Eager to get on the boat, I rise early, without an alarm, to find Jeff missing from the room. I imagine he is off wandering the docks, watching the sunrise, or milling around anxious to get moving. I decide to take a long, hot shower, as I know this will be the last one that I will be able to take for a week. When I got out of the shower, Jeff was back, and raring to go.
We decided to go and find breakfast as our friends Sasha and David were not awake yet. Without anywhere in particular in mind we saunter down the quiet, main drag and decide to go into the first open place, Mangoes. A cute, waterside bar/restaurant/marina, with it’s own dingy dock, Mangoes is empty at 8:00 a.m.. Our hostess and server, Monique, seated us and gave us menus, and then explains that she may be tied up for a while with the Cruiser’s Net. Just a few minutes later we heard the Net begin and listened to Monique present her advertisement for the New Year’s Eve festivities at Mangoes. Listening to the Cruiser’s Net at 8:15 a.m. became a morning ritual and helped us to make our sailing plans. The Net begins with a weather report for the area, followed by tides, and information about passage making. After the weather there are advertisements from local food and entertainment establishments, including bars and dive shops. There is also a portion of the Net dedicated to message handling for cruisers with a dedicated email address for boaters to give their families and friends in case of an emergency. The last portion of the Net highlights cruisers announcements where one might ask for buddy boats to make a passage or to borrow a tool. It is all very efficient and well run, usually lasting between 20-40 minutes. It became a great source of useful information and entertainment for us at the breakfast table each morning.
Back at the hotel we met up with our friends and our taxi driver from the night before to do our provisioning. After a stop at the bank, we headed to Maxwell’s, the largest grocery store in Marsh Harbour. Much to my surprise, this was a very well-stocked store – it even carries five varieties of gluten-free pasta! The prices were reasonable for most items, although we did accidentally buy 2 oz. of pine nuts for $10!
The next and most important stop was at a liquor store. While we found everything we needed here – dark rum, spiced rum, champagne, and beer – Jeff and I discovered a much larger liquor store while on a walk a few days later. This store did however, have a bottle opener on a chain at the counter just in case you could not wait to get home for your fix!
Fully provisioned we headed to the Abaco Beach Resort to meet Mark and Patty, the owners of Cruise Abaco. We were eager to get aboard Breaking Wind, the 36’ cat we had reserved only to be surprised with a belated x-mas gift from Mark. Instead of the boat we reserved we upgraded to Spontaneity, a brand new 41’ Fountaine Pajot that had never been out on charter. While it was pretty nice to be upgraded to a very posh vessel, the icing on the cake was not having to call Breaking Wind over the VHF!
After we chose our cabins and stored our provisions a very sick Mark came back on board and gave us a thorough overview of the systems, shared a bit of local knowledge, and took us out for a 1.5 hour test sail. Though we had a rough time getting up the main, as it was still reefed from her delivery from Annapolis, Jeff quickly picked up some new skills in steering a two-engine boat.
Back at the dock, Sasha, David, and Jeff headed out to Dive Abaco to try to schedule a dive trip while I disinfected the boat. When they returned we quickly tossed the lines and set our sites on Man-O-War Cay. Working as a team, and assisted by the handy electric winch, we put up the main and unfurled the jib. Spontaneity sailed beautifully across the Sea of Abaco and we were all delighted to feel the warm sun on our faces and wind in our hair.
In what seemed like no time at all we reached the shore of Man-O-War and looked for a spot of white sand to drop the hook. As David and Jeff let out the chain, I drove the yacht backward to set the anchor and secure us for the night. The first order of business was drink making! With a variety of fruit juices, ginger ale, and Goombay Punch we were able to recreate some of the local concoctions we imbibed the night before at Snappas. Bahama Mamas, Rum Runners, and an assortment of delicious beverages were on the menu!
With drinks in hand, we headed to the bow of the ship to lay on the large trampoline and relax. Resting in Jeff’s arms, under a sky of pinks and peach, I was eager for the morning to come so that we could explore the island that lay just off our bow.