20 April, 2016
Boy, do I have a sore butt! I know, T.M.I. We hopped on our bikes today after a hiatus of, maybe 3 months. We thought Lighthouse Beach at the south end of Eleuthera, was about 8 miles away. Well……. When we hit 8 miles, we were still in the interior of the island. Another mile got us to the beginning of the 3.2 mile, brutal, rocky, rutted, washed-out road (?) out to the light. Boy, was it worth it! (Check out the pics). We shared our peanut butter sandwich, fruit, and nuts on the deserted beach which is purported to be one of the most beautiful in the world. We walked a couple of miles on the sugar-fine beach, helping ourselves to the bounty of sand dollars that had washed up during the previous week of heavy winds. Returning home, we paid the rent at the marina office, polished some stainless steel, and planned our trip up the coast of Eleuthera and to the Abacos. Our plan is to start tomorrow (the 21rst) morning.
So…let’s back up. After the kids left, we headed back to Emerald Bay Marina to get the laundry done and clean up the rest of the boat. A one-day stay was all it took, and we were off to Cat Island again, this time to Arthur’s Town, boyhood home of the actor Sidney Poitier. We were off the dock at 06h52, and were anchor down at Arthur’s Town eleven hours later. The trip across the Sound was gorgeous-sunny, 1’ seas, 10 knot winds, 80 degrees. We laid on the roof of the pilothouse while Otto drove. Freezers were full, so no lines wet. At Cat, we were the only boat anchored in the bay. Thought it’d be a quiet night-not so much. Julia’s restaurant had a little tiki hut by the beach, and the locals were ROCKIN’! The music was great, and they were done by 23h00, so it saved us having to pick out tunes on the boat. We dropped the tender in the morning to go ashore. It took awhile to find a spot to land, as the shore was pretty rocky, and there were no docks. Finally, we found a little sandy beach about a half mile south of town. It wasn’t ideal, but we put out a stern anchor and tied the bow to a tree on shore, holding the boat off. Arthur’s was a sleepy little village. I’m guessin’ not more than 50 people living there. We stopped at Cocktails by the Sea, and had a Coke under the palapa while we talked to Grammy. She was about 80-ish, and had lived in A Town her whole life. At one time, it had been booming. Had a big pier where the “mail boat” came in, bringing supplies for the rest of the coast. A big storm took out the dock, it was rebuilt elsewhere, and the town slowly spiraled down. Now, she says, only old people live there. No jobs, the kids move away to find work. (sounds a lot like Newfoundland). She also gave us her take on the current government, and the local gossip. Suz and I didn’t verify this, but she told us that Bahamians couldn’t vote unless they had a passport or a birth certificate. The only place to get these official documents is in Nassau. Most people here are so poor that they never get off the island. Soooo….. Most can’t vote. Interesting. We moved on, and visited with Emily Rolle, who had a small shack on the edge of town where she sold straw goods that she had made. I spotted a couple of recycled liquor bottles with a red liquid in them, and asked her what it was. “21 Gun Salute”. “Okay, so what’s that?” “You know, when de man geds a bit oweder, he jus’ get’s a bit tired, you know? He jus’ needs a bit o’ peppin’ up. Dis be makin’ him feel a bit frisky again, so makin’ wife happy”. “So, are you saying that it puts a little lead in his pencil?” Big smile. “Yeah, dat’s it!” So the conversation goes on, and we discover that Emily’s Mom taught her how to make this stuff, and she got quite a name for herself. A guy on Great Exuma who made “Salute” got together with her, and they combined recipes. Same for another guy who hailed from New Providence. Her potion is now the culmination of many years’ experience times three. Some doctor in Great Britain tested it, and says it works better than Viagra. Emily asked if we wanted some. The Admiral told her in no uncertain terms that the boat was too small already. We bought some baskets. We figured that we had exhausted A Town, so at 14h46 we were up anchor, and on our way to Half Moon Cay, formerly known as Little Salvador. Holland America Cruise Lines bought the island, and renamed it Half Moon. There was some chatter on the internet about whether or not private vessels were allowed to anchor there, with a story of a sailboat being chased out. Suz called “Veda L”, another Krogen, that we had passed several days earlier for the scoop. They were based out of Eleuthera, so we figured that they’d know. They said “no problem”. “We just call on the VHF and ask permission. Never had a problem”. We arrived, we called, we got no answer, so we were anchor down by 17h50. The anchorage was a little surgey, but with the flopper stopper down, we had a comfortable night. At 09h30, the “Carnival Glory” came around the point, and dropped anchor about a half mile away, ready to disgorge her thousands of passengers for a day of sun and fun on the island. By 09h52, we were on our way, lines wet.
Between Half Moon and Eleuthera, there is an underwater ridge that is from 10-15 fathoms deep. On the Atlantic side, and on the Exuma Sound side of the ridge, the depths drop to hundreds of fathoms. This is where the big fish like to hunt. This shallow ridge also causes the waves to pile up as they roll in from the Atlantic. The forecast was for 2’-4’ seas, but when we got to the Bridge Ridge, they were a tad bigger. Suz was driving, and as I walked up to the pilothouse after tending the lines, she exclaimed “Oh, shit!” She was looking over her right shoulder towards the ridge. A wave was rolling toward us that I couldn’t see over. In fact, I was looking at the junction of the middle and upper third of the wave from where I stood, nearly 13 feet above the water. All we could do was hang on, as it rolled under our starboard beam. It was a real “cupboard cleaner”. Dishes flew out of the cabinets, the countertop was cleared, fruit was rolling around the floor, and the furniture was stacked against the port wall. I went below to get things in order, and no sooner than I got back to the pilothouse, one of the reels was screamin’ out line. “Dammit! What do you want me to do?" I figured that if we headed downsea, I wouldn’t get thrown out of the cockpit if we encountered another biggerthanaverage wave. Well, that Wahoo jumped once, threw the hook, and was on his merry way. I rebaited, got the line back in. Meanwhile, Suzanne had adopted the strategy of tacking back and forth, so the waves weren’t on the beam. Never saw another wave that big, most were in the 6’-8’ range, with a few 10 footers thrown in. We got two more bites, but were only able to boat a smallish (32”) Mahi. As we were pulling in the lines a few miles south of the Davis Harbor entrance, we passed by a Bahamas Defense Force cutter. She was at anchor over a bank, in about 60’ of water. “What the……." Suz grabbed the binocs to check them out. They were bottom fishing! Three guys were leaning over the rail, handlining. As we watched, one of them hauled in a good-sized Red Snapper, threw him in the cooler. Well, I guess they gotta eat too.
Davis Harbour reminded us of “Old Florida” and the marina at Great Harbour, in the Berry Islands. It was pretty cozy, and we immediately felt right at home. First day, the 18th, was occupied with chores. The Girl needed a good scrubbin’ after her salt water bath. The internet here is lightning fast compared to the past month or so, so I was able to finally get some pictures up. The next day, we rented a car from Mr. Theophilus Morley, who brought the car to the harbor. As I drove him back to his home, he told me about his kids and grandkids. I was losing count, so I asked him how many kids he had. “21, and 49 grandchildren”. “No way”. “Well, I don’t drink, and I don’t smoke, but when I was a young man, I had a lot of girlfriends”. I guess so. Suz and I drove up the island, visiting The Island School, Rock Sound, Governor’s Harbor, the blue hole, and various sights along the way, returning to the Girl around dinnertime.
This is getting’ kinda long-winded, so I’ll tell you about The Island School later.