Eleuthera, Until Next Time

I looked to the top of the mast to check my wind direction gauge to guide us into the wind as we set anchor. There, hovering above the mast was the eye of Zeus. Zeus is Poseidon’s brother and the god of the sky, as well as the god of gods. I have felt particularly close to Poseidon these last four sailing months. This visit from Zeus was an unexpected privilege. Even the gods find the mesmerizing blues and greens of the Bahamian seas something to behold and gaze at.

But for those of you poo pooers who don’t buy into my delusions so readily, this rainbow around the sun phenomena is called a sundog halo. It is produced by ice crystals in cirrostratus clouds three to six miles up in the troposphere. In ancient mariner times it was used as a weather prediction for an upcoming front.

The following particular front was a doozy. This video is of us at anchor in Rock Sound. The good part about storm fronts is that we open our water ports on deck and fill our tanks with fresh rain water. Our tanks in this storm filled quicker than you can say, batten down the hatches!

We are just leaving Eleuthera. We have visited some old favorite anchorages and settlements and have found some new favorites.

Governor’s Harbor is an old favorite that has a street party and fish fry every Friday night. We try our best to plan around it whenever we are nearby.

One of the highlights of this years’ fish fry is that we found out the group of young men, two in white t-shirts that you see in the limbo contest video, grew up with my oldest son and live in our hometown, Stillwater, Minnesota. I didn’t even know we had videoed them. Three of the guys went to our sons’ grade school and have been to our house. I know their moms. I didn’t recognize them as it has been years since I’ve seen them but serendipity put us next to each other at a restaurant the following day where we figured it out. One of the guys in particular stuck out in my memory from the night before as he was thoroughly enjoying his evening. Admittedly, I learned in the past that the rum bubbas they serve are stronger than they taste. I wisely forwent the bubbas this year.

Our new favorite place we discovered is Ten Bay.

It is a quiet little crescent moon beach anchorage with good protection and beautiful water.

Here, we had the honor of snorkeling with spotted eagle rays. The fish on top of the one ray is a Remora. Remoras are also known as suckerfish as they attach themselves to larger fish, whales and occasionally divers and boats, to hitchhike a free ride. I don’t know what the fish below the ray is.

Ray and Ramona Eagle Ray had about a four foot wingspan. Eagle Rays can grow up to sixteen feet.

We loved Ten Bay so much that Captain Nowdisisduhtingmun doubled back to it on the way back north.

Why didn’t I mention Soul Divers being with us you ask? Because we had to go our separate ways. Matt, Sadie and their second mate Toby ventured to the Exumas and Captain Cryinhisbeertobereturning and I turned north to start our way back.

Have I told you about Toby?

Toby is a character. Toby yells. He will greet you as you board his ship with a MEOW!!! MEOW!!! In fact, his name is not Toby, it is TOBEEEEEEY!!! One tends to yell back at him. He and I have a thing. Or at least I have a thing for him. He has me wrapped around his paw. He will sit as close to his treat bag as possible and stare at me until I cave. He will paw at it and shoot me a shitty cat look if I take to long. MEOW!

We yell, TOBEEEEEYYYY!!!! as we dinghy back to our boat and he will come to the port and yell, MEOWW!!! He has pushy pawed two screens right out of the port windows and into the sea to never be seen again.

There are things that I’m good at and there are things that I am not. Goodbyes are not my strong suit. We shared a meal which started with twin appetisers. We both caught cero mackerels on our way to the anchorage.

We feasted on the twins that we named Mary Kate and Ashley. We ate them sashimi style.

Then we had steak and Sadie’s Mashed Potadies. My eyes leaked as we said goodbye. But Matt and Sadie cheered me up the following morning. As we pulled away from the anchorage they mooned us.

So, it is back to just the captain and I upon our long voyage home. We have enjoyed the trip back north through Eleuthera. And, we’ve noticed we tend to feel better in the mornings after nights when it is only the two of us. It is not as festive though and I already miss our friends terribly. Buddy boating has many benefits. It is always good to bounce navigation and weather observations off of each other. It is nice to have a friend to talk to. Plus it is plain fun.

