MARCH--Oh, can the wind blow!
First stop for the month--Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera. The sail from Rock Sound to Governor's Harbour was fantastic. Winds 18 knots with gusts to 22 knots sailing a beam reach. Cruising guides almost discourage you from stopping at Governor's Harbour. The guides caution the cruisers--"Very poor holding for anchoring. Never stay in the harbor when a cold front passes". Dropped our anchor to find it would not hold (the bottom is a very thin layer of sand over marl). Decided to take one of the free government moorings. In the back of your mind you question if it is a good idea---don't know how the mooring is constructed and if it is maintained. Checked the mooring out with our look/see bucket--a huge chunk of concrete with a solid chain. Also used our own lines to secure us to the mooring ball. As for the precaution-"Never be in the harbor when a cold front passes" --it is a good guideline. A cold front was in the forecast for Sunday. Winds to clock through the west to northwest but not all that strong in the west quadrants (10 knots). Governor's Harbour is wide open to the west and northwest so if the winds were strong, the waves would build to make things uncomfortable. Decided we could tolerate any waves from the west and northwest when this front passed.
Dropped the dinghy into the water so we could scope things out. Received a very nasty "welcome" from a Bonefish Fisherman. We were in the dinghy, headed for a spot on the beach near the steps. In doing so, passed too close to the fisherman. Bonefish are very skittish to sound and movement. We didn't realize we were disturbing him and the bonefish but he sure let us know. Told us all the rest of the ****** beach was available for us to land our dinghy but we had to go close to where he was fishing! For crying out loud. The guy is on vacation and his shorts are in a knot over a fish that he doesn't even eat! Carl apologized while I simply glared at the guy.
The following three pictures were taken in Governor's Harbour. The first picture is of one of the liquor stores (painted in the Kalik Beer colors). The second picture is a flower on some bushes at the library and the last picture is of an Out-Island Alarm Clock (lots of roosters and chickens around to eat various bugs)
Governor's Habour is the original headquarters of the Eleutheran Adventurers who came from England seeking religious freedom in 1649. There are quite a few homes for rent and a number of inns and a few resorts. As you walk around looking at the beautiful homes with bougainvilleas cascading over garden walls you don't realize you have climbed the 142 foot hill for a magnificent view of the harbour.
Attended the Friday Night Beach Party. A tent is set up on the beach surrounded by picnic tables. Locals prepare food--barbecue chicken, pork chops or fried fish with peas and rice, cole slaw and potato salad for $8.00! Also available--an assortment of beer and some great rum punch. Lots of land tourists and locals in attendance. Music provided by a dee jay. I found it interesting that the Bahamian men danced on the street as a group.
Next destination--Royal Island. Sailed in 18 to 20 knot winds until we reached Current Cut where we had to motor to get through the passage. Once through the cut, we sailed the rest of the way to Royal Island. Stayed two nights in the anchorage at Royal Island while some squalls came through. Last year, we could go ashore at Royal Island. The island has a bunch of ruins that are fun to explore. One building has been used by cruisers for house cocktail parties and potlucks for several years. In fact, I organized one last year. This year, the island has been purchased by Roger Staubach and Jack Nickalus so it is being developed--a golf course, resort, restaurants and marina. Big signs on the shore stating "KEEP OUT".
When the weather cleared we sailed less than 5 nautical miles to Spanish Wells for 3 nights. Spanish Wells is a very prosperous community---make their living from the sea. The fishing vessels hunt for lobster from Spanish Wells south almost to the coast of Cuba and up the banks to Bimini. Talked to one of the fisherman who told us the best month for lobster is August. In August their ship brings in 50,000 to 60,000 pounds of lobster tails. One of their main customers is Red Lobster.
Spanish Wells is an all white community. In the morning, ferries from north Eleuthera carry in workers who happen to be black and return them at sunset. Last year, I remember thinking "The Loyalists still have their slaves, only thing they don' live with them". A very nasty thought I admit. I didn't like the attitude of some of the people I talked to who implied their town was so neat and clean because it is all white. I was incorrect about one thing last year. The Loyalists didn't settle here---they settled where there was lots of land in an attempt to establish plantations. The settlers of Spanish Wells were the Eleutherian Adventurers who came here from England in the middle 1600s in search of religious freedom. I still don't like the implication that the town is prosperous because it is all white.
While in Spanish Wells we walked the ocean side beaches looking for treasures that washed up on shore--didn't find anything. I am looking for sea beans and sea glass. Celebrated Carl's birthday one evening with lobster followed by a game of cribbage.
