Our last week in Hope Town came upon us sooner than expected, as a result of the weather predictions. We knew we needed to begin our return journey sometime between March 6th-11th. Looking ahead at the forecasts, it appeared that we would have a window later this week but not another one until after the 13th or so. If we were totally carefree and without “ties”, we could just wait it out for a later time. But, those family ties are pulling at us, especially me.
The previous week we had made a day trip to Marsh Harbour for a Maxwells run and a visit to the immigration office. When we checked through Customs back in December at Green Turtle, we received a 90-day visa. Thinking ahead that we may be here until mid-March, we had to go through the process of an extension. With Anthony and Annette, who came along for the ride, we walked to the recently completed “Bahamas Government Complex”.
It was February 22nd and our 90 days would end on March 2. Much to our dismay, the immigration clerk, after counting three times with her finger on a calendar hanging on the wall, informed us that we were here too early. You can only have the permit extended within 3 days of its expiration and we were 6 days too soon. Really??? Are they going to be that picky? Especially for a country that is pretty relaxed about most things. Fortunately for us, after checking with a supervisor, we were given a 14-day extension. Relief. I’ll admit that I was ready to just forget the whole extension thing and take our chances that we would never be stopped and asked for the paperwork. If we were stopped, would that result in jail time? Boat confiscation? Big $ fine?? Better to be safe than sorry, as the saying goes………..
Another preparation task for leaving was fuel and water, especially fuel. We pulled into Lighthouse Marina just inside the Hope Town harbor entrance for water and fuel for our return voyage.
Wouldn’t you know that just before we leave the Bahamas our water tanks were finally low enough. Al’s water collection system during those rainy days had worked very well. This was also the first time we took on diesel since we left Stuart, Florida on December 2nd. 100 gallons of diesel ($4.02 per gallon) and 90 gallons of water (36 cents per gallon.) Plus the Bahamas VAT tax of 7.5%
The day we returned from Great Guana Cay, we spontaneously hosted a Leap Year Day flybridge happy hour for our “core water family,” who were all back in the harbor again from various and sundry exploits.
The next day, March 1st, we reached the conclusion that we needed to catch the little weather window predicted for later this week. Suddenly, every day and evening was busy, getting ready and saying good bye. Dinner on Cutting Class that night (no photo), then another happy hour on JillyQ.
Another interesting, semi-unexpected event occurred during this last week, although the roots of the problem had begun weeks (months?) earlier. Dinghies and their engines are important when cruising. No, not important, they are CRITICAL. Our older Hondo 4-stroke engine has had cranky moments on this trip. Al has taken it apart on several occasions, the most noteworthy back in December.
That repair was the best one yet and the engine did well for the next 12 weeks. I became more comfortable with it and thus more independent, which I loved. But then, that old crankiness surfaced again, and there were a few times when I couldn’t get the engine started again. 🙁 That did not make me feel confident. The dinghy engine issues spread to Magnolia’s dinghy engine. Is this like a flu?
All of this background leads to a stop at the Yamaha dealer in Marsh harbor when we went for our visa extension. Anthony and Al spent their time in the showroom while Annette and I were grocery shopping in Maxwells. Why would we buy a new dinghy engine here in the Bahamas????? It’s the old 2-stroke vs 4-stroke story, which I finally grasp in a very basic way. Two-stroke engines are no longer sold in the U.S., although you can still use them. Four-stroke engines pollute less. But I have to wonder, just how much does a small dinghy engine really pollute the air we breathe? Not so much, I’m thinking. Two-stroke engines are much lighter in weight and that is an important consideration when you are cruising and must lift or hoist it. Lastly, the 2-stroke engines are a very good deal here. The new (never had a NEW engine before) is a 15-horse and will be faster than the old 9.9 horse. Back in Hope Town, the guys pondered, debated, contemplated, and ruminated over and over, and then decided to go for it, making a deal with the dealer for two engines, including delivery to us in Hope Town.
And then, suddenly, without apparent warning, it was our last day in Hope Town. And it was beautiful day. NO, it was perfect. The weather we had wanted for the past 2 months was back again – sunny with just a light breeze ruffling the water. Perfect for one last ride to Tahiti beach which would help break that new engine in. Even better – Sam and Kayda joined us for the excursion. How appropriate that was! Our first days in the Bahamas, back in Green Turtle, were spent with them, and now our last day would be together. Full circle.
Instead of packing our lunches, we decided to have lunch at Lubbers Landing, a place we have never been, a first for us. WOW – So glad we didn’t miss this terrific place. Absolutely loved the location, the style, and the food.
The covered wooden walkways up to the buildings were the first sign that this place was going to be charming, in a very islandy way.
We chatted with Amy while we ate, and she eagerly agreed to show us one of their cottages.