Thursday, June 9, 2011

In the Eleutheras

Andrew at the Helm
Fishing Boats in Spanish Wells
This archipelago is east of NewProvidence (Nassau) and south of Abaco. It consists of many small cays on the north then one very long (90 mile) very narrow (3 miles) island extending south.

In the north is Spanish Wells, named for the Spanish Galleons that attempted to land here and get fresh water. Mostly, they ended up on the reef of "Devil's Backbone". Lovely Harbor Island is just a water taxi, land taxi and another water taxi away. Actually the whole thing only takes about 30 minutes but you do get on and off alot!
Car Transport in Spanish Wells

Stretching south we hit Governor's Harbor which is about midway down the island and lastly we are spending, a bit too much, time in Rock Sound. The island seems very different from the other Bahamian Islands we've visited. Its sand is much more pink, it's actually hilly - highest point in the Bahamas at 100+ ft and its people seem much more industrious, though just as nice. There's also at least one church per person and bars and liquor stores are hard to find, but we managed.
We Do Laundry

Spanish Wells felt like a shift change as Andrew bid us adieu and Mary arrived. Spanish Wells also felt like Lafitte with its fleet of fishing boats and shipyards. 50% of all Bahamaian seafood comes through Spanish Wells and 70% of the crayfish (spiny lobster).

We did indeed get over to Harbor Island for a day of swimming in the Atlantic, cruising the shops and sightseeing. Sally Miles, Mary's older sister used to live here so Mary knew it well.
A pretty girl could block the street in Harbor Island

Sally joined us in Govenor's Harbor and we spent several great days touring the rest of the island. The narrowest part of the island is called the Glass Window and once had a natural bridge. Through that gap the deep blue waters of the Atlantic and the turquoise waters of the Bahama banks meet!! A "rage" blew out the natural bridge, which was replaced by a man made bridge. Then another, more recent rage, actually shifted the bridge 7 feet!

There are great caves to explore and this amazing gorge named the Queen's Bath. This is also the only place, other then Belize, that we've seen "blue holes"!

Mary gathered trash, we goofed off

The Glass Window where the Atlantic and Bahama Bank waters meet

Queen's Bath

Approaching Current Cut
The sail from Spanish Wells to Govenor's Harbor on Friday, June 3, was exciting. First we had to go through Current Cut, a narrow opening between two islands, where the current is extremely high and your boat must turn to starboard as you pass through the cut or you will end up on the shoals. Whew!!!  Then as we turned Southeast, the waves picked up and the boat was plowing through them, often waves covered the bow of the boat. It took us twice as long as normal to cover the 30 miles to safe harbor and all the while we were under a bright blue sky sailing through crystal clear blue waters. The worse outcome was that we neglected to dog down the porthole over our new long distance WiFi connector and it was drenched in seawater making it inoperable. 
Sign says it all

Fighting for Conch Fritters at the Pineapple Festival
Bob at Island Time came through and he helped Roy figure out a work around. So hooray - WiFi is back (as long as we can find a connection, of course). We finally got all the connections correct so anyone who has emailed between Monday and now will start getting answers. Also remember if you see an unknown number on your phone - could be us not just the bill collector. With WiFi comes Skype.

 Of course, we didn't let lack of WiFi or lack of water slow us down. Oh, I didn't tell you about the water. We were out and had no idea that Friday, June 3 was a holiday and everything would be closed. Plan A which was getting water before we left Spanish Wells was thwarted. Plan B depended on our trusty guide book. It said that while anchoring in Governor's Harbor was a chore - grass and thin sand over rock, we would find a seawall where we could tie up and get water if we had our own hoses. Ha!!

Adding Water
Lucky for us sailboats at the seawall are a rarity so we became an instant attraction. Nice folks let us have about 20 gals which we carried in 1/2 gal bottles and a jerry jug. Later Mary & I waved down a water delivery van and bought 20 more gallons in 5 gal jars.

Not wanting to let water or WiFi get us down we took off to find a bar, remember - there were no bars in Spanish Wells. Walked into Ronnie's and sat next to this big guy and started talking. Pretty soon he gets the "out of water" story and offers to take us up the road to a restaurant owned by Lionel. Lionel is also the dock master and eventually got the pump turned on, a faucet going and extra hoses to help reach it. Turns out the guy we were sitting next to is famous. He's Doctor Seabreeze - singer and songwriter in these parts!

Having dinner and singing along with Dr Seabreeze

This is Preacher's Cave. The first European Settlers of Eleuthera shipwrecked on Devil's Backbone and lived in this cave for two years. There is a plaque in front saying that this is where the first "Christian Communion Service was held in Eleuthera". Pretty important for an island with so many churches and so few bars!

Natural Vent Holes Inside Preacher's Cave

Now Mary and Sally have gone and Roy & I are waiting to head to the Exumas. In the meantime we've just discovered Four Points Restaurant, best food off the boat so far and a young chef that reminds us of Mat,t if Matt had been Bahamian - ok, not so sure we want to leave afterall. 

See Wahoo at anchor in the distance