Yes! We arrived in the Bahamas!... but not yet officially.
March 21st, 2020
We took off early again from Sopadilla Bay in the Turks and Caicos and began the 63 nm journey to Mayaguana, Bahamas. We motored out the channel and as the sun was coming up raised the sails. It was slow going at first. The winds were a bit light and the seas a little rolly but as the sun began to rise the wind really picked up. Kevin fished on and off and had a few bites but did not reel anything in. The highlight of the passage was that we were visited by two humpback whales! For a little under an hour two whales (we think a momma and a baby) would ride the waves towards our boat and then swim underneath it and around the stern to do it again. Each time they came closer and closer to the boat. They would blow air out their blowholes and then before going under the boat turn on their sides and show their white bellies. One time, the “momma” whale even raised her head and looked at us with her large eye. We were in super deep waters with no depth sounder reading but when the whales went under the boat the depth sounder showed 22ft so luckily the whales didn’t resurface as they swam underneath! It was one of those experiences you get once in a lifetime that we were lucky to be part of that also makes you feel small in this world.
Mayaguana is a flat island surrounded by a reef. We had to enter a cut in the reef and motor a couple of miles into the anchorage. It was choppy but the water was light blue and crystal clear. Sandollars were everywhere. We put down the anchor for the night and got some rest. The next day was Sunday and we took the dinghy into town to see if we could find someone to verify that we were in the Bahamas. There are always challenges. The water was super shallow. We motored towards the marked path but still ran around. We then paddled the dinghy to deeper water and Kevin tried to restart the engine. The engine wouldn’t start and we realized the dinghy key was not attached. We panicked. We thought we had lost the dinghy key but after a minute or two we saw it was sitting in the bottom of the dinghy. Hurray!
As we got towards shore, we looked for a place to tie up on a concrete wall but then decided to just pull it up on the sand. A local woman was lounging in the water taking her Sunday bath I guess amongst the fish carcasses near where they cut up the fish. I think I would of found a better place!
The town was silent. I should say the settlement was silent on Sunday except for some singing coming from inside the church. A settlement in the Bahamas is just a few small run down buildings and some houses and a church. A few people waved to us that were in their yards and one gentlemen told us which front door to knock on to get something to drink. Another man let us look around the grocery store which was the size of a garage with nothing but mac and cheese, toilet paper, onions and potatoes and a few cokes. Our goal was to find a police station. Mayaguana used to have a customs and immigration office. It had been closed for awhile so we wanted to find a police officer to provide us some sort of paperwork that we were in the country before they closed the borders. We found the police station, called the number outside and heard it ringing on the other side of the door. Guess they don’t work on Sundays. So we walked back to our dinghy, waited for the tide to come up and in the interim a police officer pulled up and we asked him for help. Off course his superior was off that day so he told us to talk to him at 9:00 on Monday. Just in case, we took some pics to verify that we were before the borders closed. So back to the boat!
More decisions had to be made. On Monday morning we woke up and felt it would be a better use of our time to start sailing to the next port of entry rather than go to town and try to extract something from the police. After three tries, I tracked down the customs agent in the next port of entry, let him know we would arrive the next day. He said as of now and likely to March 31st, borders are open. So we left around 11:00 a.m. to make the approximate 20-24 hour sail to Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas. Time was of the essence. Little did we know how much!