April 4, 2011 – Layover day in Nassau

High temp 82 degrees; water temp 76 degrees – E wind at 15 to 20 kts – seas in harbor choppy

Today we will play tourist. Following breakfast we grab the camera and walk down Bay Street toward the Paradise Island Bride, which is around a half mile west of the marina. Just east of the bridge is a shallow anchorage, which is occupied by old and derelict boats, some of which are completely sunk. The wind is very stiff up on the bridge, and we hold onto our hats. Beneath the bridge on Potters Cay, which lies in the middle of the channel, we gaze down upon a series of colorful shacks which house the local seafood market. Brightly decorated with beer and rum advertising, they offer fresh conch and fish for sale. Once we step off the bridge we’re on Paradise Island, and our surroundings undergo a radical shift. We’re now in the world of opulence and conspicuous wealth. Verdant landscaping, seriously upscale shops, and guarded entryways to condo developments dominate the scene, and all are overshadowed by the surrealistic architecture of the coral pink Atlantis Resort. Our path there takes us through Marina Village, a cluster of pastel colored shops, offering diamonds, emeralds, and designer clothing. The adjacent marina is like nothing I’ve ever before seen. Each slip is occupied by a gleaming white mega motor yacht. I’m sure the smallest is at least 100 feet, and dozens are moored here. We walk past them, toward the entrance to Atlantis. The resort is immense, dominated by two huge, highly ornate hotel buildings which are connected by a skybridge, and dozens of condos and other structures are laid out in their shadow. The famous Atlantis Casino serves as a hub for the entire complex. It is impossible to go anywhere within the resort without first passing through the casino. The interior of Atlantis is richly decorated with sculptures of bronze and glass. The walls are tiled and detailed in base relief, all centered on the theme of the fabled lost city of Atlantis. We walk into the casino, and I decide I’ll donate $20 to their maintenance fund and maybe, just maybe, hit a big jackpot. I sit down in front of a dollar slot machine and begin pushing the buttons. My tally rises and falls, but the big winner fails to pop up. I finally cash out $12 ahead.

We buy our tickets to the aquarium exhibits, and we try to orient ourselves in this complex maze of corridors, halls and vast rooms. We enter the main aquarium, which is presented on the theme of an archeological dig, and gaze through thick glass windows at the rich and varied marine life on exhibit. The aquarium is beautifully designed and fascinating to tour. Fish can be viewed through the windows, from elevated walkways, and through plexiglass tubes. All around, verdant landscaping and cascading waterfalls enrich the experience. We buy lunch at an open air plaza, and watch the gulls and pigeons try to steal french fries. Following lunch we head for the exit, but not before once more passing through the casino. I figure I’ve got free money to play with, and so feed another $20 into a slot. This time I hit a $23 winner on the second try. I cash in, pleased to be $35 ahead on the day.

We walk back toward the boat, stopping along the way to buy Sandy a new snorkel mask at a dive shop. I pick up some hooks and sinkers at a marine supply store. By the time we get back to the marina, we’re more than ready for a cold drink and a dip in the pool. We’ve made friends with fellow cruisers on 10 or more boats which are moored here at Harbour Club Marina. Most of us are planning on heading for the Exumas in a day or so, and so these sessions at pool side afford a great opportunity to visit, share information about weather forecasts, our boats, good anchorages and places of interest. At 5pm an informal cocktail hour forms up around the pool, and a couple dozen cruisers, including us, show up. We’re something of a curiosity, the sailors on “the little MacGregor”. We form transitory bonds, and anticipate bumping into each other later on in the Exumas.

Sandy and I leave the party just before 7pm and walk down to “The Poop Deck”, a popular seafood restaurant. We are seated without delay, despite not having a reservation, and enjoy a delightful sunset dinner on their open air waterfront veranda. My stone crab claw dinner was outstanding. Sandy enjoyed her mahi mahi, with garlic potatoes on the side. It’s after dark by the time we finish with dinner. We’re a little edgy walking back to the boat after dark, which isn’t advisable around here, but we finish our stoll without incident. It is a pleasant evening, and we’ve enjoyed our sightseeing day in Nassau.

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