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The Bahamas by Mailboat: MailBoat II Voyage aboard Legacy plus more! By Fred Braman

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e’ve done this before! In 2017, I and two old college friends ventured around several Bahamian islands riding mailboats, the essential nautical connector of this 700island nation scattered over 100,000 square miles of Atlantic Ocean. It’s sort of like our interstate highway system, only wet. In our first mailboat trip (called “MailBoat” in The Bahamas), starting from Nassau, we went to Long Island, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, and Spanish Wells. The trips were chronicled in the December 2017, and January and February 2018 issues (available on the “Cruising the Bahamas” page at www.southwindsmagazine.com). In MailBoat II, we went to different islands, and our crew grew to seven, because on this trip the old mailboat hands took on some youngsters. Mike, our baby, was only 70! The “hub and spoke” system of mailboats is centered in Potters Cay, a small sprite of an island beneath the high-rise bridges connecting Nassau with Paradise Island. The boats visit the Bahamas Out-Islands weekly and carry everything needed for daily living. Having ridden mailboats before, we were a bit more knowledgeable this time and had at least our first trip organized. We had exchanged emails with the Dean Shipping Company, owner of several boats, including the mail vessel (M/V) Legacy, and we were on their schedule. The Deans are an iconic mailboat family, having been in the business for 70 years. Dean’s spokeswoman, Kendra Whylly, a sweet lady to be sure, arranged our visit and our voyage was scheduled for departure on February 12 to Marsh Harbour in the Abaco Islands. Legacy is a new and modern mailboat, built for the trade. Her name commemorates the long Dean mailboat history started by Capt. Ernest Dean, who built the family’s first mailboat of wood by hand in 1949. The family is still at it; we met Ernest Dean, a son, and Myron Ernest Dean, a grandson. The patriarch lived to see his “legacy” grow and prosper before he passed in 2010

at age 95. The legacy continues. Arriving from several states, we seven congregated in Nassau. After arrival, Capt. Ernest Dean, the patriarch’s son, met us at the boat for a preliminary tour. Mailboats are mostly cargo vessels that carry a few passengers, plus mail! Captain Ricky Barnett showed us around, and we picked out our bunk beds for the coming trip. We arrived early on the morning of departure, looking forward to experiencing once again the “havoc” that is Potters Cay and watch the Legacy load. Tuesday is the biggest mailboat departure day, and Potters was a virtual choreography of cargo handling activity with items of every description arriving in every conceivable type of vehicle. The “load” is a big part of the mailboat experience and we watched it all afternoon. We were invited on board an hour before our 6pm departure. Our carry-on suitcases were palletized for the trip and we carried the few essentials we would need for the overnight trip in backpacks. Capt. Ricky showed us our rooms, and we were underway in Nassau Harbour as the Sun touched the horizon. We would see Ole Sol again in the early morning as we approached Man-Of-War Cut from the deep water into the Sea of Abaco where several popular

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SOUTHWINDS

May 2019

39

Profile for SOUTHWINDS Magazine

Southwinds May 2019  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

Southwinds May 2019  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...