Feb. 2. Now this will come as a surprise. I am posting from North Carolina, but more on that in a later blog. It’s been awhile since I posted on our Bahamas travel. As I have complained before, internet is unreliable and about it’s all I can do to get a connection to check email. Forget uploading photos or blogging.
When I last posted (see Life Onboard, 1/19/13) we were in Hope Town in the Abacos. We were traveling with Sea Pearl and met up again with Prana. All of us were heading to Eleuthera from there. This is a long passage which cannot be done in daylight hours in the winter and the east coast of Great Abaco Island is not cruiser friendly, meaning there is no place for a protected anchorage if the weather turns nasty. Since cruising this side of Abaco is in the Atlantic ocean, that is a real possibility. We had gathered some(vague) information on a new marina on the east side. It sounded a bit dicey, it is so new that it’s not in any of our Bahamas cruising guides or on our chart-plotter, but the developer, who we reached by phone, emailed the coordinates and a chart of the entrance. We wanted to try it even though it didn’t yet have fuel or water at the docks, after all, we only planned to spend one night and it would mean two short(er) days on the ocean. The others followed, (probably for the last time), thinking our experience and age equalled wisdom. Unfortunately, our enthusiasm for avoiding an overnight sail outweight our good judgement about the lack of specific information.
So, three boats set out passing from the protected water into the ocean at North Channel Bar. The ocean was actually quite comfortable with only swells that rolled the boat, no pitching. We couldn’t put up sails, no wind.
As we approached the turn into Schooner Bay we discovered that two of the three markers were missing. Seems Sandy did damage here too. No one told us these were missing. In addition, no one we spoke to would commit to water depths coming in. We were assured dockside depths were fine.
We left Hope Town so that we would be getting in on a rising tide. We were still the lead boat so Ed navigated into the harbor the old-fashioned way, by putting in the lat/long from the chart.
We had to negotiated breaking reefs on both sides. It was certainly tense but all three boats got in without problems as we were now on the radio with the manager/dockmaster of the development who guided us in. He told us to “stay on the range until we picked up the red and green markers for the harbor”. We didn’t know there was a range and for us, it was too late to benefit from this information and the swells knocked us around but depths were fine and we were soon beyond the reef and in the harbor.
Now, the next part. The docks were untenable. This was the most difficult docking that any of us have coped with. Since we were first in, the manger/dockmaster ask us to tie alongside the T-dock. This meant we couldn’t tie to a piling and had no way to keep the boat off the dock and the “energy” (the dockmaster’s word) in this harbor is not to be believed. I don’t have any understanding of fluid dynamics, even though we have a son who teaches this at Duke Univ., but someone’s theoretical plan, didn’t translate to reality.
This looks like a beautiful protected harbor. There is an island in the center with houses. Once the development is finished (it has a long way to go) it will be quite picturesque. This day, there was no wind, but the water churned around the man-made island in the center of this harbor and the boats jerked back and forth in the slips, or for us, slammed us into the dock. no easy roll here. Fenders did no good, neither did spring-lines. There was no overcoming the motion of the water. After trying everything we could, Ed realized we would be up all night trying to keep the boat safe. Finally he came up with a plan. We left the dock and anchored out in the harbor. It was now late enough that we knew no one else would be coming in and we had it to ourselves. At least, if the holding was good, and it was, Sable was safe and we were relatively comfortable. The boats still at the dock jerked back and forth all night, making sleep difficult.
Then the worst part. This island is the world headquarters for no-seeum. These critters have no respect for screens. Even at anchor, we were besieged. They seemed to have prefered me, and the next morning, I looked like I had chicken-pox. There was no place on by body that was sacred.
We’re really sorry this didn’t work out, the idea of dividing this long passage is very appealing but we won’t return unless they put moorings in the harbor and do something very aggressive about the no-seeums. Their plan is to create an ” environmentally friendly” development, so I doubt that strong poison is on their list. We left at first light to this beautiful sunrise, happy to be on our way again. The ocean passage ahead of us could hold nothing worse than our miserable night here.
So ends the first leg to Eleuthera and Nassau. More to come.
Jan, Ed and