Thursday, November 12, 2009

Grand Bahama Yatch Club

We were escorted into the Grand Bahama Shipyard compound at dawn to board SuperServant4 from Dockwise Yatch Transports. We were told to inspect our hulls and then gather paperwork and keys from the controller. The day before, officials warned us to expect our diesle fuel tanks will have been pumped and even possibly our propane tanks removed before SS4 had left Newport. International law prevents the transit of combustible fluids. Groan. Another thousand dollars.

SS4 Crew told us the voyage from Rhode Island here had been in constant 45 knots of wind with waves of over 10 feet. I immediately decided it had been no great loss that I had not been allowed to travel south with Steadfast, despite my fervent and repeated pleas to do so. The SS4 crew had graciously hosed down the boats to remove most of the salt spray and black soot from their smoke stacks.

We had heard horror stories from cruisers using a different yacht transport company and were anxious to see how Steadfast had fared on her adventure. She seemeed unblemished, unscathed. My prophilactic waxing of the forward stainless had been a good idea, as superficial rust had set up everywhere. Oh happy day: our fuel tanks remained full, and our brand new/expensive propane tanks were still there and full!!!!

Leaving the harbour, actually right in the middle of the harbour as we cleared the stern of SS4, the radio came to life. A heavily-accented Bahamian voice accosted us, "Who are you? Where are you going? Don't you know to ask about ship traffic?" All this hubris in response to a humble request for "radio check". "yes, Sir. No, Sir. May we please proceed, Sir?" and we were off into the unprotected waters off shore.

The very first wave crashed over our nose, sending heavy sea over the fly bridge and into every exposed nook and cranny, including the leak around our newly installed Salon windows. Steep waves threw us towards the clouds and then crashed us down into the trenches. Ouch! 40 minutes later we crept into Bell Channel at Port Lucaya. Green around the gills and a little shaky, we took stock of our surroundings: clean, modern, friendly, beautiful pool, grounds, bar/restaurant, and gardens resplendent with flowers and bird song. Why are there no places like this in Nassau, at least that are not private and will let us in?

The 4 pm cocktail party was sponsored by the Bahamian Tourism Board. Crews from 8 off-loaded vessels, staff and crew from SS4, Dockwise bigwigs and ministry officials revelled in an open bar with hot and cold yummies until well after dark. Speeches, flowers, music and a few tears from the gentleman who was responsible for making the Bahamian Government change their minds to let this all happen in the first place. Tenaciously he had lobbied for over 2 years to overturn or waive the law that demands 6% import tax on all boats arriving here on a transport vessel.

Well, now we are up to date. Steadfast will get to enjoy the sun and warm weather here in Grand Bahama Yatch Club for the next many days, while captian and crew travel home to greet a new grandson and do the Christmas thing with family. Look for new blogs in late December after I have picked Samijo's brains about making my blog as pretty as her's is.
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