Pffhhhhh … I have to let out a long huff even as I read that. It was so hard to leave our boat behind. I feel like I’m still apologizing to her, but I also feel like (or hope at least) that she understands. Somehow we have to pay for all this Bahamas fun, and more importantly, pay for all the work and maintenance she requires. B.O.A.T. right? You all know what that stands for. So, we had to leave our baby behind for a bit (January 21st – March 10th) during our Bahamas trip and fly back home to Pensacola so Phillip could handle some things at the office. While my job, thankfully, goes wherever we go (HaveWorkWillTravel! : ), his does not, although he is able to do a good bit of work remotely via emails and phone calls. Although it may not appear from our photos and posts, we do spend about 30-40% of our time while cruising working remotely. We are incredibly thankful for our phones and laptops and the internet which allows us to do that.
While we were planning our trip to the Bahamas, Phillip and I knew that we were going to have to leave the boat there for some stretch of time to fly home for a bit, so we chose Marsh Harbour because it is a pretty protected harbor with a marina where we could keep the boat tied up secure for a month or more and it also has an airport for flying to/from the states. While Marsh Harbour was a solid choice and proved a good decision, we did not know at the time (back in November when we were making plans) there was another good option in the Abacos: Treasure Cay. It’s amazing the things you learn when you actually go somewhere and start talking to the locals. While at Treasure Cay, we learned from some other cruisers who were staying there that they offer a November-through-February special, offering cruisers a monthly rate at the marina for only $500. Five. Hundred. I know. Don’t ask me what we paid at Marsh Harbour. But, we didn’t know about the Treasure Cay option, and we had to make a decision ahead of time. But next time … Treasure Cay is a fabulous (safe, protected) place to make “home base” while cruising the Abacos. Several cruisers we met booked a month or two there while they sailed around and gunk-holed all the wonderful islands in the Abacos, knowing they always had a safe place reserved for them at Treasure Cay so they could duck in and hide when the northern fronts came fast and fierce. The next time we do the Abacos, if that deal is still running at Treasure Cay, we will likely do that.
But, we were very pleased with the staff and amenities at Harbourview Marina. The dock master, Ron, and owner, Troy, were exceptional. They are very hands-on and they make sure every cruiser feels welcomed and has everything they need for a comfortable stay at the marina. Ron helped us dock up to the fuel dock and move to our permanent slip in some pretty heavy winds and he was very calm and competent and made sure our boat never suffered a scratch. He also checked on us every day as he walked the docks to make sure we had power, water, wifi and knew how to find groceries, restaurants, a cab, etc. We learned when we returned to Marsh Harbour in March that Ron had also boarded our boat many times while we were gone to adjust the lines to make sure our boat was always floating safely right in the middle of the slip and that none of the lines suffered any chafe. That’s service. Troy was also a pleasure to work with and the minute we told him we were planning on leaving the boat for a month at the marina, he immediately asked how to get access inside in case he needed to check the batteries or bilge or move her in an emergency. You could tell these were “boat people” who truly cared about boats the way we do. Troy, Ron, and the entire staff at Harbourview, we can’t thank you enough!
Here is a pretty cool video, with some great drone footage, showcasing the marina at Harbourview:
We got a very good slip, too, at the marina that was seated back away from the T-dock (where the winds cause the boats to romp around a bit) and was wedged in between some monster yachts, which also helped to block her from wind.
Phillip and I were also happy to find we were surrounded by several long-time Marsh Harbour liveaboards who would be living aboard their boats while we were gone, walking the docks every day, and who said they would keep an eye out for our baby while we were gone. To Dave on Southern Heat, if you’re reading this (you and Rocket Man!), thank you! Dave is actually a fellow writer and wrote a rather harrowing account of his own passage across the Gulf Stream in his book Summer Heat. But, I must share a story with you all that showcases how generous and compassionate cruisers really are.
Our last day aboard the boat (January 21, 2018) we were doing all of our final checks, cleaning things, packing, etc. My last chore was to empty the fridge, and I hate to see food go to waste. So I shoved all of our very enticing fridge food (think half-empty jars of salsa, mayo, and other condiments, some cheese, butter, milk, sodas, etc., I think there was even some salad stuff, carrots, cucumbers, etc.) into a trash bag (making it even more enticing) and began knocking on nearby boats to see who wanted to be the winner of my food charity for the day. While I tried, first, the several boat owners we had already met (so I wouldn’t seem like such a crazy person), for whatever reason, that morning they were all off and away, their boats locked and empty. So, I started knocking on new boats! And, the first boat-owner to heed my call was the infamous Bob aboard he and his wife’s beautiful trawler, Islandia.
