Exploring Eleuthera

Saturday morning we were up early and picked up anchor for the 38 mile passage along the coast of Eleuthera towards our next destination Hatchet Bay / Alice Town.   The sail was just perfection – a reach across beautiful blue waters – and all too soon we were getting close, were dodging fish trap floaties, and approaching the narrow entrance into Hatchet Bay.

Beautiful coloured water Approaching the cut into Hatchet Bay

The entrance is carved though a high rocky cliff and you only spot the opening when you are almost upon it.   We put away the sails, turned in, and went for it – avoiding the shoals and rocks on the starboard side as you enter – meaning we were pretty close to the cliffs on the port side.

Not a lot of room Not a lot of room 2

Once safely inside the ‘pond’ as the locals call it – we worked out way towards the Government dock to pick up a mooring.  Still having a poorly outboard we want to get as close to the dinghy landing as possible. The moorings are reasonably priced and although the ground tackle was good the painter wasn’t – so we ended up doing a dance backwards and forwards to get two ropes through two separate swivels attached to the ball to give us some peace of mind.  Great – job done.   What a nice chilled place.

Morphie tied up....

We were surprised to see the huge Nassau ferry in port – how does he get that boat through that cut???!!!???

Nassau ferry

We had been contacted by the Front Porch via the VHF as they now own the moorings. So we nursed dink around the back of the ferry towards the dinghy landing – bit of a different view looking up through his hulls….   We also went past a few old boats that have definitely not moved for quite a while – and one actually had a bird sitting on her nest on the anchor roller…..

He's a big boy Nexting in a bow roller

We tied up and went ashore and up to the Front Porch. Which is actually a really nice seafood restaurant overlooking the pond.

Front Porch, seafood restaurant

So that was it – we decided to stay – and had a fantastic meal. I had the grouper with the mango salsa and Richard ate the biggest stone crab claws I had ever seen!   Great food and service and we returned to Morphie pretty full up for an early night.

Grouper dinner Size of that crab!

On Sunday after a leisurely start we went for a wander around Alice Town – the settlement that is on the south eastern shore of the pond.  On the way we admired the dead boat tied to the harbour wall – not sure why they just leave them there to rot….   And we liked the official ‘welcome’ to the Home of the Country’s Safest Harbour which sat on the roundabout to the Queen’s Highway.

Dead boat Welcome

This is the first Bahamian village we have come across that is visibly poorer than other communities we have visited so far – the housing is wooden, old, with many boarded up and abandoned…. Lots of abandoned building projects too….  Those homes that were occupied were very shabby and it was clear that many of them did not have running water inside their homes as the washing up was being done outside on tables along with hair washes etc.

Abandoned or partially built Poor housing

Moving on we came to the Seaside Bar and Takeaway and went inside but, as usual, full of men. The advantage of this place though was that there were some benches overlooking the ocean so we sat down and enjoyed the view with a cold beer.   Whilst we were chatting we realised that the boat tied to the tree was taking on water in a big way.

Taking on water

Richard told Kevin – the bar owner – and he rushed off to tell the owner of the little speedboat. By now the water is lapping the speakers in the cockpit and a few things have floated away. Then two jeeps drove up at speed and two guys jumped into the water…. But they were clearly struggling to hold the boat into the waves while attempting to get the pump running etc. So Richard did his international rescue thing by holding the boat for them so they could man the bilge pump…..

International rescue

Of course this attracted an audience and Kevin came and sat with me while all this was going on – and I found out that his family have owned this bar for three generations and his eldest son will inherit, once he has retired from the police force. He is actually in the Police Band that we saw in Georgetown at the family regatta – what a small world eh???   Anyway…. Back to the rescue…..   Richard is finally told to let go while the guy takes off and the rasta heads off in his truck. Did they say thank you? Of course not….   But the rest of the audience were impressed by my very wet hero and Kevin actually gave him a beer for free…..   So at least someone appreciated his efforts!

The soaking wet hero Kevin the bar owner

Heading back – with Richard drying out as we went – we went into the Front Porch for an internet fix and a final beer. But the internet there is really quite poor – great speed one minute, drops out the next. All very frustrating as I wanted to phone my mum but this just wasn’t a decent enough signal.   Oh well, will try again tomorrow.

