Green Turtle Cay

March 6, 2019
Green Turtle Cay

Warning… Lots of words ahead.

I don’t know how it happens but sometimes I sit down for a few minutes and when I look up, I’ve filled the screen with thousands of words.  I try not to edit things too much, but leave it in its pure, stream-of-consciousness form.  You’ve been warned.

Sunset at the beach

Hello from the charming and beautiful Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos.  Today is March 6th, 2019 and we have been aboard Mavis for 159 days since leaving Long Island.  It’s hard to believe its March already!  Spring is right around the corner and this is usually the time of year that I begin making final preparations to launch our boat and start our season…  I get a real kick out of knowing that we don’t have to worry about any of that this year because our season never ended!  In fact, I find myself super excited when I realize that our Spring/Summer 2019 season will be starting soon.  It will be nice to be back in our home waters on the Great South Bay.  I’m happy to announce that we just signed the contract for a slip Sunset Harbour Marina in East Patchogue.  This is a bit further east on the bay than I would have liked but at this point a few miles really doesn’t matter.  Our voyage here including various side trips has put about 1700 nautical miles under our keels and I imagine our round-trip will be about 3,000 nautical miles…  That really changes my perspective on an extra twenty minutes to get to Atlantique, one of our favorite spots on Fire Island!

The weather here in the Abacos has been absolutely perfect.  With the exception of one rainy day and a few stray showers it’s been wall to wall sunshine and 76 to 82 degrees.  At night the temps dip to about 70.  I’ve only wished for air conditioning a few times on this trip.  The trade winds keep us comfortable and move the boat along very nicely.  We’ve had a few stray showers that pop up out of nowhere and deliver torrential downpours for a few minutes and then… Back to perfect weather.   We got caught out in a downpour on our morning walk today and by the time we got back to the boat we were absolutely drenched.  Do you like Pina Coladas???  When its 80 degrees I don’t mind a refreshing downpour and getting caught in the rain to cool us off.  30 minutes later it was sunny again.

Getting drenched in a downpour is no big deal when its 82 degrees!

Last weekend we took a side-hop over to Manjack Cay which is about 5 miles north of us.  Mavis and Hail Mary spent the night on the anchor under a star filled sky after a delicious dinner served up by our friends.  Dark here is DARK.  It’s amazing how many stars you can see when you’re this far out and away from big cities and towns.

We got to do some snorkeling on a wreck that was very close to where we dropped the anchor.  Cindy had discovered it while paddling around on our kayak.  The next morning, we threw our gear onto the dinghy and headed over.  We didn’t need wetsuits because the shallow water was probably around 75 degrees.  We stayed in the water on that wreck for about an hour.

Snorkelling in the mangroves.

We found an idyllic beach that we had all to ourselves… Or so we thought.  We discovered a very large set of hoof prints that belonged to what we suspected was a big pig.  We were having a great time and it was a beautiful beach and there was no pig in sight so we hung out for a while.  I had heard the wild pigs around here can be a bit aggressive because the cruising boats feed them and pig bites are common injuries.  I wasn’t that concerned for us but I had reservations about Willow who was running around the beach.  Thankfully we didn’t see the animal that made those prints!

Cindy swinging off Manjack Cay

That evening, while having dinner aboard Hail Mary with friends, we saw a giant animal wandering along on the beach.  Jim, Hail Mary’s captain grabbed his binoculars and as he panned around he suddenly stopped and said “Holy Shit!”.  We all took turns looking at a giant pig through the binoculars.  Cindy and I really wanted to check him out so we left Willow with our friends and zoomed over on the dinghy.  As soon as we got close to the beach this thing started wading out toward the dinghy.  We didn’t have any food for him so we let him approach a bit and took off.  As we did, he realized there would be no meal and he turned sideways…  Only when I got a look at him from this perspective did I get a true sense as to the size of this beast.  I estimate this thing weighed around 350 pounds.

Mr. Pig tried to board our brand new dinghy.

