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eleuthera

This tag is associated with 3 posts

Unhappy Barracuda, Laundry and Water

The weather has been very very windy.  It seems like the wind hasn’t calmed down for weeks.  We had a favorable breeze so we sailed from Hatchet Bay to Governors Harbour.  It was a wet and windy sail, but we made it in a few hours.  Governors Harbour is an old city that was once intended to be the capital of the Bahamas.  There are a few beautiful old churches and a nice government building right along the water.

The government building is home to a monument/spicket with a plaque commemorating the city water of Governors Harbour.  Free city water!  We took our collapsible water jugs and hose to fill up our water tanks.

Velocir holds about 80 gallons of water.  We have the original 30 gallon plastic Albin Vega water tank forward under the v-berth.  Then, just aft of this we put a soft plastimo water tank.  It is 40 gallons but with the limited space of that compartment we estimate having filled it about 30 gallons.  Our third water tank is a plastic 20 gallon tank located in our starboard cockpit section, giving it easy connection to the sink just feet away.  The two forward tanks are separated but also joined by a Y valve.  One hose is run aft to the sink to another Y valve that joins the cockpit tank.  This way if one tank becomes contaminated, springs a leak or has a problem we won’t loose all our water, just one tank.

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After filling our tanks in four runs, we had extra water for doing laundry.  Amelia used our bucket for washing and a collapsible plastic basin for rinsing.  Then, everything was hung up with clothespins to dry.  There was a lot of laundry in the pile!

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The next day another sailboat came into the harbor—the Schooner Liberty Clipper from Boston.  On our way out of the harbor headed for Rock Sound, we motored by and said hello.  We had some friends in common and it was nice to see another tallship again!

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The sail to Rock Sound was much calmer….it could even be described as relaxing and fun!!!  Grant caught a mackerel and a barracuda and Amelia caught a big barracuda!  Coming into Rock Sound its namesake became clear—there were quite a few rocks underwater (but clearly marked on our chart).

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After we anchored in Rock Sound the wind picked up again.  We settled into the boat down below playing card games, cribbage, reading books and making homemade bread.  (The price per loaf has exceeded Amelia’s max of $3.50 a loaf she is willing to pay).  Favorite bread making recipe site is, coincidentally, called:  www.cookingbread.com and their joint blog www.thekneadforbread.com.  All photos are amazing and I chose the Farmers Bread recipe, substituting maple syrup for molasses.  Very good!

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The next night we did something out of the ordinary.  We went on a date!!!  It was nice to have a special evening, watching the sunset together overlooking the water.  Grant picked the restaurant and it was great.  We were the only patrons there and ate conch quesadillas and shrimp pizza—yum!

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We came back to Velocir just before another squall went through.  The weather will improve tomorrow according to predictions and we will sail onward to the Exumas!

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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

Onward to Eleuthera- sailing southward

A really interesting site about Eleuthera history, ruins, caves and wrecks:  www.projecteleuthera.org

Back to work getting ready to sail southward to Eleuthera.  We filled Velocir up with food, fuel and propane.  We have been sailing to different places based on the wind and have not really used any fuel since we got here!!  But we did get some for the dinghy.

The produce boat had just come in and our fresh food was a treat.  We had lamb chops (from New Zealand) and fresh strawberries.  The next day we worked on the boat and waited for the right weather to sail to Little Harbor, our jumping off point for Eleuthera.Velocir

The sail to Little Harbor was relaxing and felt like a day sail.  We caught two barracuda.  One was huge—the other tiny!Beach Debris by Velocir

In the anchorage of Little Harbor, Abacos there is a sandy spot with a few trees ornamented with a collection of “treasures” washed up from the ocean beach on the other side—a short walk away.  Old floats, a diesel can and plastic bottles in as many shapes and sizes as you can imagine.  We took the path to the beach and looked for ourselves at what a modern beach strewn with plastic bottles and nets looks like.   There is so much trash that it is not trash, it is a scavenger hunt of lost items, only sadly they will never decompose.

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Of particular interest was a ??????? At first it looked like a plane because of the window, but on closer inspection it has a giant hook on the end of it and Amelia decided it was a rigid life raft from a cruise ship or something.  Hopefully she is wrong because, well…..this is all that was left of it.

The weather was holding up in the reports for our crossing at E 10-13 kts, moderating throughout the day. We left the next morning at sunrise.  The conditions were a little more choppy than anticipated but acceptable.  We don’t want Velocir to take on too much or else her foredeck is awash with water and she is plowing into the waves all day.  This was good enough that she wasn’t getting wet, and wasn’t losing boat speed.  Instead we were flying at 7-8 kts of speed with our main, reefed jib and engine on.  We were happy to motor and get there well before dark.

During the crossing our inflatable dinghy, Raptor, which was deflated and lashed to the shrouds, jumped ship after overcoming it’s ties and slipping through the lifelines.  On its way overboard it made a small thump Amelia didn’t think much of, but Grant looked back and saw what had happened.  (Possibly some expletives followed)  Luckily it was during the day and we could see!  We quickly brought in the jib and put the engine in neutral to slowly sail around and come up to windward of the floating blob.  Amelia was at the helm and couldn’t make it to windward, but got aside just downwind of it.  Grant reached over and grabbed it but it was so heavy and slippery he could not get a good hold.  We could see it was slowly sinking and taking on water.  Grant let the main sail down and Amelia revved up the engine, once again getting just downwind of it.  This time both Amelia and Grant reached over and were able to get a good hold.  It was tremendously heavy!  But we managed to drag it into the cockpit.  Luckily our boat is low on enough on the water that we were physically able to do this.  We are glad this story has a happy ending.  We love our dinghy and need it.  It will make us think twice about how we tie it down next time.  Just before we left Marsh Harbour in the Abacos a boat had lost their dinghy (towing it behind them) in the small Sea of Abaco and weren’t able to find it.  It could have easily been lost.

We anchored in Royal Sound, which is a protected anchorage just west of the popular town of Spanish Wells. It was earlier than we could have hoped, so we happily had dinner and went to bed.  The next day we went to explore the abandoned mansion on the island.  Getting our dinghy inflated was a bit more difficult because we first had to drain the tubes! Abandoned Mansion on Royal Island by Velocir

The mansion has a worn jetty that we tied up to.  It is very overgrown, but we could see that the steps leading up to it had long trellised gardens on one side.  The story is that the mansion was pretty spectacular, but sometime about 50 years ago the caretaker left and locals looted it.  Literally everything was taken from the buildings except for the blue tile throughout.  Not sure how true the story is of course.

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It was an open layout with many buildings.  The bathroom was separate from the living room, and there was a separate building with a bar table.  The doors had been taken off their hinges and the windows ripped out.  It must have been quite something once.  A large paved driveway and road led down to a larger jetty on the other side of the island.

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It was fun to explore, and we are looking forward to seeing Spanish Wells and other parts of Eleuthera.  A lot of cruisers don’t come here.  The protected anchorages can be few and far between, and in general we realize it is not as protected sailing as the Abacos.  With a limited schedule we would probably be in the more popular Exumas.  (A couple on a trawler randomly came up to us and asked if we wanted to buddy boat to the Exumas and when we said we weren’t going there they actually tried to pressure us!!)  But luckily we can travel where we like, and we’ve heard Eleuthera has some pretty spectacular beaches (even some with good surf) so we will be exploring here for a little while.Small Hermit Crabs by Velocir

Grant and his handful of mini-hermit crabs!

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