Mailboats, Potter’s Cay Dock, Nassau Bahamas

Mail Boats, Potter’s Cay Dock, Nassau, NP Bahamas,
Friday March 21, 2014
Photos by Capt. Eric T. Wiberg – all are free to use & share – see note at bottom re: looking for photographers and photographs to be contributed to this blog to preserve the mailboat story.
I was very fortunate that on a Friday afternoon most of the mailboats – ten out of the 20 listed on the schedule – were in Nassau that day. This was a short visit from New York and I was only able to photograph boats on the eastern end of Potter’s Cay, not the large LSTs (“landing ships tank”) and fast ferries on the western end of the cay. Between the two were an odd mix of motorized Haitian trading boats, some fishing boats and a handful of derelict and partially sunken boats, basically between the two bridges on the North side of Potter’s Cay and to the West of the “new” Paradise Island Bridge.
Aside from decks built behind fish vending stalls along the main jetty connecting New Providence with Potter’s Cay, and the preservation of the “Captain Batten’s Battery” on the eastern end of Potter’s Cay along with the expansion of the concrete jetty in that direction and to the West, this busy freight and shipping terminal has been largely unchanged since when I started visiting it as a wide-eyed teenager in the mid-1980s, now some 30 years ago.  
I should add that there is no clearance or special parking permit required for the public to access the piers. Though I didn’t see any police or security of any sort, I felt perfectly safe with our 6-year-old son Felix in tow. Furthermore, each vessel’s captain was readily available to be politely addressed and spoken with, and all of them that I met readily volunteered information about their boats and the history of the vessel and its owners. There was a lot of hustle and bustle, a lot of moving parts, with business being transacted, cargo being loaded, unloaded, delivered to the boats and taken from them, and carted around and across the waterfront on various small vehicles. One needs to be alert and have eyes and ears open.
Amidst the new world bustle of cell phones, etc. (most captains said they had a child, nephew or niece that would do their email and web searching for them), were throw-backs to times of yore – repairing an old fishing net, sanding down the rudder of a regatta sail-racing boat, locally built of wood.
The M/V “Fiesta Mailboat”, locally owned, heading for Freeport Grand Bahama. This is by far the largest of the mail boats serving the Bahamas. According to the weekly schedule published by the Dockmaster’s Office (Ian Ford was very helpful to me there), her captain is Captain Limas Taylor and she leaves Nassau on Mondays at 1 PM and again on Thursdays at 4 PM. This photo is taken from Fort Charlotte across the cricket field and parade grounds looking northeast, with Paradise Island lighthouse clearly visible to the left. The boat is heading west to exit the recently re-dredged harbor.
Half a dozen Haitian sloops would normally be visible between the shores of Arawak Cay (barely visible to the left) and Paradise Island, in the light blue shallow water of the foreground, however on this day there were none at anchor, instead just a handful of foreign-flagged mid-sized sailing yachts.

 M/V “Bahamas Daybreak” of the Eleuthera run, Capt. Quincy Sawyer & Capt. Ashok (?). Leaves Nassau Mondays & Wednesdays 5 PM. I enjoyed over a dozen voyages on her to Harbour Island. It used to be run by a Captain Moss, who I was told now works for Bahamas Fast Ferries.

M/V “Capt. Gurth Dean” of the South Abaco & Berry Islands run, Capt. John Dean and Capt. Stephen Taylor. Note the gas canisters stored on deck.

Capt. Kevin Moxey of the M/V “Captain Moxey” sanding the rudder of a regatta sailboat, Potter’s Cay. It appears from the trailer that the boat’s name is “Revelation 3:19”. He said “regatta time” is coming up!

M/V “Captain Moxey” of the South Andros run. Leaves Nassau Mondays at 11 PM. I was told that the owners are Moxey Shipping and met Captain Kevin Moxey in person. Another skipper is Captain Boycel Moxey Jr., described as President of the company.

M/V “Captain Moxey” as seen from the steps of the Dockmaster’s office looking southwest.
In the foreground is “Revelation 3:19” however in the background, barely discernible behind the casuarina tree is the M/V “Lady Merlin” or “Lady Marlin” – It appears she is laid up. I’ll have to dig up information on this vessel to determine if she was (or is) in the mail service. Seems small.

Damaged freight? – a car with its windshield broken. Probably parked there until it can be repaired and the owner accepts delivery, though the actual back-story is unknown.

