Authors Posts by Jade Curtis

Jade Curtis

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Hurricane Hole Marina

An aerial rendering of Hurricane Hole Marina

Hurricane Hole Marina

Hurricane Hole Marina is a protective harbor, and it’s about to become part of a synergistic waterfront community.

Just over 50 years ago, the iconic Paradise Island was largely an undeveloped private island known as Hog Island. The name change was no accident, as it reflected a development vision for the five-mile-long barrier island that encloses the historic Nassau Harbour.

The setting was sublime. White-sand beaches run along the entire north shore of the island, the southern, harbor-facing side has a long-standing reputation as a boater’s haven and the island’s proximity to the mainland is so close that it was easy to envision bridges connecting the island to the
capital, Nassau.

Bit by bit, developer by developer, the vision of a vacation paradise manifested itself on Paradise Island. Today, the upscale resort and residential community account for a lion’s share of the tourism economy in The Bahamas, in large part due to the success of the oceanside resort Atlantis, Paradise Island.

Homeowners and guests on the island have some 30 restaurants to choose from, an 18-hole, par 72 championship course, one of the largest casinos in the region, along with luxury shopping, nightlife, entertainment, and outdoor adventure.

With all that Paradise Island has going for it, what more could a $300 million investment do that has not been done already? A whole lot, according to the development plans for Hurricane Hole, the legendary marina property that has always been a starring character in the Nassau
boating scene.

For the majority of its more than 50-year history, the most prestigious yachts cruising through The Bahamas have clamored for a spot at Hurricane Hole Marina. Before the Atlantis Marina opened in 1996 or the more recent Bay Street Marina, Hurricane Hole was the only transient marina in Nassau Harbour that could accommodate large yachts.

In the next few months, the marina is expected to undergo $12 million in renovations that will increase its dock space from 3,500 to 5,500 linear feet, add concrete floating docks with slips up to 500 feet, create a minimum 12-foot depth throughout the marina, and significantly expand the service offerings with a new fitness center, lounge and laundry for boat owners and their crew. Renovations are planned for completion by fall 2020.

An aerial rendering of Hurricane Hole MarinaA rendering of Hurricane Hole MarinaOn their own, these long-desired changes are expected to receive a warm welcome from the boating community, but they pale in significance to the broader development plans for the 13-acre property, which is not just about renovating a marina. The developers, Sterling Global Financial, intend to create an entire waterfront living environment unique to Paradise Island and The Bahamas that represents “the ultimate place for boats to visit and for those who love to be around boats to live.” It is planned to flawlessly integrate the convenience and connectivity of city living with the best of yachting life and the supreme quality of island living.

That means a mixed-use development with luxury condominiums, workspaces and waterfront restaurants gazing over a legendary marina. That means urban conveniences not currently available on Paradise Island, including a gourmet grocery store, medical clinic, pharmacy, dry cleaner, liquor, and wine store, and hair and nail salon located on the property and all within easy walking distance. To complete the convergence of the sea, the city and the island ethos, there’s the actual location.

“We have one of the best addresses in the world,” says Khaalis Rolle, senior
executive vice president of Sterling Global Financial. “It is the last great piece of real estate for a mixed-use development on Paradise Island. This will not only be a transformation of Paradise Island but a completion, as we are adding everything that doesn’t currently exist to make it a livable community.”

Bill Green, president of Sterling Global Developments, describes the vision for Hurricane Hole as “urban connected, downtown living on the Paradise Island waterfront.” In fact, the developers are hoping to popularize the notion that the new Hurricane Hole represents downtown Paradise Island.

The property is 13-acres large, which seems small in real terms for downtown, but given the fact that Paradise Island is only five miles long, the notion is certainly plausible. The property will “not have a wall around it,” says Green about the public gathering spaces and pedestrian areas. “It is intended to be synergistic” with the neighboring environs, particularly the Atlantis Marina Village, which is a marina-facing promenade of restaurants, cafes and retail shops with a distinctly Bahamian cultural aesthetic.

The new development broke ground in January, and the residential units for the first condominium complex were released for sale in March. Overall occupancy is expected by early 2021.

