A Pleasant Surprise
18 April 2011 | Bennett's Harbour, Cat Island, Bahamas
When we planned our trip back, going to Cat Island was just a way to easily get to Eleuthera and the Abacos. So far, Cat Island has been my favorite place in the Bahamas. I thought New Bight was nice, with its picturesque Hermitage and only two other boats in the bay. Today, we came a bit over 26 nm north along the west shore of Cat Island to Bennett’s Harbour.
We aren’t actually in the harbor, which is very small and has no room to anchor. I guess if a front came by with winds from the west we could seek refuge there and tie to the large cement government dock, but there’s nothing but easterlies in the forecast, so we are anchored just outside the harbor on one of the prettiest beaches I’ve seen. And we are the only cruising boat in sight!
Not only that, but when we checked the anchor, we took the dinghy and the viewing bucket over a few of the little coral heads that were close here, to see if we could let a bit more chain out and not hit them with the keel if the wind changed direction. They were deep enough, and they were varied, some stone-type coral, some fan-type coral and the biggest reef fish I’ve seen to date. It was a dark purple-blue with lighter spots and it was probably 18” long. We are anchored so the boat my drift close to them, but the anchor and chain are in clear sand, so we won’t damage any of the little corals.
The town is supposed to have produce in season, there is good snorkeling right around the boat, and there is a creek nearby that is “teeming with marine life” that we can explore by dinghy. And we have the whole place to ourselves - except for the people who live here and at least one person staying at a nearby rental cottage. Still, this feels more secluded than uninhabited Conception Island, with 12 boats at anchor. Very nice!
Plus, we had a fine day’s sail getting here. We tried something new today. We hoisted the main while still at anchor. I suggested we try it because we had plenty of room. The main needs to go up while the boat is facing into the wind. There was no current at New Bight, so the boat faced the wind while anchored. It worked beautifully, and we had the jib up and the engine killed almost immediately. We sailed out of that little bay with the wind pretty close to the stern. Then we turned northwest and sailed a broad reach for about 16 miles. The last four were a sleigh ride as close to the wind as we could sail. We got right near the beach before we turned to take the jib in and put the engine back on. The main came down and we were anchored PDQ. I don’t think we went much over a half mile with the engine on today. Also very nice (and it keeps the boat cooler).