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Sunday, April 15, 2007

08 APR thru 15 APR 07: Spanish Wells, Bahamas

GPS Position: 24°06'.025N: 76°24'.166W

This morning, Easter Sunday, we got up around 0800 EDST and puttered about the boat. We had breakfast, cleaned up and made ready to join Chip and Kay on Warderick Wells for more exploration. We dinghied in and made fast to the park office dinghy dock. From there, it was off to see the whale skeleton, hike the several trails that cover the island, visit the blowholes and see the pirate well.

After our hike, we dinghied back to the grottos near our anchorage. We all went snorkeling and explored the many sights throughout the many small reefs in the park. There were many fish, conchs and crustaceans that we had not seen since living in the islands in the early 1980’s.

After snorkeling, we went back to our boat, cleaned all of our equipment and settled back to relax for the rest of the day. We fixed Cornish Hens later on that evening, ate Easter dinner and retired for the night.

We left Warderick Wells with BESO about 0900 and made the 3-hour trip to Highborne Cay. Arriving about 1230 hrs, we anchored, lowered the dinghy and went in to the marina to explore the surrounding area.
We spent most of the afternoon exploring the beaches on both the east and west sides of the cay. Then, we went back to the Marina and had a brew (or two) to celebrate Chip’s birthday. From the Marina, it was back to the boat to get cleaned up for dinner and. following dinner, we made a surprise visit to BESO and dropped off cards and a rum cake to further celebrate Chips birthday. After 1 or 2 (or 3 or 4) drinks, we came back to the boat and slept like babies.

We got up, had breakfast, messed around the boat and made ready to move again. We pulled anchor and moved a whopping 1.5 nautical miles to Allan’s Cay, Exuma, anchored and went ashore to see the iguanas. Krikees!!! There are Iguanas everywhere!!! They are of a species that is only found in the Bahamas and these islands are the last refuge of the 1000 or so that live on them. The Iguanas come up to visitors looking for a handout and, in most cases, get it. They are multi-colored and sure of their place as kings of the island.

We spent the balance of the day walking the beaches, exploring the three-island group and marveling at the variety of iguanas that covered the islands. Near sunset, we made our way back to the boat, had dinner and retired for the night.

The next morning, around 0830 hrs, we were hit by a massive storm cell. I clocked sustained winds of 56 Kts and we saw two waterspouts that passed within a half mile of the boat. Several boats broke free from their anchors and struck each other and another sailboat (about a 32 footer) was blown into the rocks, punching a hole in its side and leaving it stranded on the beach of Allan’s Cay. We were lucky, however, and as soon as the storm passed, BESO and us hauled anchor and struck out for Nassau.

We were able to get into the Nassau Yacht Haven, and by 1630 hrs, were safely tucked into our slip. Diner with Chip & Kay rounded out our exciting day and then it was back to the boat for a long, secure night of sleep.

We spent the entire day of the 12th being tourists with Chip & Kay. We went on a bus trip through downtown Nassau, visited every single shop on Bay Street and had lunch at Senor Frog's. As the day ended, it began raining cats and dogs. The return bus ride in the rain was scary, but we arrived safely and made it back to the boat unscathed.

The next day, we said sad goodbyes to BESO and made our way back to Current, Eleuthera. We spent the next two days anchored off of Loretta Lynn’s house on North Beach (25°24’.722N: 076°47’.340W) where the depth and white sand bottom make the perfect anchorage. We then went ashore and spent the rest of the day (and well into the night) visiting with our friends in Current, Eleuthera.

On the 14th, the wind picked up very early in the morning and we could tell it was pretty rough on the other side of the island. I was on the radio at 0800 hrs, listening to Chris Parker’s weather report. Chris says that there is a major storm system advancing on Eleuthera and it will arrive sometime Friday night or Saturday. Well, this is Friday, so, after talking to Kim, we decided to run to Spanish Wells and stay in their sheltered harbour and marina.

We hauled anchor around noon and made our way to Spanish Wells and, after securing the boat, we walked all over St. Georges Island and Spanish Wells. The storm hasn’t hit yet, but it’s hovering to the northeast of us and still advancing; just slower than originally expected.

On the 15th, we dinghied over to to Gene's Bay and met Perry Neilly, who'd driven over to pick us up. Then, it was off to Current for Sunday dinner and good conversation with friends.

Dinner was amazing. There was grouper, conch and crawfish, all done to perfection, served with peas & rice and local vegetables. It made for a great meal and everyone was thoroughly stuffed. After dinner, Kim showed everyone our travel pictures on the computer. In between photos, Perry, Theo and I talked about Bahamian politics and the upcoming election in May. It was a really great evening.

We finally went back to Gene’s Bay around 1800 hrs and dinghied back to the marina. We were back on the boat by 1830 hrs and sound asleep by 2100. The storm, which had held off all day, finally struck around 2130 and there was a short period of 35 Kt wind, followed by torrents of rain that lasted until well past midnight. We were safe and dry, however, so, after the initial surprise, we slept just fine. Tomorrow, we plan to look up some old friends on Spanish Wells and catch up on what they've been doing since our last visit here in 1988. It should be a lot of fun.

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