The first phase in the development features Sterling Commons, a three-story, mixed-use residential and commercial property with 12 exclusive, top-level residential lofts, and a standalone grocery store. The second phase
will feature One Paradise Island, a residential complex with two, seven-story sister buildings and two standalone waterfront restaurants. Future phases will bring additional residential condominiums.

Sterling Global is not new to real estate development in The Bahamas. The international financial services company, with nearly $10 billion under its administration and management, financed the Courtyard Marriott resort redevelopment in downtown Nassau and Ocean Terraces on West Bay Street. They are also in the process of developing Beach House Villas, also on Paradise Island, and are considering major Family Island developments on Matt Lowe’s Cay, Abaco and at Sky Beach, Eleuthera.

When the development is complete, Hurricane Hole will be more than its name implies. It will complete the island’s role as a yachting destination and provide a place where yachts, owners, families, and guests can tuck in for a time and enjoy paradise.

By Noelle Nicolls, Southern Boating May 2019

A Changing Nassau

The Changing Nassau Skyline

A Changing Nassau

The island’s waterfront is transforming, but what does a changing Nassau mean for boaters?

The contours across the coast and the skyline of the historic city of Nassau will completely reshape itself in three to five years. In 10 years, Nassau’s long-awaited renaissance will be self-evident. Three private sector developments are currently underway: The Nassau Cruise Port, the Downtown Nassau Boardwalk and The Pointe Residences and Resort Development. If all goes as planned, this changing Nassau will inject more than $500 million into the city.

It’s been a common lament that Nassau fails to live up to its potential as a city, notwithstanding the fact that downtown Nassau attracts over three million cruise passengers to its shores annually. At night, restaurants close and the city falls silent, with the exception of a few bars and clubs that struggle to attract a substantial number of Bahamians and visitors—cruise ships very rarely stay overnight.

Unlike most major cities around the world, Nassau has no waterfront residences or commercial conveniences necessary to make a livable space. In recent times, the Downtown Nassau Partnership (DNP) and Creative Nassau have been pushing the revival agenda forward. Creative Nassau led the effort to have UNESCO designate Nassau a Creative City of Crafts and Folk Arts. The DNP led the $1.5 million upgrade of Pompey Square in 2013, a recreational hotspot, and continues to be responsible for its maintenance and other downtown operations.

For over 15 years, the dream of a downtown renaissance has eluded Bahamians.  Interested parties have watched development plan after development plan linger and
languish only to end up in a black hole. Could it be that the wait is finally over? At least three major, privately funded developments are set to transform downtown Nassau.

Nassau Cruise Port

Global Ports Holding, one of the world’s largest international cruise port operators, won the bid to redevelop and run the Prince George Wharf and related areas at the Nassau Cruise Port. The $250 million development anticipates completion in 2022 when downtown Nassau is expected to transform into a modern, world-class port, waterfront and entertainment venue.

The winning consortium will have a 25-year concession at Prince George Wharf, taking over operations from a government agency. The new facility will include more berths,
a new iconic terminal building with LED digital signage, open-air restaurants and kiosks for vendors, and an open-air walkway with functional sculptures that provide shade by day and illuminated light art by night.

The island's waterfront is transforming, but what does a changing Nassau mean for boaters?
The island’s waterfront is transforming, but what does a changing Nassau mean for boaters?

Cultural activists have long sought a prominent location for a Junkanoo museum to showcase the history and culture of The Bahamas. The new port will house the museum with its own multimedia exhibits along with an open-air amphitheater equipped to host local and international concerts, shows and special events.

Changing Downtown

“We believe that the redeveloped cruise port will be the catalyst for the turnaround of the downtown area,” says Anthony Ferguson, president of Colina Financial Advisors Ltd. “It will be the impetus to move things forward in terms of finally getting a downtown that will attract nightlife, more businesses and, hopefully, condominium developments.”

