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.
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.

Hopetown, Sandy Cay and Tilloo Cay

Hopetown is a deservingly popular destination in the Abacos. I felt like a Disney princess dinghying by the candy striped lighthouse surrounded by giggling sailboats. I almost broke out in song. Cheery music chimed from a church speaker as we climbed up the dinghy dock ladder . The houses are brightly and neatly painted and there are quaint shops and, as there should be in magic land, there is a wine bar, Wine Down, Sip, Sip, where I partook in a chilled glass of Rose.

We rounded off the night with a fantastic dinner. Last year I lost weight while sailing. This year I think I’m gaining. I keep pestering Sadie to start a food blog. It is amazing what she and Matt can pull out of their limited resources and equipment. We have recently had Carnitas El Pastor with homemade tortillas, Margarita pizza on homemade crust with fresh mozzarella and bay leaves, and an Asian night smorgeshbourg that could satisfy a king. In fact it did, and a sea princess. Soul Divers is my new favorite restaurant. And it’s free!

Beef pho in the cups, fried wontons, pork spring rolls, chinese bbq grilled pork, vegetable fried rice, salad with homemade ginger carrot dressing and all the favorite dipping sauces.

We had a couple of days forecasted with the perfect becalmed weather to enjoy a sea park with a renowned protected reef. Captain Smittenasakitten and I were a little reluctant to leave magical Hopetown so soon but we plan to return and linger there a spell. Off we went about thirteen miles south to Sandy Cay.

Sandy Cay was all about the water. Matt and Sadie dove and Captain Thatsalotofwork and I decided to snorkel it. Sadie took some beautiful pictures.

From there we moved on to Tilloo where I am writing to you from a spinning, howling, complaining boat amidst an all day storm that is not supposed to tire herself out until the wee hours. There have been reports of a water spout five miles away. Water spouts are little, mini tornadoes. I saw one last year with my very own eyes. They are mysterious and mesmerizingly beautiful as they arc from the clouds and dance all wiggly waggly tossing up the sea. Even Kraken beware.

Waterspout compliments of Dr Google Free Waterspout search

We have had dishes fall out of cupboards and unsecured items fall off of counters and tables. Wind gusts have exceeded 40 mph. Yesterday, we wisely snuggled into a protected bay off of Tilloo Cay in preparation for this blow. Captain Manhandlesher gave B.P. a good drop and snub and I backed down on her to set her vicious bite into the sand below. We and Soul Divers have lookie buckets. This is a simple bucket with a clear bottom that you use as an underwater viewer. Matt and Sadie came by after checking their anchor to check on ours for us. Only one of B.P.’s teeth were set in the sand so Captain Giveherhell threw Echoes in reverse as our friends watched B.P. dig in hard. As much as I detest that rusty, scary, feisty BIG B.P. I appreciate her tenacity on a day like today.

This is B.P. dug in with a lazy chain on a calm, clear day in Hopetown. She is in about thirteen feet of water. The chain was straight off the bow and tight when she was set but the winds calmed overnight and we woke up right on top of her.

Tilloo Cay is protected from the brothers Wind, North and East, who seem to be more than a bit peeved at the moment. To me though, this storm feels more like a scorned woman Wind than the brothers Wind. Why? Because she is long winded and has dug in her heels unwilling to let her grievances go. Male storms, indulge me now, are fiercer but much, much shorter. Boom! Crackle! And then the sun shines and you go about your day. I’m not speaking personally, of course not, I’m just a student of human nature after all.

This one is for my high school besties. Happy Birthday, Monica!

There are Kraken out there feeding off this scorned windy tempest like a shark drawn to bloodied, wounded tuna. I’ve heard a bit about improperly tethered dinghys and dragging anchors on the VHF but, gratefully, there have been nary a tentacle sighting from our little sailboat cocoon where I sit bobbing with a good book as Captain
BuonAppetito adds spicy Italians to spaghetti sauce on the gimbaled stove.

The water quality in the U.S. tops its acceptability rating at 500 or less parts per million. World standards are acceptable at 1000 parts per million. We have filled our tanks with anything from 800 to 1700 ppm since we’ve been in the Bahamas. We thought I may have cross threaded a deck fill port and tainted our water with sea water but the more water we buy the more alarming the ppm. So, not only are we thrilled to save the thirty-five to forty cents per gallon for water but rain water captured is by far the cleanest water we’ve had, including Florida’s. This rain water tests at 240 ppm. You can clearly taste the difference. I’ve been guzzling rain water like fine wine. Our one hundred and ten gallon tanks are full to the brim.
In the following video we are anchored and not moving at sea. At the end of the video you can see how Captain Rightasrain captures the rain by creating a dam with a winch handle wrapped in a clean towel.

We live by the commands of Sovereign Weather. We will wait here for the scorned woman Wind to fully express her fury. She is forecasted to blow for about eight hours and then leave us with clouds and some tears for a day or two. No worries. She gives me time to play with words.

Cracked lips
Wind whipped
A shower both short and icy
Life giving books instead of TV
Stars bright
Background music, my captain, and me
Wine soaked head
Time for bed
To dream of full sails at sea