Ferry-Taxi-Ferry to Harbour Island
29 January 2008 | Spanish Wells
I had arranged with Pinders - the grocery store and water taxi people to take Kathy and Mike (Sapphire), Mary Lou and Bob (Cygnus) and Jim and me to Harbour Island on Tuesday. The price quoted was the same as the Bohengy ferry and the times were flexible. It made sense at the time because we wanted to get back in time to relocate down to Egg Island for the night - in preparation for an early start on Wednesday morning. It didn't turn out to be quite the same deal as the ferry. What they didn't tell me was that rather than take the water route along through the tricky Devil's Backbone (doesn't the very name make you want to go there?) Pinders takes people on a short ferry ride over to Eleuthera Island and then by car on a land route past the airport over to where another ferry makes the 5-minute crossing to Harbour Island. The $30.00 round trip only took us that far and it was another $10.00 roundtrip per person to get across the next little stretch. I was irritated by the misrepresentation and at missing the backbone route, but the return trip was actually quite informative because Gurney Pinder was our driver and he was happy to share his knowledge.
The town on Harbour Island is Dunmore, but the place is usually referred to by the Island name and it is famous for its pink sand beach. That too was a little bit of a let down at first. For some reason I was expecting really PINK - the same way Northumberland Strait sand is really RED, and what it is is pink - subtle pink - and it took a bit of time for our eyes to pick it up.
With all that complaining out of the way...the beach is absolutely gorgeous. It goes on for miles and really is a beautiful soft, pastel pink that shows up especially when the sun is high and it contrasts with the azure colour of the ocean. It is velvety soft with the tiniest flecks of coral. It is a movie screen beach - perfect for ladies in floaty gauzy dresses and men with half buttoned shirts and rolled up pant legs to run into each others arms. Gee - we didn't actually see that happen - but it was the kind of place where it might! We did see horses come down through the trees, take refreshing rolls in the surf and move along to their shady enclosure to wait for paying riders. We saw families playing, and people relaxing on well-manicured beach properties with lounge chairs and beach umbrellas.
The six of us strolled up and down the beach until we had worked up hearty appetites, whereupon we repaired to the Harbour Island Lounge for lunch. Conch salads, Caribbean salad (with greens, mangoes, blue cheese) hamburgers, grouper burgers washed down with Kalik beer made us all happy. Then we were off to explore the shops. Some exquisite clothing had to stay on the racks because it was outside our budgets, but Kathy and I managed to pick up a couple of books and I found some pretty earrings to replace the one I lost in Marsh Harbour.
On the drive back, Gurney showed us fields that once contained hundreds of mango trees and now hold only one or two. Hurricanes Floyd and Andrew caused salt water to rise up over the roots and many of them could not recover. If I heard him correctly (from the back of the van) the farmers were also hit by a blight that killed many trees. He said his father used to have a huge acreage in production but now very little is grown on the island. Speaking of islands, I asked Gurney what the difference is between an island and a cay (pronounced key). He said it was his understanding that when they were named, an island was inhabited and a cay was not. Mary Lou had heard that an island had fresh water and a cay did not. Spanish Wells is the town on St George's Cay and was so named because the Spanish ships used to come in there especially for the water so who knows?
As we arrived back at the dock and were about to climb into our dinghy, a large motor vessel pulled up and to our great surprise, it was Wet n' Wild with John and Rhoda Page on board - from Trident Yacht Club in Ontario - our home club! The last we had heard about them was from Strathspey's blog and we thought they were still far south of us. It was great to have a brief visit with them before we headed off again.
Our (Madcap and Sapphire) grand plan was to anchor just off Egg Island to give us a good start in the morning. Like many grand plans it was a good one in theory but ... Unfortunately, the wind was blowing directly at us so we had our sterns toward the shore with our bows heaving up and pounding down in the wind and waves all night long.
We managed to have a delicious dinner of grilled tuna, Bahamian pumpkin - that tasted a whole lot like squash - and salad. But things went downhill after that. None of us got much sleep as Madcap and Sapphire bounced around. Our holding tank seemed to have gotten all shaken up too and it smelled horrible inside our cabin.
It was a less than pleasant night to end a very pleasant day.