Nassau Cruise Port Ltd. will form as a special purpose vehicle to manage the port with Global Ports Holding controlling 49 percent of its equity. The Bahamas Investment Fund, a vehicle that will pool investments from thousands of Bahamians, will hold 49 percent, and the YES Foundation, established to fund youth, educational and sporting activities will control the remaining two percent. “The most important part of the whole development is to bring in the citizens having the ability to participate in the development and the activities and business opportunities,” says Ferguson. “That is fundamental to our proposal. It is not just developing the cruise port, but it is also developing the other areas that would attract Bahamians and cruisers alike.”

Downtown Boardwalk

When the downtown boardwalk is complete, the experience of the Nassau Harbour will be equally as grand from the land as from the sea. The boating community has long favored the Nassau Harbour, and the boardwalk intends to make Nassau’s waterfront a vibrant social space with restaurants and access to retail. The 12-foot-wide boardwalk will run from the edge of the Cruise Port to Potter’s Cay Dock.

Earlier this year, the DNP received the needed go-ahead from the government for the project to proceed. Several parts of the boardwalk have already been developed behind privately owned properties, but linking the entire stretch required permission to traverse three government properties.

The Pointe

Of all the developments in progress, The Pointe is the furthest along. The $250 million project includes luxury residences, marina, mixed-use plaza, and resort. Located next to the British Colonial Hilton, the seven-story parking garage has opened up 900 new parking spots, helping to address a critical infrastructure problem downtown. Seven, an office and retail building is now open and includes a movie theater, bowling alley, and a virtual reality games room.

The Pointe’s 126 luxury oceanfront condos are on the market for sale. Construction continues on the luxury marina residences of One Particular Harbour. The 45-slip, deep-water marina and yacht club can accommodate yachts up to 150 feet and will connect to a mixed-use outdoor plaza that features a winding boardwalk, retail shopping, restaurants, and other amenities. The Margaritaville Beach Resort and Waterpark will offer 150 rooms, eight restaurants, including a rooftop restaurant. The Pointe is expected to open spring 2020. Its towering structures have already reshaped Bay Street.

There are a number of other projects happening in tandem with these developments. Those include the relocation and redesign of The Bahamas Central Bank and the development of a “Central Park.” Downtown Nassau is shaping up its skyline in a magnificent way.

By Noelle Nicolls, Southern Boating May 2019

DIY Gelcoat

DIY Gelcoat

DIY Gelcoat

Gelcoat care, protection and minor repair of this finish are essential to your boat’s maintenance. Here’s the lowdown on DIY gelcoat.

Think of your boat’s hull or any other layered component, such as hatches, decks or superstructure, as a piled-up, sky-high, multi-decker sandwich. Only instead of your favorite combo of meats and cheeses with some lettuce, tomato and a bit of mustard or mayonnaise garnish, you have resins, various configurations of fiberglass matting, perhaps even some carbon fiber material, complex catalysts, and other chemically brewed side dishes thrown in to help create your boat and its myriad parts.

Gelcoat is the first coat during the build process that is applied to the mold before any subsequent layers are put down. The smooth, strong, flexible, reflective, and water-resistant layer, with thicknesses ranging from 1/64- to 3/64-inch and varies from manufacturer to manufacturer along with the age of your boat, has one prime directive: to protect the underlying substrate consisting of resin-saturated or resin-infused,
layered fiberglass coring material.

Should water intrude due to a crack or other opening, blistering and the even more serious condition of delamination could take place. “If it hasn’t been so severely degraded or damaged, most surface gelcoat problems can be rescued by using the right products
in the correct manner and a regular preventive maintenance regiment,” says Sam McGinley of Shurhold Industries.

Maintenance

DIY GelcoatFor DIY gelcoat, start at the dock and make sure it is properly fended off so that you can avoid anything other than eggshell landings. Extra protection secured at strategic possible strike areas will prevent unwanted scratches, abrasions, and costly fiberglass work. As part of your regular maintenance regimen, keep your boat’s exterior clean, especially saltwater boats, to avoid the dreaded dull, chalky result of oxidation. This means a thorough freshwater washdown each time you use your boat. And you may want to have someone in your marina rinse her off from time to time to prevent any unwanted build-up of evaporated residue. It’s also important to wipe everything dry with a proper chamois to remove any mineral deposits that can degrade the gelcoat.

