14 February 2007 | Long Island
We have finally left Emerald Bay! I realized that it was time to go when I started knowing the first names of all of the employees. It was a great stay at the nicest and cheapest ($0.75 a foot, even for cats!) marina we have yet been to.
We had planned to leave very early but as often happens, we didn't. We need to get better at leaving with the sun rise. Spending time with friends is one of the most important things to us. So when the opportunity presents itself we typically trade good conversation with interesting people for a bit of sleep. A Pizza party with Shazza got us into the sack a little late last night.
After checking up on the weather we scrambled to get the boat fully ready to go. The boat was tied up 6 ways to Sunday due to the 30 knot winds that had come through several days back. It was blowing a little bit but lots of folks came out to see us off and help out, so we had all of the dock hands we needed. It was an easy exit into the Exuma Sound.
We had a three day weather window to get to Providenciales (Provo) in the Turks and Caicos. A big front was predicted for Friday night to Saturday and full protection harbors are hard to come by in the far Bahamas. We broke the trip up into three 80 nautical mile legs: Exuma to Long Island, Long Island to West Plana Cay and West Plana Cay to Provo.
We motor sailed at 9 to 11 knots in fairly calm seas through the Exuma Sound. They call it the Exuma Sound but it is basically the Atlantic Ocean as far as sea state is concerned and it can get quite nasty, and even nastier than the prevailing seas in the funnels between islands. While the flat water was nice there just wasn't enough wind to sail without the engines if we were going to arrive by nightfall. We ran both diesels at 2,500 RPMs which kept the speed mostly over 10 knots.
Hideko put out the hand line and the trolling line but other than losing a lure to something with a good set of teeth we got no action. Next leg we decided to go with all stainless leaders rather than the mono filament we were using today. The Barracuda and Wahoo go right through the mono filament. The hand line doesn't seem to really work while motoring because we only have about 70 feet of line. The engines are too noisy for anything to bite unless you get the lure back close to a couple hundred feet, or so it seems. We have also been advised to fish right around the 60 to 100 foot zone. We were in a few thousand feet most of the day.
We arrived in Clarence Town about an hour before dusk kinda tired. Rather than anchor in the harbor, get down the dinghy, put on the outboard, go ashore, put away the outboard, put the dinghy away, etceteras, we just made for the marina. The Flying Fish Marina can only handle about 12 boats but it is quaint and better equipped than some places we'd been. They don't allow you to run your generator (which I found out while I ran our generator trying to get email over the SSB) and so the place is really quiet at night.
Clarence Town is a sleepy town on a sleepy island. It is amazing how distant you feel from civilization just one island down from Georgetown. There are only a handful of cruising boats south of Georgetown and they are all serious cruisers bound for the Caribbean and points beyond. We had a nice valentine's dinner there at the marina restaurant.
Roquefort had a nice walk and then joined us for dinner. The marina owners have a couple of dogs that wander around the area and one of them is a little scrappy. Their fine with people and the golden mix is great with other dogs, but keep you pooch away from the brown Sheppard mix, she's got a bad attitude.
We chatted with a guy on a nice Ketch named something I can't pronounce. We told him that we were thinking of going to Little Harbor, a beautiful but deserted harbor a ways south on Long Island instead of Clarence Town. He then told us that he and a friend were on their way there three days before. His friend in a newly setup Beneteau 473 turned into what they thought was the cut and ran hard aground. The swell quickly pushed them up onto the reef. After futile efforts to get the boat off over the next day a front came and destroyed the boat. Scary stuff. If you're headed for Little Harbor on Long Island in the Bahamas, make sure you go in the third (southern most) cut, which is the only navigable cut into the harbor. Probably would pay to make a complete pass of the place prior to making a go of it. The sailor we talked to reported that the Explorer chart waypoint was off. Another good argument for visual navigation when the depth gauge isn't reading no bottom.
We talked to another fun couple on Fram, a Valiant 42, during dinner. They had been sailing the south Caribbean over the last few years and were just bringing their boat back up to Florida. They were a wealth of knowledge and had been all of the places we want to go this season. Their top recommendations were the anchorage between the twin peaks on Saint Lucia, Bequia and Saint Martin. All three are on our itinerary.