Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bimini to Eleuthera

Alicetown, Eleuthera
Hatchet Bay
25 21.01 N 76 29.61 W

We left Bimini in mid afternoon under light winds and motored across the shallow Bahama Banks overnight. At 2:30 am - about 12 hours & 65 nm later we turned about a mile off the rhumb line course (so no other boats would run into us) and anchored for a few hours of sleep. We were back underway by 5:30 am. The shallow banks gave way to mile+ depths as we crossed the Tongue of the Ocean. Here we are arriving in West Bay on the extreme west end of New Providence Island (the same island that Nassau is on).

The shadow of Carina's mast and radar arch with all our antennas casts a shadow over the clear water we are anchored in.

The beach around the perimeter of West Bay is part of the exclusive Lyford Cay community. We could dinghy to the beach to walk (as long as we stayed below the high tide mark). Here Kathy is holding a Sea Star.

With no land visible on the western horizon we were able to view some spectacular sunsets every night – including a green flash sunset. We stayed at West Bay for 5 days before moving on. The boat that looks like ours is another Manta sail cat Side by Side.

Rather than head directly to the Exumas we decided to head to Eleuthera for a change of pace this year. We had a wonderful sail across the north side of New Providence island, to the north end of Eleuthera about 55 nm distance, to the settlement of Spanish Wells. Here we are moored once again alongside Side by Side

Spanish Wells has a thriving seafood industry with a strong industrial base that does not rely on tourism for its economy. The fisherman of Spanish Wells proudly produce close to 75 percent of the nation's annual production of spiny lobster that is exported to markets worldwide.

The inhabitants of Spanish Wells trace their roots back to descendants of Loyalists who fled during the American revolution and others from English puritans shipwrecked off the reefs of the Devil's Backbone on the northern coast in 1648. The people are very proud of their town which is neat as a pin. Attractive houses, some dating back 150 years, are well kept and almost all are nicely landscaped. 

Kathy with Rich and Linda Kallerud from Side by Side along the dock discussing what errands to do next.

Stone crabs are also in season and these men are busy sorting through the catch of the day. 

The delectable claw of the crabs are harvested in the sallow sandy banks of Eleuthera. The large claw is broken off and the crabs put back in the ocean to regenerate the missing appendage.

We left Spanish Wells and anchored overnight at nearby Royal Island before continuing south along the western coast of Eleuthera the following day. Here we are approaching "The Glass Window" an interesting geographical feature.

The site was originally called the Narrow Passage until a huge wave washed over the natural limestone arch and carried it away in 1872. The island's narrowest part is now bridged by a road to connect North Eleuthera. The bridge frames this view looking east to the cobalt blue water of the open Atlantic Ocean. 

Mark's fishing luck finally changed. Unfortunately we did not dare land this 3-1/2'  Barracuda aboard Carina. Considering those razor sharp teeth we decided to let him keep our lure. 

Hatchet Bay is one of our favorite places to visit in Eleuthera. The bay was actually a fresh water pond before a man made channel was cut though the limestone cliffs. The bay was supposed to assure success for the Hatchet Bay cattle raising project. Cattle raising failed but left a very protected harbor. 

The bay is protected from all wind directions and the dinghy access shown here provides easy access to the settlement of Alicetown. The town is very small but has a small grocery store for obtaining fresh produce as well as several churches. We attended Christmas service at St. Mark's Methodist Church and were made to feel very welcome by the local parishioners.

There is a very nice restaurant called the Front Porch that overlooks the harbor....

.... Francis and Gina the owners served up these delicious Stone Crabs for Mark.

From the dinghy dock it is about a mile walk across the island to the Atlantic Ocean side where we picked a different stretch of beach each day to do a little beachcombing.

This is our beach comber's booty for one day. Heart and Hamburg Beans, a kaleidoscope of colorful sea glass, some shells and a piece of Fire Coral.

As the sun sets on 2012 we wish our family and friends a happy and healthy New Year.

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