The Exumas to Eleuthera

Sunday morning we watched the sunrise over Highbourne Cay before we motored our way out through the narrow and dog-legged cut for the 45 mile run to Eleuthera.

Sunrise over Highbourne

The forecast was perfect – 15 knots of breeze from the South East and small seas.   The minute we cleared through the cut we realised that the forecast was a tad optimistic.  The wind quickly picked up to 20-25 knots from the North East and the seas were big….

Big seas

This meant that our rhumb line was pretty much direct into the wind – so we raised reefed sails and attempted to climb above it. This put us straight into the rough seas and we took green water over the bow many a time, making slow progress although being pushed down.   We then tacked hoping for better boat speed as the waves were hitting our port quarter rather than stopping us head on. But it was dire and a storm was brewing ahead of us, the wind was steadily increasing, and it was looking really nasty – and our ETA was now into the hours of darkness….

Here comes a storm

We decided to abort – this is madness – and ran for cover.  So we checked the nearest widest cut back onto the Exumas bank – which was Wax Cay Cut. And, of course, by now the tide was ebbing into a strong North Easterly which meant standing waves at the cut – no choice got to get to shelter – so we motored through some horrendous conditions and breathed a very big sigh of relief to get back into the relative calm of the Exuma banks once again.

Horrendous conditions

We decided we might as well carry on back to Warderick Wells to improve the angle of our future sail to Eleuthera, whenever that might be!!!   So we enjoyed brisk sailing conditions and picked up a mooring ball behind Emerald Rock at 2.30 pm – a 39.3 mile passage to nowhere!!!   The sun came out temporarily for a photo opportunity but then the heavens opened again – you really cannot believe that it was the same day.  We ended up with a wet, windy, miserable afternoon and evening on board but at least we were safe….Safe behind Emerald Rock

Monday morning we listened to Chris Parker on the SSB and the weather forecast was looking good so decided to try again…… and the rainbow suggested better weather ahead.

Rainbow to wake up to

We slipped our mooring ball at 7.15 and motored our way out through the Warderick Wells Cut in the Exuma Sound. By 9.00 am we had a squall coming at us……and then it cleared…..and then another one brewed. We were beating into the wind at 45 degrees and were having a good sail but were getting a bit fed up with the constant reefing of the genoa to cope with the erratic wind speeds.   So we decided to put it away and sail on staysail and double reefed main only. Well, it worked like a dream, the boat flattened, we picked up speed and made good way into quite a big bouncy sea…

Bouncy conditions

We were enjoying ourselves – although we recognised that the conditions were not ideal so were wearing life jackets and were harnessed into the cockpit – and I even got a picture of Richard smiling…..

Happy sailor

At noon we had land ahoy – Cape Eleuthera – and finally had our anchor down in Rock Sound, Eleuthera, at 4.30 pm having completed a quite challenging 50 mile passage. We had an early night having watched a lovely sunset.

Cape Eleuthera

Goodnight Rock Sound

Tuesday morning and we nursed dink ashore – tying to the broken down pier remains – and wandered into the settlement.  We spoke by phone to a recommended mechanic but he wouldn’t travel to us – and we were quite a long way away from him – so we decided to leave it for now. We found a nice coffee shop that had wifi so got ourselves caught up.

Rock Sound Morphie in the anchorage

Coffee and wifi shopThen we filled up our diesel jerry cans and took them back to Morphie. Then we walked to the supermarket, the bank, and the liquor store – wow, it was a long way – but pleasantly surprised by the size of the store and the reasonable prices!!!   On the way we came across a hearse that looked like something straight out of the Blues Brothers.

Main road Blues brothers Proper shops

We stocked up on drinking vouchers and then went shopping before making the very slow and hot walk back to the dock – our knuckles were grazing the floor by the time we got back to dink LOL….   But the occasional shower cooled us off!   Jobs done – back on board and purchases stored – and we went back out again. This time we found Sammys Restaurant and had a fantastic very late lunch and a few beers before heading back to Morphie for another early night….

Wednesday morning and we headed into town to talk to the tailor we had found.   When we had Morphie fitted out for cruising we had sunscreens made – and chose a wide meshed product. Well, we made a mistake….. They do keep the worst of the sun out but it doesn’t give us a shady cockpit.

Sun blinds before

So when we were home we managed to buy some rip stop material to line them with and have been looking for someone to do this for us ever since….   Gibson and Sons were happy to do it – for a reasonable price – so we dropped the stuff off to them. Oh yes, and I ordered two cockpit cushions at the same time as they had plain dark blue sunbrella material in stock – something I have wanted for a long time, but Richard always thought they were too expensive for what they were.   Well, this time the price was right, yay!!!

We then went to the laundry we had found the day before and enjoyed our chat with the guy who owned it.   He was very proud of his British education, his sporting achievements and his daughters who were all professional women – as in teachers, doctors etc.   We also found out that the lack of rum shops and bars was due to the very (diverse) religious upbringing of the local Bahamians. In fact this island was originally settled by British Eleutherians seeking religious freedom.  Finished with the laundry we headed off back to Sammys again and, although we weren’t planning it, we couldn’t resist the pull of their great food…..   Back on board we went without dinner before retiring for the night.

Thursday morning and we put ourselves to work.   Morphie has looked after us really well in recent times…. so it is time she got our attention. We did a spring clean down below including polishing all the wood – and did most of the stainless.   In the afternoon we went back to the tailors and he had finished – yay – and they looked fantastic!   Very pleased we returned to Morphie and reinstalled the screens – what a difference. We now have a cool shady place to read in the afternoons and really nice cushions to lean on too…

Sun blinds after New cockpit cushions

New blinds make shady cockpit

Later on we headed back into town and wandered around admiring St Luke’s Anglican Church, the beautiful flowers and manicured gardens, the ancient old buildings and the broken down abandoned properties….. They do like their bright coloured buildings too!!!

Ancient homes Flowers Post Office Flowers 2 Abandoned old house Flowers 3 St Lukes Flowers 4 Bright colours Old houses

We then went to the Ocean Hole – 600 feet deep linked to the ocean via caverns so is filled with salt water – very strange to see saltwater fish swimming around inland – check out the beautiful French angelfish.

Ocean Hole 1 Ocean Hole 3 Ocean Hole 2 Ocean Hole 4

We then went back to Morphie for a quiet afternoon on board reading in our cool shady space.   Very happy crew!   We didn’t go ashore again – had dinner – and watched the most spectacular sunset which came before the formation of storm clouds away in the distance and we then witnessed lightning strikes on the sea but, thankfully, this storm headed away from us.

Goodnight Rock Sound 2 Goodnight Rock Sound 3 Storm clouds forming

This morning – Friday – and we are still working hard.   Stainless steel polishing is finished and Richard has just returned from the liquor store laden with wine – so we are fully provisioned up again now LOL as we got rum and beer the other day.   The birds are in the rigging again – they are pretty and very tuneful – but they do make a mess as they leave us presents on deck!

Bird in the rigging

We plan a relaxing afternoon before heading over to Echo Echo – an Australian boat – who have invited us for sundowners later…..

Tomorrow – in our sparkling clean boat! – we are heading off to visit Alice Town followed by a stop at the Glass Window, a local beauty spot.   Looking forward to more exploring….

Bye for now