The next morning we got up early and Willow jumped into the dinghy for her morning bathroom trip.  As we approached the shoreline, I scanned the beach looking for the giant pig we saw the night before.  It looked like the coast was clear so as we got in close I turned off the engine and gave Willow the “Ok Free!” command.  She immediately hopped off the bow and scurried up to the beach.  Looking back at Cindy and I who were still in the dinghy she squatted and started to pee.  That’s when we saw the pig slowly coming out of the brush and lumbering toward Willow!  She looked over her shoulder at the thing and nonchalantly continued to urinate…  Just as she finished, the big boar was probably about 20 feet from her and continuing to approach slowly.  I called Willow back to the boat and we quickly helped her clamor aboard.  As the pig waded out to our dinghy we started the engine and took off.   Again, the poor giant boar looked disappointed as we left without feeding him.  Later that day, Cindy and I returned to the beach with Jim and some scraps from the boat and fed this thing.  We had drifted in close into shallow water so I had to climb out of the boat to pull us out.  While I’m doing this, Cindy and Jim are tossing food to the pig to keep him away from the boat…  As we ran out of food, however, he tried to climb into the dinghy.  It was pretty comical but a little scary.  I reminded myself that I had my pole spear aboard the dinghy in case this boar needed a reminder that boarding someone’s boat without permission was a no-no.  We escaped the pig of Crab Cay without any injuries.

Big boar on Crab Cay

We had a series of minor business challenges that kept me glued to my laptop for a full day putting out fires, modifying software and websites, and dealing with some customer issues.  I also had to change some configurations on our telephony server.  I was pretty aggravated.  Just a few days ago I posted Set Yourself Free, a blog post about designing your business so you can be free and here I was, in paradise, stuck in the boat working.  But when the fire was put out, I reveled in the accomplishment, even more convinced that a true digital nomad can handle some rather challenging business problems without having to give up this incredible lifestyle.  In just a day I had accomplished what could have taken a solid week of work.  How is this possible, you ask?   I highly recommend reading The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris.  I don’t agree with everything Tim says in the book but if you’re at all interested in changing the way you think about work, give this gem a read!

Island Wifi has been outstanding!  I wish this kind of internet connectivity was available back home.  We have been in the Bahamas about 15 days and already burned through 300 gigs of data and coverage has been remarkably good here in the Abacos!

After enjoying the company of our new friends Jim and PJ from Hail Mary and Bill and Betty from Sea Mist, who we met in Stuart they all left us today to move further south.  We will catch up with them in 10 days or so when our month here at Leeward Yacht Club is up.

In the meanwhile, we’ve really been enjoying walking around this fantastic island and exploring.  There are a number of breathtaking and pristine beaches that we have been visiting.  Walking along the shorelines here is like walking through a postcard or a travel brochure.  I’ve said it before — things are so perfect here that they almost look Photoshopped.

We are slowly depleting the ship’s stores of shelf-stable and canned goods.  There are a few markets here that stock vegetables and frozen meats.  Everything comes over on the mail boat on Thursdays.  We have the basics available here but food is pricey.  Some things seem to be only slightly more expensive than home.  Others are highway robbery.  $21 for paper plates?  $7 for a bag of ruffles potato chips?  $11 for a can of pineapple juice?

Although we can get the basics here I’m looking forward to a big re-provisioning when we get down to Marsh Harbour.  There are a number of good grocery stores there and if you shop carefully you won’t get clobbered. I did, however, recently hear a story about a fellow cruiser who got back to his boat and reviewed his receipt to learn he paid $45 for a box of Archer cookies that go for $2 in the US.  This is sadly pretty common.  Caveat Emptor!

A few nights ago we had some lobster tails for dinner.  I got 6 small tails for $15.  They were delicious but I think next time instead of grilling them, I’ll steam them because I found that the flesh got stuck to the shell in spots.  Our super-expensive “infrared” stainless-steel Magma grill that we have only used a handful of times has some hot spots that make cooking a challenge.  The thing is really small to begin with so having to shuffle food around on it’s surface is a royal pain.  It works, but $650 is a lot of money for a gas grill for a boat.  Lesson learned.  You don’t always get what you pay for.  Especially when it comes to marine stuff.

Surf and Turf being prepared on our expensive (but crappy) Magma grill.

Life here on Green Turtle is interesting to say the least.  The rich history of this place is evident everywhere you look in the town.  Columbus… Pirates… British loyalists… Freed American slaves.  Lots happened here.

