Apr 09 to Apr 16 2012

April 09, 2012

There are a lot of roosters here. I have never heard so many roosters in my life. There must have been 10 or 15 of them and they rooster party got started around 0300hrs. They are like a group of barking dogs; when one starts, the rest joined in a chorus of cock-a-doodle-doos. It cycled for about 10 minutes, then they were quiet for a while and then it started all over again. I actually had to put earplugs in so I could get back to sleep!

As we got into to town we saw roosters and chickens roaming around everywhere – no wonder they taste so good!! It’s a rooster’s life in the Bahamas.

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Here is the bane of my existence…he looks happy doesn’t he? I bet he slept well…

There are two parts to this island; Cupid’s Cay, which was founded in 1736 and was the home of the first parliament in the Bahamas. We spent some time walking around Cupid’s Cay, there isn’t too much to see here. It’s actually a shabby little settlement lining the shore of the Eleuthera.

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Steve checking out the house – it was filled with old beer bottles and trash…

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Well, it’s on the water…

We continued our walk to second part of the island; Governor’s Harbour, Home of Eleutherian Adventures and founded in 1648.

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Road from Cupid’s Cay to Governor’s Harbour

The guide said the walk up the hill is filled with colourful gardens and colonial homes. Our first taste as we entered this little community was of the pink community library.

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The town library

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Up the hill…

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An estate overlooking the water…

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Down the hill…lots of flowers

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Another home with ornate wood finishing’s…

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The homes are very well maintained and we can plainly see this is a wealthier area of the Eleuthera.

We walked by Ducky’s Inn which has an extensive orchid garden. Many are not in bloom at the moment but the ones that are, are certainly beautiful.

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Every plant in this picture is a different type of orchid!

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The garden watch cat!

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Diana at anchor in Governor’s Harbour

We spent the rest of the afternoon, sipping drinks and catching up on emails with the FREE WIFI we were able to pick up.

As the afternoon carried on we went from three boats to eight!! The crew from Rock Sound landed on us including Jerry and Ingo from Ladyhawk. We spent the evening with them admiring their wonderful boat – a Norseman 45’, sharing stories, snacks and drinks.

April 10, 2012

Our intention was to go to Hackett’s Bay but the weather was so nice we decided to continue to the most distinctive feature and narrowest part of the Eleuthera called the Glass Window. It also boasts to have the clearest water in the Eleuthera but first a look at the interesting shoreline. We are happy to have made the decision to continue passed Hackett’s Bay as the rocky hills and homes along the shore made for an enjoyable passage.

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Rocky coastline of the Eleuthera

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Do you see the face? In the middle of the hill – spooky!

We also found a few brave home builders who played “who could build their house closest to the edge” game…check this out!

 

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The have stairs dug out of the hill leading down to the water…

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On the left notice how deep into the rock they dug to make the steps…

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This one wins the game as the deck is past the edge of the rock…

We arrived at the Glass Window around 1500hrs with plenty of time to explore.

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The glass window is located on the top left of the map that says “Bridge”

This was once a natural bridge and was broken in two when waves crashing into it wore the stone away over the years. It was rebuilt but it too was destroyed when a rogue wave hit it in 1991. It is now repaired connecting the island back together again allowing its residents and visitors to flow freely through the island from end to end.  Remnants of the old bridge are still intact. Can you imagine how big that rogue wave must have been to displace this bridge!?!??!

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New bridge with remnants of the old one…see the "window" under the bridge

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View of the new bridge with the remnants of the old bridge on the right

It is called the Glass Window for the views of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Banks side. Here are some of the spectacular views from atop this bridge:

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The banks side – a crescent beach where we beached the dinghy to make the walk up to the topApril_10_Eleuthera_Coastline_Glass_Window_Steve_Rocks_on_Exuma_Sound_resized.jpg

View of the Atlantic Ocean

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View of Diana at anchor from the bridge

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View of under the bridge from the Atlantic side 

We slowly made our way back to the boat for another quiet evening on board Diana. Tomorrow we make for Spanish Wells.

April 11, 2012

I mentioned yesterday this spot has the clearest water in the Eleuthera – they were not exaggerating!

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We can clearly see all 90 feet of our anchor rode from our bow!!

