Rock Sound to Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, The Bahamas
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Finally a day of moderate winds. We had the anchor up by 6:00 and left, along with six of the other boats in the Rock Sound harbor, for Spanish Wells at the north end of Eleuthera. A few of the other boats stayed behind or decided to go to Governor’s Harbor, part of the way to Spanish Wells. Mostly, we were able to sail with some motor sailing. The biggest issue on this trip was to get to Current Cut, a narrow opening with lots of current in a long peninsula off of Eleuthera at slack current. Slack current was predicted to be at 3:00 and we went through the cut at 2:30, almost exactly the optimum time!
While several of the boats opted to go to an anchorage at Royal Island, about five miles from Spanish Wells, we, along with Foreclosure, managed to get moorings right in Spanish Wells harbor ($10/night).
Spanish Wells is a neat town that completely covers St. George’s Island, off the north end of Eleuthera, with a regular grid of streets. We took a dinghy ride to explore the creek along the town’s edge before heading back to the boats for dinner. It had been a long day (62 nautical miles) and we were ready to relax. Sandy made Moroccan Chicken for dinner. It was excellent!
Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, The Bahamas
Monday – Wednesday, March 29 – 31, 2004
First order of business: Bill went ashore to look for coffee … no luck. Sandy took a walk around town. Then the four of us met at the Snack Bar for breakfast and spent the rest of the day exploring this fascinating little town. Rare in the Bahamas, Spanish Wells has an almost entirely white population. The inhabitants are mostly of English and Scotch descent. Their business is fishing and, apparently, business is good. This tiny island is responsible for a huge percentage of The Bahamas’ commercial fishing catch and most of that is lobster. We saw several pallet loads of neatly packaged, frozen lobster tails amounting to several thousand pounds. Mmmmmmm!
The densely populated town is two blocks wide and 30 blocks long. All of the houses are exceptionally well maintained; freshly painted and trimmed in tropical colors, with pretty, well-tended gardens and neat lawns. There is almost no trash. Even the storm sewers are clean!
Last year, Bob & Bev had met Jean & Tom Goldson (Amadon Light) who spend their winters in a home in Spanish Wells. They welcome all cruisers into their home and even maintain a treasured book exchange. We found their home and paid them a visit. The house had been vacant and hurricane damaged when they bought it three years ago. It’s taken them three full years to rebuild it but they’ve turned it into an inviting small cottage.
Since this is a lobstering town, we reasoned that we should seek out some lobster for dinner. Roger & Elaine (Doc No More) had taken a mooring, also, so Bill, Sandy and Bob set out to buy some lobster. After a couple of false starts, we found “Bert’s dock” at the end of the creek. We had to wait a while for the boat to get in from fishing. We got to watch as they cleaned their catch of a hundred or so lobsters. We purchased six tails (4 lbs.) for $52. Doc No More has a huge grill so Bill split the tails and we grilled them on their boat. It was all we could do to finish them off! Life is good!
A few miles away is the resort area of Harbor Island. The route from Spanish Wells passes through a difficult reef called Devil’s Backbone. We decided to take the daily high speed ferry that comes from Nassau to spend a day at Harbor Island.
While waiting for the ferry, we spoke to the crew of a large fishing boat that was about to unload their catch. The lobster season ends tomorrow and all 32 boats in the fleet were expected within a day or two. The crew were very friendly and well spoken. They told us that each of the nine crew members owns an equal share in the boat. They usually go out for five weeks at a time on the banks to get lobster. Most of them are caught on artificial reefs (hotels) that the fishermen construct and place themselves. Almost all of their catch is sold to the Red Lobster restaurant chain.
The FastFerry arrived right on schedule, at 9:40, discharged some passengers, boarded a few and off we went. This ferry travels at 35 mph which is really fast. There were large swells from the north and the ride was wild. We just flew through Devil’s Backbone Reef, extremely close to the beach and to the reefs. It was like a Disney ride. But the stakes were high and the outcome less certain. We made it!
Harbor Island is a high-end resort area. We rented a six-seater golf cart to tour the town. There are no high rise hotels here; just small, expensive, understated, resort hotels consisting mostly of private cottages. Harbor Island is known for its pink beach. We went. We looked. It sure seemed beige to us! On closer inspection, though, the fine sand contained lots of bits of pink coral. So, technically, it’s pink, but you have to use your imagination some. We did a bit of shopping (the place isn’t cheap) and had lunch. It is a nice place, but the ride there and back was the highlight.
On our return we were visited by Bradley, who owns the moorings and who collected the fee. Another full day. We were tired! We made grilled fish for dinner, along with roasted sweet potato and salad. It tasted great!
Sandy walked the entire island perimeter with Roger & Elaine (Doc No More); first the beach and then the roadway along the harbor. They met Bill at Teen Planet where Bill did e-mail (DSL connection @ $1 per 30 minutes … cheapest and best yet!). We then crossed the street for breakfast at the Gap, a neighborhood diner-like place that was really good.
We returned to the boat and took her to one of the town’s fuel docks where we filled the water, diesel and dinghy tanks. It was lunch-time when we tied up and we were informed that we’d just have to wait until folks got back to do business. It’s great that there still are some places where people actually take lunch!
We were treated to a dolphin display that afternoon. A pod (about eight) dolphins spent the entire afternoon and evening messing about in the mooring area. That evening we celebrated the happy hour aboard Foreclosure, including folks from Starshine, Amadon Light, and Doc No More. Returning to the boat we read and listened to the sounds of the dolphins surfacing and breathing as they continued to do whatever it is that dolphins do.