Oxidation occurs when a combination of sun, salt deposits, seasonal storage, and local environmental issues form a layer on the gelcoat. As the corrosive
chemical reactions take hold, the result is a degradation of the shiny finish. This is doubly important for boaters who have a 12-month season in mostly sunny climes.

“Try to pick an inconspicuous area and go through the process to restore that section,” suggests McGinley. Start with the least aggressive polish applied by hand, brush or a compounding pad and a dual action machine. “Our Buff Magic, applied by ‘painting’ it
on, is a variable grit compound that starts off fairly aggressive and breaks down as you use it.”

Pick Your Poison

When you use a machine and a particular product, apply it to the pad and place it on the space before powering up to avoid spinning things away. Should the area come clean and shiny, you can proceed with the rest of the job. If the entire hull needs attention, do it all at the same time for a uniform finish.

“With compounding being the corrective process and waxing the protective process, the latter is the single most important course of action you can use to protect your boat’s gelcoat,” says McGinley and recommends an easy-to-apply, polymer sealant product applied by hand or with a dual action polisher.

In sunny, year-round climes, it is suggested to apply the sealant every three months, while in limited boating seasons, once before you launch and again at haul-out before the boat is stored for the season. “Should you choose our products, they are all matched for use in regards to pad and polish/wax,” says McGinley. Remember that pads need to be
changed with buildup.

Minor Repair

If you have noticeable scratches or surface abrasions, you may want to have a go at it DIY Gelcoatyourself. A fix like this requires attention to detail and patience, and always wear gloves and protective eyewear.

Clean the area, usually with acetone, to remove any surface contamination. Lightly wet-sand the area with 1,000-grit paper, and finish it off with 1,500-grit paper so as not to remove the gelcoat. Wash the area clean with some soapy water and dry. You can then go to the section with your sealer and buffer.

If there is any significant damage, it’s best to call in an experienced fiberglass repair person to handle it. Digging out deep scratches, cracks, gouges, or dings usually requires
working with special tools, fillers, and other products. You may need grinding tools and color matching is difficult.

It’s better to avoid creating a bigger job than what you started with. You can keep your gelcoat and your boat looking great with a little time, effort and care.

By Ken Kreisler, Southern Boating April 2019

Mercury Debuts 400 HP Outboard

The mysterious lake x mercury Marine and the 400 HP outboard
We wouldn't recomend this tactic, but refueling underway was how Mercury achieved a World Record.

Mercury Debuts 400 HP Outboard

A storied history and a technological future lead Mercury Marine to introduce two equally exciting outboards on each end of the power spectrum.

Historic Lake X

Hidden somewhere in central Florida is a 1,400-acre private lake surrounded by 17 square miles of land and swamp that was used as a top-secret testing facility in the 1950s.  Through the day and the cover of night, Kiekhaefer Mercury Company developed and tested their new inline 6-cylinder, 60-cubic-inch, 60-hp outboard engine. A high-speed
version was also developed that produced 90 horsepower from the 60 cubic inch
setup.

Wanting to quell the competitors’ “it’s fast, but it won’t last” campaign, Mr. Kiekhaefer designed a 25,000-mile endurance run to prove the new engine wasn’t a fluke, and at 30 mph for 35 days,  the engines ran nonstop to set a world endurance record. To ensure the engine’s quality and might, they were run another 25,000 miles (the Earth’s circumference) at an average speed of 30.3 mph, and yes, the boats were refueled while underway.

The mysterious lake x mercury Marine
We wouldn’t recommend this tactic, but refueling underway was how Mercury achieved a World Record.

Today, Lake X (Lake Conlin) isn’t so secret. It’s still private, but the lake and the facility now show up on Google Maps. Mercury has grown significantly since then, and in 2018 the company introduced the largest product launch in its history with 25 new engines in the V6 and V8 platforms.

Supercharged

Mercury celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, and at the 2019 Miami International
Boat Show they introduced its latest, the 400 Verado, the largest horsepower outboard that gaps the range from the 350-hp Verado and the specialized Mercury Racing 400R introduced last year.

