Somehow we ended up spending a week anchored in the West Bay Area on the far western shore of New Providence Island.
Our plan was to spend only one night there, then move to Palm Cay where other cruising friends had arrived. They indicated they would have a long stay at Palm Cay so we knew we would definitely be able to catch up with them there before our turn south to the Exumas.
Back to the wait—It had a little something to do with a forecasted wind system.
Kyle saw winds up to 30 knots on the horizon, so finding a protected anchorage became our priority. West Bay was our best choice given that our next stop would be Palm Cay.
NOTE: Wind has been the contributing factor to nearly every short and long term decision we have made on this sailing journey.
Wind direction shifted several times while in the anchorage at West Bay, so we picked up anchor and bounced between the protection of the north and south coasts of the bay.
There was reverb (this is my term for ocean swells coming into the bay, bouncing off the shore and creating a rolly double-whammy). It was sort of like Kyle & Bethany vs. The Reverb—Just imagine your favorite action/war movie... throw in a sophisticated character named Wind, some saltwater, a tiny sailing vessel and three small children.
In addition to the strategy of changing our position in the bay based on the wind, we also attempted nestling in as close as possible to the shoreline and practiced the art of placing a second anchor on several occasions. We gained some great first-hand experience on boarding the dinghy/dinghying around in high wind/swell.
The Lev-O-Gauge applied for a transfer after his duties were fulfilled.
There was talk of a nearby grocery so I volunteered to make a run on the folding bike. Kyle stayed at the beach with the kids. With only one phone set up, the plan was for me to be back by 1pm. Well... that didn't happen—for reasons out of my control. The store ended up being 3.7 miles away. The nearly four miles (one way) took about an hour on the non-geared bike. I asked a couple people if I was on track and they all looked at me like I was crazy for biking somewhere that far away, yet they were all seemingly cheering me on—or maybe that was my imagination?! One person asked to give me a lift—I would've accepted, but I honestly thought I was just down the street from my destination. So onward I rode.
Experiencing the island by bicycle gave me a closer look into the culture—and plenty of time for contemplation.
This big hill gave me some speed.
Along the way, I passed by a parade of "lunch vans" parked roadside across from the construction site of a new theater. One vendor, called Angel by her following, directed me toward the store. I confirmed that if she was still serving upon my return, I'd buy a couple hot meals to go.
Fifty five minutes after my departure, I arrived at Soloman's Fresh Market—The Whole Foods of the Bahamas. I was selective in my shopping as I only had a certain backpack storage capacity to work with. Prices were high, but I was completely elated to obtain three dozen eggs, a load of fresh produce, Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar (a dear friend advised drinking a small amount each day to ward off mosquitos), one Kombucha and a handful of other surprise treats.
Immediately after checkout, I transferred eggs into our three egg storage containers (you know—those bright yellow plastic holders from the camping section at Walmart), situated the glass bottles and produce and grabbed my bike out of the bushes. I biked back to Angel who was still serving up her authentic Jamaican cuisine. I knew I could not pass up the rare, new food experience before me, but I had no way of transporting more goods back to the beach. Since I knew she was getting ready to pack up I asked if she could drop me off along with some hot food, the bike and my groceries. She agreed. I accompanied her while she served her final customers, and learned of her passion/side hustle (a fresh juice business) and some of her special concoctions like Orange Ginger and Peanut Punch—her recommended beverage for anyone wishing to become pregnant. Her and I and the friendly customers all talked food. Then we loaded up and she slid the minivan doors shut.
On the drive to the beach, she shared more on the inter-workings of her business and of its growing future. It was great hearing her story and always a joy to talk food and enterprise with a fellow foodie-entrepreneur. She was delighted to hear that we had formerly operated a mobile food cart and bakery/coffee bar.
We arrived at my stop and I ordered two boxes to go. She loaded them full of curry, rice & peas, root vegetables, roasted turkey, patties and other foods I’d been dreaming of. As I thanked her and said goodbye she reminded me that she would be at the same spot the next day if I was free to stop by.
Kyle apparently had not discovered the bottle of water or snacks I had packed into the dinghy for he and the kids... so I think he was excited about the ready-to-eat lunch and ice-cold Kombucha.
We were conveniently anchored next to the gorgeous Clifton Heritage Reserve. When it was less windy we ventured onto the ocean and dinghy-explored the park coastlines.
Our first discoveries were around the south side of the island. On a mission to locate a beach with good snorkeling, we landed at one of several sandy areas which also promised rocks and coral. That's when we stumbled upon a huge, possibly ancient stone-carved face—my imagination went wild as I photographed it... what rich, artistic culture of the past left this amazing gem for us to enjoy? Kyle attempted to bring me back to reality when he pointed out it was made of concrete, but my imagination only became more curious.
