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Spanish Wells

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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
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