A little geography
The Commonwealth of the Bahamas consists of 700 islands and over 1,000 cays (keys), beginning about 60 miles east of southern Florida. Only about 30 of these islands are inhabited. The largest island is Andros; the best known is New Providence where Nassau, the largest city, is located. Bimini, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera, Great Exuma, Great Inagua are only some of the many islands in this chain.
Although English is the predominant language of the Bahamas, it can be understood by most Americans only when it's spoken to an American. When the locals speak to each other, they use an English dialect (Creole ?) that is as much like a foreign language as any we've heard. Don't bother trying to understand it - you can't.
The population is 85% African origin and 15% European. The Bahamians in Freeport and West End, Grand Bahama, were the most helpful and friendly people we've met anywhere. They seemed to enjoy their lives and their island.
On the other hand, many of the people in Marsh Harbor and other Abacos islands, seemed to have an attitude about tourists/cruisers; much like you see in many tourist locations.
The Bahamian dollar is equivalent to an American dollar. There was no need to make a currency exchange because the American money was as readily accepted as the Bahamian money.
We spent from May 21 to June 21 in the Grand Bahama and Abaco Islands. These are some really beautiful islands but our visit was not what we expected.
On the plus side:
The water is unbelievable clear. At times we were in water 10-12 feet deep and could still clearly see the starfish on the sandy bottom. The color isn't the Caribbean blue but ranges from an electric turquoise to a deep green.
The beaches are white, numerous and beautiful.
The Cruisers' net in Abaco is great. Each morning on channel 68 VHF, they have a news update, general info, new arrivals, departures, and an open mike session where you can ask questions, get info and locate other cruisers you've met along the way.
One highlight while there was visiting with Ed Matson on Meridian. First mate, Glenna Hayes, was on a visit back to the States; but we did get to talk to her on the radio before leaving. Ed and Glenna have been an endless source of knowledge and information for all us cruisers left behind at Waterford Harbor last year.
On the negative side:
The heat was almost unbearable. Perhaps it seemed more that way because we had enjoyed such wonderful, mild temperatures all along the Florida coast. Also The Bahamas were having above average temperatures. Whatever it was, we felt as if we were thrown into an oven.
The mosquitoes in some areas were terrible. They were not large and noisy like the Texas mosquitoes. These little guys ate you alive before you even knew they were around; at one point I had over 100 bites on my legs. I learned too late that they really love Victoria Secret lotion.
The wind was seldom enough to really sail. We spent most of the time motoring or motor sailing. Of course the heat from the motor added to the unbearable temperature below deck.
Phones were almost non-existent or not in working order. We finally found one in Marsh Harbor that worked but there were four people in line in the pouring rain.
The prices on everything were outrageous. Some examples:
Milk - 1/2 gallon - $4.50
Bread - $3.79/loaf
Beer - $13.80 - $18.00/six-pack. We did find one place that gave discounts on cases. It was only $55.00/case.
Laundry $3.00/wash, $3.00/dry
Internet connection $2.00/minute
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