I don't think I've ever devoted a post to one particular marina but now I am.
We knew when we decided to explore the Exumas on this trip to the Bahamas that we'd need to re-fuel after crossing the banks, and Highbourne Cay Marina was loosely on that list. There are plenty of marinas in Nassau that we could have utilized but for some reason we didn't. And, after motoring for three nasty hours from Allen's Cay to the anchorage right outside of Highbourne Cay, and finding the anchorage to be less than stellar in SW winds, Hans made an expensive phone call (the only way to confirm a slip and save his marriage) to the Marina, and they told us to "c'mon in".
How do you describe Shangri-La? I'd say it's a place that allows a motley crew with a pit bull (and how embarrassing is it that the dog hovers around a 10 on the cleanliness scale and I'm nowhere near that?) on a small sailboat to take a slip right along side of mega yachts. And I mean mega yachts that have a full crew to take care of everything from cooking to cleaning to docking (I now realize I'm vastly underpaid).
When you come around the corner into the marina you find yourself in a smaller than expected channel with room for really only one boat at a time. A boat that was coming out hailed us on the radio and told us to go ahead and proceed first so we did and went directly to the fuel dock. Stevie tied us to the dock and filled the Knotty Cat up (40 gallons! We have a 55 gallon tank). If he took notice of my torn and not very clean shorts (I call them my working clothes), crazy hair, and the sweat running down my face and arms, he managed to keep it to himself. After fueling up we moved to our slip which was a bit of a challenge. A sporty fishing boat came in and took the slip next to us and the captain had the same issue that we did in that the floating dock directly across from us made backing in very interesting. I went up to our bow and actually ended up sitting down and fending his boat off our starboard side with my feet. After all that I was quite happy to take a shower in the very nice bath house.
We ended up staying in Highbourne Marina for two days, because over the years we've found that staying at a marina for one day just isn't enough.
Highbourne Marina boasts a beautiful private beach that Wilbur thoroughly enjoyed (on a long length of rope) although he had a huge issue with the nurse shark that showed up very close to shore. Let's just say it's easy for the little man to strain on his leash and act like a bad ass when his mama has him firmly held in check. I find it very strange that a dog who's afraid of cats and chihuahuas thought he could take on a shark.
They have courtesy bikes available that you can use to get around the island and visit any number of trails and beaches on the ocean side.
We made reservations for dinner at the bar of their open air restaurant on our first night there. And since we had such a good time and may never pass this way again, we made reservations for the second night as well. Lavardo (I apologize if my spelling is wrong), the bartender is the absolute best. He's friendly, quick, intuitive; everything and more that a bartender should be. He even remembered a returning couple who'd been there back in January. The bar wasn't quite as busy on our second visit and we had a chance to talk to him. Lavardo, who's in his twenties, is from Nassau and was fortunate to attend some college in the states. But in the Bahamas the unemployment rate is 15% so when he came home he was without a job for a year and half. Although there's a lot of competition he managed to get this job as a bartender and he loves it. The company he works for treats their people well and he couldn't say enough nice things about them (you don't hear that very often). And I guess I should add that the chef knows his stuff too!
We woke up on our second morning to a huge cloud burst (the first rain in over a month here) and I ended up scrubbing the cockpit and filling our Coleman cooler two times. I used the first batch of water to do a load of laundry with my trusty bucket and plunger. Once again I can't imagine what this must have looked like to those around us. I had buckets and bowls scattered about and when they were close to overflowing I'd dump them into the cooler which was balanced on the coaming in order to catch the virtual waterfall that was rolling off the bimini. I managed to wash six shirts, three pair of shorts, and some underwear. Water here is .50/gallon so this was a big bonus for me. All but the underwear (I'm not completely uncouth) were hung out to dry in the cockpit. If I sound cheap you would have loved the woman who upon being told that internet is $15.00/day asked if she could get just an hours worth (the answer is no). BTW, she was on a huge yacht complete with uniformed crew.
Deluxe washing machine
The rain left as quickly as it arrived, Wilbur got to visit the beach once more where the shark returned to taunt him, we rode bikes, had our final dinner at the bar, and all of a sudden it was time to leave.
This really was a pricey stay for us but we plan on anchoring or picking up mooring balls as much as possible for the rest of this trip.
But we always say that.