We typically check in at Green Turtle and stay a few days at a time, but this year we changed it up a bit and stopped for a week. It wasn’t our original plan, but checking in turned out to be a bit of an unexpected saga.
Check-in at Green Turtle used to be in the center of town. Unfortunately, the office was destroyed in Hurricane Dorian so the location was switched to the Green Turtle Club once the Club was up and running again. However, this means that there isn’t a full-time customs and immigration officer on the island any more. She comes on the ferry, ostensibly daily. More on that later.
The Green Turtle Club is a marina and resort on the other side of the island. We’ve stayed there once before, but the docks are fixed and it’s difficult to get on and off the dock at high or low tide, so we decided to stay for two nights at Donny’s Marina. It’s a 10 minute walk into town, which we prefer over the more remote location at the Club. We rented a golf cart for the day, and I drove over to the Club on Thursday to check in.
Green Turtle Cay is pretty small, so these signs above are usually sufficient to find your way to where you want to go. Of course I made a wrong turn the first time I left the Green Turtle Club, so I stopped to ask directions from a resident who was walking down her driveway. She asked if I could give her a lift to the trash drop off – no problem! – and sent me on my way with excellent directions. By the end of our stay, we were driving around like a local and didn’t even need the signs.
Now, one key to happy cruising in the Bahamas is to remember it’s not the United States. Island time is a very real thing here. If you come over and expect things to happen immediately and start getting impatient, it’s not going to be a happy experience for you. You have to get your chill on. The ATM is out of money? Try again in a a few days. The store isn’t open despite the hours saying otherwise? O.k., check back later. No hurries, no worries.
So when I drove over to the club and the office staff wasn’t sure if the customs and immigration officer was going to show up that day, it was no big deal. If this had been our first year, I would have been stressing out because I’m a rule-follower, and technically you’re supposed to stay on the boat (except for going to check in) until your paperwork is approved. But now, on our fourth trip? No hurries, no worries.
The office staff tried to call the officer on the phone, but she didn’t answer, and they didn’t know when she would back. So I texted her that I needed to check in and drove back over to Donny’s. I told Donny we hadn’t been successful and he said not to worry about it. Just try again later, and in the meantime take down the Q flag so we don’t draw any attention. LOL! We love the Bahamas.
We had only rented the golf cart for one day, but now we obviously needed it for a second day. It was all good though, because we were starting to get into major chillax mode.
We asked Donny if we could switch to a mooring and stay for a week. Donny thought about the logistics and then asked if we would want to stay at the dock for the mooring rate. Otherwise he was going to have to move an unoccupied long-term boat off the mooring to the slip, and he said he just didn’t want to hassle with it. No problem! We extended the golf cart rental for a week, and started to settle in.
Ultimately, checking in took three trips to the Green Turtle Club (or maybe it was four?), but it was all good. It was a fun ride in the golf cart, and everyone knew we were trying so we weren’t stuck on the boat in the interim. By the second-to-last trip the staff was letting me hang out in the air conditioned lounge for the afternoon while I waited to see if the official would come. I had good wifi, caught up on blog posts, and chilled. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t giving a fist pump once we were finally, officially, checked in! And since by then everyone at Donny’s knew about our saga, we got some cheers when I came back and announced we were official.
Our stay at Donny’s Marina and on Green Turtle for the week was fantastic. The boaters at the marina were the friendliest we’ve ever met, and there were several happy hours on the lawn during our stay.
We had an unexpected thrill when we arrived, and the happy surprise just set the tone for the whole stay. Our first year in the Bahamas, our friends on SV Minx met a Canadian couple who were cruising the Bahamas on a Bristol 29.9, SV Quick Sticks. Minx passed their boat card to us, and I sent them an e-mail to say hello. They said they were planning to leave the boat in Green Turtle that summer.
Fast forward three months and Hurricane Dorian hit the Abacos, virtually destroying Marsh Harbor and severely damaging Green Turtle and other communities. I immediately thought of the other Bristol 29.9 and was curious how it had made out, but I figured it had been destroyed and didn’t want to add salt to the wound, so I didn’t send an e-mail.
As we pulled into Donny’s, I said to Jeff, “That looks just like a Bristol 29.9.” Then I saw the boat name and said, “It is! It’s Quick Sticks! The boat survived!”
We were so happy to finally meet SV Quick Sticks and spend time with them. Their boat had been damaged but had since been repaired, and they are spending the winter cruising the Bahamas once again. We toured each other’s boats, hung out at happy hours, and really hope to run into them again this winter as we bop around.
When we weren’t hanging out with fellow cruisers at Donny’s, we were roaming around the island on the golf cart and plugging into the community.
Marilyn runs the golf cart rental business that we used, and we greatly enjoyed chatting with her. She found out that Jeff used to manage a bicycle shop and mentioned she had two bicycles in the back that needed new tubes and tires. She had the parts but no way to put them on, so Jeff and I went over one morning with some tools and he got the bikes up and running again.
Another evening we went to go get ice cream with Donny at the local shop, and hung out listening to residents shoot the breeze. It was there that we discovered that people greet each other after dark with, “Good night” vs. “Good evening.” It’s those little things that I love about traveling around.
We went to various beaches during the week so Jeff could go metal detecting and I could chill with my Kindle.
Jeff is very methodical about where he puts things, and I am more haphazard. I thought this day on the beach captured our different styles perfectly:
We also went to Island Greens for the first time for fresh produce. The gentleman who began it several years ago passed away within the last few months. His son has decided to try to keep it going, and we are VERY glad about that. Everything is grown hydroponically and it was all SO fantastic. It’s hard to source extremely fresh produce in the Bahamas because most of it comes over from the U.S. on the mailboat.
We truly had what may have been overall our best week ever in the Bahamas. I wouldn’t be surprised if we book a month at Donny’s and Green Turtle in the future, and we’d be VERY happy to do it.
In the meantime, our week was up, and it was time to start making our way south to the Exumas. But we knew when we left that we’ll definitely be spending another week at Donny’s when we come back north later this spring!