So, to be honest, I have set out to write this blog post probably a dozen times. In short spouts of internet connectivity, I have uploaded a couple pictures here or there, tried to remember what order they needed to go in and organize them, tried to start writing, or sat and stared and accomplished nothing. This is the beginning of the turning point of our travels. It has been emotionally bittersweet for us. We have gone as far South as we’ll go in this trip. We are essentially on our way “home” now. Not that we really have a home specifically to go back to, but we are heading North, not really sure of where we’ll end up.
Below is the view from checking into Warderick Wells, which is a national land and sea park in the Bahamas. There’s specific places where you pick up a mooring ball instead of anchoring so you can fit more boats into a smaller area. This is because they only want boats in certain areas so they can better preserve various sea life and vegetation around the islands which are part of the park. There is no shelling, lobstering, crabbing, fishing, etc. allowed within the specified region of the park.
There are various places where you can hike around, although the “long hike” is probably about a mile or two, which is nothing when you compare it to some of the hiking we’re used to in national parks around Utah. Below, Dianna and I are hiking ahead of the guys around the main island. It was nice to get off the boat and stretch our legs, even if it was kind of a quick hike. The next day, Richard joined in some snorkeling around the protected reefs and saw some huge lobsters and fish among the coral heads. We also were able to use kayaks for free to paddle around some of the waters. It was a nice break from only having the dinghy to row around in.
After spending two nights at Warderick Wells, we headed out into the ocean waters to cross back to Eleuthera. We headed for Rock Sound where we anchored for the night. We were able to get in and find a grocery store which we hadn’t had access to anything in over a week since we had left Georgetown basically. There was a really well stocked one, not far from the dinghy dock, and we also found a little cafe where we got some internet for a couple hours. The guys again refilled our water tanks, 5 gallons at a time, and we headed back North after two nights anchored there.
We continued on with some downwind sailing (finally!! downwind!) from Rock Sound to Alabaster Bay. It was just north of Governor’s Harbour where we had been before, so we decided to try something new instead of return to Governor’s Harbour. It didn’t offer much for services and had a few beach rentals, but the public beach area was fabulous, and we scored a handful of small shells.
From Alabaster, we continued the next day to Royal Island, a few miles away from Spanish Wells to sit and wait out yet another blow. It didn’t seem like it would be too bad, as we hadn’t been woken up from the storm all night, until we started to hear people on the radio in the anchorage start announcing a couple boats dragging anchor, or having troubles. Thankfully we stayed put, but when I woke up, it felt like it was midnight, even though it was near 6am already! It was still very dark and turned out to be quite a storm for a couple hours, but nothing major happened to anyone and it eventually calmed back down later that day. The following day, we continued a few miles to an anchorage right outside Spanish Wells. We visited there and again, did our chores of trash run, water refills, fuel refills, and getting groceries.
We took a couple days to explore the island here, which has been one of the most established areas we’ve seen in the Bahamas. It also had some interesting yard art that we found walking the streets to the grocery store.
All of the flowers were made from seashells. There were various displays around yards, it was really interesting to see how many have been made with so many different types of shells.
Once we found a decent weather window, we headed from Spanish Wells to the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas. This is where we first checked into the Bahamas back in January, but haven’t spent any time exploring yet. We left basically at sunrise from Spanish wells and headed North towards Little Harbour.
We planned on anchoring right behind Lynard Cay and from our initial calculations we expected we would make it there before sunset. However, due to the most shifty wind we’ve ever seen (and the most shifty that others with many more years on the water have seen too), we ended up not making it into Lynard Cay until almost 10 pm. This was less than ideal, we were exhausted from adjusting for the wind shifts, tacking back and forth trying to continue heading the direction we needed to go, and having wind stronger than expected, we were unable to use the autopilot most of the day. Richard hand steered almost the entire day as I was not really able to keep course, and also felt a bit queasy due to the swell and waves. If we didn’t have GPS, there would have been no way we’d of made it into the anchorage. We couldn’t see the reefs in the dark that we had to navigate through to get into the Sea of Abaco, and our friends on Moon Shadow helped to lead us in. They had been able to travel faster than us and anchor as the sun set, and were helping us via radio and flashlight signaling to safely make it to the anchorage. Without GPS showing where the reefs were, or a friend with a flashlight guiding us into the anchorage, surely we would have had to sail around overnight in the ocean and come in to anchor in daylight where you could see water breaking over the reef and where the shoals are.