Monday morning and we are gave Morphie some love – this time it was the varnish ‘keepers’ that kept us entertained.   Later on we headed back into town and spotted the fantastic antique fire engine – obviously very cherished as all its metal was sparkling.   We also admired the great trees on our route and the view of the gap in the cliffs back out to the banks – which looks much bigger from this angle.   Nothing was open as it was a Bank Holiday – not sure if they celebrate the US’s Memorial Day or the UK’s Whitsun – but we’d completely forgotten about that.

Fire truck Love these trees Love these trees 2Gap out of the bay from the road

We found another bar tucked away – and enjoyed all the comings and goings of the crew and guests who were waiting for the ferry to leave.   We enjoyed just sitting and people watching – and eventually headed back to the Front Porch to try the internet again.   Rubbish – no good – sorry mum!   We had really enjoyed our time here in this very quiet little hamlet.

Two Brothers bar

Tuesday morning and we left Hatchet Bay bound for the Glass Window, a short 10 mile passage.

Goodbye Hatchet Bay

Along the way the western coast has miles of rugged imposing bluffs with the occasional tiny beach emerging behind the rocks.   We spotted one area which looked like a very nice holiday resort – a lot of houses built into the top of cliffs – and Gregory Town just visible behind a small natural basin.   Great scenery……and another great sailing day….

Coast of Eleuthera Great sailing Coast of Eleuthera 2

The Glass Window is a distinctive geographical feature in North Eleuthera which is a bridged breach at the island’s narrowest part. On its Atlantic Ocean side – where the reef is not continuous – the waves gnawed at this weak point and broke the island’s natural bridge in two.   A bridge was then constructed but this got hit by a huge rogue wave in 1991 and was knocked seven feet to the west.   Hard to imagine the power of that wave!     We went as close as we could in Morphie – but the water is pretty shallow here – and unfortunately the waves were not really hitting the Atlantic side so the full impact wasn’t seen of the view across the banks to the rough waters beyond.

Glass Window

Having taken in the sights we dropped back down the coast to Goulding Bay and found a fantastic beach to anchor off of…..with protection from the easterly tradewinds.   We anchored, relaxed for a while, and then went ashore. There were a few people about from the private houses that were dotted along the shoreline – but for the most time we had a private bobbing paradise.   Fantastic – thoroughly enjoyed ourselves….

Private paradise Bobbing Own private beach

Quiet night on board after a moody sunset.

Goodnight Eleuthera

This morning (Wednesday) we picked up our anchor to make the 34 mile trip to Spanish Wells.  This requires going through the Current Cut which needs to be carefully timed to ensure the currents are right….   The wind was much stronger than forecast – again – and the seas were pretty lively.   We had a very rolly downwind sail and, as we approached the cut, we spotted something in the distance and couldn’t work it out…. It looked for a while like a seaplane….   Eventually we realised that it was a fishing boat and it was in the cut – not great for us – so we radioed him to see what his intentions were. And, of course, they declined to answer.   We carried on navigating through the channel towards the cut and then realised that, actually, he was anchored just outside of it so nothing to worry about. Phew!

Fishing vessel

Richard was concentrating hard on the helm while I just watched the depth constantly…..   We were an hour before low tide so had some current running with us and we met a trawler coming the other way – but got through easily and admired the view of the constantly moving shallow sand flats along the coast.

Concentrating! Heading towards current cut Turning into the cut Shifting sand flats

We then had to punch our way into the wind – which continued to strengthen – and was now gusting 27 knots.   And the seas were pretty big too….   Not sure why this keeps happening to us LOL.  Anyway… we managed to make it to the eastern end of Charles Island, through the bonefish flats, and picked up a mooring ball in the anchorage. There really isn’t anywhere to anchor close to Spanish Wells and we can’t do a long dinghy ride at the minute.

View across to Spanish Wells

We are hoping to be able to get our outboard fixed here – but have just found out that Wednesday is half-day closing – so we’ll not bother going ashore today….. Hopefully we’ll get things organised tomorrow and looking forward to exploring this town and the nearby Harbour Island – looks pretty prosperous from what we can see here in the anchorage.

Bye for now