Thursday, January 13, 2011

Eleutheran Adventures

Thursday, 13 January, 2011

Sorry to be so slow updating our blog but internet access has been elusive of late.
We did manage to cross over to Eleuthera last Wednesday, January  5th along with our friends on Messenger.  The seas were near perfect for the crossing from Little Harbour, Abacos to Royal Island just to the northwest of Eleuthera.  We hoisted the anchor around 6:30 AM on that Wednesday and were safely anchored at Royal Island around 4:00  that evening.

Royal Island is currently under development by a corporation which includes Roger Staubach, we're told.  There are plans for a hotel, golf course and the usual amenities of a Caribbean resort.  The upshot of all these developments is that they don't allow cruisers to go ashore anymore, which is a shame.  We would have loved to explore the area's beaches, etc. rather than just sit at anchor and observe the shoreline.  It did prove to be a fairly good spot to sit out the gale which arrived Thursday evening around 8:00.  We'd had a very good day up to that point, with bread baking and good books.  Once the wind started howling, it was like something out of a bad Hitchcock movie......awful winds, rain and then lightning and thunder.  Our good friends on Messenger had the misfortune of a dragging anchor just after 9:15 and it was heart-wrenching to watch their struggles without being able to help at all.  Luckily, they got the anchor reset fairly quickly and all was well for the rest of the night.  Scott started our motor (just in case) and sat up for much of the night since he was afraid our anchor would drag as well.  God bless the Bruce anchor!!

We stayed at Royal Island until Saturday morning when the weather improved enough so we could cross over to Spanish Wells.....about an hour east.  This is a very neat little island with hard-working folk....fishermen mostly.  They account for 70% of the lobster and conch fished in the whole Bahamas and, we're told, they provide all the lobster for the Red Lobster chain back home.  Their boats are spotlessly clean, their houses and yards tidy, the people friendly.  We loved being there 2 days at a marina and enjoyed spending time with our buddies from Messenger and Endurance.

Monday morning was sunny and warm and we decided to head south with Messenger in our efforts to reach the Exumas.  We had another great motoring day over to Hatchet Bay.  Current cut wasn't bad at all since we reached there at slack tide.  Despite our worries, it was easy.  We had beautiful aquamarine water and lots of flying fish on our journey there and arrived around 4:00.  Our friend from Kalara came over to say there would be a happy hour gathering at a local bar/restaurant overlooking the anchorage......needless to say, we quickly lowered the dinghy into the water and made our way over for the get-together.  It's always fun on our journey meeting new people.  We had a lovely view of the sunset over the harbour and met alot of nice folks, some of whom winter there at Hatchet Bay every year.  It was fun visiting with Liz and Ian from Kalara.....we love spending time with them and are sorry they won't be going to the Exumas this year.  Maybe next year?

The next morning, we hoisted the anchor just after 7:00 for our run to Rock Sound.  Coming out of the harbour, it's rocky so I went forward to the bow to watch for submerged hazards.  The water was crystal clear on this beautiful, sunny morning and I looked over the bow to see 3 gorgeous spotted Eagle rays off our starboard side.  They were so near the surface and so clear.....amazingly beautiful creatures!  Unfortunately, in my efforts to help Scott see them, I scared him to death since he thought I was pointing to rocks!  Oh, well......

We arrived in Rock Sound around 2:00 and have found the town interesting.  The weather is forcing us to stay here a few days and we are discovering new things here daily.  There is the wonderful library where we have internet access;  it was a Methodist manse along time ago and then a medical clinic.  But it was in disrepair and condemned when the townspeople decided to raise money and give it a facelift.  It is now a beautiful, 2-story structure with a wonderful computer lab and heavy, old-English looking furniture.  The locals should be very proud of their work here as it is a wonderful facility.  We also discovered a brand-new laundromat here yesterday, run by a lovely local lady.  Her sister lives in Columbia, SC -- our hometown.  What are the chances??

Our friends on Endurance are due to arrive in this harbour later today and we look forward to that reunion.  We are all hoping to head down to the Exumas this Saturday, weather permitting.  In the meantime, we are enjoying Rock Sound and the many blue holes here in the harbour.  We met a young couple yesterday and gave their rowboat a tow as they were headed over to a large blue hole for a diving trip.

We will keep you posted on our crossing to the Exumas when that day comes.  Until then, keep warm and enjoy the snow!

A photo of the waterfront at Spanish Wells.  Each large boat goes out with 4-5 small "Carolina Skiff" type boats in tow.  The smaller boats collect the lobsters from the floor of the banks and bring them back to the large boat.

The shoreline at Royal Island behind Messenger.  The edges are rough limestone which has weathered and eroded over the years.

A brightly-colored office/ business in Spanish Wells.  I just loved the shutters!

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