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S.V. Gratitude
Brewer 44, hull number 284
Sahara -- Not
EVS: Gorgeous
02/12/2013, Spanish Wells

Our good friends from Seattle, Kea, Doug, John, and Carita, left us today following a week aboard Gratitude. After so much company, we are not sure what to do with ourselves! We had a great time, and it was especially nice to get better acquainted (hard not to do on a boat) with folks who understand boating and its tribulations.

The day they arrived, the generator decided not to start, so we fretted whether we would have enough electricity for a week of extra hands. Turns out the glow plugs needed to be pushed and really hot. It has been running fine since. Near the end of their week with us, the refrigerator controller stopped working and we thought we would have no food! Following a sleepless night "troubleshooting" possible alternatives and some initial confusion on his part as to which compressor was which, Van tracked down the problem. It was a switch to select either 12 or 24 volts (we have 12) that had "jumped" out of position and prevented the controller from getting power. (The switch is on the side of the compressor controller facing the other compressor with only about 1 ½" for access. It was tough to see and took some pondering to determine that was the issue.) Because they understand boating, and the need to conserve water and electricity, the issues did not faze our guests.

We enjoyed showing them Spanish Wells, Harbor Island, the pink sand beaches, golf carting, different ferry systems (fast versus local), Preacher's Cave (where the first Eleutheran Adventurers seeking religious freedom took refuge after foundering on the reefs of the Devil's Backbone), and sampling Bahamian cuisine - mostly fried food and, while good, not up to Lauren's standards aboard Gratitude. We also enjoyed a guided tour of the museum on Spanish Wells where we learned more about the folks who settled here - and received electricity only very recently. One of the special, repeat stops was Bernard's Fish Market - on his dock - where we bought freshly caught huge lobster tails, yellow-tail snapper, and red snapper, all of which we ate aboard Gratitude on different occasions.

We also got to go sailing one day (we forget that Gratitude is a sailboat)! We left the south east end of the Spanish Wells Harbor and passed through the cut in the Devil's Backbone reef to enter the Atlantic Ocean. We encountered 1-2' chop on top of 4' swells, which was not too bad. We set the jib for a broad reach and set out two lines for trolling. Most of the catch was seaweed - which got us to wondering where all that comes from in the middle of nowhere -- but John managed to catch a Blue Runner, which we filleted and grilled to supplement the salmon we had on board. We anchored in Royal Island Harbor and swam, walked a portion of Royal Island, and explored the ruins of an old abandoned private villa, with multiple verandas where we concluded they must have had some wonderful parties. On Monday, we returned to Spanish Wells for some final shopping and a farewell dinner (before this morning's farewell breakfast). At the appointed time, we ran them to Pinder's Dock (in front of Pinder's Market) to catch Pinder's Ferry to Eleuthera where Pinder's Taxi would take them all to the airport for the flight to Florida.

We were sad to see good friends leave, but happy to be on Gratitude and return to being a cruising couple. (We have reported on the Cruiser's Formula - 6 for cocktails, 4 for dinner, and 2 for overnight - that we consistently violate.) Because Lauren had left a back pack at Bernard's fish market, after some minimal larder replenishment, we took the dinghy through the harbor to fetch the wayward bag. "Mrs.' Bernard", Cheryl, saw us while she was driving through town and tried to flag us down to tell us she had the backpack, but we caught up with her at the market. While there, we decided to buy some lobster, so she drove us to her home to make the selection. On the way back to Gratitude, we passed Bernard, en route back from another day of fishing. He waved us over to tell us our backpack was at the market and he was pleased we had retrieved it already. It is just that sort of honesty and "looking out for each other" that makes this place so appealing.

After lunch, the two of us dinghied through the harbor again to explore the sand bar between Russell Island and St. George's Island, which is exposed by low tide. No shells, but we did meet a local woman who showed us how to find sand dollars. While we explored, we remarked at how the little sand ripples looked like miniature sand dunes and deserts. You be the judge.

02/13/2013 | Joe & Niki Lallande
Happy Birthday, Lauren!
02/13/2013 | Carol Holtz
Happy Birthday Lauren. What a treat to celebrate in such lovely tropical locations!
02/19/2013 | Karen
Happy Birthday Laurie! Sounds like an idylic place to celebrate a special day. Enjoy.
Walkabout 2
02/01/2013, Spanish Wells

... or this one. It is difficult to see, but the first one is quite old and has what appear to be elephant motif gingerbread supports for the gutters (very important pieces of equipment as they catch rainwater for cisterns as there is no water supply on the island other than reverse osmosis (RO) water from the ocean (or bottled, of course, which even the locals drink)).