Co-captain Lance Brozogzog of the M/V “Grand Master” which serves Georgetown, Exuma. His co-captain is Capt. Lenny Brozogzog. The ship was built in St. Augustine, Florida in 1983. A third Captain is Capt. Godfrey Wilson.  

Another view of M/V “Grand Master” from the starboard bow showing deck crane, radio mast.


 Stern view of M/V “Grand Master” which leaves Nassau Tuesdays at 4 PM.

A fisherman practicing the time-honored tradition of repairing his nets amid the bustle of Potter’s Cay Docks.

Stern view of M/V “Island Link”, a roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) vessel. She serves Long Island and George Town, Exuma. Capt. Jed Munroe. Leaves Nassau Tuesdays at 4 PM.

M/V “Lady D” serving Central Andros / Fresh Creek & Staniard Creek. Did not sail that week. Capt. Prince Munroe told me that he has been serving Central Andros since 1976. He said the first “Lady D” was built around 1979/1980 and the second (this one) was built in 1992. If you need to move freight to Central Andros his cell # is 1 (242) 554 0483.

M/V “Lady Frances,” serving San Salvador & Rum Cay under Capt. Patton. Did not sail that week. See a blog post about my voyage on her to Rum Cay & San Sal, with photos of Captain Patton, who is also the owner, and whose family assist him in running the vessel. Home port Black Point, Exuma. On the schedule the name is mis-spelt “Lady Francis”.

M/V “Lady Rosalind II,” Captain E. Taylor, serving North Andros. Leaves Nassau Wednesdays 4 PM. I was also told by Captain Johnson Clifford that one of the ship’s captains is Captain V. H. Black, though this contradicts the official schedule so I may have been confused.

M/V “Lady Rosalind” taking freight on pallets. The gentleman in the foreground with the “thumbs up” epitomizes the casual friendliness of the piers.

M/V “Mia Dean” serving South Long Island and Clarence Town – on the week of March 15-21 2014 this boat was not in service but was being substituted by the M/V “Sea Spirit” which also served Long Cay, Acklins and South Long Island, leaving Tuesdays at 1 PM.

M/V “Jay Dean” and M/V “Janette Dean” alongside M/V “Mia Dean” alongside one another at Potter’s Cay. Only the “Mia Dean” is a mail boat so far as I could tell, and she was out of service the week that I visited. The Dean family are a storied boat-owning family from Sandy Point Abaco.

M/V “Jay Dean” and M/V “Janette Dean” alongside M/V “Mia Dean” beneath the new Paradise Island Bridge. These boats are not listed on the “Inter-Island Mailboat Weekly Schedule” and have the unusual building blocks on the aft ends, which I believe are rooms for compressors to enable divers to fish for crawfish. Therefore they are likely part of the fishing fleet originating, judging from the “Dean” name, in Sandy Point, Abaco, and not actually mail boats at all.
M/V “Sherice M” with Felix Perkin Dunmore Wiberg (age 6) in the foreground. The mailboat serves Cat Cay and Bimini, however she was not sailing that week. Her captain is Capt. Shawn Munroe who told me that the boat has been in service since 1995 and that another skipper or co-owner is Capt. Emett Munroe. This photo is taken looking west from the southeastern end of Potter’s Cay. It is shallower and the clearance between the jetty and visiting motor yachts docked on the Nassau / New Providence side is sometimes quite tight (based on my experience leaving that jetty at midnight on the M/V “Lady Frances” and passing within a few feet of a large power yacht).

View from the steps of the Dockmaster’s Office looking West, with “Captain Batten’s Battery,” an historic fort partially preserved, in the foreground. The pink building in the middle ground is a cargo / freight storage facility, perhaps customs clearance warehouse, so far as I could tell.

M/V “Captain Moxey” as seen from the steps of the Dockmaster’s Office looking southwest, with the original Paradise Island Bridge in background, as is Captain Batten’s Battery, an old fort.

Looking West from the Dockmaster’s Office steps, showing both Paradise Island bridges and Captain Batten’s Battery in the foreground, mostly preserved but not, so far as I could tell, open to the public or monitored daily by park wardens. It used to guard the shallower eastern entrance to Nassau Harbor, from which Americans attacked during the American Revolution in the late 1700s.
The gentleman who printed the weekly schedule for me was Mr. Ian Ford – most helpful.
M/V “Lady Emerald” – I was told her captain was Capt. Bill Williams and that the boat services San Salvador, Rum Cay, North Cat Island, but was not sailing that week.
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