Highbourne Cay, Exumas to Spanish Wells, Eleuthera

Last night, as is often the case before a significant day’s passage, I did not sleep well. Actually, I slept well at first, but by the wee hours of the morning I was awake with my mind racing. Reluctantly, I finally got out of bed around 5:40. We’d just leave sooner than I had anticipated. By 6:40, we had inched our way out of our slip and were motoring out of Highbourne Cay Marina. The day’s weather would be mostly sunny with a few clouds and winds from the ENE at 12-18 knots. It was unexpectedly choppy and rolly for the first two or three hours. We had 2-3 foot waves just forward of the starboard beam.

Leaving Highbourne Cay Marina

Leaving Highbourne Cay Marina

Underway - Admiral on Duty

Underway – Admiral on Duty

Around 9:30 we entered the coral head, a.k.a. “land mine,” region. For approximately an hour and a half, Cindy was stationed on the bow serving as a second pair of eyes. Her job was to spot coral heads and report them to me. We wore our headsets to make communication easier. Thankfully, we zigged and zagged our way through them without incident. Once through the coral head-laden portion of our passage, we raised the sails and killed the engines. It is always a beautiful feeling to be propelled through the water by wind alone. We were making 5.5-6.5 knots on a close starboard reach. Eventually, though, we had to turn to starboard, almost directly into the wind, so we furled our genoa and motorsailed under main alone.

One of the many coral heads we dodged  during the morning

One of the many coral heads we dodged during the morning

Sails are up

Sails are up

Looking past the genoa onto the beautiful clear waters

Looking past the genoa onto the beautiful clear waters

This was when trouble arose. Perhaps 10 minutes after firing up both engines, the temperature alarm sounded on the starboard engine. There seemed to be raw cooling water coming from the engine, so I wasn’t sure what the problem was. It had worked fine for several hours earlier in the morning. We had had some overheating problems with our port engine back in the states, but that was remedied by flushing out the fresh water cooling system. I also flushed out the starboard engine at the time, so that is not likely to be the problem. I’ll have to investigate once I’m in Spanish Wells. We decided to motorsail with mainsail and port engine alone. We still made about 5.5 knots with the wind on our nose.

Beatitude under sail in the Northeast Providence Channel

Beatitude under sail in the Northeast Providence Channel

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P1040686

During the time that the engine overheated, we had made our way into the deep water of the Northwest Providence Channel. I put out both fishing lines, but there was no fishing success to be had today. Once back in the shallow waters of north Eleuthera, I reeled in the lines and we prepared the boat for arrival back in Spanish Wells. It was with some melancholy that we left the Exumas. They were beautiful beyond measure. It would have been nice to spend more time there, but we’ll likely revisit next winter on the way to the Caribbean.

Preparing the fishing lines

Preparing the fishing lines

Just after 5 p.m., we lowered the mainsail and turned Beatitude slightly to port to enter the south channel into Spanish Wells Harbour. As we entered, a large megayacht pulled in right behind us and intimated over the radio that he’d like to pass us. The entrance is narrow and this wasn’t really a possibility. He said something to the effect that he’d like to reach his destination by dark. Now, seeing that we had an hour before darkness descended, and we were pulling into a small harbour, it occurred to Cindy and I that maybe this was a slam about the motoring speed of our sailboat. We weren’t offended, however, and continued on.

Cindy, headset in place, ready to pick up mooring ball when we enter Spanish Wells Harbour

Cindy, headset in place, ready to pick up mooring ball when we enter Spanish Wells Harbour

The south cut into the harbour

The south cut into the harbour

Entering the Harbour

Entering the Harbour

This megayacht, following close behind, thinks I was moving to slowly

This megayacht, following close behind, thinks I was moving to slowly

Around 5:20, we completed our 56+ nautical mile journey from the Exumas back to Eleuthera. I started the starboard engine for maneuvering to pick up the mooring ball on the east end of the harbour. The balls are very close together and the area behind our ball shallows quickly. Fortunately, the engine worked fine and Cindy did her usual excellent job at picking up the ball on the first attempt. A few short moments later, we lowered the dinghy and headed to town for dinner.

Our 56 nautical mile journey northward

Our 56 nautical mile journey northward

Beatitude on her mooring at the east end of the harbour

Beatitude on her mooring at the east end of the harbour

We thought we would eat at the Shipyard Restaurant, a place we ate at twice the last time we were here, and a place we thoroughly enjoyed. However, after docking Dalí not far from the restaurant and walking up the street to eat, we discovered that it is closed on Monday and Tuesday. Oh, well. So, we turned around and walked back toward the rest of town. The people in Spanish Wells are all so nice. We stopped a gentleman passing in his golf cart to ask if there was a restaurant in town which was open for dinner. He explained that there is only one other restaurant in town, and it was open. He offered to give us a ride in his golf cart to a restaurant called Budda Snack Shop. We thanked him for his kindness and accepted.

Now, you may think that a restaurant named Budda might serve Asian cuisine. No. They served the usual menu of fish, burgers, conch, chicken, etc. Since this was the only place open in town, it was pretty busy. To order, you stop at a trailer (food truck) and order, you then seat yourself at outside tables. Drinks are ordered at a separate bar. There is also an adjoining liquor store which is impressively stocked for its size. The food was surprisingly good. We both had a burger with cole slaw and BBQ sauce with a side of Bahamian Mac and Cheese. We enjoyed Goombay Smashes from the bar and were pleasantly surprised when our total for three drinks came to $9.00. All drinks for $3/each during happy hour, 5-7. The Budda also had free wifi which worked well. With this perfect recipe for happiness, we enjoyed ourselves for a while before walking the 3/4 mile back to Dalí to return to our home.

Cindy tango-ing her sister, Christy from Budda's

Cindy tango-ing her sister, Christy from Budda’s

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