They say that when you are a boat-owner, your two favorite days are the day you buy your boat and the day you sell it. This month marked the first of those days, as my husband and I purchased our first boat (along with 6 friends). We named her Breakaway, and we docked her in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We also named our first journey on her as the “shakedown cruise” since the main goal was to test her seaworthiness and her new crew. We hired a husband and wife as the Captain and Cook, plus a first mate and his fiancé as the steward. The eight of us prepared to disembark on the short journey from Florida to Cat Cay, a private island in the Bahamas.
The weather wasn’t cooperating for our first few days in Fort Lauderdale, so we were unable to make the crossing in the stormy Atlantic Ocean. Docked in the harbor, a new plan came to fruition on the third day. The Captain and crew would sail the rough seas alone, and the four guests would fly to the Bahamas to meet them. As the crew took off, we wandered around Las Olas, Florida, a quaint and charming beach town, and we waited to take off on our chartered flight. Within an hour, Breakaway had returned unable to navigate the wind, waves and rain. We scrubbed the plan until the following day when the crossing became feasible.
Flying on a small charter plane into the Bahamas proved to be a blast! I spotted tiny islands surrounded by turquoise seas. The bright azure sky and sprinkling of clouds felt heavenly. We cleared customs without a line. The Captain picked us up in the tender and escorted us to Breakaway which was anchored in a bay near Bimini. That first night, we dined outside on the aft deck, listening to the lapping of the waves and the call of grey herons. Gratitude filled the air.
The next day we sailed for the hour long journey to Cat Cay, (pronounced “key”) to dock at the private island where we would spend the next 4 nights. The symbol for Cat Cay is an angry cat with it’s back arched, standing on a key. We decided it looked more like a monkey, and hence began the vacation at “monkeycat island.”
Scott spent his afternoons exploring on his standup paddle board. Our friends went snorkeling and caught hog snappers which the cook prepared for us at dinner time. I took a walk along the deserted beach and snapped these shots.
After dinner, we played games such as Crimes Against Humanity and The Voting Game. We all enjoyed the pace of peaceful days and nights as sea.
Of course, the checklist of ” fix it items” began piling up. Electric lights that didn’t work, drains that clogged, batteries that were needed, supplies that were missing and maintenance that was sorely required. The cook needed to learn our food preferences, and that “no desserts” really meant “healthy desserts that are just a little bit decadent.” “We prefer fish and chicken over red meat” really meant “cook some red meat too.” By the end of the trip she had it down and we were delighted with her yummy surprises. Twice we were able to barter with the local fishermen and receive lobsters and yellow-eyed snappers to cook. The club had a small market on the island that included fresh fruits and veggies, so we could re-provision. What a treat to have a chef each day!
One night we decided to eat at the private restaurant on Cat Cay instead of on the boat. We brought our own fish for them to prepare three ways ( pan fried, coconut curry, and herb baked). The food and light-up menus were good. The snafu came in with our lovely bottle of Chardonnay. When bugs appeared in two of our wine glasses (full of wine), the waiter quickly confiscated the full wine glasses. He never brought anymore wine to replace them. Luckily Scott grabbed his back before it disappeared, scooped out the bug, and enjoyed his Chardonnay.
On a windy morning at the end of the week, our charter plane arrived at 7:00 AM to bring us back to Florida, and then we flew commercial to California. We bid farewell to Cat Cay, to the ” monkeycat” and to Breakaway and her crew, and wished them luck with the “fix it list” until we return in a month for a New Years celebration at sea.