With as many winters—Christmases and New Years’ included—that Phillip and I have spent in the Bahamas, including this past holiday season in 2022, I figured it was time for a little Bahamas tribute, a rhythmic ditty, if you’ll indulge me, an Annie Seuss treat, as we wish you “Happy Holihamas!” and share with you what it is like to shirk the cold, ditch the snow shovel, and trade your egg nogs for Goombay smashes with a holiday season in the Abacos.
December 22, 2022
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 5:03 a.m.
We weigh Ubi’s anchor and point her bow towards West End.
Just a 10-hour voyage before us, we don’t care we have to motor-sail,
Any day spent in bikinis in a calm Atlantic makes us feel rather swell,
Particularly knowing we would arrive in West End mid-afternoon in full daylight
With a wide, easy entrance, a spacious fuel dock, and a slip that would suit us just right.
As we secure our happy yacht in Bahamian waters, a blinding crystal green
I find myself mesmerized—again, every time!—by the clarity I am seeing.
The colorful scales on each fish, I feel I can count.
The jewel tone of the water, I feel I can reach in and scoop out.
Walking the docks I’m reminded of equally happy days coming here on Plaintiff’s Rest
When we checked into the Bahamas for the first time in 2017 as virgin guests!
Walking over to the beach on the north shore, the view looks too perfect to be real
A white beach, bending palm trees, Bahamian waters, it’s surreal!
Feeling drunk already on simply the sights, to the tiki bar we claim it’s time to dash
Egg nog be damned, we want their famous Bahamian drink, a Goombay Smash!
We trade turkey and canned cranberry dressing in for fresh, tangy conch salad
And savor the tiki bar’s reggae style Bob Marley version of holiday ballads
Christmas Eve still brings us dazzling lights, a mesmerizing purple, yellow, orange, blue
And I fall asleep in Ubi’s comfy vberth thinking Papa Noel might just find me here, too.
Christmas Day brings us a gift: a cool northwest wind that we sail right to Mangrove Cay
Phillip cracks his usual: “Someone’s spending today shoveling snow in Milwaukee”
It’s another serene night spent at Great Sale Cay before we set our sights on Green Turtle
Keeping Ubi scrubbed and clean during our travels remains my constant but rewarding hurdle.
No sleigh or reindeer at Green Turtle we choose our holiday chariot, a ramshackle golf cart
With the way it carries all our picnic, beach, and kite gear, we find it quite smart!
Spending the languid days between Christmas and New Years kitesurfing in the ocean
Makes it feel like we put the stress of holiday flights and last-minute shopping in slow motion.
We don’t have any of the traditional holiday décor aboard, no tall tree, on top a shining star,
But a stately mast we do boast, and when I’m sent up to check the windex it appears quite far!
As December 31st approaches, our excitement grows for the celebration of the year anew,
However in the Bahamas they do it rather differently, with a lively tradition called Junkanoo!
Locals dress in bright, homemade garments and elaborate costumes, paint on their faces
They beat steel drums in rhythm, their enthusiasm and joy rallies every onlooker, all races.
I’m always in awe of their sheer pleasure, Bahamians sharing their beautiful homeland
In ways they appear to have so little, but when I look around and appreciate it all I understand.
One thing Phillip and I had been really looking forward to, in addition to the Junkanoo glitter
Was the hope that locals would fry up many batches of their savory island gem, conch fritters!
After Junkanoo, we take to the Atlantic again, our sights next set on the Town of Hope
Whose dazzling flora and fauna and neon colored buildings we find supremely dope!
On the way, we dropped a lunch hook at Johnny’s Cay to take in the jawdropping water
Happily reminded that some locations you can still choose by sight, no need for a chartplotter
After grabbing a ball in the harbor, we were thrilled to get a special Hope Town invite from Muffin and Bill
To their weekly game of Bingo: “At Cap’n Jacks, ‘round happy hour, grab a table, it’s a big deal!”
In Hope Town we got news some long-time friends would enter the Bahamas within a week
We turned around to head back through the Abacos to meet them, Annie giving a squeak.
We stopped in Munjack Cay, not wanting to miss a stroll along the trail of recycled art
Delighted to find it had grown extensively since our last visit, many more cruisers playing a part.
Making our way into the anchorage at Great Sale Cay, we took in a wondrous sight
Our sistership, another Outbound, s/v Serendipitous, looking ship shape and right.
With our amazing Annapolis friends, Peter and Patty aboard, waving brightly from their bow
As well as Spandana and Dev on their Cal 40, Turtle, making us grateful for the hear and now.
As it had been months since we’d seen these hearty sailors, each with many stories to share with everyone,
The last time the six of us had been together on Ubi was Fourth of July, 2021.
We spent hours laughing and talking the evening away, sharing news, lessons, and crazy tales
The next day bidding our friends adieu as they headed happily into the Abacos, raised sails.
As Phillip and Ubi and I, satiated with our island trip, made our way back to West End
For other duties called and our glorious time this year in the Bahamas had come to an end.
But the crystal green memories remain, the sun and the rum and the incredible fun
Headed back to Florida we felt grateful and content, our 2023 east coast adventures having just begun.