We left the Abacos via the North Bar passage and sailed directly to Eleuthera entering via the Little Egg Island passage. We made good time and sailed most of the way in glorious sunshine doing 6.5-8 knots, champagne sailing we call it!
We anchored in Royal Harbour, a protected anchorage entered through a narrow cut between rocks, with several other boats and hurried off the next morning to get through the Current Passage at high tide and supposedly slack water.
Unfortunately we had 2 knots tide against us but we managed through without incident and arrived in Governors Harbour by the afternoon.
Passing through Current Passage, we saw one of the oldest existing mailboats, the Current Pride, still in operation, delivering food and goods to the Islands
Governors Harbour is reputed to have very poor holding with a thin layer of sand over rock, but luckily for us the winds remained consistent in direction and the anchor held firm.
The aim of the dash to Eleuthera was to be there to collect the service parts for the Procon vane pump for the water maker. The delivery service provided by X-Press It to the islands is great, especially the communication about the progress of the package’s journey. Unfortunately it was delayed so we decided to have a change of scenery and move around the headland to Laughing Bird Cay. It was much nicer than being in a town by the dock and it was very protected from the East. We were able to paddle-board around the bay and to identify a good landing place for the dinghy to get access to the X-Press It shop for the next day’s delivery/collection. We also took a walk across to French Leave beach on the Atlantic side of the Island.
After a beautiful day the clouds started to gather and obscured what had promised to be a wonderful sunset. A storm was brewing and although the wind direction should be taking it away it was clear that the thunder and lighting were increasing and the storm was circling. We went to bed to faint rumbles and the odd flash of light and woke to a squall and rain at 1:00 am. We did the naked dash around the boat closing windows and settled back into bed. Only 5 minutes later and the anchor watch alarm went off. The wind had completely turned and was now blowing us on to the shore. The lights of the restaurant that had previously looked charming now looked threateningly close. As the 30 knots squall blasted us and the rain poured the thunder and lighting were now overhead. With 30 cm under the keel we needed to move quickly in case the anchor dragged taking us closer to the rocks. Lesley quickly doned a waterproof jacket and life jacket and braved the weather to pull up the anchor while Derek did well to try and steer the boat into the wind and away from danger in the pitch black, with no visual reference. We re-anchored further out in the bay and monitored how we lay. Happy that we were far enough from the shore, Derek went back to bed whilst Lesley made a cup of tea and waited for her hair to dry! With minimal water usage currently Lesley should have had a midnight shower on deck!
The storm rumbled away but kept circling as did the boat as the wind swung 180 degrees regularly. At 3 am there was a power cut on shore and complete darkness apart from some very bright lights which were running on an emergency generator. Alarms then sounded everywhere once the power went back on. At 5 am the wind and storm came back again but the anchor and 50 m of chain held well!
In the morning the wind had gone and our parts had arrived. On the dinghy ride to the beach we saw two enormous rays. Derek set to rebuilding the pump.
Successfully making water again we decided to explore more of the coast and move to Ten Bay beach for the night. A beautiful beach with crystal clear water. We had a good sail and were accompanied into the bay by a large pod of dolphins.
In the morning the wind started to move more southerly and the anchorage got more rolly. Lesley was baking in the galley but started to feel seasick, so it was a clear indication that it was time to move, or was that the effects of her cooking?
Rock Sound in South Eleuthera became our destination and a good departure point for heading for the Exumas when the wind eased. We spent another windy night at anchor and in the morning motored cautiously into towards the town. The guide book says that you can follow the furrows through the shallows ploughed by the mail ship that comes once a week! It wasn’t very complementary about the area. We found good provisioning and friendly people although clearly the economy currently looks in decline with several boarded up and neglected properties. We were not able to stay long as we needed to get back out to deeper water and shelter from the strong westerly winds the next front was about to bring before the tide ebbed.
We had a relatively peaceful night despite the front that came through, anchored with at least 80 cm of water beneath the keel, which by now was quite unusual in the shallow waters of the Bahamas. In the morning, we set sail for what many describe as the jewel in the crown of the Bahamas – the Exumas.