Tuesday, 24 April 2012

To Spanish Wells

(From guest blogger Terry)

We motored out of our bouncy and uncomfortable anchorage at Rose Island yesterday morning and into 35-40knot winds in the New Providence Channel. A 5 hour trip to Royal Island was not looking all that good as we pushed into a very angry sea with plenty of spray over the bow and into the cockpit.
I put the sails up and we settled into a more easy motion but then discovered that the headsail had begun to come apart at the top and was unraveling down the leech. Had to put that away before we lost the whole sail. I suppose it’s better to find this out now than one day out into the Atlantic.
It was a terrible trip but eventually we made Royal Harbor and in through a very narrow entrance between two menacing rocks. Inside was like a lake and we wandered about looking for a nice spot with only 6 other boats to contend with. One of them was a massive Catamaran called Hayfu. It has wave-piercing bows and cost some $7m to build up in Nova Scotia. Don’t know what it was doing but the people on it were zipping about in their dinghy at 1.30am for some reason.
Out this morning and over to Spanish Wells for the last 4.5 miles. We’d arranged a slip in the Yacht Haven marina and were heading in when I went aground on a soft sandbank at the edge of the channel. We were so close to the channel I could have jumped from Common Sense and been in it. Lucky I was only doing 3kts so we weren’t stuck all that hard. It was a rising tide so all we had to do was wait and we’d float off so I went down below and fired up the internet and caught up on emails.
A man with his son came by in a power boat and offered to pull us off. The tide was rising and we had only 2 more inches to go to be square but he probably saved us another 20 minutes of hanging around waiting as he pulled us back out. Into the marina and organized for a sailmaker and a marine electrician to visit.
We went for a quick bike ride around town – it’s only 2 miles long and ½ mile wide – and is a superb place. The houses are all brightly painted, gardens are well kept and very nice indeed. We had sundowner drinks on a neighbour’s boat, a Norseman, and they mentioned that they went aground in the same spot. Old story – a marker pole has gone missing from the edge of the bank!
Another couple on board, Dennis and Bettye on a power boat, were chatting about life in general and Dennis’ US Air Force career (which we all agreed was what you did if you didn’t actually want to join the military here) when he mentioned a friend of his was circumnavigating on a Westsail 32. I asked him if that would be Bill Shaw. Small world, it is. Bill was a long time resident of the marina in Kent Narrows where we spent 4 months, and his voyage is being followed by many on the party dock, O-dock. Bill had left by the time we arrived but we have corresponded from time to time. He and Dennis are great friends and Dennis, who lives in St Augustine, actually had Bill’s Harley Davidson in his garage. It sure is a small world.
Anyway, if we can get our sail repaired and our wind generator working again, we’ll do it here if possible as it is a very nice place to be for a few days.
Best wishes
Hoges in a Haven
(again. The Yacht Haven we stayed in in Nassau was owned by the same man who owned this one. Sadly, he passed away only last week and his sons are taking over the businesses.)

Spanish Wells (Carol)

In 1647 a small band of Puritan refugees was shipwrecked on the fringing reef known as the Devil’s Backbone, which runs along the northern shores of the Eleuthera chain of islands in the Bahamas. They managed to find shelter in a limestone cave – the Preacher’s Cave on Russell Island – and proceeded to start a new colony at Spanish Wells.

The population was supplemented by English loyalists during the American Revolution. Today, Spanish Wells is a charming little town with a character unique in the Bahamas. Mostly white (Puritans and loyalists were anti-slavery), the people are pious, hardworking and very community-minded. They speak a distinctive dialect, and certain names and physical types predominate. Sunday is strictly observed – nothing opens except the churches – and most of the island’s work is focused on the sea. I was told that Spanish Wells supplies the lobsters for the whole Red Lobster restaurant chain in the US, which is quite an enterprise for a town of only about 1500 residents.

Stop Press: Padraig has arrived safely on the 'slow' ferry from Nassau
- great to have him aboard!

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