Let me apologize in advance to those that don’t know us that well – this is a self-indulgent post and full of photographs of family and what we did in the two weeks that they were down here. For me, it was one of the best times of my life, with all of us together, perfect weather (which so seldom happens here) and lots of laughing, bonding and closeness.
It all began when we realized that our 70th birthdays were coming up at the end of the 2021 (Garth’s on November 16th, mine on January 1st and Kate celebrating her 40th on Christmas Eve). A plan started formulating. In March I called Pete’s Pub in Little Harbour (they laughed at me!!) to make sure that we had reservations for their New Year’s Eve dinner. We decided to book a charter on a sailing catamaran for the family (ours is definitely a drink 6-10, feed 4 and sleep 2 boat!) They also laughed at us – but offered us a nice discount for being their first customers to book for the 2021/22 season. In June I booked flights; I know how they sell out over the holiday period. It was easier and cheaper to get Dave and Kat from Italy than to get flights from the States for Kate’s family! All good.
A hiccup happened when we called the charter company in June as we hadn’t heard from them regarding deposits etc. The owner had been taken ill shortly after we had spoken to him and was hospitalized in the States for three weeks. Our booking had fallen through the cracks and the boat we had been promised wasn’t available any longer. Hiccup turned into Godsend as I found a most charming cottage on VRBO, right in the heart of the settlement in Hope Town for half of what the charter would have cost! Having proper beds, two bathrooms (actually three, as there was one outside which was invaluable when coming back from the beach) wifi, tv and a full size, fully equipped kitchen was perfect. (A plug – it’s called The Boathouse, it’s on VRBO and is managed by Elbow Cay Properties – I would recommend it highly if you’re thinking of coming down to Hope Town).
Of course we also didn’t know that Covid would be causing havoc with flights being cancelled left, right and center. I spent many, many hours on our trip down the waterway making good friends with airline customer service agents (based in India I think) while they struggled to get through to the airlines to find us alternative flights. Kate eventually re-booked their entire flight via Southwest and now has airline credits with American and United for her and the kids to use this year!! Even that flight into Nassau was horribly delayed and our planned sunset trip from Marsh Harbour back to Hope Town turned into pitch black, grit your teeth and hold on journey. But the stars were spectacular!!! And day after Christmas, Kate, Mike, Will and Penny were here at last.
The next day was the start of two weeks of perfect weather. With the wind from the south-west, the beach could not have been more perfect. Everyone was in their element – and slathered with sunscreen!
That night we went over to the Hope Town Inn and Marina for delicious frozen drinks and an excellent meal.
Kate put her back out on Monday (we think it was the cartwheels on the beach – yes, she can still do a cartwheel at 40!) but it didn’t stop everyone from going back for another perfect beach day on Tuesday. Off to Bingo at Captain Jacks in the evening. Garth and I went over before 4.00 (Bingo only starts at 6.00!) to get a table as it was first come first served – we got the last table available!! Kate and Mike left before the end as it was overwhelmingly noisy – but the gambling bug kept the others of us there until the end – but as with most gambling, no luck! Will and Penny came and slept on the boat with us – grandparents’ dream! They are 11 and 9 now and such fun to be around.
Dave and Kat were getting in at midday on Wednesday so we left early and headed to Marsh Harbor. The others climbed the lighthouse – they took pictures of us leaving, and we took pictures of them. We stocked up with fresh food at the big supermarket and came home with Dave and Kat! After unpacking and settling in, we celebrated Kate’s birthday together and had a wonderful ribeye barbeque.
Thursday was a big day. Up early and skimming along glassy seas to Fowl Cay where we anchored off the little island and had it all to ourselves. Will and Penny had their first snorkeling experience – it wasn’t on a reef or anything, but there were fish and shells to see and they gained a good degree of confidence without being out in the ocean (where there are sharks!!). I think what I really liked is that although we had plans, there was no timetable and we stayed as long as we were still enjoying ourselves
From there we went on to Guana Cay and up to the famous Nippers Bar. It had opened the previous week for the first time since Dorian so our timing was perfect – they had been completely, completely destroyed by the hurricane and it had taken all of this time to get up and running again. It is not completely rebuilt, but what a pleasure to share a frozen Nipper with Dave and Kat (first time in the Bahamas) while the kids swam in the pool and on the beach.
We rolled back down to Grabbers, as you do, for more frozen rum, lunch and we enjoyed their water activities.
We hoped that a beach massage might help Kate’s back – I think it helped Kate, but not so much her back as she battled with that for the whole time here.
Back home to a little R&R and a very early night for all.
Again with no rush or pressure (my very best thing) on Friday we got ready, made sandwiches for the boat and set off to head down to Little Harbour for New Year’s Eve. Fortunately they had reserved a mooring ball for us so there was no urgency to get there. Once more we had glassy seas and a great boat ride.
