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velocir on the prowl
Leisure, Sailing

Spanish Wells, Hatchet Caves, Governors Harbour

We left Royal Island for a nice short sail to the island community of Spanish Wells. After several weeks of being out in the more rural islands, Spanish Wells’ bustling industry and community were a welcome sight. The island supplies most of the conch, lobster, and fish for the Bahamas, so it has a huge fishing fleet and vibrant economy. The community stems mostly from a settlement of English Royalists that fled the US during the Revolutionary War and has become a very close knit community with a friendly small town atmosphere.

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We picked up a mooring as there was no good anchorage nearby and explored the town. We found a beautiful beach with silky sands and those wonderful Caribbean water colors.

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It was Grant’s birthday so we ate lunch at a local diner where we thought we were in the middle of a family reunion (seriously, we asked someone if there was an event going on). We went to the grocery store and splurged to get Grant a steak and mashed potatoes birthday dinner. After the groceries were put away we headed to the beach again, this time by dinghy. Amelia wished Grant a Happy Birthday Bahamas style.

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We read books in the shade of a palm tree and walked the beach for the afternoon. After a relaxing afternoon we had a wonderful dinner. Grant said it was one of his best birthdays ever.

After Spanish Wells we sailed down through current cut’s swirling waters and into the sounds on the leeward side of Eleuthera. We headed for Hatchet Bay, the most protected anchorage on the island. It boasted free government moorings and, as we learned from the internet, a huge historic cave with a mile of underground meanderings.

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What did we do our first day there but head straight for the caves.  We could not find a map of its location, but took our GPS along with coordinates. A long 3 mile hike along Eleuthera’s only highway we got an unsolicited ride from a nice young woman and were there in no time. Eleuthera is all limestone and has many caves and rock formations. The indigenous Lucayan people buried their dead in the caves and early settlers lived in them.

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We brought multiple flashlights and began wandering down through the caves. There was over 100 years of graffiti along its walls. Many from the 1890’s and turn of the century when this was apparently a popular destination. We loved walking around through the history and the natural beauty of it all.

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We traversed 2 of the 3 levels to the cave, not wanting to push our luck by exploring the lowest level with a couple feet of water in it. We decided it was worth coming to Eleuthera just to explore the cave. After we hiked back to the boat, we decided to go for a swim and salt water bath. The 30 foot cliffs along along the coast made for a wonderfully protected boat ride with lots of sea fans along clumps of rock washed from the cliffs. We saw many reef fish, a surprising number of jellyfish, and found a sea cave we could dinghy 40 yards into.

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The next day the expected North wind blew with some rain squalls in the morning. We did some chores on the boat and Grant went to explore some of the wrecked boats he saw piled up on the shore from a recent hurricane.

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Grant, tainted by his time at a wonderful used and consignment marine store: Bacon Sails and Marine Supplies, was surprised to see thousands of dollars worth of boat gear sitting in the sun on these wrecks. Hatches, winches, cleats, a wind generator, stainless gear, engines, and much more. (Grant took nothing)

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He also found the burned out shell of an old powerhouse with much of its equipment rusting in place.

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With no drop in wind expected for the next several days, we decided to head for Governors Harbour while the wind was still blowing 20 knots, but from a better direction than it would be later in the week.

Check out episode 4 of our “Day in the Life” video series:

04 A Day in the Life- Cruising Albin Vega Velocir 1-29-12
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About VELOCIR

Velocir is and Albin Vega 27 built in 1973. She has been redone and outfitted for world cruising by her owners Grant and Amelia.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Spanish Wells, Hatchet Caves, Governors Harbour

  1. OK, lots of questions on this one. First, the jelly fish…did you take that picture in the water? it looked like pink lightening was going on inside; is that what is was or was it just artifact of the camera? Fascinating!

    I liked the cave tour altho those low, crawly spaces are beyond me! It was very similar to the tour of limestone caves we went on in Greece. They were mostly full of water so it was a boat tour. Incredible ‘mites and ‘tites and the reflection in the crystal clear water was amazing. Becasue it was a tour, there were lights strung up. I’m not sure if I could have gone into the unknown quite so bravely as you two with just what my own light could show up! Looked like a great tour. Did you end up exiting up the ladder or go all the way back thru? How did you keep from getting lost? was it just a straight ahead cave?

    Uncle Dan can hardly stand looking at the clear water on the white sand with all the blue colors. He wants to go there so badly! we do leave for a week in San Los Cabos Baja (on the south tip) Saturday so we’ll get some beach time in soon! But too rough there to swim so it will be walkign the beach for us.

    So fun to see the video stuff! Thanks for sharing so much.
    PS> as a child of Grandpa Schiffer, I can understand Grant’s opinion and I would have had a hard time keeping my hands off all that abandoned “stuff”.

    Take care, have fun. Aunt Sandy

    Posted by Aunt Sandy | February 1, 2012, 19:13
    • Hi,
      We hope you have a wonderful time in Baja!!
      Looking forward to seeing pictures.
      In the video, the jellyfish was swimming by the dinghy. We noticed that these minnows were hiding out in the jellyfish so we put the camera in the water and taped that. The light came out later, but we’re not sure that is really the jelly. Probably the camera!
      The cave was actually really fun with the graffiti to keep us going.
      We were really glad we took our spotlight because otherwise I’m not so sure we would have been as fearless.
      It lit the whole place up more than you realize in the videos. We had two batteries for it so we knew when the first one went out we could still get back from where we were, but it wasn’t a problem because we went really slow the first time and we went back the same way pretty quickly. The ladder went up to a grassy area and Grant couldn’t really see a path so we went back through the cave. It was an easy walk. We were reassured by a bright orange string that ran all the way through the cave. I noticed in a few places it was messed up but it would have also gotten us out if all our lights had failed, and was a nice reminder we were going the right way. It was a pretty straight cave, with only two low places, one turn and one ladder climb. We also had our GPS with us and 3 back-up flashlights.
      It’s fun to share and read your comments!
      Love,
      Amelia and Grant

      Posted by VELOCIR | February 3, 2012, 12:41
  2. Very cool caves! And especially the sea cave! It looks like a scene from a movie or something…

    You know you are not in the U.S. when there isn’t an entrance fee or a a safety waiver, or a big commercialized shindig with plexiglass everywhere. What a special treat! and WOW what an adventure! I wish Alex and I could be there with you guys :)

    You both are so funny pretending to be folks from the early 20th century, and yeah, really neat to think about them in their petticoats tromping through there with their whale oil lamps.

    Stone waterfall is amazing…

    beautiful jelly fish

    <3

    Posted by Emily W. | February 3, 2012, 14:52

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