Captain Conservativeandthorough and I do all kinds of things to preserve fresh water. I use a pitcher of salt water to flush my fresh water plumbed head. And, we do our initial dishes wash off the transom of the boat before a soapy then fresh water rinse. You never know what is going to come up to taste your scraps. The following picture is of a near cousin to the sea horse. This is Piper the pipefish. There were two and they were about four inches long. The top of the picture is her snout and the bottom her tail.

We are currently anchored off of Royal Island, near the northern tip of Eleuthera. Tomorrow we will sail the crossing back to the Abacos. It is about a fifty-five mile sail. I hope to see whales. I hope to have calm seas. But you never know what the weather and sea will bring.

Eleuthera

Last year Sovereign Weather was a heavy handed ruler.  He pushed us along nearly every day to escape from his tempered breath.  He would blow manically from all directions chasing us in a zigzagged frenzy.  This year he has been kinder, particularly of late, and we are most grateful.  We are moving slowly and getting into the granularity of the Bahamas.  This suits us.

There are 700 Islands and 2,400 Cays in the Bahamas.  The difference between a Cay and an Island is that a Cay is a small island formed on the surface of a coral reef whereas an Island is a sub-continental land surrounded by water.  Thirty of the 700 Bahamian Islands are inhabited.  You see how much there is to explore?  It makes me childishly giddy.  We love to find small, forgotten and ignored Cays and, as Pokey Lafarge sings, Let’s Get Lost. 

There, lost at night, a riot of stars shine uninhibited all the way down the horizon.  They also reflect off of calm seas so that they surround and reach for you. You feel touched at your core and, too, begin to shine. It is worth every cold, brief shower, hand pump of the head, head butt with Captain Closeandconstant and, I can’t believe I’m saying this, terrifying grounding in shark infested water.

We have purposefully returned to quiet, overlooked Eleuthera. 
The locals pronounce it, Ee-loo-tra. There are hardly any marinas and so cruisers have to be self sufficient.  This makes it less convenient and sometimes difficult, so there are fewer cruisers here.   The people of Eleuthera are known throughout the Bahamas as the friendliest and most laid back of all of the Islands.  Their peaceful kindness and quick smiles are highly contagious. 

At the northern tip of Eleuthera is a fishing village called Spanish Wells where over eighty percent of Bahamian fish and lobster are caught.  

The locals take great pride in their homes and landscaping.  The creativity in yard décor is mind boggling. 


Their entire yard was filled with gardens of various sized jugs filled with colored water.

The main mode of transportation on land is golf cart.  The locals will pull up beside you for a friendly chat.  Our favorite such encounter was with a colorful eighty year old born and raised there.  We asked if he loved his Island as much as we did.  Is a bullfrog waterproof?  He replied in a rambling, hard to understand accented mumble.  Does Jimmy Carter like toothpaste?!   Does Bill Clinton like Monica Lewinsky? 

We fell in love with a restaurant/bar called Buddha’s where the food was awesome and the atmosphere was fun.  And the beer was cold.  What’s not to love?

Meeks Patch is a quiet Cay where we had an anchorage to ourselves. We settled in for a couple of relaxing  play days. Although Captain Ithinkbreaksthingssohecanfixthem had to restuff our stuffing box before joining us at the beach.

There was a swim with the pigs beach nearby that Sadie and I dinghied to. Captain Triestowearouthisfavoritesayings said, Da ting is dis! You can keep your damn dirty pigs to yourself.

The Exumas were the first to offer the tourists a chance to swim with the pigs and it has been so successful with tourists that pig beaches are showing up on other islands. We had no desire to swim with them as they aggressively pursue you for snackage. But it was fun to feed them a few carrots and fresh water.

A Tiger Shark’s jaw

This oinktrepreneur added ducks, geese, turkeys, a dog and two local kids who charged ten bucks a person to swim with their pigs. We didn’t bring money and they didn’t care if we enjoyed ourselves.

Even God has bad days

We moved south to anchor off of Current Cut which lives up to its name.  It can be treacherous in unsettled weather.  The current can be so fierce that it can push you furiously whichever way it chooses in wash machine waters onto its rocky walls.   I remember watching tentacles of Kraken grasping for us as we passed through their feeding grounds last year.  This year, we snorkeled a bit of the cut at slack tide.  Not a Kraken in site but lots of fish and turtles.