The next day, we spent the day on the beach at Lynard Cay, playing frisbee, finding starfish, and planning our next happy hour. We met another couple from a boat, Solstice, whom we all decided to go to Little Harbour the next day on high tide and pick up a mooring ball and head into the famous Pete’s Pub, with their daily morning radio advertisement of “Little Harbour, the island you can drive to…why walk when you can crawl!” The original family who settled into the island, has the only functioning foundry in the Bahamas, where the make art and jewelry, as well as a killer drink called the Blaster.
After having some fun at the pub the first day, the second day we hiked around the island some, finding some coconuts for drinking the coconut water, and finished off the day with happy hour on Solstice with our new friends. And talk about a happy hour! It was complete with lobster, shrimp, pasta, chicken, vegetables, etc. When we want to have a pot-luck…we have a pot luck! Richard ate good that night! As well as me!
We then headed off from Little Harbour to Hope Town, sailing in the Sea of Abaco. It’s a protected body of water from the ocean that has all these cay’s separating it from the Atlantic ocean, having shallow depths and little to no swell. Much calmer than when we crossed from Spanish Wells thankfully!
In Hope Town, we climbed to the top of the Elbow Reef Lighthouse there, which is one of the last 3 maintained kerosene lighthouses in the world. It has to be lit every night from one of two staffed lighthouse keepers, and maintained every 2 hours throughout the night! Below is the view of the downtown area of Hope Town.Below is the mooring field inside the cove of Hope Town. There were so many boats crammed in there, we decided we didn’t want to even try and find an open mooring ball and would put up with a slightly longer dinghy ride.Below is the anchorage just outside of the downtown area of Hope Town, where we anchored and then dinghied into town from.
We spent two days in Hope Town, enjoying a cruiser’s happy hour in the park, walking around the downtown area a bit, and getting a couple loads of laundry done. The guys dropped Dianna and I off to do the laundry at the Lighthouse Marina, which the only way to get downtown from there is by dinghy across the cove. Well. It was an early morning since we raced in to snag the washers before anyone else filled them up, and we hadn’t had coffee yet. For me, that is…not good. We saw a local tying up his little boat to the dock outside the marina and we quick sweet talked him into giving us a ride across to downtown to the coffee shop and back if we got him a cup as well. Sold! You can leave me without a dinghy, but you won’t hinder me getting my coffee!
From Hope Town, we headed to Marsh Harbour, where we as well as Moon Shadow were expecting guests to fly in to visit.
We again refilled our water tanks with water, making sure we’re all ready to go chore wise before having a guest aboard. Who is it that came to visit us you ask???
One of my best friends in the world..Connie! I had been so excited to have her come aboard for 10 days, I was preparing for her visit like a crazy person, making sure we had water, food, a clean boat, etc. She was quickly greeted by her first Bahamian Rum Drink made by Donny on Moon Shadow, served in a very fitting coconut that we found earlier that week.
We sailed the next morning to Great Guana Cay, where we quickly settled into the sweet life at Grabber’s on the beach. We also visited Nippers for the Sunday Pig roast to be sure we covered all our basic bahamian foods: mac & cheese, BBQ pork, cole slaw, sweet corn bread, and peas ‘n rice…and of course, rum drinks!
Grabber’s had some fun games all over from cornhole, to ring toss, to giant jenga. We had fun playing them all throughout the afternoon.
We then continued on to Man-O-War Cay after 2 nights where we explored the island for a day, snorkeling around our anchorage in search of turtles and sea life, and treating ourselves to some ice cream.
After Man-O-War, we had to split away from Moon Shadow, and head to Marsh Harbour again for a few nights in a marina while Richard flew out of town for a few days. Stay tuned for the next post…While the Captain’s away…the girls will play!
As always, thanks for reading!