05 April 2012 | Harbour Island, Eleuthera.
We motored out of Nassau shortly after the late arrival of Cuz Sara (March 3rd). While risking embarrassing her, the reason she was late is because she arrived at the airport in San Francisco with an out of date passport.....the original being locked in a safety deposit box. What that tells me is this.....my Cuz must also have diamonds, hidden greenbacks and possibly a hot revolver....why else would you have a safety deposit box I ask? Julie her bestest girl friend arrived on time and a big smile on her face, having not had a decent break away for awhile. The weather was perfect. It's also spring break....hence we have a cooking teacher and an art teacher on board. Oli has already commented had he wished he had teaches like there girls.
Nassau was OK. We ended up at an anchorage the time there, just off from he Green Parrot bar and a mile walk from where the students of Sara and Julie are possibly partying. We saw more than 10 cruise ships come and go over the three days. That's possibly 20,000 potential future leaders of America. God help America.
No wind. We chose to motor just 20nm to and area near Sapphire Cay and Little Billy Cay. The water was crystal. We fixed a frying head sail, replaced a batten in the main and renewed the lazy jack lines.
We also kept a permanent line off the stern so that we could launch ourselves from the bow catching the line as Ooroo motored onwards. A glimpse of a dolphins off our bow and a 1.5m shark swan and could be seen clearly 5m below us was the only sea life spotted while motoring. With a setting sun the only fish we had caught or harvested was in fact a conch plucked from 5m of water by Oli. Marks observations at a fish fry in Nassau taught him the art of removing the meat. Sara and Julie prepared it as a lovely appetizer to our BBQ chicken and steak. Our first non-seafood meal on board in a week.
We are now on a SW heading to Gregory Town in North Eleuthera, with a light SE 8 knot wind. Sailing at 4-5 knots sets us up for a pleasant 7 hr sail today. We also have a beautiful 60cm red snapper. It's marinating now while the BBQ fires up. It's lunch time. We have been taking one fillet from the bigger fish and then BBQing the rest of the fish whole....minus the tail so she fits on the grill. The fillet may end up as dinner.
The bank that we are crossing is no deeper than 6m the entire way. We have navigated around various rocks and shallows using charts, the GPS and this iPad. The iPads Navionics Charts are so far the most detailed and simplest to use. We now has a straight run
Everyone is reading and the champagne is chilling. Time to check the charcoal and marinade.
Gregory Town is a Mediterranean style village with brightly colored houses in a spares environment. 3m cliffs greeted us, no beach but with cool beach houses. We anchored in Annie's Bight. A small, very small bay. All five of us motored the 50 m to shore for some R & R. One bar, no customers and a pool table Ollie 50, Dad 57....the international pool comp continued.
The dingy was swamped when we came back to her but with some muscle and a bucket we had her emptied and we where back on deck for sunset.
Mark crumbed and pan fried the last of the snapper.
The anchorage was tight with only 50m to the cliffs from the stern and maybe 100m from the bow. With 25m of chain out I was a little nervous. The wind was building. I set the anchor alarm to 20m and slept on deck. So not the best sleep I have ever had on a boat.
Our plan was to move only a few miles north today and then hitch or bus to Harbour Island on the eastern side of Eleuthera. But the wind was too good. I decided to sail right around the island instead. We headed off west with a 20-25 knot wind from the SE. We hit speeds of 10 knots and arrived at the channel between Current Island and Eleuthera within 2hrs. We furled the jib to pass rough the 100m channel under the main.
The current was with us and we hit 13 knots in the narrowest section, before once again letting out the jib for a goose neck run to St George's Cay in the north....still doing 9 knots. Sara and Julie are chatting away like it's an everyday occurrence...sailing at speed in the Bahamas.
We then hit the shallows before navigating through the St Georges Cay. We where blocked in transit by a barge that was unloading right in the middle of the channel. After an hour of waiting around we finally got underway on a challenging around North Eleuthera. The route is called devils backbone and with a jagged reef 50m on one side and pounding surf 50m on the other it is no wonder why. We motor sailed with only 1m of water below our keel at up to 8knots. We made it to Harbour Island, home of some of the world best beaches....a mix of cultures ranging from ratty sailers (us) the guys that own and operate those supper yachts and locals with big smiles.
It was my best sail so far. The highest winds, the quickest speed, the lowest water and the most diverse challengers.
Now anchored off a little marina with open Internet I can share this with you...before the salt has even dried on my skin.