“We can take the two-point six-liter powerhead, the inline six-cylinder engine, supercharged and give it all the attributes of a Verado just like the three-fifty and
bring four things to market,” says Mercury Marine President, John Pfeifer. “It’s a four hundred that’s going to deliver perfect sound with no vibration whatsoever, has the best power to weight ratio by far than any engine of this size (a four-hundred horsepower that weighs sixty percent of a competitive engine), is a lighter engine that is better for fuel economy, and gives all the state-of-the-art prop to helm control systems from joysticks to digital throttle and shift. It also comes in four colors. The days of black engines are over.”

Mercury Marine 400 HP Outboard
The new Mercury Marine Verado 400 HP Outboard

The 400 is set up for comfort and with Mercury’s new Noise, Vibration, Harshness  Technical Center, engineers can ensure the outboard’s quality and quiet operation with
the noise- and vibration-mitigating Advanced MidSection. (Another innovation shown in Miami is the Flo-Torq SSR, a revolutionary product that eliminates prop shaft shift clunk and prop rattle to provide a completely quiet engine.)

“The calibration for the four-hundred mainline product is sixty-eight hundred max rpm,” says Tim Reid, vice president of product development and design. “That gives the engine the ability to make more power but also helps with acceleration. What we’re seeing between the three-fifty and four hundred on white boats is three and six miles per hour increase in top speed, and the acceleration on the four-hundred is blistering because for the most part, you’re staying with the same propeller and with that additional rpm, the boats really jump out of the hole.”

The outboard is designed with a cold-air intake system that has a larger, straighter airflow path to pull outside air directly to the supercharger, which is also cooled through the engine’s cooling system and helps to increase its efficiency and durability. Because of the engine’s ability for higher speeds, optimized guide plates provide greater control, and a smart feature of the Verado engines is the ability to automatically increase idle rpm so the alternator gives more output to recharge low batteries. The 400 Verado can be set
up in multiple configurations and when you add the Joystick Piloting for Outboards, SmartCraft Digital Throttle & Shift, Skyhook digital anchor, Integrated Autopilot, VesselView displays, and Active Trim, Mercury has created one integrated system from the helm to the engine.

Safe and Clean

On the other end of the power spectrum, Mercury has introduced its new 5-hp propane outboard. Developed for ease of use (just pull the propane tank from your barbecue or camp stove) and as an alternative fuel engine, it runs cleaner, there are no ethanol issues, the carburetor doesn’t gum up so it starts more reliably, and it offers environmental (no evaporative emissions) and safety benefits (no combustible fuel on board).

Mercury Marine propane outboard 5HP
Lean, mean and GREEN.

Co-engineered with Tohatsu, the propane engine goes through Mercury’s full validation schedule to meet their strict requirements to ensure the engine lives up to Mercury’s
standards of quality and reliability. Designed for dinghies, small boats and sailboats, the outboard weighs around 59 pounds, has 30 percent lower exhaust emissions compared
to gasoline, and comes standard with an auto shut-off valve.

The 75-cubic-inch displacement delivers true 5-hp power, and with a 5-gallon tank, the engine can run approximately 10 hours at full throttle. It’s the little engine that can.

mercurymarine.com

By Steve Davis, Southern Boating March 2019

Birds in The Bahamas

Birds in the Bahamas

Birds in The Bahamas 

Take a closer look in the sky, along the water’s edge, and in the trees to see birds in The Bahamas.

The Bahamas archipelago comprises several hundred islands, cays, and islets. Many are uninhabited. They form a subtropical chain stretching more than 600 miles southeastward from the latitude of the southern Florida coast almost to Cuba. The islands are home to an enormous variety of resident bird species. They also lie close to major migration routes, providing seasonal homes for many species and stopovers for transient
birds making longer journeys.

Here is a glimpse of the Birds in The Bahamas’ and where to find them.

The National Bird

When The Bahamas became an independent Commonwealth realm nearly 50 years ago, it adopted the flamingo as its national bird. Flamingos, once a common sight, were hunted to near extinction, but, fortunately, disaster was averted on Inagua. Its protected wetlands, now a vast national park, is home to the largest flamingo colony in the world. “Fillymingos” are also found on Andros and in smaller numbers or as vagrants elsewhere. Thanks to timely conservation initiatives, the national bird’s future is safe.