02/01/2013 | Molly & Baxter
Great to see the bog updates! We're at CHBS and the house just closed. Survey on Stella Blue is set for Thursday and we took a tour of Grace Lillian with Tony today. Those Brewer 44s sure are nice!
EVS: Windy and Cloudy
02/01/2013, Spanish Wells

We decided to go ashore to run a couple of errands and to have lunch at The Restaurant. Actually, we think its name is the Anchor Snack Bar. Van ordered a bowl of Walkabout soup -- creamy onion and cheese -- delicious but very salty. We shared a plate of cracked conch and french fries. We now have had our quota of fried food for a while!

While doing our own walkabout in search of the laundry facilities (one washer and dryer behind one of the smaller grocery stores) and a place for hair cuts (where they also sell what is reported to be "moonshine" -- remember, this is a dry island) we came across what, so far, are our two favorite houses. Take your pick! This one:

Jade Plant
EVS: Sunny and Warm
02/01/2013, Spanish Wells

The vegetation here is very interesting, incliding seemingly ancient jade plants, many without leaves, but in full bloom. Check out the trunk.

Server or Served
EVS: Dark and Stormy
02/01/2013, Harbor Island, Eleuthers

It is blowing, dark, and somewhat stormy as a cold front moves through, so we are staying put in Spanish Wells. (In the last 1-15 hours, the wind has clocked through all 360 degrees of the compass, and they are forecast to increase in intensity as the day goes on.) We had a short rain squall yesterday, which rewarded us with a rainbow.

Our trip on the fast ferry to Harbor Island was quite a ride. We guesstimated that we were making some 20+ knots (about 3-4 times faster than Gratitude) while weaving through the Devil's Backbone, appropriately named. There were spots where the boat changed course within several of its own boat lengths as it wiggled through the reefs and coral heads. At one point, someone could have tossed beers from the beach we were so close. (Of course, there was no one on the beach - too bad, because it was a beautiful beach.) We arrived in the harbor of Harbor Island at about 11:15 and pulled up to the government dock, which was swarming with folks renting golf carts. (That is the preferred means of transportation on these islands. Although there are a few cars and trucks, most people use the carts as they are small, maneuverable in the tiny streets, and fairly cheap to run.) We had thought of walking where we wanted to go, but decided to rent a cart so as to see more of the island, which we were glad we did - there are some hills on Briland (the "abbreviation" of Harbor Island > Harb-risland > Briland) and it is bigger than one would want to walk in the limited time between ferries.

Of course, we did the requisite shopping (basket weaving stands, T-shirt shops, clothing stores, Bahama Crafts and Tings, etc.) and then decided to go to lunch at the Coral Sands hotel, which had been recommended by one of the shopkeepers (who is Bahamian, lives on Briland during the winter months, and has a home in Stowe, VT for the warmer months). The restaurant / beach bar is right on and stands above the pink sand beach for a lovely view of the beach, the ocean, and the shore-side vegetation. After lunch (variously lobster and pork dumplings, Mahi Mahi Caesar salad, grouper sandwich, all washed down with the requisite Bahama Mamas), we took a walk on the beach. The sand does have a pink cast (likely from the coral sands) and it is wide and long. As we passed one resort, a man was raking the seaweed from the beach - in front of that resort. There were miles of seaweed, except for that short strip of beach. Van commented to him that he would have to do it again tomorrow, to which he replied "every day, when the wind blows from this direction I do this every day - job security", and they both laughed.

It is obvious, as we had been forewarned, that Harbor Island is a resort and tourist island, unlike Spanish Wells. As one boater put it, Harbor Island is a dual society - the served and the servers. In contrast, Spanish Wells is a working community that is very independent. (In fact, we were told it is the only island in the Bahamas with its own utility because the people here do not want to rely on others.) Although the island is fairly self-sufficient, the residents are warm, friendly, and inviting. Many expressed the same sentiment as Caroline (Jock's wife, who manages the mooring field and pilots boats through the Devil's Backbone) "this island, I do not care if I never leave it." Of course, some do, for education, jobs, or to seek a spouse - there are a few very common last names on the island. Most people also have several sources of income, whether it be fishing, something to do with boats, or providing goods and services. For instance, we bought stone crab claws from Jock and Caroline for dinner the other night. Boy were they good - the biggest we had seen - but we had to resort to a hammer to break the claws open.

In view of the weather, today is a stay-aboard day, baking, cleaning, reading, etc. There always are chores to do. Well, we may go ashore to see what The Restaurant is serving for lunch!

Garden Plot at Spanish Wells
01/28/2013, Russell Island

Look closely for the leeks, onions, and cabbage. It's there!

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