We made our way to anchor by the Glass Window.  It is a natural break in land between the raucous dark blue Atlantic Ocean and calm turquoise of the Bite of Eleuthera.  Last year there were two separate incidences of young men who died after being swept off of the bridge and rocks by a rogue wave.  Seven years ago a wave picked up the entire bridge and moved it three hundred yards during a hurricane.

Captain Datingisdis said he couldn’t be rushed through his morning routine and stayed on Echoes while Matt, Sadie and I explored the window and went for a long walk to see my baths that time made for me.

They were specflippingtacular.

We left the anchorage eager to put up our sails but knew as soon as we were underway that it was not going to happen.  The wind was on our nose as were the waves.  It was a chop slop sea that made for an uncomfortable ride and left me with a sore neck.

We were a bit dazed and discouraged after three hours of this constant beating with over an hour yet to go.  When we least expected it; we heard the rattattattattatta of the fishing line.  We slowed the boat and Captain Ohitsgoodtofeeltenyearsoldagain began the good fight.  I helmed and collected necessary equipment to land the fish.  He got it to the boat but needed help getting it on board.  I threw on some gloves and hand reeled the fish in by wrapping the line around one hand and then the other, back and forth, lifting as the fish fought.  We landed a most magnificent Mutton Snapper.  We have a scale on board and Baa Baa weighed close to eleven pounds.  We thanked him and then poured vodka in his gills to give him a peaceful passing.

A few hours later, Matt and Sadie came for dinner.  Sadie brought her famous garlic and onion Sadie’s Mashed Potadies.  We lightly floured Baa Baa and pan fried him in olive oil and butter.  With the pan scrapings I made a white wine butter sauce.  

When I buy meat at the grocery store I don’t readily associate it with a life given.  The gift of life is very obvious when you pull a great big beautiful fish from the sea and kill it.  We tasted Baa Baa’s chi.  This meal was flavored with gratitude. There is no better seasoning in the world. We ended up with two and a half pounds of filet.  We ate our fill and had leftovers.  Sadie also brought a homemade apple crisp that baked in the oven as we ate dinner.  It was a meal I will remember with a full heart for a very long time.

“Da ting is dis! Fish is excellent with eggs for breakfast.”

Revisiting some Favorites in the Abacos and then to Eleuthera

We hunkered down in Tilloo through a storm and then spent a day catching up on boat projects. We borrowed Sadie’s paddleboard and scrubbed the waterline of Echoes where algae grows. Afterward, I gave paddleboarding my first try and enjoyed it immensely.

We moved on to an east side anchorage off of Marsh Harbor. Sadie and I walked a roundtrip six and a half miles to the grocery and liquor stores with our heavy stores on our backs. Afterwards, we met up with the guys for cool one at the Boat Harbor Marina pool bar. In fact, it was the same pool bar that we hung out at with our boys twelve years ago after chartering in the Abacos.

And then it was back to magical Hopetown for a few days with a view from our anchorage to savor.

We climbed up to the top of the last working kerosene fueled lighthouse in the world. Two lighthouse attendants take shifts every two hours and climb the eighty nine feet to tend to the burner, twenty four hours a day.

We walked the island, did laundry and had fun with a trick on panoramic photos.

As the photographer slowly pans, once the person on the left is out of the frame, they run over to the right and catch the end of the pan.

Hopetown, Hopetown, how I love you so. If Eleuthera wasn’t calling me, I’d never want to go.

But Eleuthera was indeed calling and so we set out off to Lynyard Cay in preparation to cross the fifty-seven miles to Eleuthera. We settled in for an early night and watched boat after boat come through the cut and anchor around us. They were completing their sails from Eleuthera and elsewhere as others of us were getting ready to go. I counted twenty-three boats at rest that night.

We left at first light in a group of about seven boats. Two of those boat sailed with Soul Divers and us the whole way. The weather called for very little wind and calm seas. We were expecting to motor most of the ten to eleven hours. But the winds began to blow in the most friendly way and we hoisted our sails right out of the gate.