Birding in The Bahamas
The Bahama Woodstar

Endemic Species

The Bahamas has six unique bird species. The Inagua Woodstar is the most recently recognized (2015) as a species distinct from the endemic Bahama Woodstar, which is found on other islands. The rarest endemic species is the critically endangered Bahama Oriole, a gorgeous bird found only on Andros since its extirpation from Abaco in the 1990s. For any birder, it is a prized “Lifer.” Intensive conservation measures are being taken to protect the habitat of the tiny, localized population. Other more widespread endemics include the Bahama Yellowthroat found on just six islands; the Bahama Warbler, found only on Grand Bahama and Abaco islands and the rare, endangered Bahama Swallow found in the northern islands.

Specialty Resident Birds

The most famous of the “resident” birds are the local species of Cuban Parrot, the Bahama Parrot. The growing Abaco population, rescued in the recent past from near-extinction, uniquely nests underground in the limestone caves of the National Park. Its cousins on Inagua nest conventionally in trees. For those visiting Nassau, there is a small (around two dozen) group of the parrots, mostly on the east side, but you’ll hear them before you see them.

Two other species are noteworthy. You’ll find the handsome West Indian Woodpecker primarily on Abaco, where it is quite common. They are also found in small numbers on
San Salvador and occasionally reported on Grand Bahama. The melodious Bahama Mockingbird is another local treasure. You can find it on most islands but isn’t endemic to The Bahamas. The population as spread to Turks & Caicos and small areas of Cuba and Jamaica.

Rare Migratory Birds

Two winter visitors are of enormous significance and interest for birders. The Kirtland’s Warbler breeds in limited areas of Michigan and Ohio. In winter, they head for The Bahamas, favoring the northern islands. Don’t rely on luck alone; you’ll need an experienced guide to locate them. The hot spots are on Abaco (mainly in the National Park), Eleuthera and Cat Island. The Piping Plover is another important winter visitor. These tiny, scarce birds arrive in The Bahamas each fall. Many return to the same location each year, due to the safe habitat of their preferred areas. These are mainly on Abaco, Andros, and Eleuthera. Abaco, in conjunction with organizations, has a conservation program in the breeding grounds.

Warblers

BIrding in the Bahamas
The Kirtland Warbler migrates to The Bahamas each winter.

There are more than 40 recorded warbler species in The Bahamas, mostly migratory from North America. Each fall, the common, the less frequently seen and the rare arrive in large numbers. There are a handful of year-round resident warblers, such as the Olive-capped Warbler- found only on Grand Bahama and Abaco.

Although the density of many species of migratory warblers is greater in the northern Bahamas, all the islands have their regular visitors with the chance of rarer species stopping by. The abundance of warblers demonstrates the great benefit of the archipelago’s position in relation to migration routes.

Other Species of Note

You’ll find the Iridescent Cuban Emerald hummingbirds on Grand Bahama, Abaco and Andros, though rarely elsewhere. The White-tailed Tropicbird, magnificent frigatebirds and a wide variety of gulls, terns and other sea birds patrol the seas throughout the archipelago.

Birding in the Bahamas
A Cuban Emerald Hummingbird.

The shores and wetlands are locally rich in Sanderling and Plover species throughout The Bahamas. All the islands have healthy populations of herons, egrets and water birds. The Red-legged Thrush, also found in Cuba and Hispaniola, is another notable resident, mostly in the northern Bahamas. In the coppice, keen eyes will see the lovely Western Spindalis on most islands. The Thick-billed Vireo, another Bahamas specialty bird, is ubiquitous—you’ll often hear their distinctive, cheerful call.

The reputation of The Bahamas as a prime birding destination has increased dramatically in the new millennium. National parks, preserves and protected areas both on land and in the sea have been created or expanded. Birders will see beautiful birds. You can’t miss the shades of blue, but don’t forget The  Bahamas’ other colors.

By Keith Salvesen, Southern Boating May 2019

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