January 8, 2019

Exploring the Central Abacos

After finally clearing into customs and exploring Green Turtle Cay, we headed over to No Name Cay, an island inhabited only by friendly swimming pigs, earning it the name Piggyville.

The piggies don’t have a plentiful supply of fresh water or food to survive, so they rely on visitors to the island. Contrary to popular belief, pigs are actually clean animals - they don’t relieve themselves anywhere near their living or eating areas (in the water only) and won’t eat most things you throw at them - our cabbage and broccoli were snubbed after only a quick sniff!

Manjack/Nunjack Cays

After a short visit with the friendly swine, we sailed back north to Manjack Cay for two nights to hike and explore the privately owned and undeveloped island. We only planned to stay for a night but enjoyed the island so much we stayed another night.

The island has several nice nature walks for hiking...and collecting coconuts. We’ve had no luck fishing so far, but we’ve become sly coconut hunters!

A narrow channel lined by mangroves offered great exploring by dinghy, where we saw numerous turtles, baby shark, rays and starfish.

Green Turtle Cay

We headed back to Green Turtle Cay for the island’s annual New Years Day Junkanoo parade and street festival. We thoroughly enjoyed the short but colorful parade of brightly costumed Bahamians dancing to music from cowbells, trumpets and drums; so much that after the parade passed by we walked a few blocks to watch it come through a second time!

A trip to Green Turtle isn’t complete without a Bahamian Goombay Smash rum drink from Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, who’s recipe is reportedly famous, and definitely packs a punch and lives up to its name.

The night ended with a colorful display of fireworks that we watched from Borealis’ bow. What a way to ring in 2019 and a year of great adventure!

A lost oar and it’s journey back to us

We left Green Turtle Cay around 9 a.m. on January 2 and more than an hour later realized that our dinghy - which we were towing behind the boat and is our lifeline to shore - was missing an oar! In the states, that wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but sourcing specific parts - like an oar that attaches via a pin oarlock to our dinghy - can be nearly impossible in the Bahamas, and we don’t have a physical address to just order one online and get it shipped. Also, if the outboard engine were to quit, we could be left in a tough situation (rowing in circles), so we really needed a solution ASAP!

As if the day couldn’t get any worse, an hour later, wake from a too close and very fast moving 130-foot motor yacht sent a wall of water over our deck and through our open hatches, soaking our settee and all of our cabin bedding.

Thankfully, bad things didn’t come in threes that day, and we arrived an hour later in shallow Marsh Harbor and anchored in deep water without any further mishaps.

The next morning, we called into the local cruisers net - boaters in an area often share weather, passage conditions, events and advice at a set time and channel on the VHF radio. We asked for recommendations or stores to source a new oar, when a fellow cruiser broke in and asked if we’d been in Green Turtle Cay since he’d seen a dinghy oar on the dock there the previous day (we had!).

David and Allison on S/v Zingaro heard this on the cruisers net and, since they were at Green Turtle Cay and heading down to Marsh Harbor, thought they’d go ashore and try to find our missing oar (we had no idea this was happening).

After the net ended at 8:30 am, we decided to leave the VHF radio on - something we’ve never done before or since. Around 10 am, we were hailed on the radio by the cruisers net host and told that Zingaro was sailing our way with a dinghy oar!

We immediately reached out to Zingaro on the radio and found out they were headed to our same anchorage. A few hours later they came into port and anchored a short distance from us. They hailed us on the radio, and we were incredibly happy to see Zingaro’s captain, David, holding our dinghy oar as we approached their boat!

Coincidentally, we thought we recognized their boat as we approached, which seemed unlikely since it was flying a Canadian flag, but after a few minutes of chatting, we realized we both stored our boats out of the water at the same marina in Maryland, and their boat was on the hard very near ours last winter! It is such a small world sometimes!

We thanked them profusely for their help and radioed into the cruisers net the following morning to thank them again!

Treasure Cay

With another cold front coming through, we headed to Treasure Cay Marina to grab a mooring for a few days. Treasure Cay is a planned, resort community with a few little restaurants and shops, it’s a popular destination for boaters looking for services or amenities and offers all around protection in its mangrove-surrounded basin.

While there we splurged on the marina’s wash and fold laundry service for $5 per wash and dry (it was the only option since there is no coin self-service available). Some $25 later, we had freshly washed and folded laundry, and while we could easily get used to someone washing and folding our laundry, as we head south in the Bahamas, laundromats will become sparse...and we’d be broke. So from here out, we’ll be hand washing our laundry in a bucket to avoid becoming filthy vagrants - pictures likely to come!

While waiting out the coming squally weather, we also checked a big item off the to-do list: cleaning Borealis’ teak decks, which were splotchy and mildewed after the wettest summer on record in the Washington, D.C. area. We spent a long day on our hands and knees cleaning every inch of teak with salt water, which we were told was better than any product we could buy. It was hard work but well worth the effort!

The highlight of our visit was meeting and talking with Peter and Jytte on S/Y Freya, a lovely German couple who have sailed for 50 years and seen nearly every port in the world and regaled us with stories for several hours. Being owners of a German Frers designed boat themselves, they’d admired Borealis and watched us clean her deck the day before and complimented us by saying we must be proud boat owners!

On our way out the next day, we stopped at Treasure Cay’s fuel dock, which also operates as a land gas station, and boasts the lowest fuel prices in north Abaco. At $5 per gallon for diesel and gasoline, it’s hardly a steal, but at least the wind in our sails is free!

While the Treasure Cay facilities were nice, we are quickly learning that we much prefer secluded anchorages and uninhabited cays to resorts and amenities.

Our zig-zag path around the Northern Abacos

Wherever we are at the end of each day, we know it's important to remember that we are among lucky ones, who get to explore and travel the world together!

Up next, we head to the southern Abacos.

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