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We rang in 2016 crossing overnight from Miami to Nassau. I was lucky to be on watch for our first Bahamian sunset on the first day of the new year.

The wind was on the nose and waves battered the boat as we made our 28 hour passage from Miami to Nassau, motoring all the way. It was an uncomfortable trip, made worse once we discovered that our main sail, which we’d raised in an attempt to stabilize us, was torn. Brian and I couldn’t sleep, so we were not at our best as we hailed the harbor master on VHF at noon on New Year’s Day to announce our arrival. We were uncharacteristically disorganized, not realizing that in Nassau customs authorities prefer that boats check into a marina to be cleared in. Too blurry to deal with making arrangements without cell service, we opted to stay aboard in the harbor for the night.

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The passage was rough. Wind on the nose, wave bashing all the way. Everyone aboard was seasick at some point during the trip.

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The sun was so strong, we hid under Turkish towels for most of the passage.

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New Year’s Eve crossing dinner happened during one miraculously calm hour at sea: pulled pork (my foray into pressure-cooking) sandwiches on rye/spelt bread I baked with the flour ground by Sabina (sv Brosel) and watermelon rind pickles. All homemade on the boat.

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The lighthouse approaching Nassau Harbor. Nassau is the most polluted and populated island in the Bahamas, yet we’ve never seen water so clear and beautiful.

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Cruise ship neighbors in Nassau Harbor.

The next day, refreshed by sleep, we checked into a marina. Armed with a long to-do list, we wasted no time filling out a dossier of forms for the Bahamian officials, who showed up an hour or so later to clear us in. Once we’d swapped our yellow quarantine flag for a Bahamian one, (signifying that we’d passed through customs) we switched into errand mode. Wary of “island time” – an overly laid back attitude that rubs up against the sense of urgency embraced by us New York types – we stealthily accomplished the following: took the head and main sails down for repair, negotiated and delivered a brand new outboard motor, purchased Bahamian SIM card for my cell phone, tracked down a guy who may be able to fix the broken winch gear (unfortunately he won’t be back at work until Monday), caught a ride with some other cruisers to refill our propane tanks, topped off the water tanks, gave the exterior of the boat a good scrubbing (hadn’t had one since Deltaville, VA), and spent several hours driving around in the dinghy, giving the new outboard engine a proper break in. 

We spent our second day in the laundry room, doing four loads of clothes and linens and setting up shop to wrestle the sails through the sewing machine. Our marina neighbors found this to be quite the spectacle, but were good sports about stepping over our mess as they went about doing their washing.

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Rigging the yellow “quarantine” flag, signifying that we have not yet cleared customs. There are serious penalties for anyone caught on land before clearing in.

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Buying a two stroke outboard motor was our only reason for stopping in Nassau (they cannot be purchased legally in the United States). Two strokes are easier to repair and maintain, and weigh quite a bit less. Here, Brian begins the breaking in process. We finally have a functional family car of our very own.

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The blue cover on our headsail (which protects the sail from UV while it’s rolled up) had been deteriorating since we left Virginia, and it has become a problem as of late. Then, on our passage to Nassau, we tore our main sail.  It was time to pull down both sails for repairs.

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We are so glad we decided to buy a Sailrite sewing machine. The repairs would have cost us thousands of dollars, and required that we ship the sails back to Florida, costing us weeks and even more money.

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With the sails repaired and back on the boat, we’re almost ready to move on. We’re hopeful that the machine shop guy will be able to help us with our winch problem, the only problem keeping us here in Nassau at the moment. We’re ready to move on south to smaller and less populated areas, to experience the adventure and splendor that every other cruiser can’t stop taking about.