Mike’s visit to the Bahamas

Roger and I were looking forward to Michael’s visit. He was the last of the three children to visit us on our boat trip on the Great Loop and side trip to the Bahamas and we hadn’t seen him in eight months!

Andrew came to Alabama in the fall when we were still in the rivers and going through locks.  Jilly visited us in Florida as we cruised through the Everglades and down to the Florida Keys over her Christmas holidays. Mike was coming to the Bahamas for a ten day visit.

We’ve been having a lot of trouble with strong winds since arriving on the coast in November as cold fronts come down from the USA and Canada and we were very concerned about Mike’s visit. We worried we would not be able to get to him when he arrived.

“Never make a schedule” is the first rule of boating. Plans have to be set in jello and you must be flexible according to the weather (wind).  Otherwise you are forced to travel when you shouldn’t and experience unpleasant or dangerous situations with wind and big waves in unfamiliar waters. We thought we had lots of time but after waiting eight days in Bimini which is quite a long way from Nassau by boat, at seven miles an hour, we had an ok over-night crossing to Nassau where Michael was flying in.  Luckily a friend suggested we fly him home from Staniel Cay in the Exumas because we would never have made it back to Nassau in time for his flight home as there wasn’t another good weather window! Needless to say we were concerned about whether we could pick up Michael and land him again on a Cay with an airport to get him home to University and his exams the following day in Canada.

To start Mike had trouble in Prince George at the airport as his flight was delayed a day owing to snowy weather. Luckily he was close enough to go home for the night and try again the next day.

After he got here his stay in the Bahamas was wind. Mike was a big help. Here he is fishing and driving the boat.

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On the days it was too windy to snorkel we hiked in the Exumas at Cambridge Cay and enjoyed the Atlantic side!

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On the calmer days or when we could find shelter we snorkelled from the dingy.

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We arrived at Staniel Cay and got over to Thunderball Grotto which must be entered at low tide so you can get inside the cave. It is quite high inside and there are a lot of tropical fish, but as the water level goes up your exit is cut off and you need to swim underwater to exit the grotto on all sides. This scene was used when a James Bond film by the same name was shot in the Exumas in the 60s.

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We also saw some curious reptiles including a lot of iguanas, lizards and sea turtles.

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We saw some Nurse Sharks and Caribbean Reef Sharks while we were snorkelling and some lovely sceneDSCF1341ry in remote areas.DSCF1363








After his trip came to a close, Mike flew out on Flamingo Air from Staniel Cay. He had a 9:20 AM flight and we were worried that we might not be able to land him on shore because it was so rough.

The marina was not accepting reservations owing to the cold front and the strength of the west wind so we could not land there with the big boat and had to rely on the dingy.

We were anchored a mile away between two islands and had protection but it was so rough that people could not navigate from their boats into their dingys and some stayed on their boats for the duration of the windy weather.

We were able to get onto our boat and get to shore but we needed to pass by a cut where currents and winds created large waves and avoid the ‘crown of thorns’ rocks.

We left early that morning and landed our dingy on a beach a 15 minute walk from the airport. We arrived early and waited and waited. No one was there at first (but it was good we were early because his flight left at 8:55 AM, 25 minutes before the posted departure time). Here is the departure waiting area. Note the weigh scale on the ground and the waiting traveller. The fire suppression equipment is red (see below).


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No other passengers arrived. The plane finally arrived and a large captain climbed out the window above the wing. He had a lot of trouble getting back inside.

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The woman at the rear of the plane is Flamingo Air staff. She was going on Michael’s flight and she was very entertaining and flamboyantly dressed. She let everybody know what they could do and could not do. Roger was told in no uncertain terms to get off “her tarmac” while we were waiting (he was investigating the runway which was built in the middle of a bonefish nursery).

Everyone one paid this staff person a lot of attention. Many people were in trouble with her for minor infractions. The end result was that everyone was paying a lot of attention to her when each new person was in trouble.

When the plane left early and a couple arrived and realized it was their flight, they started running down the tarmac after the plane. We knew there would be trouble with the woman staff and we looked forward to seeing how she would handle it!

As the plane taxied back, Roger advised the couple they were in big trouble because this woman would be letting them know they were late! She loudly advised the couple who arrived at 8:55AM for their 9:20AM flight that they were late and that is why the plane had already left. They did not have the opportunity to complain. She shook her fist at them out the captain’s window!

Michael said she seated him in the middle seat and although he would have preferred to sit at a window to see the wonderful scenery, “he didn’t think he would argue with her.” Luckily the pilot saw this couple running down the tarmac after his plane and returned to pick them up. Note the woman staff’s arm being shaken from the captain’s window at the poor late couple (they had just bought an island).

I think if you ever fly out of Staniel Cay airport you had better be early!IMG_1466