Bahamas

By Anne Clement

We have been enjoying nearly abandoned Bahamas anchorages since the government slapped huge customs duty on cruisers. For visiting boats our size it went up from $30 in 2000 to $100 last year and a whopping $300 this year. As you would expect, that has put a bit of a damper on things here and increased boaters' interest in cruising anywhere else instead. All the anchorages here now have plenty of room and the marinas are nearly empty. Because of our foreign flag, we must be out of the US for at least 3 weeks each year or else pay hefty US import duty, so we had to come here because that was the most economic alternative for us.

Christmas Eve Day we used a day of calm winds to scrub the bottom while Peace sat out of the water during the low tide on a sandy beach and the boat speed is back to normal now. At Guana Cay we had very minimal but most enjoyable Christmas exactly one year since we left the Canaries to cross the Atlantic. PEACE is a much more comfortable boat now and sailing has gotten lots easier too.

With such empty anchorages, it is fun to lift the anchor under sail and sometimes conditions allow us to anchor under sail too. The winds clock around every few days and we just stay one step ahead so sailing is easy on a reach, frequent, and fun.

We are getting eager for a string of visitors so both guest rooms are now ready and we have positioned ourselves near Marsh Harbour and its airport. There are over a dozen anchorages for all wind conditions and many different activities within a 15 mile radius of here.

The morning cruiser's net is a volunteer VHF radio broadcast with weather, community events, commercial announcements, etc - even a boating trivia question. The weather forecast has been right mostly so we are grateful for that and listen every morning.

There is much for us to be grateful for this New Year. We send our best wishes to all our friends and family.

© Anne and Neville Clement, 2004