The people here are warm and friendly and any serious crime here is rare.  We feel safe walking all over the island at night even though it gets incredibly dark — “like holy shit it’s freaking dark” dark!  When you live in a city or in suburbia, it’s so easy to forget what it feels like to be standing in complete darkness under a sky filled with stars.   I’m glad it’s something we get to enjoy out here.  It’s just one of those simple things that you don’t realize are missing from your life until suddenly it’s there.  I’m having lots of those realizations on this trip…  And conversely, there are all sorts of things we take for granted at home that seem like ridiculous luxuries to me now.  But back to feeling safe…

The fact that there is only one cop on the island confirms my belief that some places just don’t need tons of police and government services to maintain order.  I say “some places” because our experience here is in stark contrast to what’s happening in Nassau.  The U.S. Department of State just released a travel advisory due to high rates of violent crime, robbery and sexual assault over there.  But the out-islands are a completely different experience.  Even though the vast majority of the population of this country live on New Providence Island (Nassau)…  These family islands are the REAL Bahamas, in my opinion.

Last night, while feasting on our lobster tails, we heard a very strange sound.  Sirens!  The last time I heard sirens we were in Florida.  It’s so quiet and peaceful here at night.  There’s no traffic noise… No trains going by.  Just the sound of the water against our hull and the breeze in our rigging.  Occasionally a boat’s engine or bow-thruster will break the silence but the nights here are pretty silent.  All day long, the roosters crow but I’ve learned to tune them out.  But sirens?  Sirens are something very strange indeed.  Cindy and I looked at each other like “WTF?” as we listened to this alien sound move from one end of the island to the other.

Today I learned that spring break season is starting.  It seems rich kids who’s parents have vacation homes here come to party and last night a young girl got herself into some drugs and/or alcohol and crashed her golf cart.  The island nurse stiched her up and from what I understand wanted to sew her mouth shut during the procedure.  I hear the injuries were minor.  Kids!  Golf cart crashes are not-surprisingly commonplace here but it’s almost always tourists at the wheel.  I suppose it doesn’t help things that they drive on the left side of the road here.  Last year someone managed to make it completely off the road into the harbor on one.  But despite all this craziness, the island still feels quaint and peaceful.

There is a bank on the island…  But not really.  It is only open on Thursdays from 10am to 2pm and I understand they take a 1 hour break for lunch.  I think the bankers just come over on the mail boat and spend a few hours.  Same thing with the cellular telephone company, BTC.  If you need to purchase a new sim card for your phone, pay your bill, get a new phone or any of the things you can easily do at home… Thursday is your day.   The post office is open 3 days a week for a few hours each day.  Starting to get the idea?

All of this inconvenience makes Green Turtle feel special.  We are after-all, on a barrier island off another island in an island nation.  Even though we are only about 180 miles from the Florida coast, sometimes it feels like we may as well be on the moon.

Even though we are only about 180 miles from the Florida coast, sometimes it feels like we may as well be on the moon.

Although many services are limited here, one thing that does seem to be reliably open are the bars.  There are lots of really good places to kick back and grab a drink.  This island runs on rum and Kalik, the Bahamian beer.  My favorite place so far is The Liquor Store.  This is an actual liquor store with walls lined with bottles of Rum, Wine, Gin… And more rum.  Lot’s of rum.  Just like any liquor store at home…  But unlike the stores at home, there are also tables in the middle of the place and they serve drinks and food.   They make an amazing rum punch that they refuse to give me the ingredients to but I think the primary ingredient is rum.  This concoction went down extremely easy but it packed a hell of a punch that got the first mates pretty buzzed.  The food there is great too!

I find the drinks at our marina’s pool bar to be a bit light on the booze but I watched as the bartender at another great spot called Pineapple’s  poured all sorts of rum into a milk jug and shook it up… Then she carefully sniffed it and poured in ridiculous amounts of more rum.  Then she sniffed it again and poured in more rum.  There was an insane amount of rum in this milk jug and I thought for sure she was going to pour it into some juice or something to dilute it.  But no.  She poured it into a cup and served it to me.  After she poured out a few servings she stopped, sniffed again and added… Yes. more rum.  It seemed that as  the night went on this rum punch got progressively more potent.  We had a good  great time that night and it seems we met half the island there.   All of the locals we talked with were incredibly proud of their island.  And they should be.  Green Turtle Cay is a very special place.

Capt Frank

Willow and Cindy enjoy watching the sun set from topside.