To allow us to celebrate Xmas somewhere tied up and allow Ed and Flip to prepare for their trip home, we moved from Rose Island into the Nassau Yacht Haven, a journey of about an hour and a half.
After the picture perfect peaceful Rose Island to downtown capital city, Nassau was always going to struggle to meet my expectations and I’m afraid in the end there wasn’t really much competition.
These days Nassau has a population of about 250,000 and is split between two real areas. One is the tourist destination of Paradise Island (no, really called that) filled by the Atlantis complex (again, really) which is 24hr eating, casinos, all the trimmings of the all inclusive perfection the international tourist requires/demands and the enormous houses of the stupidly rich each with its own sea front. Truly horrible.
The main town itself is across the bridge to the south of Paradise with the first shanty town build around the end and below said bridge. The general instructions we got from our friends at Spanish Wells were to stick close to the marina at night and “take care”. Sadly we could see why. There is money in Nassau but how much of it is in the hands of the general population I don’t know. Not much it would seem.
The Yacht Haven itself was pretty well run and there were another five boats in, four other liveaboards, all but one waiting for family members to come in for Xmas. It is perhaps appropriate to mention the demographic split of the other yachts. They were three Canadian, one Argentinian (although flagged Italian “for ease”– go figure), one from Alaska wonderfully named Bipolar and registered at the North Pole and ourselves. We have been surprised at the number of Canadian boats everywhere we have gone, certainly more of them than American. Their reason for being down here is pretty much universal – “escaping the winter”. Can’t blame them.
With Xmas a day away, the ladies ran around getting food stocks in, Lou and Flip managing to find the Nassau outlet of Waitrose all of 10 minutes walk from the Haven. Brilliant… although probably not the cheapest option around. The girls and Ed used and abused the endless fresh water supply (@$10 a day non optional charge) and washed and scrubbed pretty much everything they could on the boat and removed a lot of salt both in and outside Skylark. Christmas Eve was spent wrapping presents and then we tucked down to wait for the appearance of Santa.
Thankfully he was kind! The girls each got a new boogie board and a variety of new bikinis (all modelled excitedly) and the boys got enough chocolates and small things to tide them over before they had their “proper” Christmas on their return to Germany. Christmas dinner involved Chicken Jerk and the late addition of huge slabs of Mahi Mahi (locally known as Dolphin) which were a present from one of the Canadian boats that had caught one coming in from the Berry Islands. Fantasic!
The great event of the social calendar in the Bahamas is Junkanoo, a celebration with roots back to Africa where most Bahamians originate from. Think Rio and carnival; the Bahamians have their own take on it! It starts at 0001hrs on the 26th and runs through to midday, involving competing parades each trooping through the old town centre on Bay Street. We decided we couldn’t miss it and so walked the mile and a half at two in the morning through an area all the good books say to avoid. No hassles! We stayed for a couple of the parade groups. The first confused the girls (and us!) as it was a political group dressed up as Death, equipped with scythes, with signs demanding the reintroduction of the death penalty! Bizarre!
Thankfully the next group round was what we had come to see. Great fun, great noise and wonderful costumes.
Having had a day back at Rose Island on Boxing Day, we had a day in the city centre of Nassau, firstly at the Pirate Museum which was excellent before wandering back along to towards the boat through the crowds of cattle from the FIVE cruise liners parked up in the harbour. Didn’t really set the place up for us to see the authentic Nassau, more an offshoot of an expensive US mall.
We said our fond farewells to Ed, Flip and the boys on the evening of the 27th before their long trip home to Germany. We loved having them and it was great to see the boys having seen them briefly once since they had returned from Oz. A bit scary to think that the next time we see them Alexander will be the age Thomas is now. Ah well – skype will be abused to let us see them on as regular a basis as the dodgy internet here allows us!
With the 27th being a holiday, we allowed ourselves the 28th with the shops open to restock in readiness for our time in the Exumas.
Ana and Augustin, the Argentinian couple and myself had the night with Billy from Bipolar, a regular in the Caribbean for many years, who kindly offered up his charts detailing his favourite anchorages, most of which were not shown. The wind looks good for the next few days and we will aim for Allen’s Cay as our first stop.
We said our farewells to Nassau on our last night at the Poop Deck, a famous restaurant and bar, once upon a time a preferred hangout for sailors; these days pre-booked as one of the preferred eating places for the crowds off the cruise ships. The cocktails did taste good though.
We set sail and left what should be our last visit to a major city for quite some time at 0830hrs on the 29th.
The Exumas await…………..