NOTE: My laptop has been down since we landed in Nassau. It worked just fine in the Berry Islands but isn't working now. The good news is we found a reputable Dell service center where it is being repaired as I write this. Blog posts and photos that are locked in that computer will see the light of day. One day.
We did not want to spend much time in Nassau. For us it was a necessary one-day stop on the way to the Exumas. We needed propane and every other island we visited sends the tanks to Nassau on the mail boat. We preferred to keep our very good tanks in our own hands, thank you very much, so an overnight stop in Nassau was required. In addition, we sought special connectors to complete the SSB installation. We'd purchased three of those connectors in Fort Lauderdale and EW stowed them in a safe place. It's real safe. Haven't seen them since, even though we've torn most of the boat apart looking for them. Plans must be fluid when you are cruising on a sailboat, so we decided to spend a few days in Nassau.
The Explorer Chart Books, everyone's favorite charts for the Bahamas, doesn't make Nassau sound very welcoming. They discuss area attractions and the opportunity to get supplies and mention the high duty charged for imported items and this about being a tourist:
"The down side, of course, is city congestion of traffic and tourists with the attendant crime having its effect both on land and in the harbour. Your most alert security precautions are necessary here. Do your strolling in the daytime with other people as there is serious street crime, particularly at night."
As for anchoring:
"NOTE: There are no highly recommended anchorages in Nassau Harbour. Better to take a slip, especially in bad weather. Much debris on the bottom, very strong tidal currents, and poor holding except for the west end of the harbour. Nassau Harbor: West end off British Colonial Hotel, far from boaters' services and noisy from nearby nightclubs, but good holding in sand and light current. Off BASRA Dock: unpredictable currents and winds, boats swing wildly. Often crowded.
Thanks to our friends Dave and Linda on Choctaw Brave, we had an excellent weather report when we left the Berry Islands. As predicted we sailed in strong winds with some sea swells, making great time on a close reach. Also as predicted, the winds started to build from the west and did clock in at over 30 knots by midnight. Unfortunately also as predicted, all reasonably priced slips were taken and we had to anchor out. We opted for "good holding in sand" off of the British Colonial Hotel. Three other sailboats and one crewed power cruiser were also anchored out for the night. None of us dragged, but we were all pretty uncomfortable. There may be "light current" in that anchorage but we rolled in chop from the west winds. Boy, did we roll!
I did not sleep at all. In fact, I really wanted us to take night watches. EW totally and correctly trusted the Fortress anchor in those conditions and we were soundly dug in, but I couldn't relax. If Barbara ain't relaxin' ain't nobody relaxin'. He claimed he didn't get any more sleep than I did, but I heard snoring from the master stateroom. I sat on deck until 5:00 AM. No one would mistake La Luna for the Love Boat the next day.
Sometime after midnight, the power cruiser gave up. Maybe the owner finally decided to spring for $5.00 a foot at the Atlantis. The other three sailboats left the anchorage by eight. We still didn't have a slip and we were strongly anchored, so we decided to roll with it. Literally.
The next morning, we launched the dinghy to explore Nassau Harbor and look for a new anchorage. The "crowded/wildly swinging" anchorage was directly off the dinghy dock but was crowded and the boats were swinging every which way. No sleep there. One of the boats which had been anchored near us during the storm was anchored within sight of the dinghy dock but across the harbor, in front of the Yoga Center. There was definitely a calming effect. We chatted with Jeffrey, the owner of the boat, and with Ray, his temporary crew. Jeffrey has made the trip from Florida to the Bahamas for over 10 years and gave us some good advice. Wish we could have talked with him some more.
We parted from them and did some more exploring and when we headed back to La Luna we saw that Jeffrey and Ray had pulled anchor. It took us less than an hour to move La Luna to the calm and good holding in front of the Yoga Retreat and here we sit (or float). It's a quiet anchorage and the Yoga folks don't play rock n' roll or Reggae. There is room for only one more boat, but we've only had one neighbor for one night. We get to watch all the tour and fishing boats go in and out and there is definitely no "No Wake" rule, so we bounce a bit during the day, but the nights are calm and quiet and perfect for sleeping aboard.
Overall, if you know where to go, Nassau is a fine anchorage. Shhhh. Don't tell anyone.