Tuesday, April 4th
Weather: cooler and breezy in the morning, warming to mid-80s by noon
Route: Palm Cay Marina --> Lynden Pindling Airport --> Charlotte --> Pittsburgh
- completing our boat check-out with a clean punch list and good reputation for next time
- everyone being ready to leave when our pre-arranged taxi arrived
- arriving at the Nassau airport in time to clear the USA pre-flight Immigration check, with no hassles regarding my ancient Permanent Resident card
- time in the new Terminal C building to enjoy the Bahamian art and ambience
- plenty of time to transfer to our Pittsburgh flight in Charlotte
- an empty middle seat between Hubby and I on both flights
- returning to find the house in the same condition as when we left it
Yasmin dropped by our boat at 8:00, while we were finishing breakfast, to let us know he would be back at 8:30 to go through the boat inventory and check-out process with us. The Captain and First Mate took care of that while Hubby and the 3 ladies did our own inventory of the remaining food. There was a lot left, considering we ate two more dinners aboard than planned. We used much of the remaining bread, ham and cheese to make sandwiches for the trip home. To our credit, except for 2 avocados we did not have to throw out any food due to spoilage. Most of the remaining items were canned goods or large containers of food we were forced to buy when we only needed a small amount. The food inventory will be helpful for planning the provisioning next time.
With the "paperwork" completed we changed from boat clothes to travel clothes, moved our bags from the boat to the golf cart and rode (to avoid sweating) with Yasmin back to the office. At the office Yasmin informed Charmain that we passed the boat inspection and that we were knowledgeable sailors to whom Navtours should certainly rent again in the future. There were no fond goodbyes to Alexian. It had some good features, like the solar panel that kept the fridge fully charged, but it was an old boat with poor visibility from the aft deck and a lack of handholds for moving around safely when under way. Hubby and I thought a shallow draft monohull probably would have performed as well in this area, given how cautious the Captain was. We all did like having the galley higher in the boat rather than below deck as in a monohull so we may decide to rent a catamaran again.
Our 10:40 taxi arrived promptly. The Captain had wanted to settle our account before we left but since we had not booked directly with Navtours, Charmain said the bill would have to be generated by them back to Windward Islands Yachting and passed along to us later. Charmain let us know that if we booked through Navtours directly in the future we would get a better price.
The Lynden Pindling (aka Nassau) Airport was at least a 30-minute ride from the Marina with light traffic. We arrived in plenty of time at Terminal A for our Canadian friends to catch their WestJet flight directly to Toronto and then on to Ottawa. We expected to have some time to visit before our flights BUT there was a completely separate terminal, Terminal C, for flights to USA destinations. Perhaps it was because after going through the TSA Security screening (shoes off, electronic devices in bins, liquids of 3oz or less could remain in the carry-on bags), we had to clear the USA Immigration and Customs check before proceeding to the departure gates. This was the first airport I have flown out of where I had to clear USA Immigration and Customs before boarding the flight to the USA. As we waited for our turn, Hubby was a little nervous about missing our flight if the Immigration Official was to question my ancient Permanent Resident card with no readable mag strip or RFID --- no questions, no delay. The $15.00 Departure Fee was included in the ticket price. The ticket agent took our copies of the Bahamian Immigration form when we checked our bag after passing the USA Customs check. All went very smoothly. Hubby relaxed a bit now.
About Lynden Pindling Airport: The Nassau airport, converted in 1957 from a British RAF WWII facility, was recently upgraded to a complex of 3 Terminals. Terminal A, opened in 2013, handles non-USA departures and Domestic Arrivals. Terminal B, renovated after 2011, receives all International Arrivals. Terminal C, new as of 2011, is dedicated to just Departures to the USA. In 2006 the airport was officially renamed to honour "The Father of the Nation", the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.
The first thing to impress us as we exited the US Immigration area and entered the terminal were the striking Bahamian Junkanoo dancers atop a waterfall, followed by other items of Bahamian culture we came across as we walked. Free to roam for two hours we wandered past the shopping and eating areas before deciding to eat the ham sandwich and apples we had brought from the boat leftovers. Hubby was happy that I ate the apple and threw away the core in the Bahamian trash so he could not be accused of lying on the Customs form (the question about bringing fruits and vegetables into the country). He was also relieved that we had already cleared Customs so we would not be delayed during our short transfer window in Charlotte.
The flight to Charlotte was not full, even after many Stand-by passengers were called. It was a bonus for us to have the middle seat free between Hubby's aisle seat and my window seat. The relaxing flight was complemented by a smooth transfer in Charlotte. We even had time to buy a salad and eat it before boarding the Pittsburgh flight. Our good luck continued on the Charlotte-Pittsburgh flight when again the middle seat was empty. It was 80F when we arrived in Charlotte. The trees were green and fully leafed out already. As we flew into Pittsburgh we saw green grass but not many leafy trees. It was 60F at sunset. We wondered what our Canadian friends were seeing in Ottawa.
As Hubby waited and waited in Pittsburgh's baggage claim area for our rolling duffel I wandered, on a whim, to the oversize baggage area to find it there. Hmmmmm....we didn't think it was that big or that heavy. It caused us just enough of a delay that we missed the first Charlie Brown shuttle. Oh well...It was very full anyway. I texted our claim ticket number to them (the airport has removed the courtesy phone we had used for 25 years) and received an immediate response. Our driver was one of the owners of the company, regaling us with a lot of interesting factoids about the number of flights, volume of cars and changes their company has seen over the past 39 years. What luck that we missed the first shuttle! As usual, our little blue Chevy Prism was running and waiting for us. Never once, no matter what type of weather we returned to, has Charlie Brown disappointed us.
To Hubby's relief the house was just as we had left it -- thermostat holding at 64F and nothing plugged in. Hubby turned the water back on and I opened the faucets until they were flowing freely. Hubby lit the hot water tank pilot. I plugged in devices and set the clocks, then started the computer and applied security patches before opening the email client. In a short two week absence we didn't have much junk mail to delete.
It was good to have a hot shower and sleep in our own bed again.