Lots and lots of photographs – if you think there are a lot on this blog, you should see the folder that I had to choose from. But how often is it that you have the whole family together in paradise? The kids were very happy playing ring toss – Will became the expert, even mastering the throw-around-the-nearby-pole-and-let-it-unwind-and-see-if-you-get-it-onto-the-hook technique!! Penny was pretty good herself too.
They had to limit their numbers because of Covid, but Pete’s Pub did a spectacular job of a five course meal – Seared Wahoo; Lobster Chowder; Green Salad; choice of Ribeye Steak or Lobster with sides; and a selection of pies for dessert. Their signature rum drink is excellent and there was much to occupy us during the wait for midnight.
Midnight brought a wonderful fireworks show – and lots of hugging and kissing! David borrowed the DJ’s mic and announced my 70th birthday – everyone sang and I was made to feel very special.
Next morning I made scones and Mel and Gary brought Kate and Mike back to our boat. All 8 of us were originally going to have to sleep on our boat for the one night (!!!) but Mel and Gary’s friends who were supposed to be with them had to postpone because of Covid and their back cabin was empty. Thank you Mel and Gary!!
My birthday gift touched the deepest place in my heart. I won’t post any pictures, because I was blubbing my eyes out the whole time! My children penned the most beautiful words for me and set them to the music of “Watch the Rain”. For those that don’t know, our nephew Craig Hinds has a band called Watershed in South Africa – (another plug, look them up on iTunes – LOVE their music!) The have an album called Watch the Rain. The title song was written largely at our house when the whole family was over in the US for Kate’s wedding in 2009. It has always been my favorite, and has been the closing song at their gigs that I have been to while in South Africa – which has added even more significance to it for me, as those are such special family memories. They sent him the words, and he went into the studio and recorded MY SONG which they played for me on my birthday. Even as I write this, my eyes get teary and I choke up. What a special, special morning.
I eventually stopped crying and we set off from Little Harbour over to Lynyard Cay. There is a walk from the beach over to the ocean side and there are amazing shells and seaglass to be collected. I don’t know what brings it all in there, but you never come away empty handed. A bit more swimming, sand-castling and then we were on our way back.
We stopped at Tahiti Beach on the way back to make water. A new feature down there is a floating Tiki Bar which is moored in Hope Town but goes down on weekends and you can dinghy, swim or walk up to buy food and drinks. Dave and Kat drew the short (or long?) straw and got themselves a drink – came back to the boat with hot chips – just what the doctor ordered after the previous night!
Back to our mooring ball and little house and we had yet another surf and turf feast – the leftover steak from Pete’s and a lobster extravaganza that Gary had caught and given to us to share with the family. How lucky are we?
On Sunday we all went back to the Marina for a last breakfast all together. Then to the clinic to get the required negative Covid tests – success!! The Dawsons were booked on a very early flight on Monday so we left Dave and Kat alone at the house (peace! quiet!) and spent the night at anchor in Marsh Harbour. The taxi picked them up at 6.45am and sadly that part of the vacation was over.
It was the day of the big snow in Annapolis and Kate’s picture says it all!!
That night it was Dave and Kat’s turn for Bingo. It was less boisterous (drunk?) that night and a lot of fun – made more so when Dave won the second round!!! $248.00 in his pocket – not too shabby!
We had choices to make for the rest of Dave and Kat’s time. Stay here and relax, or show them Green Turtle Cay. The seas were quite large on Tuesday, but we all opted for the adventure. We decided to try going through the “Don’t Rock” cut – it’s called that for a reason. It was a bit of white-knuckle stuff, especially for Kat who was not used to boats and what they can and can’t do, but we made it. We’ll never do it again, despite our shallow draft. You have to go very close to the rocks and with large ocean swells on our beam; it just wasn’t worth it. Now we know.
We rented a golf cart to explore the island. We have a favorite beach called Gillam Bay but with the strong winds and high tide it wasn’t the best. Drove through the town (which was very quiet) and so headed to Pineapples. It remains our favorite bar. Frozen drinks, delicious food and lounging in the pool. We had to drag ourselves away.
Green Turtle Club has a steak night on Wednesdays and it didn’t let us down. The bar there is papered with dollar bills with people’s names – Will and Penny’s were still there from 2018, despite the hurricane. When we came to Green Turtle with the Beneteau Group in 2007 we had pinned up our flag – it also is still there and we added another dollar bill to it with ours and Dave and Kat’s names – we will be back!!
Another night on the boat for Dave and Kat (she was becoming quite the old salt by now!) and we headed back towards Hope Town. We stopped at Marsh Harbour so that Dave and Kat could get their Covid tests for the States and we decided to get tested as well as both Pete’s Pub and Capt. Jack’s had closed down after New Year with the staff having Covid. Fortunately we were all negative – great peace of mind.
The next morning, after another great breakfast at the Marina, Dave and Kat boarded a ferry to start their long journey home. It was sad, but yet not as we had all had such a fabulous time together and so many good memories were made. That night there was the most magnificent sunset – as though to close the chapter on the best vacation ever!