Freeport, Grand Bahamas Island
April 4 - 6, 2008

Bahamas 2008 Pictures

This is one case where the adventure began before the adventure even began. We had quite a few folks coming in from the mid-west - Theresa, "the other #1" being one of them. In spite of an early start on Wednesday, the trip almost did not happen. Theresa and Mike (in Buttercup) and their travelling companions, the Jim's, were haunted by thunderstorm and stopped by low ceilings most of the way.; but they made it to LaBelle late Thursday night, exhausted but safe. Mae & Ed (Mae raced last year as 1/2 of Classic 47) only had to make it from LA; but still had issues along the way. Mae got lots of actual IFR so far on the trip and Ed starting learning to love those clouds.

Weather behind us, 8 plane loads departed LaBelle early Friday morning for a severe clear trip over the "pond". I have to apologise to everyone for the customary head winds that we always get but at least at altitude they were not too bad. Kirk , in his 180 that we endearingly call "The Beast" and the Jim's in their 170 had quite a time as the cross winds were raging in Freeport. A few chirps and they landed like champs (or should that be Champs)!

The whole weekend was a breezy one and we were all quite intent on watching the weather for the return trip. Chuck and Suzanne joined us at the last minute as one of the Pilot Country crew took ill. I had promised Chuck he would be home in time to depart on his 2 p.m. flight out of RSW.  But it was still Friday, sunny and we were all in Freeport, safe and sound surrounded by the lush grounds at the Wyndham, the crystal waters of the Bahamas and all the rum punch you could possibly drink.

For me, the weekend was a time to not have to worry about the telephone and internet as neither worked, although a few of our group had cell phone service. I was intent on diving and just plain old relaxation. John and Karen scoped out a really nice spot on the beach Friday afternoon and two by two, we all meandered over to share in their little piece of sunshine. It is amazing on how so many people can come together and find so many things in common. Aaron and Ed are both HUGH LSU fans - "Go, Tigers! I am not sure which one sported the most purple and gold, but I think Ed edged out Aaron by a shoe string. Mike and Theresa & Chuck and Suzanne headed off for some sailing lessons and the rest of us chatted up a storm.

Saturday was another scuba diving adventure for me Aaron and Trish, then Mike, Theresa and the Jim's got their first scuba sample in the afternoon pool session. I think I just might have some new students soon! The group scattered Saturday as some went in to town shopping or exploring; some went to sea an others just hung out at the resort. With so much to do, there was not too much reason to leave. The meals were great and  the beach and pool and other on-site activites made for a perfect weekend.

The talk kept coming back to the weather for our Sunday departure. Two storm fronts were coming fast. We would try to make it back across the pond before they hit so we planned for an early 7 a.m. breakfast and departure.

Sunday morning saw the first of the fronts right on top of Grand Bahama Island by the early morning hours. Suddenly those cell phones came in really handy as we made calls to flight services to see the big picture. The group of 26 all together split up and left in waves. Vern took Mario, Chuck and Suzanne in Wild Mama . They were the first to depart IFR out over the open waters and promptly ran into ... perfect VFR conditions! Aaron & Trish followed in their Mooney, as did Mae & Ed in their 182. The next wave of us had to wait for a VFR deparutre.

By 11:30 a.m. there was enough blue sky for the next wave to depart. I rode with the Buttercup crew, followed by the Jim's in the 170 and Bob & Carol in their 172. We got out finally, after being held on the ramp for over 1/2 hour stuck behind some planes waiting for their departure clearances. Once over the open waters, we, too, found perfect VFR conditions and that "Bahamas severe clear", although a large storm cell was brewing to the south. Our crossing was good and the US entry and customs went smoothly. By the time we were leaving customs, Steve and Kristina arrived in their Mooney and Kirk came in the Beast. John and his plane load of 4, and Karl and Gina made their way safely to Fort Pierce; and Richard and Kristine waited until the last minute before they made it to LaBelle. All safe returns.

We want to thank the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach for a great weekend. We will be back. OK, guys .... tell me when we want to go again! 

Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach

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