The wind is supposed to be very light if nonexistent today which is perfect for our passage to Spanish Wells. We have to come through a very small cut called Current Cut that can be quite difficult if the winds are opposing the current or the current is in full flow. Timing is everything!!

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Map of Current Cut, we took the dog leg route along the island on the left.

Slack tide is around 1400hrs and we are two hours or so away – we left around noon.

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Entering Current Cut

Our timing was pretty good, the tide was still flooding a little so we only lost half a knot coming through the cut. It was not a problem! It was a very easy passage. Once we got close enough to Spanish Wells, I made a call on the VHF to reserve a mooring. Lucky for us there were some available. Our friends, John and Mary from s/v Marylee, a 40 foot O’Day, were on our heels and able to secure a mooring as well.

Spanish Wells is a working and fishing village with a population of about 1500 residents. It is a busy harbor with a narrow entrance full of fishing boats, high speed ferries and pleasure craft competing for space.

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Narrow entrance into Spanish Wells

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Colourful homes and fishing boats lining the shoreline

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High speed ferry

Once we were all tucked in, we made a date to go for supper in town with John and Mary. Before we headed to supper we were greeted by a pilot aka owner of the moorings (his name I do not know). We were not on our assigned moorings so he rearranged us a little. Steve and I recognized him immediately. A Canadian couple named Paul and Sheryl Shard make cruising videos called Distant Shores. We just re-watched their segment on Eleuthera and they hired this guy to be there pilot in the tricky passage through Devils Back Bone to Harbour Island. We told the pilot about the video of him we had on board. He told us he never got a copy of the segment so we loaned him our DVD for the evening. The cost of the mooring is 20$/day (not the 10$ as quoted in the guide). We find it quite expensive given there is no services offered. Oh well, we cannot anchor here so it’s either this or a marina – this is cheaper.

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View of Spanish Wells from our mooring

We went for dinner with John and Mary at the Anchor snack bar (recommended by the pilot) which is a cute little restaurant along the water. We found the food ok but nothing special. This is a predominately white Bahamian community (a first for us)…it is also a dry Island so it was round of pop for all J

Tomorrow we will get a chance to explore this little island.

April 12, 2012

We were up early to catch the weather forecast. Chris Parker says we have a front moving in over the weekend meaning we may not be able to leave Spanish Wells until Monday or Tuesday. We are planning to hire a pilot to take us through the Devils Back Bone to Harbour Island to spend a few days visiting in Dunmore town. It is pink sandy beaches, shops and good restaurants. We have been told it is geared for tourists unlike Spanish Wells…not too sure if that is a good thing or not. Time will tell.

I went for a good first run in Spanish Wells. The island is two miles from tip to tip and a half a mile wide. The main road runs along the edge making it about a 4 mile run – which is long enough for me! After my run, I bought some ice J and headed back to the boat where Steve was waiting for me to move to a different mooring as per the pilot’s request. We were given a reprieve last night but it was time to move this morning.

A nice couple by the name of Jean and Tom Goldson from m/v Amadon Light came by to all the new boats in the mooring field, introduced themselves and advised us of the services available in the area. They are snow birds from the States who have a home in Spanish Wells and moor their trawler in this same mooring field. They host a happy hour - with alcoholic drinks - every day at 1630hrs. They also said there is a liquor store across the bay if we needed anything. Spanish Wells may be dry but the surrounding islands are not. Jean also runs the little museum in town and said if we wanted a tour to call her on the VHF and she’ll open the museum up for us. Turns out they are about the nicest people we’ve met here…

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The gang in the mooring field. The boat in front with the blue strip is Marylee a 40 foot O’day

We spent some time chatting with John from Marylee while watching a couple of guys bonefishing not far from the boat. Bonefishing is a catch and release sport. Bone fish are known as one of the most difficult and elusive sport fish to catch and people bring a lot of money to the islands for the best bone fishing. Few people eat them. This is becoming a very popular activity in the Bahamas. Guides can be hired to teach you how to fish and take you to the best spots. Looks like a lot of fun and this guy caught a good one!

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The man on the left with a fish on and his guide on the right coaching him along. The boat in the back is a little ferry boat that will take you to the liquor store...

Once we were ready we headed to the town to take a walk around.

