The Mitchems Take Great Harbour Cay!
Our great friends, Chris and Kelly Mitchem sign on to join us for our last week in the Bahamas. They book a one way flight to Great Harbour Cay and plan to return to the states with us by boat. However, the Floridian had a plan of her own.
For weeks the weather was clear and dry. The temperature began to rise to summer but a nice breeze at anchor kept us cool. Paul filled the water tank and stocked the beer and groceries in Nassau, and we were eager to share the sailing experience with our enthusiastic friends. The morning of their flight we pulled into Great Harbour Cay Marina for protection from the increased winds and expected rain. The rain was light but strong enough to cancel their flight until the next day. They stayed in Nassau, but true to their reputation, made many instant friends and had a great first night of vacay (even a nice hookup on the hotel rate). Gotta love the Bahamas!
Kelly and Chris were super stoked to be in the Bahamas and on an adventure like this. I don’t think we could have had a more adventurous couple onboard. As soon as they arrived on Friday June 5th we untied from the marina and headed about 20 miles around to the east side of Great Harbour to anchor. We had an amazing motor/sail drinking cold Kaliks. Kelly is prone to seasickness but this did not slow her down! She didn’t care and fought the feelings the whole time! We anchored up in super flat water and went for a dive. Lynn graciously drives the dinghy for us (“running support”) and Kelly finds her new love – spearfishing! We got a nice grouper and summer crab and went back to the boat to feast!
Grilling lunch as we round the tip of Great Harbour Cay
The next day we moved the boat near the Beach Club bar and Chris and I go off in a full-on 30 mile dingy fishing expedition. We travel through creeks, and shallows and go looking for bonefish on the flats. We see a lot of them but don’t manage to hook any. When we get back we see a very happy Lynn and Kelly who have been hanging and having drinks at the beach club and swimming back and forth from beach to sailboat all day.
Our next morning was a rainy one, but it didn’t slow us down. We went dinghy exploring through shark creek and checked out a sunken Bahemian “smack boat” on the flats. Chris and I tried to catch more bonefish, but it is very hard to catch bonefish when you forget your flies… (Chris was pretty upset about this because we saw bonefish all around and he didn’t have flies…).
We had some great times this week and ate amazing meals including conch salad, fried conch, fried grouper, hogfish sandwiches, summer crab, and fish rice jambalaya. Kelly and her antics constantly entertained us. She loved to come up with all the nicknames for Foxy (Fox49, Vivica A Fox, Fox and the Hound, Foxcroft..etc), and also loved to say the most outrageous comments to get a reaction from me with an, “Oh Kelly”. She also has a hell of a knack for remembering movie lines. Our favorite that we continued to say was from Ace Ventura “Its kinda hot in these..RHINOS” we said that one a lot!
Our last night at Great Harbour Cay wouldn’t go down without a fight. It was pizza night! Dance parties follow pizza, which we did, on the deck, under the spreader lights (aka “our stage lights”). Kelly and Chris are always down for anything.
We wake at sunrise, ready to make our 75 mile journey to Bimini where we will hang out for a day then head to Miami… Chris, Lynn and I woke (Kelly still asleep) and prepared the boat to leave. I cranked the motor, Chris pulled the anchor and we are off… about 5-7 minutes into the journey I hear a loud “hissing noise” coming from the engine. I immediately think a hose or something is broken and leaking. I check the engine and do not visually see anything so I shut it down, check fluids, shaft, bilge, etc and the noise continues. I immediately throw anchor a few miles offshore of Great Harbour and we start to troubleshoot the issue. We call people we know and still cannot make sense of it. I then make the decision that I need to stay here and play it safe. I do not want to be stuck in the middle of the Bahama Bank with no motor and friends onboard. I know I have a sailboat, but there was not much wind and I really need the motor for a lot of situations.
We tried to make the most of the day. Kelly and Lynn go to a nearby beach to hang out while Chris and I go Bonefishing in the dinghy. Chris managed to hook a bonefish on an epic trip in a nearby mangrove canal. He didn’t get it in the boat but we were both super excited to roll up on a school of bonefish and get them to bite. We have a drink on the boat and eat dinner.
The next morning I decide to try and take Floridian into the marina. It was about 4 miles into the marina and my boat was able to make it while making the “hissing” sound the whole time. When we arrive, I call and ask around for a mechanic. Everyone recommends a Filipino dude named Victor who is nowhere to be found. I do a little searching and find out he is off the island, but will be retuning in a day or so.
We forget about the engine for the day and go to The Beach Club bar to drink beers and relax in the water.
Kelly and Chris make the hard but smart decision to get flights and fly out instead of waiting for news of the engine status…nothing happens fast in the Bahamas so this was the correct call. We have an amazing last meal of Lynn’s special mustard lime baked grouper and rice, and then we do what we do best: another dance party. This time we have Kelly doing full on Cher singing (all on video btw) and get pretty toasty.
The next day was a final goodbye and a quick last swim in Bahemian waters outside the harbour (I manage to spear a mutton snapper while swimming. You know how we do.). Kelly and Chris hitch a ride to the airport and head back to Tallahassee. Lynn and I remain waiting on the mechanic to give us news of our engine.
This turned out to be the start of another month of stay in the Bahamas. Check on the next blog for more…..