Monday, April 26, 2010

Browns Marina

We are now in Port Lucaya, Grand Bahama.


Our attempt to sail south east to Nassau and the Exumas was cancelled because this year's El Nino weather has caused constant, unstable weather.  All set to go, we had eased cautiously out of Bimini Sands and anchored in the South Bimini anchorage. It didn’t look good and it got worse. After ten minutes of rocking and rolling it was anchors up. Even at high tide, it’s a tricky entry up the channel into North Bimini where we returned and tied up on Browns Marina dock.

Phillipa the manager made “her” boys, Shirley Temples. A non-alcoholic drink and all was well. More of Browns later.

The forecast was good for our second attempt to leave Bimini. this time heading north. John had plotted way points on the chart plotter for a night exit as we came through the Channel after our first attempt to leave. When we arrived a month ago there were no channel markers and a large boat was grounded. Now only some of the markers were back, even so it is still tricky in day light let alone at night. Mid afternoon we anchored at Paradise Point, off Bimini Bay in the north of the north island. At 3am with the children asleep we set off. John skippered. I kipped ready to mother watch which started at 6am.

It was a testing 62 miles with testing squally conditions and children.
However, now we are here in Port Lucaya, Grand Bahama, somewhere completely different. A change, it’s fun and easy. The marina we had hoped for is closed so we are at the Marketplace Marina where John secured a discount rate.

Thanks to the Our Lucaya Resort five minutes from the boat we have been indulging in five star beaches and swimming pools. A sales company corporate shin dig provided elaborate sand sculptures, a band and pirate party. Although watching from the back the boys were loaded up with treasure.

The Abacos are on our horizon after a huge storm system passes over. For now a little reminisce.

Browns Marina, North Bimini.

Browns Marina is next to the Government dock, both mentioned in Hemmingway’s Islands in the Stream. From the cockpit we watch the loading and unloading of the large ferries and boats, and the local water taxi. It’s quiet now, after the influx during the Easter celebrations.

Ashley Saunders writes books on Bimini. His house near the Government dock-The Dolphin House has a small museum and displays his inventive mosaics.

Boat building has been in his family for generations. His brother Ansil builds the Bimini Bonefisher, an exquisite craft made from various woods including horse flesh wood and mahogany. It is almost too beautiful to launch in sea water.

On Dr Martin Luther King’s first visit to the island he wrote his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize. His second visit to the island was at a more sober time. Saunders felt King knew the end was near, and, spoke movingly of his experience with King whom he took to a tranquil place in the mangroves to write his final speech, three days before his death. Whilst out on Saunders boat, fatigued King asked Ansil to talk saying he was tired of talking. Saunders recited a Psalm he had written. We were blown away when Ansil gave an impassioned recital of some of the poem. The air stood still. High energies surrounded him.

Still wowed by Saunders, en route home I met both Phillipa of Brown's Marina and Tammy, the baker at Taste of Heaven. I booked four guava duffs, all time melt in the mouth favourites. Locals call the bakery “Tammy Souse Souse” because of the lunch time souse (pickled) dishes she serves. Walking past the long wall of the Big Game Resort with a sea painting by Bennet Davis on the wall, past Jontras – my grocery, past our first marina the Bimini Blue Water Marina, the Anchorage Hotel and back to Browns, several locals greeted us and chatted.  Bimini was becoming home and more and more difficult to leave.

Who Dat?
In the Second World War pilots flying over the Bahamas amused themselves by radio-ing “Who dat?”, and replying“Who dat sayin’ who dat?”...etc etc. The Bimini Carnival over the Easter Weekend is the “Who Dat Homecoming”.
This reminded me of Fort Lauderdale in February which went Superbowl crazy. Miami was the venue. All America celebrated when the underdogs from New Orleans, whose nick name is the “Who Dat Nation”, won.

April was ebbing and the weather looked good to head north to Grand Bahama. Armed with four guava’ duffs we bid farewell to Tamy in Taste of Heaven, Jontra’s the local grocery, and all those we knew walking down the Kings Highway.

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