Old Fort Bay revisited.

It has been 10 months since Oh! visited this beautiful bay and beach on the west end of New Providence Island. Not much has changed, it is still a beautiful spot to get away from Nassau. Even as the Coronavirus pandemic has tourists becoming endangered species in Nassau as the giant cruise ships vanish, it is still a very busy harbour. The sirens of ambulances and police sound at all hours of the day and night. Boat traffic from the smallest fishing dingy to cruise ships that make aircraft carriers look small all contribute to making the waters choppy and uncomfortable. Jet skis seem to take particular joy in creating as much wake and added noise as possible. At night bars and restaurants try to compete with the cacophony of traffic noise and it just becomes an assault on the senses… there is no mistaking it, this sailor is not a fan of Nassau. Fortunately, just 10 nmi. west in prevailing easterlies Old Fort Bay is an oasis of tranquility. A perfect place to get a bunch of items off the “to do list” cleared.

Since the measures to try and control the Coronavirus have essentially shut down any prospect of having any guests anytime soon, I will be sailing solo. Therefore, I need to address a few tasks that will make single handed sailing easier. The first item is finishing the helm station remote anchor windlass switch. I had started this project way back in the Chesapeake, but cold weather and then a consistent flow of guests has delayed its completion. The wiring at the windlass had been completed. Then Andy helped feed the wire to the helm in late January, but I knew the actual final installation of the switch at the helm was going to be a big project. Not something to do with guests on board. As it turned out, it took almost 5 hours from digging tools out to finally getting them put away again. However, it will be well worth it and make solo anchoring a breeze.

The job was completed just in time to enjoy a cool juice as I watched the Lyford Cay Sailing Club kids race about the bay. They were pretty competitive and it was to watch them barking orders to tack or claim “right of way!”

Just as the sailing ended, Mother Nature put on a display of some of her finest artistry as the sun sunk low in the sky. One of the joys of Old Fort Bay is the spectacular sunsets. There is nothing in the way to spoil the view. No land, boats, or even noise to spoil the setting. It is just a slow motion transition from the bright aqua marine waters and sapphire blue skies of the day…to the orange, greys and fiery yellows that highlight the edges of the clouds as the sun sinks and the evening begins.

It was especially relaxing today knowing that a long desired addition to Oh!’s controls was finally functioning. As the skies grew increasingly orange and the sun’s light faded, I watched as a private jet approached Nassau’s airport. There has been a noticeable decline in commercial aircraft arriving. Even the super yachts at the exclusive and very expensive Atlantis Marina are becoming scarce. It is not the fear of contacting the disease that is driving the tourists and yachts away…it is the rapidly growing list of countries closing borders and initiating travel restrictions that are causing them to stay away, or leave before they can’t get back home as the airlines shrink operations.

The risks of contacting this virus on a cruising sailboat are extremely low. However, Oh! and I are guests in the Bahamas and our welcome only extends for a finite period, then what? That is the big question. Where to go after the Bahamas and can we be assured Oh! and I can be cleared in to wherever we arrive. That is changing daily. Plus the whirly gig season of crazy weather is approaching. That means we must be north of Cape Hatteras or at the south end of Grenada. Both destinations involve making a big commitment with relatively slim plan B options. Given how rapidly the world is shutting down and countries are closing borders…even to cruising yachts… customs and immigration rules will almost certainly be subject to change. My planned Atlantic Circuit back to the Azores and beyond is all but dead. My biggest concern is not contacting the Coronavirus…it is being able to get a flight home for a very important wedding this summer…and then back to wherever Oh! was left.

That often quoted ancient Chinese curse (which actually was stated in its most often quoted wording by Robert Kennedy in 1966 while in Cape Town, South Africa) seems to have become a reality; “May you live in interesting times”.

Cheers, from the tranquility of Old Fort Bay…subject to change soon.

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