May 11 – May 24 — Preparing for Guests in Abaco

On Monday May 14 we went to check out Mermaid Reef on the sea side of Marsh Harbor. There is not really access to the reef from land, but if you are leaving out of Marsh Harbor Marina, you just follow the green fence on the left, pass the no trespassing signs and trees to the line of palm trees that follows the road. You can cut through here to get to the reef. Look out over the water and you will see a couple of mooring balls and signs. Head towards these and you will run into the reef. It is well worth the trouble. We returned here when Karen and Debbie were visiting.

We have been back in Abaco for over three weeks. It has been a busy three weeks. The first two were spent preparing for our visitors – a thorough cleaning of Blue Wing, scouting out of marinas, places to snorkel, and cays to visit, several trips ashore in Marsh Harbor to provision, many loads of laundry, and repairs to the dinghy, which was leaking so badly it was like going ashore in a floating wading pool. We also had to check in with immigration during this time and get our cruising permit extended for another three months. A whole lot of this was done in the rain, a whole lot of rain, under overcast skies, with a couple of days high winds, but it was all ok, we had our very first visitors coming! I was so very excited!

We spent 4 days anchored off of Tilloo Cay, checking out the nearby snorkling, cleaning Blue Wing and catching up on blog posts. This is a beautiful spot to anchor, but it mostly rained while we were there. Here you see the sun trying to break through. We dinghied into Lubber's Quarters when we ran out of ice. It was a longish, but doable dinghy ride in unpleasant weather. There are only two businesses on the island, both restaurants. Lubber's Landing had a great atmosphere. They didn't sell ice, but gave us a bag. This gave Greg a good excuse to buy a beer here. The other restaurant Cracker P's looked like fun. They sold us two bags of ice.

When we were sailing in Eleuthera I had mentioned to another sailor that we had guests coming. He told me he was sorry and that he hated visitors. I understand his feelings to an extent. One of the pleasures of this life is to be able to go and do as you please with no worries about anyone except maybe your sailing partner. Guests, especially non-sailors, add a whole new concern to the sailing experience. Are they comfortable? Are they having a good time? What happens if we have bad weather and are trapped in a tiny boat unable to go anywhere for days? What happens if we get into a dangerous situation and the guests panic or become scared?

I followed a forum post on a sailing website once about a captain, sailing in the open waters of the Atlantic somewhere off the coast of Bermuda, who decided to abandon ship. The boat was taking on water and had other problems. The crew (the captain’s wife and guests) panicked and urged him to call for help. The rescue was a disaster, which almost cost the captain his life and destroyed the boat. The captain maintained that the problems were not that severe and could have been fixed at sea and that he should not have caved to the pressure of the guests to leave the ship. The comments to the post continued with discussions about whether one chooses their marriage or boat in this type of situation. There were votes on both sides of this debate.

We sailed to Great Guana Cay on May 20 to check out the Sunday pig roast/party at Nippers and Orchid Bay Marina. If you like roast pig and crowds, Sundays at Nippers might be for you. Grabbers also had entertainment and a nicer more low key atmosphere. On the Atlantic side of the island, as you can see here, the waves were having a big time.

At this point in our sailing careers, I don’t plan on sailing anywhere with guests where we could get into such dire straits. But this incident illustrates the different perceptions of circumstances from the guests’ point of view and the captain’s. We have endured plenty of uncomfortable times on Blue Wing and have found ourselves making quick decisions in order to avoid bad situations, but this is our life – we are not on vacation.

Still, I want to share this incredible experience with my friends just like the experience was shared with me 12 years ago. The Sea of Abaco is the perfect place to do this with short day sails in usually calm waters to a variety of different islands all with their own unique atmosphere. Greg and I feel confident enough to be able to avoid scary situations and to “motor” right through them if they arise. The weather, of course, is all luck, but I am lucky – I have lucky friends.

A spectacular sunset as seen from Fisher's Bay in Great Guana Cay.

One thought on “May 11 – May 24 — Preparing for Guests in Abaco

  1. Debbie said:

    Thanks for all of your hard work preparing for our visit. It was absolutely perfect. This was my first experience being on a sailboat more than a few hours. You guys made me feel very safe and comfortable even though a little stormy weather. I’m back home now and my house is a rockin! Love the sea leg feeling!

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