This is a golf cart town. Kids decorate them with racing strips and decals then speed them down the road blarring music – it’s hilarious! We can rent one for 40$ a day, we may splurge on one later in the week.

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Liquor store across the bay…

We settled in for the afternoon with cold beers and internet which we were able to pick up for FREE. It’s in and out but good enough for emails and maybe an upload.

April 13, 2012

Let it rain, let it ran, let it rain!

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Rainy day in Spanish Wells

It started around 0200hrs this morning as we were woken up by rain drops falling on our faces. Then is started to poor and the winds picked up swinging Diana around her mooring ball. Everything held tight and the boat got a good wash down. It let up by late morning so Steve and I went into town to do a load of laundry and pick up a few things (ice) as everything will be closed tomorrow (Sunday).

There is only one public washer and dryer in Spanish Wells and it is located behind a store in a little shack. It was a little sketchy but the machines worked really well delivering clean dry clothes.

We strolled along the beach and visited the best shell shop called the Ponderosa. It is run by a wonderful lady who has been collecting shells most of her life. Her mom started this business a long time ago she has since passed away and her daughter has continued the shell collecting tradition. She runs her shop out of her garage and she has the most wonderful collection of star fish, shells of all kinds, conch shells, sea glass, pictures, cards and cookbooks. We bought a Bahamian Cookbook, some shells and a couple of conch horns. We are all set to blow our horn at sunset J as is the cruiser way. We went for lunch trying the third restaurant in Spanish Wells called Eagles Landing. The food was the same fair but pretty good with homemade French fries. We gave them our French fry seal of approval J We picked up a few groceries and made the long walk back to the boat with arms full when the sky unleashed a downpour of rain. It was a long wet walk back to the boat – not ONE person stopped to offer us a ride.

Not much else to report on this fine rainy day in Spanish Wells.

April 14, 2012

So, turns out yesterday was Friday and not Saturday meaning all the running around in the rain could have been put off until today LOL!!

The rain finally stopped early this morning but the winds are high gusting to 25kts for the rest of the weekend.

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John being blown away by the winds in Spanish Wells today ;)

I got out for a quick run and worked on the blog while Steve patiently polished our stubborn stainless. The oxidation is really quite something. Within six weeks it’s time to polish it again. Marylee recommended a different product called Bar Keepers friend which you can get at any local grocery. We found some at the local grocery store yesterday and so far the stuff is MAGIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We also realized there is a lot of stainless on this boat and it will take a couple of days to get it caught up.

We spent the evening with a new friend Chip on s/v Sea Room a 35 foot Allied Seabreeze (it’s the boat in the rainy picture on April 13th). We actually met Chip in Fort Lauderdale; we stayed at the same marina when Steve’s kids visited. It was really nice to catch up with him. He is a single hander and this week his sister Patty has joined him for ten days as they head south towards the Exuma. Chip’s boat is gorgeous and well set up for a single hander. He is also a low tech guy with no refrigeration. We shared some of our favorite places from the Exuma and he did the same with the Abacos. We are very much looking forward to the trip.

April 15, 2012

Stainless, stainless and more dirty stainless – I even helped today! The bar keeper’s friend is unbelievable!! With a toothbrush and a little elbow grease (not too much though) we can even get the screws shiny. This stuff takes stains off of decks and even polishes ­­­­bronze with a single wipe! We always told ourselves we liked the look of our oxidized bronze windows, winches and cleats but really we just didn’t want the trouble and the hours it would take to make them shiny but with this stuff we may actually give it a go. We spent our day cleaning stainless…and me drinking beer while cleaning stainless ;)

On my way back from my run, I spoke with the pilot about the best day to get to Harbour Island. He mentioned me might be taking a boat from our mooring field tomorrow. I quickly made my way to the boat he was referring to where I met Debbie and Chip. Turns out, Debbie is from Ottawa – small world! I told them about the savings we could get if we tagged along. They agreed so we were all set to go when the weather allowed us to. Why do we need a pilot you might ask? The Devil’s Back Bone is a 6.5 mile stretch of water between Spanish Wells and Harbour Island. It is filled with reefs at various depths and can be quite risky if the visibility is anything but perfect. You can’t rely on the GPS to guide you through. The waters are only navigable by sight. It is recommended by the guides to hire an experienced pilot that can get us through even on a cloudy day. The pilot costs 80$ one way. The price drops to 50$ if there is a second boat tagging alone. WE aim to be the second boat as we do not want to pull the pilots boat behind us since we are already pulling a dinghy. The first boat agreed to take the pilot and pull the pilots boat. I should prove to be an interesting passage.