I had never met Bob before but he is a cruiser through and through. “A trash bag full of half-eaten food? Sure! We love food!” was his immediate response. He was a lot of fun to chat with and had actually raced years ago on a Niagara up on Lake Ontario so we gave him a fun little tour of our baby, exchanged boat cards, and asked if he wouldn’t mind keeping an eye on our Niagara while we were gone. Bob said he’d be happy to and he graciously accepted our food and helped us get off the dock. Bob’s wife, Diane, was not on the boat that morning but, after returning later that day and finding the food we had left her, she took it upon herself to start sending me pictures and updates on our boat. These are the kinds of people that await you out there: cruisers who will open their hearts, their hands, their fridges, and their boats to you, for the simple reason that you are a cruiser, too, and we all “get it.” There are no distinguishing titles, no type of boat that is seen as better or greater than another (not in earnest anyway, only in jest), no importance placed on what we do for a living (or don’t do) or how much money we make (or don’t make) or the types of clothes we wear (or don’t wear!). We are all just cruisers, owners of boats that cause us lots of angst, cost us lots of money, and afford us the tallest tales and sweetest memories. Boats equalize people in a way I have never found any other common thread to do.
And this amazing stranger, a fellow boat-owner who knew Phillip and I were anxious to leave our boat behind unattended took it upon herself to send me these numerous email updates and keep a watchful eye on our boat the entire time we were gone. Mind you, this is a woman I had never met, and these are the actual emails and photos she took the time to send me while we were back in Pensacola and our beautiful baby was staying all by herself in Marsh Harbour. Not at my request, just of her own accord. I was shocked and thrilled when I received an email, out of the blue, from Diane just a few days after we left. And the photos and updates continued to roll in.
Diane, this tribute is for you!
Hi Annie, took this picture a few minutes ago. All is well. We are expecting quite a blow for the next 4 to 5 days, so we will check your boat every day. Diane and Bob
Hi Annie, you guys did a superb job of tying off your boat. [We subsequently learned this was also mostly due to Ron, who continued to board our boat and adjust lines accordingly.] The wind has shifted 45° and it’s pretty much been blowing a steady 15 to 20 and sometimes 25 kn. And yet your boat is right in the middle of the slip looking great! Bob and Diane
Good morning Annie and Phillip, Thanks in advance for the dinner invite. That will be fun! Today a rainbow landed on your boat! Cheers! Bob-Diane
Later that same day: Yes, that was so cool that the rainbow landed on your boat. We are in the middle of a power outage on the dock, don’t know how long it will last. Any special instructions for your boat once the power gets turned back on?
Hi Annie, so your boat is doing well in strong winds and extreme tides. Most of the sailboats are aground here. Once the super moon passes the tides shouldn’t be so extreme. We are leaving the marina for a week, so I’ll send you another update next Wednesday. Cheers! Diane and Bob
Hi Annie, we are back at the dock. Your boat is still looking pretty darn good! Cheers! Bob and Diane
Hi Annie, That’s crazy about 60 mph winds! Fortunately it’s becoming calmer here. Winds are slated to hover here around 10 to 15 for most of the week. I was out on my paddleboard today, so I thought I would snap a shot from a different perspective. Diane
Subject: “Waving at You!”
Hi Annie, you’re too funny, going out to dinner will more than suffice. We are headed out of the marina for 4 or 5 days, taking advantage of the nice weather coming up. I’ll be sure to send you an update as soon as we return. Fair winds! Diane and Bob
Here is your boat on Wednesday and again today. She continues to look great! We are headed out for a week so I’ll send you an update on the 24th. Cheers! Diane
Hi Annie, These photos were taken a week apart. She’s looking fabulous. We fly home on Feb 27 and return March 7. I’ll send you another photo on Tuesday before we depart. Cheers, Diane
Subject: “Sunset at the Marina”
March 9th (the day before we flew back!)
Hi Annie, we were delayed a day getting back due to the snow. Got in yesterday to very strong northwest winds complete with whitecaps at the dock. But again you [meaning, Ron] have tied the boat so perfectly it never touched the pier. Had a gorgeous sunset last night and now the winds are finally abating. One of our guests may not make it in today so it’s possible we will still be on the dock when you arrive tomorrow. You must be getting excited to return to the Bahamas! Diane
Finally it was time for Phillip and I to fly back to the Bahamas and reunite with our beloved boat and I got to wrap my arms around this amazing woman (whom I had never met) who gave me such peace of mind and comfort the entire time we were away from our beloved boat. (Who did fabulous on her own by the way! She was charged up, dry, not moldy, thanks to our Kanberra, and ready to crank right up and go! Way to go little boat!)
Thank you Diane! You were a God-send. Phillip and I (and our boat!) will forever sing your praises! One cruiser to another, we can’t thank you enough!