I steer the boat through a narrow shallow channel leading into White Sound anchorage at Green Turtle Cay. Guess what we’re welcomed by? Green turtles! They poke their heads up out the water before submerging themselves again and flapping their flippers to swim off, they’re surprisingly quick when they want to be.
We’re at Green Turtle as it’s a really protected anchorage and the weather forecast has predicted intermittent gale force winds over next few days. We lower the anchor and let out 120ft of chain to keep us secure. We test how well the anchor has set by putting our yacht in reverse, pulling against the anchor. We don’t budge. Fingers crossed we’ll be secure during these storms. It’s always a worry.
Green Turtle is the first fully inhabited island we’ve visited in the Bahamas, but it’s still remote. We’re staying in White Sound where there are marinas, mooring buoys and space to anchor. The marinas offer restaurants, bars and fuel amongst other facilities. Nearby New Plymouth is the hub of this island but its only a quaint sleepy village. To give an idea of how chilled it is here, the local bank is only open once a week; for a few hours on a Thursday morning. Many buildings are of wooden construction and are painted in pretty pastel shades. The streets are peaceful and there’s a friendly vibe, everyone you pass says hello. It’s very welcoming.
Small grocery stores allow us to top up our fridge, but not too much. It’s pricey!
One courgette: $2.50
One pineapple: $7.50
One loaf of bread: $5.00
We opt for the cheapest meat in the freezer section, it seems to be pork. At the checkout the cashier asks “You do know what this meat is?”, we honestly reply “We’re not entirely sure, no”. “Pigs feet” she responds. We decide to pop it back in the freezer and treat ourselves to a couple of trusty burgers instead.
One evening we head out to meet friends at Tranquil Turtle bar overlooking the sea. We enjoy freshly caught local fish and chips and sample a few drinks from the bar. Later in the evening back on the boat the winds pick up to around 25 knots, we rock around, twisting and pulling on the anchor. We seem to be pretty secure. We try to get to sleep but as the conditions deteriorate I worry about every twist, turn and bump I hear. I head up to the cockpit to check things out….we’re still in the same place, we haven’t dragged. I look around to see the lights of the other yachts around me, some anchored, some on mooring buoys and others at the dock in the marinas. The sky above is clear and the stars are shining brightly, but we’re surrounded by storms. Lightning is flashing all around, flickering constantly like a light bulb with a faulty connection.
Back in bed I still can’t sleep, the wind is howling through our halyards and the snubber is creaking under all the weight of the boat. By 4am I finally manage to drift off, but an hour later I’m suddenly awoken by the sound of a fog horn blasting. I jump up out of bed assuming it must be someone alerting us that we’re dragging. I run up to the cockpit and look to the rear, it all looks fine, we’re still in the same place. Maybe I imagined the foghorn? I turn to the front of our boat and can make out the stern of another boat in front of us, it has a white hull…I’m confused, the boat that was in front earlier was blue hulled. Then I realise what’s happened: a large sailboat that was on the other side of the anchorage has dragged all the way over, it’s collided with the blue hulled vessel ahead of us, and is still dragging….towards us! I wake Ben. We put the engine on instantly and throw some fenders over the sides for protection. The captain of the dragging vessel is now awake and has put out an extra anchor. It sets in the seabed and he is secure, but he’s dangerously close to us, and the other boat he’s already collided with.
The wind is still howling, the conditions are too bad for him to move and it’s suspected his anchor and chain has tangled with the other boats’. For the next 3 hours we stand in the cockpit monitoring all our movements. We go from the pitch black of night, through sunrise and into daylight. The weather worsens further, a squall arrives throwing heavy rain at us, winds hitting over 35 knots and the biggest clap of thunder and lightning overhead makes me jump out of my skin. The change in direction of the wind sends us hurtling around closer to the other boat. We’re now side by side. All our fenders are out and our boat hooks are in our hands ready to push the other vessels away.
We use the engine and steering to control our boat too, it’s not easy as we seem to be sat in a strong current. When the squall passes the wind changes direction, we all shift again, bringing new dangers and other boats into the equation. We manage to keep ourselves safe and when the weather suddenly clears we grab the opportunity with both hands, raise our anchor and move away from the entangled boats to a mooring buoy on the other side of the anchorage. We’re safe, secure and no damage has been done to our boat. After a deep breath, we jump in the dinghy and head back over to help the other two boats separate from one another. By 10am we’re soaked through to the bone and exhausted. We’re in great need of some shut eye before we can continue with our day.
In the afternoon the skies clear it’s our opportunity to explore the island again, not by foot though, my toe is still too painful from my Manjack island incident. A couple of friends, Marc and Linda from sailing vessel DevOcean, have hired a golf cart. It’s the most popular means of transport here. We first met DevOcean back at Great Sale Cay during our first storm experience a few weeks ago. It’s nice to have familiar faces around and there’s the added bonus they’re a bundle of laughs. We all jump on the golf cart and head off for a morning of exploration. We drive along bumpy dirt roads to find beaches, locals houses, grand houses set amongst coconut trees and much much more.
Our time at Green Turtle comes to an end when there’s a good weather window for us to make our way through the Whale Channel. It’s a notorious stretch of water and must only be crossed in good weather conditions. Let’s hope it’s plain sailing!