We’re at a Dock and Plugged In
21 April 2011 | Davis Harbour Marina, Cotton Bay, Eleuthera, Bahamas
We said goodbye to Bennett’s Harbour and to Cat Island this morning. At 8:15 AM we raised the anchor (we put the main up first again) and set off mostly west for the south end of Eleuthera. There are no anchorages on the south end of the island, so I advocated that we come to this marina. Bud didn’t want to pay for a marina, but it would have been a really long day to get around the south end to the first anchorage that is along the western shore. The east shore of the island faces the Atlantic and the prevailing winds and it is lined with coral. Altogether a bad combination for anchoring.
We had another nice sail. We started with the wind not too far off the stern. We had quite a bit of wind, so we were still able to make between 5 and 6 knots. After a bit we pulled the jib in because we couldn’t keep it filled, but our speed stayed the same. We were on this point of sail all the way to Little San Salvador, an island used by the cruise ships as an anchorage and playground. Some cruisers anchor there in what used to be West Bay, but the cruise line has named Half Moon Bay, but you need their permission to come ashore and we’d run into that problem way back at Stirrup Cay, our first anchorage in the Bahamas. We had no desire to go where the cruise ships go. Bud did wonder how the people that work on the island get there; it’s an otherwise uninhabited island, and a good ways from both Cat Island and Eleuthera.
After we passed Little San Salvador we were able to turn some to the north. That gave us a better angle on the wind, the jib came back out, we put two reefs in the main and we were cruising. We were doing a steady 7 knots and over 8 in the puffs. That part of the sail crossed between islands and the rollers came in from the Atlantic. They were somewhat modified by a bridge of relatively shallow water (50 to 60 feet) that runs between the islands. We still had 4 to 6 foot waves. The angle was decent so it was a fun ride.
When we reached Eleuthera we turned north again, so now we were starting to heel, but we were out of the waves. Two miles from the southeastern tip of Eleuthera is another cruise ship anchorage. Although it’s actually a part of Eleuthera, the Princess Cruise Line uses it and they call it Princess Cay. I’m pretty sure that’s where our friend Darlene came on her cruise. We’re only about 10 miles past that. Too bad the timing is off. I took a photo as we went by and it’s in the gallery.
We didn’t know what to expect at this marina. Active Captain, the Internet site we use (when we can) to check out marinas and anchorages, rated it fairly well, but said there was no one to help you tie off. We were concerned that it might be difficult since the wind was a steady 16 knots with stronger puffs. I called them on the radio and they didn’t answer, but a fishing boat did and said they’d answer any questions we had. They told us the marina could handle our boat and they’d try to call them for us. As we got closer I was able to raise the marina. “No problem, just come right in.”, but no other information.
Our first problem was getting safely into their channel. The chart showed a buoy at the last waypoint. There was no buoy. Bud could see the channel marked on the chart so we headed that way. Finally I spotted a green buoy, then a red buoy. According to the chart, we’d already passed a set of buoys, but they weren’t there either. At least we were happy to be coming in at close to high tide. We’d left Bennett’s Harbour just past low tide, we came just under 40 nm, and it was about 3 PM, seven hours after we left. So it should be a bit past high tide. Anyway, we found the channel and it was very well marked, for the Bahamas.
Finally, as we were coming up to their channel I got a woman in the office who told me that they were going to put us where it would be a starboard tie (that means I put all the dock lines out on the right side of the boat) and there would be someone out there to show us where to tie up. Still no information on how to find the slip, but that was all I was going to get out of her. I set up the lines, laid out a couple of fenders (they said they had wood docks, which down here means pilings on the outside, so you can’t put your fenders out until after you dock because the pilings will just pull at them).
We came in the basin and we didn’t see anyone waiting at a dock, in fact, we didn’t really see a dock. There were docks built all around the edge of the basin, but no finger docks. There were quite a few places where slips were defined by pilings. I was hoping we wouldn’t be put in one of those, because then we’d have to climb over the bow to get on and off. Then I saw some guys over in one corner of the basin. They were waving us over. “How am I going to get a starboard tie there?” Bud wondered. “Can you turn around in the corner and come up against that part of the dock facing out?” “I can try.” And Bud tried, and Bud did it, and soon we were happily tied to the dock.
We were setting up our fenders and the dock master said not to worry, we were just about at LOW tide now, so when the tide came up the fender they had on the piling would be in place. How’d it get to be low tide? I remarked that the tide wasn’t anything like Cat Island. “Oh, no,” he said, “we’re much different than Cat Island.” Well since we didn’t go aground coming in I’m glad we thought it was high tide so we didn’t worry any more than we did.
And now we have shore power! First time since February 24th in Nassau. So the batteries are getting a great charge and Bud has the air conditioner running and he’s a happy man. He asked me if I wasn’t glad I gave in and agreed to come to the marina. Yeah, right. The photo shows Earendil happily docked with all the sport fishing boats, and if you look really closely you can see our shore power cord hanging just below our dock line.
Just a little while ago a big boat came in (like around a hundred feet) and a whole bunch of Bahamians got off it. I noticed it was called the Half Moon Bay Clipper. So that ends the mystery of how all the folks who service the cruise ships get to Little San Salvador.