The two pictures below were taken in Spanish Wells. The first one if of me on the ocean beach. The second picture was taken to show how everyone gets around at Spanish Wells---golf carts taken at one of the local restaurants.
Returned to Royal Island to wait for good weather to head to the Abacos. Had to wait four days for the winds to shift far enough south so we could sail. Shared the anchorage with close to 20 boats--all waiting to head to the Abacos. Since we could not go to shore, one source of entertainment was watching construction activity. Watch the freighters that came in to deliver supplies and equipment. One freighter ran aground trying to leave the dock---low tide. Other sources of entertainment is playing cribbage, reading, talking on the single side band radio, meeting other cruisers and listening to Klassic Radio. Hard to get bored.
Below is a picture of one of the freighters being in supplies and equipment to Royal Island. This freighter ran aground because it took them too long to unload while the tide was dropping, dropping. The freighter had to spend the night.
Finally, the winds moved far enough south for us to bust out of Royal Island. Two boats, LUNA SEA and SOJOURNER, left at 2 AM and two other boats, KELLY RAE and CYGNUS left at 5 AM. We left with 13 other boats at 7 AM. DISCOVERY was the 8th boat out of the harbor. Sailing conditions were perfect for us. We soon passed all 7 boats in front of us shortly after passing the Egg Island cut and then about noon we passed KELLY RAE. Were 20 minutes behind CYGNUS by the time we passed through the North Bar Channel in the Abacos. It was a great, fast sail for us.
Spent the night at Bucarron Bay then sailed to Marsh Harbour to meet guests. Carl's nephew, Jerome Tufte, and Jerome's girlfriend, Anna, visited us for 8 days. Jerome and Ann were are break from Dartmouth College. Sailed over to Hope Town where we anchored outside the harbor. Jerome and Anna had a friend from Dartmouth who was staying at a cottage over break with his parents. Anna and Jerome stayed with their friend at the cottage for two nights. When we anchored outside Hope Town, we under-estimated the tide. It was a new moon so the tidal swing is greater than normal. In the middle of the night, I heard different noises--something like a thud. Checked the depth sounder---it was reading 4.8 feet and we draw 5.8 feet.. The boat was also tilted over to starboard. Had to wait for the tide to come back in to re-anchor the boat.
The following picture is of Anna and Jerome's arrival in Marsh Harbour.
Below are two pictures taken from the top of the Hope Town lighthouse. The first picture is of Jerome and Anna (yes, it is windy). The second picture is of the anchorage in Hope Town (lots of boats at moorings).
From Hope Town we went to Great Guana Cay where we stayed for 4 nights. It was very windy in the entire Bahamas for almost 3 weeks in March. The winds kept building every day that Jerome and Anna were here--reducing our options of places to go. Still, Great Guana Cay is a fun place to stay. There is a great ocean beach to walk on and two "hopping bar/restaurants" to visit. Sunday we stayed for the Nipper's Pig Roast and Barefoot Man Concert. Barefoot Man is a local musician who writes songs about sailing in the Abacos. He has a concert at Nippers at least once a year which draws a huge crowd. The estimates were for 2,000 people to attend. Don't know how many people were there but it was packed. We were there by 9:00 to get a table away from the stage (music is loud enough to cause hearing damage) for a 1:00 concert! Some people were there at 3 AM!?!?!?!?
The following pictures were taken one day when we had lunch at Nippers. The first picture is of Anna, Jerome, Carl and I. The second picture is Anna and Jerome down on the beach.
The next three pictures were taken at the Barefoot Man Concert at Nippers. You should notice it is a much older crowd than you see at most concerts. It was a wild time for many concert goers.
Left Great Guana Cay around 3 PM sailing for Marsh Harbour because Anna and Jerome had an early morning flight.
Stayed in Marsh Harbour one day to do laundry and pick up fresh produce. Next stop--Treasure Cay. Our friends, Bruce and Carol Allen, rented a cottage in Treasure Cay. We anchored two nights in front of their cottage and then used their dock one night. The bakery in Treasure Cay makes some killer cinnamon buns. Walked the beach--what a beautiful beach. I tried to capture its beauty on film but my pictures don't do it justice. The beach was selected by National Geographic as one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world.
The following picture could not capture the beauty of the beach.
One night in Treasure Cay, we had lobster dinner with Bruce and Carol and 3 of their friends. To supplement the lobster, I made crab cakes. Also served was a fresh green salad, baked potatoes and two desserts. After dinner and doing dishes we played a word game QUIMMBLEY. Late night but lots of fun.
Back to Marsh Harbour to end the month of March.
April 3, 2007