May 30, 2010
Heading south again from Marsh Harbor we sailed about 25 miles to Little Harbor, the last stop in the protected Sea of Abaco before the 50 mile jump across the 12000 foot deep Northeast Providence Channel to the island of Eleuthera. We visited Eleuthera about 13 years ago, just after we got married and stayed in a resort for the whole week without leaving the compound, or seeing any of the island proper, so this time we were going to explore and planned to spend about 3 weeks working our way from north to south.
We woke before dawn and were underway as the sun rose over SV Moxie, our buddy boat for the crossing. Unfortunately there was not enough wind to sail, so we had to motor all the way, about 11 hours, but the early morning swells died down by noon, so it was a very calm and pleasant crossing, the only excitement being another Barracuda on the line that we had to throw back. We rounded Little Egg Island and headed for Spanish Wells a small (alcohol-free!) town on a little island with a big fishing fleet and grabbed a mooring ball for a few nights. The first night was very tough going, our worst experience to date with insects, as due to the absence of any breeze, the no seeums (teeny biting gnats) appeared in vast clouds at sunset and they were FEROCIOUS. Worse still, they are so small that they can squeeze through the screens on the port holes and they savaged us mercilessly. It got so bad that we had to close all the hatches and portholes with hundreds of them still inside and we sweated and baked in a tropical boat oven and were eaten alive all night long. The next morning the breeze picked up, thank god, and it blew 20 – 25 knots for three days, so no noseeums but too much wind to move, so we explored the town and hung out with Pete and Dorothy aboard Moxie and had a great time, all of us covered in red itchy bites.
From there we headed to an anchorage just north of current cut for a couple of nights, before heading through the narrow gap between 2 islands with very strong currents (hence the name) to the sheltered waters to the west of Eleuthera. First stop an anchorage at Glass Window where the Atlantic has broken through the narrow island and you have to use a bridge to cross from the north to south. We went ashore for a walk and took some great photos of Harmony at anchor. Next stop, Hatchet Bay for a few nights, where there is a very well protected natural harbor with a teeny narrow entrance between 2 sheer rock faces. The little village is pretty poor but interesting and we met up with moxie again for more fun. From there we sailed to Governors Harbor for a few nights, the original capital of the Bahamas, first settled in the 1600s, with some lovely old buildings and a library where I traded in some of our books for a fresh supply. We celebrated Dickie’s birthday there with a meal in a local restaurant, did much needed laundry, and attended the friday night fish fry on the beach which was great. South from there to South Palmetto Point, a teeny settlement which was having its homecoming celebration all weekend long, with loud music and on the beach and more bahamian food specialities including Conch. Conch pronounced conk is a large sea snail in a beautiful shell that you can pick up from the sea floor; conch salad is chopped up raw conch with tomatoes, celery and onions and lime and orange juice and chili. I loved the salad bit, but the conch itself I found to be a bit, well, challenging! it is pretty tough and chewy, but dickie liked it. I prefer it in its cooked chowder form or as fritters which are also very common local specialities. We left there after 2 days as even though we were anchored way off the beach the music played till 3 am and we needed a rest! From there we sailed to Rock Sound, and were reunited with Moxie at the southern end of Eleuthera for a few days, for more stocking up before the trip across the exuma sound to the Exumas, a long string of teeny tropical islands that stretch from north to south and where there is a protected sea park.
We sailed across the Exuma Sound with Moxie leading the way and arrived at the Exuma Land and Sea Park and grabbed a mooring in one of the most mind-bogglingly beautiful places I have ever seen. I am hoping to post this update to the blog here, using the rather weak satellite internet, and will post about the exumas when we get further south to Staniel Cay, which is famous for the thunderball grotto that was in the james bond movie of the same name and is a great snorkelling spot. The further south we go, the more fortunate we feel to have reached these stunning places. Harmony has been great, and even after 10 months aboard the thought of turning north to start the trip back is hard to fathom.