We awoke just before 5:30 a.m. in order to weigh anchor at 6 a.m. This day would mark our first serious open water passage since we crossed the gulf stream. Our total distance to be covered today was 62.5 nautical miles, fifty of which were in the open waters of the Atlantic as we crossed the Northeast Providence Channel. As planned, Delfino weighed anchor with us and kept us company as we made the passage to Eleuthera. We both exited the Little Harbour Cut without difficulty, then headed almost due south. We motorsailed the entire way. The winds were light in the morning and we could only make 3.5-4 knots under sail alone. At that rate, we would not make our destination by dark. So, we fired up the port engine and motorsailed. Initially, we were making around 6.5 knots. As the winds picked up later in the day, however, we averaged 7.5-8 knots, with a maximum speed of 10.4 knots. We were on a starboard beam reach all day with the wind coming almost directly from the west. The seas were mixed. There was a 3-6 foot swell coming off the Atlantic from the northeast. There were also 1-3 foot seas coming from the west, generated by the prevailing wind. All in all, though, it was a nice passage.
We had no major problems. About the only glitch was when the furling line slipped off it’s spool on the genoa furler and jammed when we were raising sails. I had to pull the line forward from the stern to remedy the situation, and then feed it back through its blocks. It was a minor problem which was quickly remedied. We had fishing lines out all day. There were a few brief moments of excitement when a large mahi hit the port line. He was probably twice as large as the previous mahi I caught off the Keys. Unfortunately, I was unable to land him. About fifty feet from the boat he broke the water’s surface. He reentered the water for just a second or two before he broke the surface of the water again, this time bending the swivel on a weight allowing the fish to go free with the leader and the lure. Lesson learned: Make sure my gear is strong enough to haul in 40+ pound fish.
Shortly before 2 p.m., we turned to port and passed through the Egg Islands Cut and into the shallow protected North Eleutheran waters. By 3:15, a little over nine hours after weighing anchor in the Abacos, we dropped our anchor in 10 feet of clear water just south of Russell Island. Our 85 lb. Mantus anchor set easily in the sand. It was nice to accomplish another open water crossing and expand our horizons to another Bahamian island group.
After resting for a few minutes, we fancied ourselves up (and that is all relative when living on boat), and headed for town, Spanish Wells, for a Valentine’s Day dinner. We dinghied in through the Spanish Wells south entrance and docked in front of Pinder’s Grocery. We ran into some cruisers from New York who were heading to the Shipyard Restaurant for dinner. They had made reservations, which we did not have, but we figured we’d try our luck. So, we walked the quarter mile to the east end of St. George’s Cay (on which is found Spanish Wells), and walked in to the Shipyard Restaurant. We were initially told they were completely booked, but the lady was moved with compassion at our sadness and found a place to accommodate us. Although cool out, mid-60s and windy, we sat outside on the waterfront seating. It was quite beautiful, and the food was fantastic. Cindy had steak and I had surf and turf. The steak and lobster were delicious. They were among the best I’ve had. Spanish Wells is known for its fishing and lobster trade. In fact, seventy percent of the annual Bahamian lobster production is harvested by the fleet from Spanish Wells. It is the quintessential, small fishing village. The people speak with an accent that sounds a little Australian to us. When I asked a local where the accent is from, she explained that it was just the way the folks speak around here.
After dinner, we walked a short distance to “On Da Corner,” a snack/souvenir shop which, we were told, has good wifi. We sat outside drinking hot chocolate, catching up on email and web happenings for forty-five minutes or so. We left then, because about a dozen or so young children had come to sit in lawn chairs in front of the store to watch Frozen on a 120” screen. I guess that’s the closest thing to a movie theater around here. We made our way back to Beatitude in almost complete darkness. It’s a good thing, I have a chart plotter app on my iPhone or we made not have found our way back. Once aboard, we put on our long pajamas and rested from an eventful, exciting, and wonderful day.