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.
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.
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.
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.”