Later we had drinks and snacks over on s/v Marylee where John and Mary shared their favorite spots in the Abacos. We cannot wait to get moving out of Spanish Wells.

April 16, 2012

It is a gloomy windy morning in Spanish Wells. When I got back from my run, Steve had heard from the pilot who has postponed our trip until tomorrow. The first boat needs it to be less windy in order to make any headway. The winds are supposed to settle tomorrow – so will try again then.

What the heck are we going to do for another day in Spanish Wells…go for a joy ride of course!

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My new wheels for the next 2 hrs… (Check out my new car Val!?!?)

I have never driven a golf cart before so it was a little awkward at first and I have to admit I am not the “joy ride” kind of driver so Steve took over after a while and it instantly felt more joy-ridey (if he could have peeled the tires, he would have).

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Steve first time driving on the opposite side of the road…Keep left Stephen!

We went for a nice ride to Russell Island with is just across a small bridge from Spanish Wells. It is more of a residential area in the development stages. There are many nice homes here (as well as in Spanish Wells) proving that there is money in this town. We are told they are one of the most prosperous fishing villages in the Bahamas.

In Russell Island we stumbled on Pelican Cay where it lines the bank side of the Bahamas and there are only a few homes so far but there are many lots available with dockage.

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Pelican Cay available lots

What’s neat about this set up is they have divided the lots with stone fences – in true Bahamian style. I had mentioned in Long Island that these stone fences were the “back in the day” way of claiming ones land. Without a fence around ones land it then didn’t belong to anyone and could be taken.

Steve was curious about the sailboat in the harbour and about the size of the entrance to get into Pelican Cay.

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Entrance into Pelican Cay. I would not want to come through here in rough weather

To our delight the owners were on board the sailboat and invited us on board for a tour where we met Chris and Rachel Morejohn J Chris is a boat builder by trade and an artist at heart. He built Hogfish Maximus, a 44 foot flat bottom ocean going boat with a 26 inch draft with an eight foot centre board in 1998. He describes it as “a flat bottom sailboat with a Sharpie past”. He was introduce to sailing by his father when he moved a 13 year old Chris onto a 30 foot sail boat to sail to the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean. Rachel who is a native Canadian originally from Oshawa, Ontario met Chris 30 years ago in Spanish Wells. She hasn’t really been home since. They have two daughters who are currently in College but spent several years on board Hogfish Maximus cruising with their parents. If you want to learn more about Hogfish Maximus, Chris’ boat building and/or his artwork, just type his name into Google. We could have hung out all day but our golf cart rental time was ticking way so we said our goodbyes and continued on our ride around Russell Island.

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Goats anyone?

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A cute little goat…

We crossed back over the bridge to Spanish Wells where we made our way to our new favorite shell stop, the Ponderosa Shell Shop. This time we were greeted by the son who contributes quite a lot to his grandmother collection. We picked up a few more things and expressed how impressed we were with this collection. He then invited us into the house to see their private collection started so long ago by his “Granny”.

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The private collection with many rare pieces. At the bottom right there is a 6 pointed starfish…

Every piece but the top shelf originates from the Bahamas. There are sand dollars that as big as dinner plate! Granny not only collected but she also made signs, lamps, frames and many crafts with the shells.

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“The Ponderosa” made from various kinds of shells

Granny made a sign for the Queen commemorating her Jubilee anniversary. The Queen was so impressed she came down to meet Granny so she could present the sign in person.

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Some of the pieces the grandson picked up while diving recently

If anyone wants to take a look at this collection, they have a facebook page displaying some of it www.facebook.com/SpanishWellsPndersonaShellShop.com

We had some lunch then delivered our golf cart 30 minutes late to which we were required to pay for the whole hour – silliness!

Tomorrow, we will see whether or not we head to Harbour Island or chose to skip it to head to Royal Island then straight to the Abacos.