Happy Six Week Bahamas-versary!

12

bahamas-eleuthera-palm-treesIt is hard to believe that we’ve already been in the Bahamas six weeks. We’ve barely even scratched the surface of the 720+ islands the country has to offer! While we’ve been living aboard for over a year and have had plenty of time to adjust to that, cruising brings on a whole new level to this non-traditional life. We’ve learned so much about how our boat handles, how we handle our boat and how we consume. Some things we expected and others we are surprised by so we wanted to share a few details that those thinking or dreaming about a trip in the Caribbean may find useful or interesting.

seafarer_sailboat_sailing

{Photos of Chance sailing from Royal Island over to Spanish Wells courtesy of our friends on Midnight Sun II}

Total islands visited: 19

Fuel Used: When we left Vero Beach, we had 35 gallons of gasoline in our tanks. From there we motored to Ft. Pierce, which probably used about 5 gallons of fuel leaving us with only 30 gallons in the tank. Because we have an Atomic 4 gasoline engine we burn about a gallon of fuel an hour. Since we have been in the Bahamas we have only put gas in the tank one time. And, we only put in 29 gallons to completely fill our 40 gallon tank. We are really of the mindset that we own a sailboat, so we try to actually sail it as much as possible. We’ve even gotten to the point of anchoring and raising anchor under sail which kind of freaks people out if we’re in tight spaces, but we know what we’re doing! The cheapest we’ve seen gas priced is at $5.58 a gallon. Diesel prices aren’t much better.

Groceries and Provisioning: Despite what the Bahama horror stories of the interwebs say, there are grocery stores everywhere. They may not have the exact brand you are looking for and they may be twice as expensive, but they are everywhere. All stock the staples (rice, dried beans, flour, etc.), with some stores carrying specialties. Anything canned is insanely priced (about $3 per) so it is definitely worth stocking up in the states before you cross over. In Marsh Harbour we were able to shop at Price Right which lets you buy in bulk for some great savings. For example, a can of pineapple juice runs about $4-5. When we bought a case of it each can was about $2 a can. Definitely worth finding a place to store them. How else are we supposed to make our rum punches?

Liquor/Beer: Beer is really really pricey over in these parts. The cheapest case we found was $36. Lucky for us, the cheapest beer is the stuff we went to three different liquor stores to find. If you are in the Bahamas make sure you try the “cheap, local shit” aka Bush Crack. It is as close to PBR as these Brooklyn kids can find. The other local beer – Kalik – is pretty watery tasting in my opinion. Liquor tends to be much better priced with rum being the Caribbean specialty. You can get local bottles of rum for under $10 and even some semi decent rums for $12 – $15. We tend to stick with the cheap stuff since we’re making rum punches. Other liquors are also pretty well priced outside of whiskies which are a tad more expensive. We haven’t found many boxed wines to replenish our stores, but they do have a variety of cheaper bottles of wine which are actually pretty good. We’ve indulged in a few $7-8 varieties without having a headache the next morning.

Water: I’ve already told you how we conserve water on board, but did I mention how bad the water here tastes? Most islands use a reverse osmosis process (turning salt water to fresh). I’m not very picky when it comes to hydration, but we really wish we brought more powdered drink mixes when we crossed over as the water is pretty undrinkable without some sort of flavor added to it. As of now we are almost out of our Crystal Light packs and have only one more Sams size gatorade left. They do sell powder here but is is REALLY pricey.

Meat: Jason is the type of person that has to have meat with every meal. Right before we crossed over I bought a big thing of chicken and ground beef from Publix and threw it in the freezer. Six weeks later we haven’t even gone through half of it. Thankfully Jason has gotten pretty good at spearfishing! I would estimate that 2/3 of the time we eat meat we’ve caught that day.

lobster-spearing-bahamas

{Spearing lobster at Snake Cay in The Abacos}

Spearfishing: We have both a pole spear and a Hawaiian sling aboard Chance. Jason tends to prefer the pole spear while I like the sling a bit better (you know, the two times I’ve tried it). While I still haven’t actually shot anything, Jason has caught snapper, hogfish, triggerfish, parrotfish (which we now know you shouldn’t eat because they are high risk for ciguatera), mutton snapper, grouper, lionfish and lobsters. I am sure there are other varieties I am forgetting as well. The funny thing is that neither Jason or I were huge fish fans before, but when it is this fresh it is delicious. It is incredibly rewarding to eat food that you (or your man) caught that day.

Trolling: We totally suck at trolling. We haven’t even had a nibble! What the heck? We’ve been using homemade squid lures (blue and pink) like everyone else seems to be using and nothing. What gives? We also seem to have lost the handle to one of our rods so we only have one rod to troll with now. Hand lines have also proven to be useless so far.

Favorite Place: We both really loved Powell Cay. That place is seriously gorgeous. It was so secluded. Untouched. Perfect. We also really liked Hope Town on Elbow Cay. While the island was definitely more developed than Powell, it was quaint, adorable and full of really awesome people.