The journey continued past a boat with a group of tourists swimming near some buoys on to a bluff line that had caught our eye. It is quite possible we found world class climbing in the Bahamas!
It was late in the day and the wind began to pick up, but before heading back to the boat, we wanted to have a quick peek at the buoyed area—I figured there were traps there. Kyle thought it was a wall where the shallows dropped off into the deep. As we pulled up, Kyle put his mask on and stuck his head over the side of the dinghy and was SHOCKED to find a 17-foot tall woman-sculpture staring back at him.
Learning more about the impressive work of art called Ocean Atlas, by James Decairnes-Taylor, we felt so fortunate to have come across it!
Next, we motored toward another beach and met a random guy who was waving us down. His name was Ari. He was Canadian, had also started up a coffee bar (and panini shop) and was on our wavelength regarding entrepreneurial ventures and the perfectionism/obsession that goes along with them. We shared thoughts and stories on the beach and enjoyed an amazing sunset with him. We are hoping to meet up with him elsewhere in the Bahamas—or in Canada for some rock/ice climbing!
We had been informed by another beach-goer of an upcoming event. The 2018 Potcakeman Triathlon was set to take place at the beach near our anchorage and during our stay. Food vendors would be present. The day prior to the event, we saw the setup crew assemble as we dinghied nearby. A swimmer was delivering an anchor and buoy to its location (300 yards off the coast). She waved us over and asked for assistance. We transported the anchor & buoy and followed her out. Once the anchor was set we followed her back to shore.
There was a lot of hustle & bustle beachside. We made some new friends who tried desperately to keep us there.
The next morning, we woke up and headed straight to the event. We landed the dinghy at the end of the beach to avoid interfering with the happenings. A young man, Dre, immediately approached us and asked if we had seen any kayakers/paddleboarders "our there" referring and pointing urgently toward the ocean.
Indeed, upon boarding the dinghy (just minutes prior) we had noticed some large colorful objects floating way out there, and they did resemble small watercraft, but we did not see any people.
Dre explained that one person had gone out to set another race buoy and that another individual had gone out to assist when the first person seemed to have been carried out by the wind and current.
Immediately, Kyle and I made an action plan. He headed back to the dinghy (Dre joined him). The kids and I waited at the beach. Within minutes the guys and the dinghy were out of sight. After an hour or more, they returned with a massive buoy full of water. Dre, cell phone at his ear, still looked concerned.
Kyle relayed to me that one of the individuals was Dre's dad. The report was good, though. Dre had received news via a call from his mom that both his dad and the other missing person had safely landed at a beach on the north side of the island—some five miles from West Bay!
The three men, Kyle and I recounted our various thoughts during the situation and promised we would be mentioning them on our blog! They were a great group and shared their wealth of local knowledge—We learned the bay is known for hammerhead sharks, several celebrities have homes on the bay (Sean Connery, Lenny Cravitz & Shakira), and we obtained some dive site beta.
I know what you’re thinking—yes, I'm still hung up on the mere possibility that I could've been shopping for avocados alongside Shakira!
According to Kyle, the waves out on the open ocean were sizeable and each one filled the dinghy with water. He had fought against the flooding by bailing rapidly swells and searching. Thankful to be back on land, he finished emptying the water out of the dinghy. Then we got him his coffee, doughnut and mimosa.
The event was fun to watch and Zion wanted to participate!
Meeting some locals was the frosting on the cake. Xavia, owner of POW! (an exciting, creative and rapidly growing food truck venture), was a delight! Upon paying for my Chicken & Waffles with Guava Sauce, I inquired if card payments were accepted. This triggered a wonderful conversation. She explained her plans to set up card processing, and some of the dilemmas she had faced. We discussed Square (the system we had used for our businesses) and I offered her our card and chip readers which I conveniently had brought along just in case. Haha. By the end of the morning she was all set up and testing her new point of sale system!
She had studied culinary arts in Houston and returned to the island to start her business. The business had already outgrown its capabilities with the small truck so she’s working toward a bigger rig. With the incredible food she’s serving up and her entrepreneurial spirit—there’s no doubt she’ll keep growing!
The kids have taken an interest in photography so while we were in the bay we practiced. No—we weren't able to snap photos of any celebrities! We mainly worked with them to notice lighting, determine a worthy subject and camera basics.
At last, it was the last day, we were all geared up to leave at noon. The winds were forecasted to die down by that time making a smooth exit. Two thunderstorms passed through and we were experiencing some major swell, reverb, rocking...you name it! Texting with the friends who awaited us in Palm Cay, we knew the conditions there and made the decision to wait one more day for calmer seas.