We stayed at Exuma Park for the Easter feast and it was well worth it. The staff provided ham and turkey while cruiser’s brought side dishes and desserts. It was a huge feast on the beach! In the evening we prepared the boat for the passage north to Eleuthra. Preparations include stowing any items that may fly about, lifting the dinghy on the davits, uncovering the mainsail and attaching the jack lines. I also prepare a bag of snacks to keep in the cockpit in case it’s too rough to go below.
We set our alarm clock for 6:15 and at first light, we left the mooring and headed out of the cut towards Eleuthra. We followed Lady of Lorien across the Exuma Sound while motor-sailing due to winds directly behind us. We had to keep our speed up to ensure enough daylight hours to stop for fuel at Cape Eleuthra marina and also make it through Current Cut. Both Merlin and Onward were also underway for the same destination but they left from Highborne Cay a few miles further north. Getting up to the fuel dock was an adventure as there was only one lady working there and she was not there to help us with our lines on our first approach. We quickly topped off our fuel and water tanks. While paying in the store we also went a little crazy and bought ice cream and Fritos at exorbitant prices. That’s what being away from supermarkets will do to you!
Mike and Angie caught 2 fish on the stretch along the coast of Eleuthra. A dolphin visited us along the way and swam in front of the boat for a while. It looked like he was showing us the way! Arriving at Current Cut at almost slack tide made it an easy passage through. The 4 boats anchored just on the other side of the cut as the sun dipped low in the sky. While preparing to lower the anchor, I noticed that the windlass was acting ‘funny’. Sure enough, the switch that was only working for the ‘up anchor’ shorted out and kept shutting the motor off. After getting the anchor set, Skip and I worked into the night to wire the windlass switch to the already jury-rigged switch. Now we have to operate the windlass using a small toggle switch protected by a plastic bag and duct tape. I sure hope it lasts until we get home and can replace the entire unit!
The weather reports for the next few days from Chris Parker and the GRIBs were not consistent. After a discussion on the radio, we decided to leave early the next day for the Abacos. If the seas or winds were too much, we could decide to abort the trip and head into Royal Harbor. Since we are both smaller and lighter than the other 3 boats, we need to consider those differences in how comfortable we will be in either strong winds or big seas.
Well, the trip across to the Abacos can be described in one word–AWFUL! It was dead downwind with confused seas coming from 3 different directions. I took precautions for seasickness and was pretty much drugged for the day. Bailey and I spent most of the day sitting on the cockpit floor where we had the least amount of rolling and I could doze without having to hold onto the sides. It was never dangerous but definitely not fun! Everyone else also thought that it was there worst crossing experience in the Bahamas. This is a good gauge for us–if we could make that trip and that’s one of the worst we’ll see, we’re doing fine! It was mostly the confused seas that were a problem. Neither the waves nor wind were very high but constantly being buffeted with seas from different directions without a consistent wind to push us through made it very rolly.
Once we came through Little Harbor cut, the seas were calm–ahhh! We were looking forward to naps and dinner since neither of us ate very much during the day. Anchoring in Snake Cay was problematic. Lady of Lorien gave up after 3 tries and went back to Buckaroon Bay. We finally got the anchor set on the 4th try. By then, I was exhausted and cranky. Joe invited us over for drinks but we declined. After a quick dinner we turned in early. I think I was asleep by 8pm!
A strange storm came over in the middle of the night. There was lightening flashing everywhere and a burst of rain but very little thunder or strong winds. We both got up and put on foul weather gear to keep watch in the cockpit. None of us dragged so we checked in on the radio and went back to sleep. The boat was nice and clean in the morning!
It was a short trip up to Marsh Harbor in the morning. The anchorage was crowded and as we went by our friends on Bonnie Lass, they pointed out a spot near them where a boat had left. It’s strange to be anchored so close to other boats after 3 months of cruising in the Exumas. This is just like the Rhode River on a holiday weekend! We walked around on shore and visited the shops (nothing special) and the grocery store–heaven!! In the evening we enjoyed the rib buffet at the Jib Room along with their specialty drinks – bilge burners! We were sad that Ed and Tina couldn’t make it as Ed had caught the same bug that Tina just had and was sick all day.
After dinner they had music and dancing. The music was local ‘rake and scrape’ which consisted of a guy singing along with recorded music and playing a rusty saw with a phillips head screwdriver. You have to see it! We danced until they brought out the limbo stick. A Bahamian guy amazed us as he went lower and lower under the stick until it was only about a foot off the ground. After doing it once, he went through again under a pole lit with fire!
We had another exciting night as a squall line went through Marsh Harbor bringing thunder, lightening and strong winds. Bailey was troubled all night because I think he could sense it coming. We put on our foulies again and watched as the boats turned every which way in the harbor. We came close to another boat while swinging and did start the engine as a precaution but, thankfully, came through okay.
Both Onward and Merlin left this morning to visit Hopetown. We are staying in Marsh Harbor until tomorrow and will move to Orchid Bay marina on Great Guana Cay. We plan to meet up again with them at Nipper’s on Sunday for the pig roast ( and lots of frozen Nippers–yum!) We decided to wait until our marina stay to do laundry and went ashore with Mike and Angie to sample the cheeseburgers at the Golden Grouper. They were good–a 9.5 on Skip’s scale. Angie found M&Ms at the soda store so we stopped there to resupply. I won’t admit how much I paid for a large bag of M&Ms! We also went to the liquor store and bought some more Mount Gay rum and some Bombay Saphire gin (for a change of pace.)
Coming back to the boat, our outboard failed one time too many. Skip and Mike just schlepped it over to the Mercury shop for service. Skip had ordered a service manual but it was shipped home and we don’t have any documentation on board. We really need to get it working reliably again! At least we’re someplace that has service. They said they can fix it and we can pick it up on Monday.
Dinner tonight is on Lady of Lorien–freshly caught mackeral!!