Everybody warned us off of Little Grand Cay. ‘There’s nothing there.’, they said. ‘Just skip that and move on.’ So, being more than slightly anti-authoritarian, we made it a point to aim there to clear customs and check in to the Bahamas. It seemed like they had everything we needed – customs and immigration, a BTC office for a SIM card for Bahamas cell phone service and a restaurant for lobster dinners. What more could you want? Sure, there were rumors that the island is run by a former drug kingpin. Rosie, of Rosie’s Place, Rosie’s Marina, Rosie’s Store, etc. Rosie, by the way, is a guy. But, hey, why go if you are going to skip stuff?
So, we arrived just west of Little Grand Cay, as described, at 4:00 am and dropped the anchor. By 8:00 am, the dinghy was in the water, I had on my ‘checking in attire’ in an effort to show some respect to the Bahamian authorities, and I was headed off toward the island. I had a dry-bag with all of our paperwork, passports, Tilly’s pet import papers and the required $300 the we needed to get into the Bahamas. We couldn’t get SeaClearly into the inner harbor due to the shallow depths so it was about a mile dinghy ride from out in the open water. A bit wet but not bad.
I slowed the dinghy down to a putter as I cruised up to a dock. I asked a couple of locals where I might tie up to find the customs folks and they directed me to tie up next to the fish cleaning station and walk up to Rosie’s Place. I found the spot, tied up the dinghy and walked up the back stairs to the restaurant and, apparently by island telegraph, the customs lady was already laying her stuff out on a table in anticipation of my arrival. She was very professional, efficient and formal. Friendly is not a requirement for customs agents anywhere in the world that I have ever visited. The paperwork was cleared and she even let me take Junie’s immigration card back to SeaClearly with me for Junie to sign and drop of later at – of course – Rosie’s Place.
|View of the docks at Rosie's Place|
I also asked her about the BTC office. She said Raquel would be the person I needed to see. Raquel, it turns out, is Rosie’s daughter. ‘Just ask anyone’, she said, ‘they can tell you where to find her.’ So, off I went, to ask anyone where to find Raquel. The first woman, inside the restaurant, pointed me to the landing dock. I walked that direction and, eventually, found a small, one room store with 4 or 5 people inside. When I asked about Raquel, one of the women said, ‘Hold on, I’ll call her.’ She did and then handed me the phone. Raquel said she would meet us at Rosie’s Place.
So, by now, I have been in town for 30 minutes and met half of the residents. I packed up my stuff, dinghied back to SeaClearly and said, ‘Come on, let’s go! We have to meet Raquel at Rosie’s Place!’ Obviously, I have forgotten everything I knew about island time. There was no reason to hurry. Junie, Tilly and I rode back across the open water, into the harbor and back to the little dock and went back to a table outside on Rosie’s deck and sat down. It is only 10:00 am. Junie asks if they can fix a lobster dinner for lunch. The woman, whose name we now have as Sabrina, says, ‘Sure, when you want it. Now?’ Sure, why not now.
We sat and watched the, fairly minor, activity in the small harbor as we listened to Sabrina start the cooking process. It was nice to just sit. I kept thinking the I must not have understood Raquel correctly since she wasn’t showing up. By about 10:45, the smell from the kitchen was clearly indicating that lunch was on its way. Sabrina pops out and says, ‘Raquel is here now. Do you want to talk to her or eat first?’ We, of course, not wanting to offend Raquel thought we should see her first. Sabrina then says, ‘She gonna be here all day now. The food’s ready!’ OK, let’s eat!
Salad, followed by two lobster tails each with peas and rice and potato salad. Cold Cokes. On the deck at Rosie’s Place, officially in the Bahamas. Sabrina did us right. Oh, if it wasn't obvious, we were the only people at the restaurant all morning.
|The view down the waterfront from|
Rosie's Place. Well, actually, the cottages are
also part of Rosie's Place.
We finally saw Rosie. He was walking along the docks directing worker bees, a graying, slow moving man with huge hands. If rumors can be believed, he could probably still kill me with those hands and feed me to the sharks. We were very polite. It is his island, after all.
Raquel, from BTC, showed up, as if on cue, shortly after we finished our lunch. We really got the impression that there was a lot of background orchestration happening amongst the locals. Raquel did not like big dogs and was leery of Tilly. I took Tilly for a walk while Junie worked with her and got our Bahamas phone set up.
Before noon, we were headed back to SeaClearly. We had cleared Customs, had a great lobster lunch, got our phone working on the BTC network - all at the same table on the deck of Rosie’s Place. Pretty Smooth.
|Great sail to Great Sale|
We took down our ‘Q’ flag, the yellow quarantine flag you have to fly to indicate that you have not yet checked in with Customs, and replaced it with our Bahamas courtesy flag, the one you fly to indicate that you have. Now, we are official.
Since it was still early, and because we were anchored out in the open water, we decided to move on to a different spot. We pointed south to Great Sale Cay and, as soon as we set our heading, we threw out sails and sailed the entire 3 hour trip. We re-started the engine only for the anchoring process and settled in for the night. We gave Tilly one more trip to the beach before dark and then we all crashed hard after a long day/night/day. We are back in the Bahamas.