charter boater who had tried to help, could probably be heard at Pete’s Pub. Number two.
After grabbing a mooring the engine was barely off when we were throwing the outboard onto the dinghy and motoring to Pete’s. I don’t think we’ve ever had the dinghy ready to go so quickly. By this point the conch fritters and drinks were VERY much needed. We made a command decision to extend our stay for a few days and started to relax, although I was beginning to fret over the bad luck we had recently been experiencing (between getting out of the slip at Green Turtle and now our grounding). Don’t bad things usually happen in threes? What would be number three?
Well, deciding to stay an extra day turned out to be an excellent choice. If we hadn’t, we would have been somewhere between the Abacos and Eleuthera when we discovered that our gasoline jerry jug was leaking. Yes, our nine month old jerry jug had developed a crack in the lower third of the jug and was slowly leaking gasoline out onto the deck, down the side of the hull, and into the water. Sigh. Number three.
Fortunately it was a slow leak (we lost much less than a gallon) but it made quite the mess on the hull. Cleaning that up was not how we had intended to spend our morning, and after we were finished we still needed to figure out how to deal with the rest of the gasoline. Jeff put some sealant on the jug but we didn’t have much confidence in that solution, so we started debating how we could lash the jug down on its side for our trip to Eleuthera (where we could buy another jerry jug at Spanish Wells). I came up with the idea of putting the gasoline in one of our extra, unused water jerry jugs and after exchanging high fives, that’s just what we did. Of course we wrote “GAS” with a sharpie in two places on the jug.
The rest of our stay was spent loafing around, playing in the water (but only for a bit – the water is a wee bit chilly – we need to get further south!), and keeping a lookout for the turtles that swim around in Little Harbor. We’ll definitely stop there again in the spring – but this time we’re coming in at mid-tide or higher!