It was 4:45 a.m. on Boxing Day, Dec. 26. The marina was quiet and still. But two miles down the road a party was in full swing.
We rolled out of bed and into a cab hoping not to miss the unrivaled Bahamian parade of Junkanoo. As we stepped out into the deep dark night with kids in tow, the glow and hum of Bay Street came into focus. Within minutes we saw glittery dancers gyrating, trumpets heralding, cow bells clanging and hand-drums pounding. The pulse worked its way from chanting revelers’ feet to their very core.
To call this festival energizing is an understatement. As the parade winds its way through the streets of Nassau, the music and the rhythm take over and leave your body unknowingly, momentarily possessed by a tribal stride.
Definitely the highlight of Nassau. Unforgettable.
Junkanoo occurs on Dec. 26 and Jan. 1 — beginning in the early hours of the morning (2:00 a.m.) and ending at dawn.
The festival is reminiscent of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras and Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival, but it is distinctly Bahamian and exists nowhere else. Parade participants — arranged in groups of up to 1,000 — are organised around a particular theme. Their costumes, dance and music reflect this theme. At the end of the Junkanoo procession, judges award cash prizes. The three main categories for the awards are: best music, best costume and best overall group presentation.
Route: Fort Lauderdale — Miami — North Bimini — Cat Cay — Chub Cay — Frazer’s Hog Cay — Nassau.
We were so excited to leave Frazer’s Hog because we knew that Nassau was within a six-hour sail. We woke up at 5:30 a.m. and we were off within the half hour along with every other boat that was in the harbor. We, like the rest of the boaters, listen to the popular “Chris Parker” weather forecasts broadcasted over the SSB. Parker will go into great detail about the wind and swells throughout the Bahamas. All the boaters listen and wait for Parker’s ideal sailing conditions. This day was what I have come to call the “perfect Chris Parker day.” Light winds, 2-3 foot swells. We all left like a fleet out of the harbor and followed one right after the other into Nassau.
Notice in the photos that this crossing marked Zach’s first catching of the elusive mahi-mahi. Upon entering the harbor, Zach reeled in a 4-5 pound mahi-mahi. We ate it for dinner on our first night here in Nassau. (Gerry, note that this fish was caught with a rather mundane looking wooden lure sold to us by a West Marine young gun.)
Also notice as we enter Nassau, the immense and posh Atlantis resort. It’s the first structure you see upon land sighting.
Route: Fort Lauderdale — Miami — North Bimini — Cat Cay — Chub Cay — Frazer’s Hog Cay. We sailed another two hours east from Chub Cay to Frazer’s Hog Cay in the Berry Island chain, where we waited about three days before our next weather window to Nassau. This spot was very enjoyable. This is a popular cruising stop and when we arrived, there were several sail and motor vessels anchored. We actually caught up with many boaters we met in North Bimini and met a few new people — all of us heading in the same direction. You’ll notice the photo of the house where, Howard, is a one-man show. He runs the moorings, the fuel dock and the tavern. One of the reasons we stopped here was because the charts show there are fuel docks. When we arrived we saw the large steel drums. But, when we told Howard we needed to refuel he said he didn’t have fuel. Just like the sign in the window saying he takes VISA/MC (but not really). This becomes a common occurrence as we make our way through the Bahamas — signage promoting what once was. Howard, trying to accomodate us, called around the island and trucked in a barrel full of fuel (took a few hours). Getting the fuel from the barrel into the tiny fuel tank opening was another story.
By Jennifer and hosted by Kevin
Route: Fort Lauderdale — Miami — North Bimini — Cat Cay — Chub Cay. In this video clip we have just arrived in Chub Cay. It was about 4 p.m. and we had been sailing since 3:30 a.m. We left Cat Cay early because it was rolly and Kevin kept waking up to check the anchor every 20 minutes. Unfortunately, when we got there, the little bay we anchored in was very rolly. As soon as it got dark I went straight to bed and woke up at the crack of dawn the next morning ready to get the heck out of there. Kevin describes how he tied lines to the anchor chain to ease some of the rolling. It made a big difference, but was still a little uncomfortable.
Beautiful Chub Cay:
“Yachting for Tokens” is a little video game that Zach and I created over the past few days. In it, you helm an oldtime schooner looking for the mythical and elusive Arcade Tokens. Watch the white wind indicator and watch out for the islands!
(Design notes: The game was written using MIT’s Scratch programming language. It is designed to demonstrate how the wind angle affects a sailing ship. Remember, yachts cannot sail directly into the wind. So, if you want to go in the direction from which the wind is blowing, you must tack back and forth to make progress. Also, for this particular pixel yacht a beam reach–a 90 degree angle to the wind–is the fastest point of sail. All other points are slower in the game.)
A day at the beach. The water really is that blue.
Finally, a cold rainy day in Nassau (that wasn’t in the brochure!), so I decided to put up some slides from our time at North Bimini, the first island stop. We spent much of our time there walking up and down
the local street that stretched the length of the island — about two miles. You will see the BIG green boat, which ships in all the island’s supplies and food once a week; a garbage boat that carts the garbage to South Bimini, where it is incinerated; a conch diver cleaning his catch of the day; and Weech’s Dock, were we were tied up for the first week of our nearly two week stay there.