Least Favorite Place: Fox Town was probably our least favorite stop we’ve made so far. It was just…odd. Very run down and full of trash.

Friendliest Island: Everywhere we’ve gone people have been nice but Spanish Wells in Eleuthera is hands down the friendliest place we’ve been. A man we just met lent Jason his bike, another man immediately said we could come to his house and use his showers, one woman went out of her way to help me track down two very specific people on the island and more than one person has told us we could use their private mooring balls for free. The New Yorkers in us keep thinking, “What’s the catch?,” but it seems there is none. These people are just that nice. It’s refreshing.

What we would ask you to shove in your suitcase if you were coming to visit: Sams-sized powdered drink mixes, a new french press, small hose clamps, sweet chili sauce, crackers/nibbles (to bring to cruiser happy hours) and a couple extra headlamps. And if you happened to have a spare starter you wanted to throw in there, splendid.

Things we can’t even give away: This is easily canned green beans and canned corn. These are pretty gross on their own and very rarely can be integrated into a recipe that I actually want to make. I unfortunately bought a big package of these from Sams before we left and a year later we still have cans and cans and cans.

Things we’ve lost: The handle to one of our fishing rods, a TBSP measuring spoon, 2 5-quart things of oil (they have to be on this boat somewhere!) and a dinghy key.

Amount of sunburns: Zero! My sun protection efforts have been a total success.

Things that have surprised us: Cruising is exhausting. Seriously. All that fresh air, sunshine and swimming have us both struggling to keep our eyes open past 8pm most nights.

sailing-dogs-bahamas-2

{Riley and his new friend, Salty from Midnight Sun II, running around Spanish Wells}

sailing-dogs-bahamas-3

{I mean, could Dewey look any happier?}

How about the dogs?: Dewey and Riley LOVE the Bahamas. Their favorite thing in the whole world is to run around and play on the beach. If there happens to be another dog for them to play with, even better. Nothing seems to make them happier than rolling around in the sand and splashing in the water.

How many times we’ve run the generator: I think we’ve only run it 4 times to charge our batteries. Our 240 watts of solar and KISS wind generator kick butt and give us some serious power. We rarely run our engine so the wind gen and solar are our main forms of generating power.

Music in the Bahamas: The music here is a pretty random mix. The Abacos really had a thing for Kelly Clarkson and The Locomotion. Spanish Wells really loves Shakira and country.

What we wear the most: The obvious answer here is a bathing suit, which is true. All of Jason’s shorts are these OP swim trunks we found at Wal-mart that have pockets and easily pass for land shorts as well. He has maybe 3 or 4 pair and literally wears them every day. For me, I am usually found in a swimsuit covered up by a pair of lightweight shorts and a loose tank top. You want clothing made of materials that will dry quickly because you will certainly get wet on a dinghy ride. We also wear a lot of hats to protect us from the sun as much as possible. For footwear, our preferred shoe is a flip-flop. When we sail Jason and I both find our water/hiker shoes work best as a sailing shoe. They protect your toes so you don’t stub them on deck hardware, they have grippy bottoms and if they get wet, they dry quickly.

How much we’ve spent: Both Jason and I are incredibly shocked by how little we’ve spent during our time in the Bahamas. We catch and cook our own meals and there aren’t many bars. We do indulge in a happy hour from time to time, but we are definitely frugal. In the first month we spent roughly $600. The only things we’ve spent money on are our entry fee, food, liquor, fuel and a few parts for the boat here and there. We do go to a coffee shop or restaurant here and there for internet access. This average is definitely shot for our second month as we need a new starter AND a new backstay. Stay tuned for more details on that. At least we were doing really well!

What’s next?: Well, once we get our backstay and our starter addressed the plan is to cross from Eleuthera down to the Exumas. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t take too long.

12 COMMENTS

  1. All those cans of green beans? Try using them as the base for salads. I’m not a big fan of canned green beans just heated up, but love them in salads with say some rice, dried fruit, maybe a tomato and a vinegar and oil dressing. We lived on that in the Sea of Cortez!

    • Thanks Carolyn – I’ve been looking through your cookbook for ways I can integrate them. I’ll definitely give this a shot!

  2. Love your blog! Hopefully you will still be exploring the Exumas in May we would love to meet you guys!

  3. Yours is a fantastic blog! So glad we’re following along 🙂 Would love to read more about your pole spear and a Hawaiian sling. Have you written a post on either? We’re starting to shop around and hearing more about yours would be great! We’ll be joining you on the sea (well, one of the other seas) this fall! ~Jessie

    • Hey Jessie – We don’t have a post on the specifics yet, but it is a great idea! We have both as each have their benefits. But, look into the legalities of where you’ll be as a spear gun, for instance, is illegal in the Bahamas.

  4. Great website and blog! Really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for including photos we shot and a pic if Salty! Good luck with the starter. I’m enroute to US right now. Be back Wednesday. Let me know if you need anything. – Neil

LEAVE A REPLY