Day 4 of our adventure dawned bright and sunny. The others were staying on at Stella Maris for another day before heading over to Fernandez Bay, Cat Island the next day. Over breakfast, Linda and I changed our plans yet again. If you have been following my Bahamas blog so far, you notice this happened a lot. Did I mention that Linda and I showed up at Stella Maris without a prior reservation?
You see most resorts at Bahamas offer at least two options: Stay 3 nights and get the 4th day free or $300 discount or stay 2 nights each at two different resorts and get a $150 fuel discount. We did not plan to do either. If it weren’t for Bob from the flight school, who organized the trip and worried we had, no accommodations planned, and went ahead and booked a double and prepared Alissa for our arrival we might have had to room with one of the others! Although to my credit, I did check that morning before we departed FPR and noticed there were several room options available
The original plan was to fly over the Exumas, stopping at some key airports before landing in South Bimni for the night. As we chatted with John and Robyn, we re-considered our options. Nassau maybe? John and Robyn had stopped there before. Since our plan was to head to Key West and use that as our port of entry, why not just get there that day? There was not much to do at Bimni anyway.
And so it was, that Linda and I set off on day 4 flying over the most stunning islands of the Bahamas: The Exumas. We had never seen so much pulchritude as we did that day. The luscious shades of blue were distinct and uncommon. So much beauty abounds that words are inadequate to describe all the emotions and loveliness that proliferates. We had no time to stop over at Staniel Cay or Norman Cay, since we had to get to Key West by nightfall. We instead had opted to land at Nassau, the only other towered airport for customs, fuel and short stopover for lunch.
Executive Flight Support provides excellent service. With just barely an hour to spare, Linda and I sped over in the cab organized by Executive to the Compass Point restaurant for a quick lunch. Compass Point resort is just a 10 minute drive from Nassau airport and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. The cab driver returned 35 minutes later to pick us up and take us back to the airport.
After a little hickup (we had missed giving the color of our life vests) in our flight plan, we were cleared to taxi to runway 6 for departure. Flight planning in Nassau was still via the old fashioned way of filling a form. We had filed
with the intent to get to mainland as expeditiously as possible and then trace the islands south to Key West. Once in the air, what we got instead was
Blue 646 is the direct route from Nassau to Marathon, some 200nm of flying over open ocean. Wow! We departed MYNN, vectored over till we climbed to our modest altitude of 6000ft before being cleared direct Marathon over B643. Clear skies beckoned us. It was an extreme lesson in instrument flying. There was no horizon or visual references. It was hard to tell where the sky ended and the ocean began. There were few landing sites around after we crossed the Andros Island. It was the perfect training flight for mastering instrument flying skills. And like always, I was game and confident of meeting that challenge!
It was almost an hour and half later we sighted the Florida Keys island chain. Land Ahoy! A second time. We had made it safely back to the states. Not that I had any reservations or doubts. But it felt awesome to have accomplished so much in so little time.
Customs was a breeze. Other than our passports and a few questions later, we were done. Aircraft settled for the night at Island City Flying Service, Linda and I set off in our rented car to paint the town red!