Yes, we are still in the Bahamas! Although sometimes it looks like the South Pacific. We left Hope Town an hour before high tide on Friday December 7, following La Toison D’or out the channel and along Elbow Cay. Although there were showers in the morning, a rainbow over Hope Town promised better weather, and by the time we approached Tahiti Beach we were sailing through crystal clear water in bright sunshine. I was amazed to see huge orange starfish on the bottom – 12-18 inches across.
It was just a short jaunt. We dropped the anchor near Tahiti Beach one hour later. Enticed by the view, we lowered the dinghy and put on the motor to explore the beach for the afternoon. Claude and Marie took their paddle boards over.
The beach is lovely enough as it is, curving round a palm tree-covered spit to the end of Elbow Cay. From the beach, across a rocky reef, on the ocean side, Tilloo Cut winds a narrow and often dangerous passage from the Abaco Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Beautiful holiday homes grace the shore but not too close to the beach which is pristine and pretty. At low tide the beach really comes into its own as the receding tide exposes a huge sandbar beach, stretching almost all the way across to nearby Lubbers Quarters.
We lucked into a gorgeous day for exploring. The wind dropped, the sun glanced off the water and temperature soared. The water was balmy for paddling, swimming and snorkelling. While Claude and Steve played on the paddle boards – going up to the ocean reefs with cresting waves and riding back, Marie and I went exploring, beach combing and checking out the tide marks and rock pools.
We headed back to the boat in time for sundowners. Claude and Marie invited us over to their boat and cooked a delicious risotto with chicken and sausage.
Since our route the next day crossed the shallow Lubbers Quarters Bank, we waited until high tide at 2:30 pm to move on. So we enjoyed a relaxed morning, breakfasting in the cockpit and swimming off the boat in the unbelievable (yes, even after a month here), clear turquoise water.
We followed La Toison D’or, whose draft is a few inches less than us, across the bank, but did not see anything less than 7 feet at high tide. It was an uneventful trip, and we checked out the North Bar Channel as we passed it…..there was certainly a fair amount of ocean swell but the cut looked do-able.
We planned to leave through the nearby Little Harbour Cut early the following day. We dropped anchor close to shore at Lynyard Cay – off a little beach on the Sea of Abaco in fairly deep water for these parts – 16 feet just after high tide. We were the only boats for miles around. It was quiet and peaceful. We barbecued chicken kebabs and had Claude and Marie over for dinner. We ate light, no spice and little alcohol, and got an early night, in preparation for our crossing the next day.
We were up at 5:15 am the next day – it had started to rain during the night but stopped briefly as we raised our main sails at first light and left the anchorage by 6:25 am. The passage through Little Harbour was not too bad – a little lumpy as expected in a narrow cut, with waves breaking on reefs on either side. However the rest of the passage was not too good. We had wind from the south-east on our nose, and encountered lumpy seas and a series of squalls. Steve quickly became seasick and I pulled in my trolling line as the seas got rougher, not wanting to deal with anything I might catch….I reeled it in even quicker when I saw a large shark not too far off.
Steve got more and more seasick as the trip progressed, conditions deteriorated and seas built to 9 feet. He lay down in the cockpit for most of the trip. Despite being soaking wet, I was, mercifully, not too bad. I hand steered through squalls and watched auto do all the work while I just kept us on course for the rest of the time.
By early afternoon the squalls ended and the sun came out, seas calmed enough for me to put out a trolling line about 5 miles from Royal Island in the Eleuthra’s. I got a bite within 5 minutes and reeled it in. Steve recovered sufficiently by this time, helped me land it. Unfortunately it was a barracuda – just over 2 feet long. I was not about to lose my good lure so we doused cheap alcohol in its gills, retrieved the hook and threw it back. By this time we were approaching the small cut between Egg Island and Little Egg Island, and the sea was much calmer on the lee of the islands. We entered the narrow but well-marked channel between rocks on Royal Island and dropped our hook in the large calm anchorage at 4:30 pm, near the shabby looking “Royal Barge”, just before sunset.
Damp, passage-messy and exhausted, we cleaned up a little, made chicken soup for supper, hit the sack early and were asleep by 7:30 pm! Steve had dinghied over to La Toison D’or before supper and we all agreed to a change of plan. After the lumpy crossing, instead of continuing the next day for another 35 nm, we decided to go into Spanish Wells, Eleuthra, instead for a “day off”.
Day 183: December 9;
Distance travelled on this leg: 60 NM;
Current Position: 25° 30.79 N; 76°50.97 W;
Left Lynyard Cay, Abaco at 06:25;
Anchored at Roayl Island, Eleuthra at 16:30;
Wind 10-20kn; seas lumpy, 6 squalls, 30°C.
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