The anchor is up in Marsh Harbour at 7:45 AM on Thursday morning. Cutter Loose is bound for the resort community of Treasure Cay, some 14 miles to the north. Treasure Cay is one of the all-weather harbors in the Sea of Abaco, and all indications are that this protection will be needed during the next few days. A cold front is approaching from the northwest and is expected to pass through here on Friday afternoon. Ahead of the front, the atmosphere is unstable and a thunderstorm is not out of the question today. Already, the winds have increased to 20 knots and thickening clouds have taken on a menacing appearance.
At 10:30 AM, Cutter Loose is safely docked at the Treasure Cay Marina where she will remain for the next few days until the cold front has passed. This is our first stay at a marina since our visit to the Green Turtle Cay Club exactly one month ago. The forecasters are predicting a high probability of 40 knot squalls on the leading edge of tomorrow’s front. Discretion, as the saying goes, is the better part of valor.
Activity at Treasure Cay Marina is brisk this morning with many yachts arriving in advance of the impending storm. Comfortable with the safety afforded by our slip, we set out to explore this community. Treasure Cay is a destination resort that has been developed with waterfront condos, pools, restaurants, beach bars, a golf course, tennis courts and a small shopping district. It even has its own airport with direct flights to Florida. The population here is primarily snowbirds and vacationers from the U.S.
The primary attraction of Treasure Cay is a pristine 5 mile beach, rated by National Geographic as one of the top ten beaches on the planet. The commercial shopping area, complete with a bakery, two grocery stores, a Laundromat, a liquor store and gift shops, is bustling with activity today. Good Friday and Easter Monday are national holidays and all of the shops will be closed. It pays to shop early here at Treasure Cay.
Thursday night is pizza night at the Tipsy Seagull marina bar. At 6:30 PM, we enter the pizza queue, a line of customers meandering around the perimeter of the outdoor bar waiting to place their order. Guests in the pizza line are conversing , engaging in the fine art of people watching and gyrating to the music being performed by the house calypso band. At 7:30 PM, we place our order and are given a number to display prominently on our poolside table. The pizza is delivered to our table at 8 PM. This is part of the beauty of the Bahamas. Where else can one wait 90 minutes for a pizza without becoming the least bit impatient?
Here is yet another example of Bahamian humor. Apparently, the Coco Beach Bar can accommodate only one guest at a time during normal business hours. They removed an undesirable body from time to time, which was probably appreciated by their sole guest. The prohibition against loafing is particularly ironic. Most people come here for the express purpose of loafing. We loaf everyday. Truth be told, the Bahamians do their fair share of loafing. In any event, we appreciate the efforts of the Bahamians to keep us entertained.
On Good Friday, the morning radar shows a line of squalls headed our way, but the front is moving slowly and is still several hours away. We take advantage of this opportunity to walk the beach to Sand Bank Point. From this vantage point, it is possible to look out over the Sea of Abaco to Whale Cay, our next navigational objective once the storm and its after-effects have passed. The wind has become eerily calm, but the dark clouds on the northwest horizon are becoming closer now. We scurry back to Cutter Loose to learn just what this cold front has in store for us.
Sirius weather radar shows a series of pre-frontal squall lines with showers and thunderstorms bearing down on the Sea of Abaco. Squall # 1 is a two hour event that arrives mid-afternoon with 38 knot wind gusts, thunder, lightning and enough rain to fill the dinghy with 5 inches of water. Squall #2 is less intense. It arrives late in the afternoon with moderate rain and wind gusts in the 25 knot range. Squall #3 is a more benign event with late evening showers lasting less than an hour. By midnight, the front has passed, but the house band at the Tipsy Turtle is still belting out the tunes.
Saturday brings clear skies and blustery winds from the northeast at 20 to 25 knots. After morning laundry detail, we move Cutter Loose from her slip at Treasure Cay Marina to a quieter anchorage in the harbor. By late afternoon, winds have diminished to 15 knots. Best of all, the Tipsy Turtle house band is barely audible in the anchorage on Saturday night.
Easter Sunday begins at the 9 AM worship service of the Treasure Cay Community Church located in the community center. Following the service, it is off to breakfast at the Spinnaker restaurant. Today is a lovely day for a walk along the beach. This time, we walk three miles to the northwest where the beach ends at Carleton Point, a rocky outcropping. To the east, waves are breaking at Whale Cay. With winds in the 15 knot range out of the east, today would not be a comfortable day to transit Whale Cay passage.
A mid-afternoon pause for lunch at the Treasure Sands Club brings us in contact with Shanique, our 21 year old waitress with a disarming smile and an effervescent personality. Shanique (pronounced shawn-ee’-qua) speaks openly about Bahamian politics, the history of the woman’s suffrage movement and race relations in Abaco. We learn that the Free National Movement (FNM) party will conduct a “red splash” political rally tomorrow on the beach for the Prime Minister, Hubert Ingraham. At the rally, the Prime Minister will dedicate a recently constructed waterfront park. There will be live music, food and beverages, all staged in support of Mr. Ingraham’s candidacy for re-election. As it turns out, Shanique is a relative of the Prime Minister. With her political connection, self-confidence and interpersonal skills, it would not surprise us in the least should Shanique become the first female Bahamian Prime Minister.
On Easter Monday, we trek along the beach to the new waterfront park to mix it up with the locals at the FNM political rally. This is a family event with games for the children and food and beverages for the adults. People are on the beach and in the water having a good time. Everyone is dressed in red, the symbol of the FNM Party. The Prime Minister arrives at 2 PM. He seems to know just about everybody, which is understandable because his hometown is located nearby. He works the crowd, shaking hands with most of the 300 people in attendance. There is a military presence, but security is lax. Even Pat manages to attract a royal handshake from the candidate.
In his speech, he promises to announce the date of the National election within the next few days. Under Bahamian law, the Prime Minister selects the date of the election. It could be later this week, next week or next month. The Bahamians in attendance at this event are cordial and warm, even though it is obvious that we are cruising sailors from the U.S. and cannot vote for their candidate. This has been an interesting and enlightening way of spending our final day at Treasure Cay.