We left the Berry Islands after a day’s delay due a misbehaving autopilot. In the end it was a matter of pressing two buttons at once to reset the computer. This came hours after Captain Swearsalot took the motherboard apart, rewired many connections and tickled parts at both the receiving and sending ends. The autopilot is like cruise control on steroids. Auto is very good friend who allows me to sit in my princess seat and look for dolphin rather than stand at the helm paying attention to fussy coordinates with a large wheel going back and forth in my hand. Auto is also important as he steers for us as we put up sails or in times when four hands are needed, like making cocktails (kidding). Also, I am cheery to report that crab pots are mostly nonexistent in the Bahamas so they are no longer getting between Auto and I.
The following day was an eight to nine hour motor sailing day to the southern tip of the Abacos. One could spend years exploring all these beautiful Bahaman Islands and it was hard to skip the Abacos. However, we did so because we chartered a boat and sailed the Abacos with our sons about ten years ago. On that trip we dove and snorkeled with enormous eagle rays, accidentally hooked our anchor on a truck someone had dumped into the sea and our youngest was bitten by a stray dog. That resulted in him being held down by two nurses (he would appreciate that more now at his current age of twenty) and shot with fifteen needles of rabies prevention. Our favorite family story of the Abacos is from Man of War Island. The boys wanted ice cream and asked the waitress what flavors they had. Oh, we got any flavor you can imagine. We got chocolate berry hot dog, pineapple black olive, coconut pot roast, anything you can imagine. We got almost fifty flavors. Great! said the oldest, I’ll have vanilla. Sorry, she replied, We ain’t got no vanilla. The Braatz family laughed uncontrollably and she just frowned and walked away.
We anchored in seclusion at the southern tip of the Abacos after a long day of bouncing off of waves. Someone must have had sand in his crevices the whole time as he was categorically cantankerous. I briefly contemplated shoving Captain Thatpartoftheanatomywhereexcrementexits into the sea while he was going winky tinky off the transom and moving along on my own. Instead, I dove headfirst into a novel and read through sunset, nonexistent dinner and until I could barely keep my eyes open for the last page. I emerged from that book a better human being for it.
The following day had tidy bowl blue skies and sparkling seas. We were escorted off the Abacos by a pod of Atlantic Spotted dolphin playing in our wake. Captain Learningfromlocals trolled a line and caught a Cero Mackerel. Mack was twenty four inches, fun to catch and sad to kill. It was another eight to nine hour motor sail to the northern part of Eleuthera.
Eleuthera was settled in the mid 1600’s by a group of English and French in pursuit of religious freedom. They sunk their ships on the reefs that surround the island and settled there. There is a cave with a large rock pulpit in it where they lived. We anchored by Current Cut and marinated Mack in soy sauce, Saracha, lime juice and ginger. Captain Grillmaster did his thing. (He invented a tube that attaches under the grates of his grill that smoke wood pellets for extra flavor. He ordered twenty pounds of pellets. We have no room for clothes but we have wood pellets to last ten years.) We thanked and then ate Mack with white rice, a tomato salad and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. It was my favorite meal yet.
Current Cut has a very strong current that runs through a somewhat narrow opening with touchy tides ebbing and flowing. The current alone can run to an excess of ten knots. Echoes can reach a wee over seven knots with our fifty five horse Yan Mar. We needed to time our passage at slack tide or we would be at the mercy of the current who could take away our steerage and power and toss us where she may. Large Kraken feed in Current Cut and there are skeletons of boats along her craggy shores to prove it. The tide tables are noted in a variety of islands and Eleuthera generally follows Nassau’s tides with a delay of one to two hours. This was vague but the best we had. The following morning we watched several boats leave for the cut and Captain Verythorough contacted them via VHF to ask what the current was like, what speed they reached with what type engine, etc. We ended up passing after the sailboat Defiance gave us a details and warnings. He said the cut was not much of a problem but the washing machine seas, shallow reefs and mighty winds following it would give us a ride for our money. He was most accurate. We passed with success and dumped out into crashing seas. They settled after a couple of miles into merely irritating punishing seas. The winds were pissed off and blowing again. Five buck board hours later we tucked into Mutton Fish Point by ourselves to spend the night.
It had been three days since we had been off of Echoes. This does not bother Captain Couldspendmylifeatsea but it makes me itchy. We deployed our dinghy to go gunkholing. (What do you think of the name Tip Sea as she is rather tipsy…and sometimes so are her passengers?) The beaches were private so we couldn’t go on land but at least I was on a different boat with beautiful cliffs and caves to explore and a beer in hand.