It was a passage like none other. The sails were as full as our hearts. The sun was kissing our cheeks and the fishing poles were bursting with hope. One of our companion sailboats caught the first lunker. He radioed, It’s a big one! I’m heaving to! And we hailed him congratulations and told him to let us know what he landed. It turned out to be a large sack of garbage. I counted twenty-seven times that I pulled sea grass off of our lure. Sometimes there were vast blankets of grass with birds resting on it.

We were in the Northeast Providence channel which is known for its abundant sea life. Soul Divers was in front of us. They hailed to say they spotted a pod of whales. And sure enough, we saw at a distance a pod of Blainville Beaked whales. Beaked whales are fourteen to sixteen feet long, and are brownish grey with a dorsal fin. They are the most common whale seen in these parts. The males at maturity have two teeth that protrude from the tops of their gums which they use like tusks to fight for the sweet meat of female whale heat.

A while later, Captain Didn’tgetskunked landed what we think was a black fin tuna. But he was too small and too cute to kill.

However, Soul Divers had better luck. Sadie went to her pole to let out some more line. As she got there she watched a fish dart at great speed to catch and swallow her bait. The fight began. Sadie strapped herself in with a safety harness and fought and fought until she won. She reeled in Emily the Mahi Mahi.

Male Mahi’s have a more bulbous head. That’s why we know she is Emily and not Elmer. Sadie immediately filleted her.

And finally, to round out a mostestest excellent day, the sailboat in the lead of our little floatilla hailed that she spotted a whale. I ran up on deck and watched for it with a frenzied gaze. At a distance of perhaps a quarter mile, probably less, but not thirty feet from Soul Diver’s boat we spotted the tell tale blow of a Sperm whale. Males are about sixty feet long, whereas females are about forty. I can’t tell you if it was male or female from the distance in which I saw it. I saw the hump of the whale’s back followed by a massive tail breaching the water. Even at a distance, it was a complete thrill. Soul Divers was in ecstasy. And this was the icing on the top of the story of the bestestest crossing ever.

But sailing is not all whale tails and mahi mahi named Emily. As I’ve said before, it is not easy to live with someone in this tight of quarters, especially someone with as big of a personality as Captain Livesboisterousboldandballsouttwentyfourseven. I completely lost my cool the other night. Over the course a few days it went something like this:
You are stepping on my toes. It hurts when you step on my toes. Please don’t step on my toes.
He steps on my toes.
I get upset when you step on my toes. You did it again. Please stop.
He steps on my toes.
What is it about stepping on my toes that you don’t understand? Stop it.
He steps on my toes.
Hey, barnacles for brains. Enough with the toe stepping!!!!
He steps on my toes.
KNOCK IT OFF WITH MY TOES! SERIOUSLY! I’M ABOUT TO BLOW A GASKET!
He steps on my toes.
And I totally lost it, like a two year old having a melt down. I didn’t say much. What more was there that I could say? I just stomped around and wadded up paper napkins and hurled them at him. I threw a pillow and anything soft in my reach. Then I marched off to bed early and slammed the door. It wasn’t pretty. I didn’t handle it well and I am not proud of it. But boy oh boy does that man tee me off sometimes.


This is how I would imagine Captain Clueless would tell the story:
I don’t know what got into Candis. She totally freaked out the other night and I have no idea why. She has been going off lately about her ankles or feet or was it her heels? She walks soooo slow and she never looks where she’s going. You can’t help but bump into her every once in a while. I don’t mean to. I don’t know what the big deal is. Anyway, I don’t know if I bumped her or what but she went ballistic. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head and then, right in front of my eyes, she shape shifted into an enormous Kraken. Her eyes were red and she groaned and waved her eight arms around. Ooh! It was ugly! Then she started wadding up paper napkins and throwing them at me. It looked like a one way snowball fight. And once she yelled in a high, shrill voice, TOES! I don’t know why. And once in a deep rumbling voice, TOOOEEESS! And spittle flew out her mouth and snot flew out her nose. And then she threw a foam coaster at me and stormed off to bed. Out of the blue! Completely bonkers! I’m just going to give her a wide berth for a couple of days.