31 March 2016 | Exuma, Eleuthra, Abaco
The past two weeks have been bittersweet.... we have begun the trip back north, signaling the end of this year's adventures in the south. We said goodbye to the wonderful bays and islands of the Exumas, and we said au revoir to our new best buddies, Polly and David on 'Illusions', as they headed back to the States.
But not before we shared a few more adventures. We left Black Sound to head back into the Exumas Park at Cambridge Cay. It was a half day sail, ending at a mooring field between two islands with just two empty mooring balls. Luck was with us, as the current was pretty strong coming off the Exuma Sound. We spent a day there exploring the snorkeling options... the Aquarium of the Sea was a short dinghy ride. The fish were amazing, they came right to the surface as David fed them oatmeal out of his hands. But the current there too was very strong and we had no where to safely anchor the dinghy and swim to and from the reef. Instead, we found a fabulous reef just a short ride down the coast full of colorful coral and a wide variety of fish.
The next day we headed across the Exuma Sound to Eleuthra, a 50 mile jaunt in open water. The sail was wonderful!!! We easily reached our destination, Rock Sound, before sunset. There were a half dozen boats in the anchorage, including the three Bristol's we had encountered at Black Point, 'Egret', 'Bristol Cream' and 'Blue Heaven'. We took time in the morning to walk to the grocery and liquor stores, and thankfully got a ride back to the marina with a friendly local woman. Then we headed out on another day long sail...to Hatchet Bay, halfway up the coast.
Hatchet Bay is an almost perfectly enclosed bay, with a narrow entrance channel that you can't even see until you are directly in front of it. The water was calm and clear, with even fewer boaters to share the serenity. We left early the next morning for the long trek to the top of the island, Spanish Wells.
There is a cut through the island at Current Cut, but it is a tricky one that is advisable to transit only with a favorable tide. Of course, we didn't have that so we did an extra 20 miles to go through an easier passage. We arrived at a perfect anchorage on the west side of Meeks Patch at the end of the day... the only two boats there, just off a lovely beach.
With an early start, we guaranteed ourselves a full day to enjoy
Spanish Wells. After refueling, we docked at the under-construction Spanish Wells Yacht Haven. What a find! New, sturdy docks, beautiful bathrooms and showers, lovely boaters lounge, soon to open pool and restaurant, and brand new rental golf carts. We took advantage of a cart, and took off for a tour of the city. Polly and I had forgotten earrings when we dressed, so the first stop was a gift shop with lots of jewelry choices that ended with both of us wearing sea glass earrings. Now properly dressed, we headed to the Shipyard Bar and Restaurant for drinks and lunch... seafood of course. Our afternoon tour took us all over two islands, with stops at the outdoor Sand Bar on one end, and Budda's Bar and liquor store, which resided in several retired school buses. Bill and David picked up some additional/replacement fishing gear which they hoped would attract more edible fish than we had yet encountered (ie. none). The day ended with a stop at Daddy Scoops Ice Cream stand, open from 7:30-9, flavors of the day Butterfinger and Chocolate.
Our longest sail started early the next morning, as we were crossing to the Abacos over open water. There was little wind so we motor sailed, but at least it was downwind. There was little traffic and, still, no fish. By the time we got to Little Harbor Cut it was nearly sunset and low tide, so we decided not to try the narrow, shallow entrance channel into the harbor and anchored just outside. Unfortunately, the swell off the ocean was unending and kept us awake all night. I slept on the cabin sole just so I didn't have to brace myself from rolling off the settee.
This meant we didn't get a last celebratory cocktail hour and dinner with Polly and David (on St Pat's day) as we split up the next day, 'Whisper' to Marsh Harbor and 'Illusions' to Man O War Cay. Just you wait, Polly and David, we'll make up for this when we see you in New Bern on our way back north.