April 12 – 29
Leaving Norman’s Cay, we had a decent forecast for the 28 mile crossing to Eleuthera, but despite being fairly certain we’d timed the tide right coming out of the cut, we were getting tossed every which way. Again we busted out the mantra that “the boat can handle it, even if we can’t!” The upside of the rolling around is that it seemed to jostle something in our busted inverter/charger, as suddenly, once we plugged into shore power at Cape Eleuthera Marina, it seemed to be charging the batteries! Woo Hoo!
After a day or two break there to clean the boat, deal with laundry, and pump out the guest head that won’t dump overboard, we were ready to start popping up the coast.
We stopped into Rock Sound, which had the largest grocery store we’d seen yet, an ATM, and…not a whole heck of a lot else! Although this ocean hole was pretty cool, sadly we didn’t have our suits with us. Maybe next year we’ll go for a dip…
Onward to Governor’s Harbour, a really cute town, which sadly had the worst anchor holding we’d seen in all of the Bahamas. We had to try to drop the hook in a few spots, and even then we weren’t entirely comfortable with how we were set. So, after a quick trip to town, we headed back to the boat to make sure we didn’t drag and made plans to move on.
Next day we woke up early to go to Hatchet Bay, where 60 years ago they cut a 90 foot channel to connect a lake to the sound. As we approached the cut, we both looked at each other as if to say, “hell if that’s 90 feet wide!” Very scary coming in with sharp rocks only a few feet on either side of Summer, in a pretty brisk wind – I definitely thought I might vomit from nerves. But once we got in there, it was calm, and while there weren’t any free mooring balls, we did find it to be amazingly protected. We found it to be a cute community with a handful of bars and grocery stores, with a very local vibe. After fetching Elaine the next day, and hanging out in one of the local watering holes that afternoon, we had to get her to some of the magnificent beaches we’ve been enjoying in the Bahamas, so we picked a spot south of the Glass Window Bridge to anchor at a few miles north of Hatchet.
The anchorage, while having excellent holding, was still pretty open to all wind directions except for east, and, well, the wind was not easterly. So we were bouncing around quite a bit out there. I really wanted to go check out Harbour Island, on the east side of Eleuthera, but Brian was a bit nervous about leaving the boat unattended in that wind. So the next day Elaine and I hopped in a taxi and left Brian to his sports podcasts, and headed over to explore Harbour Island.
What a charming place! It’s been called the “Nantucket of the Bahamas”, so you know that it’s got to be a place we’d like. Beautiful homes set on some small hills, pink sand beaches (which were the best swimming beaches we’d seen yet), a proper coffee shop with ICED COFFEE! I was in love. The problem with it is that it’s difficult to sail to – from the west side of Eleuthera, you have to go around the top of the island through a tricky coral head littered channel called “Devil’s Backbone”, and it’s recommended you hire a guide to get you through there. Based on our schedule we had already decided to not mess around with that this year, but next year we’re definitely going to try to get ourselves over there on Summer.
Sadly the next day, Elaine went home, and we had 24 hours before my brother Art arrived. He came bearing beer and booze and new carburetors for the dinghy engine. The next morning, we hauled anchor and headed out to Spanish Wells.
Now…talk about a STRANGE PLACE! It’s like the Appalachia of the Bahamas. All white (very unusual in the Bahamas), 75% of the population has the last name “Pinder”, and the Bahamians from elsewhere make many, many jokes about “sister wives” and malformations and family trees not branching. And…well, they may just have something there. It’s very religious, and they didn’t have a liquor store until about a year ago – when Hurricane Andrew came through in 1992 and destroyed the liquor store, the islanders took it as a sign from God and wouldn’t allow one. It’s pristine, the locals’ style is very 1990’s (and not in an ironic way), and, as a Facebook friend put it, it felt like you were in a Stephen King novel. The accent is this odd Scottish/Cajun mix, and everyone just looks a little…off. That’s not to say that people weren’t extremely friendly and helpful though!
Since Brian hadn’t had a chance to see Harbour Island with Elaine and I, we all decided to arrange for transport over there on Sunday – everything would be closed in Spanish Wells anyway. He loved it just as much as I did, reinforcing that we’ll make a point of getting over there next year. On Monday the three of us rented a golf cart and toured around Spanish Wells a bit, enjoying their very beautiful pink sand beaches too, and picking up some groceries at the very excellent grocery store (it had more stuff than we’d seen in months!). Boat prepped and provisioned, we headed out early the next morning for our crossing to the Abacos.
So, final thoughts on Eleuthera – when we first got there, we were really excited by the fact it seemed POPULATED. And that there were conveniences like real grocery stores and banks. But then we got a bit dispirited at the fact that there weren’t many easily accessible, gorgeous beaches like we’d seen in the Exumas, the holding in the anchorages was not all that great, and where the anchorages were ok, it was a bit tough to get to anything. And the freak show that was Spanish Wells…well… So, next year, other than hitting up Harbour Island, we’ll probably end up skipping the rest of it.