Abacos to Nassau: Leg 1

Feb. 2. 082Now 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.

261When 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.

spooner bay sign 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.

Hope Town harbor from the lighthouse

Hope Town harbor from the lighthouse

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. breaking reef 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.

harbor in Spooner BayThis 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. sunrise SB

So ends the first leg to Eleuthera and Nassau. More to come.

Jan, Ed and 

About ejhowle23

Authors and adventurers, participated in the World Race 2011, an automobile rally from New York to Paris, crossing three continents and 14,000 land miles. Following much the same route as the setting for our debut novel, The Long Road to Paris. This blog describes our own adventures and challenges. And now you can follow our Bahamas sailing adventure that provides the setting for our second novel, Night Watch. Our rally, the African Safari Challenge, crossed five countries in South Africa in May 2014 and in 2015 we participated in the second Trans-American rally this time from Nova Scotia to San Francisco. Spring of 2016 we travelled 28 days around Australia with friends from previous rallies and in the fall participated in our most exhausting rally through Argentina, Chili and Peru- the Rally of the Incas. We were awarded the Against All Odds award. We're still not sure if this was for us or our car. Stewball never broke down and we hardly did. We will soon take on Iceland as a self-drive tour and in the fall of 2017 we will participate in the Odyssey Italia and then back to Africa for a do-over (almost) of the Africa Safari Challenge.
This entry was posted in Bahamas, international travel, Sailing adventures and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Abacos to Nassau: Leg 1

  1. TBC says:

    That sure sounded like quite an adventure. No-seeums are the worst. They sting and leave nasty, itchy places far larger than the beasties that made them.

    It sounds as though they need to make some serious jetties to cope with the washing-machine action of the harbor.

    So glad you are safe, and back, at least for a small bit, in North Carolina!



  2. ejhowle23 says:

    Well, something has to be done before we could recommend this stop to other cruisers. Biting bugs and churning water do not a peaceful night make. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s