Hiking, fishing, and lots of great sailing
March 17 – March 23, 2019
After 7 weeks in Georgetown with boats so close you could pass the sugar and hear their heads flush, it was time to leave! We had a decent weather window for the 52 nautical mile sail which would take about 10 hours to reach Cat Island.
Leaving Georgetown with downward wind at 13kts was easy but as we turned north/northeast, we had some sporty weather on our beam, with 6-foot rollers at close intervals. I don’t mind the sea state, I don’t think I ever have. Maybe it’s because I’m always on the fly bridge, which is undoubtedly the most comfortable place to be on the boat at sail, or maybe it’s because it’s so high off the water it doesn’t feel scary. Who knows why it is, I’m just thankful I don’t get nervous about the sea state. Even when we took water over the toe rail, I just raised my eyebrows – I mean, on a monohull that is commonplace, but on a cat?
About 4 hours into the journey, the sea state finally calmed and the winds remained consistent in the 10-15kt range, so we turned off the motor and let the winds take us to our new island to explore. With thousands of feet under our keel, we had set out our hand line and fishing pole, but once again, the only thing we were catching was seagrass.
Cat Island is in the central Bahamas and is protected on the west side and open Atlantic on the east. It has the highest point in all of the Bahamas, with Mt. Alvernia rising to 206 feet above sea level. At the top of this wee mountain is a monastery built by the Franciscan, Brother Jerome, called “The Hermitage”. The hike up that mountain is awesome and I was thrilled to stretch my legs up to the top and see the stunning views of the water below. Gorgeous.
At New Bight, which is on the south side of the island, the anchorage was great. For a couple nights, we had gentle rollers rocking us to sleep, and while I was still a bit nervously checking our anchor alarm positioning, I was finding myself relaxing because there was no opposing wind and current – big change from what we had throughout the Exumas.
We welcomed Spring by sailing north to Arthur’s Town so we could be positioned to keep hopping north, with our eyes set on exploring Eleuthera for my upcoming vacation. On our hop to Arthur’s Town, we once again set out the fishing line and were stoked when a fish caught the hook. Mistakenly thinking it was a bluefin tuna, after 4 months in the Bahamas, we were finally gonna enjoy some sushi! Unfortunately, it was not a bluefin, it was its evil doppleganger the Bonito. Now, there’s nothing terribly wrong with Bonito, and it is edible, but it is NOT tuna. It was a little funky to be honest. We’d find ourselves catching Bonito again during this adventure, but each time we’d remove the hook and send it back.
While to the south, the anchorage was great, to the north not so much. We had higher winds (15-18kts) coming from the west, which isn’t so great when you want wind from the east on the leeward side of the island. This, combined with tides coming from the south gave us an uncomfortable 2-4’ surge on our beam – at anchor. My inner voice wouldn’t shut up and I was constantly monitoring the anchor alarm as the boat would rock and roll from side to side. There’d be no sleep for me – and what rest I did get, I took in the cockpit where I could see the rocks behind our boat. And yes, I made Erik wake up and keep me company (besides, the worst place to be in a sea state is in the hull and he wasn’t getting much sleep anyway.)
We left after coffee the next morning to reach Little San Salvador, a quick 20 nautical mile, 4-hour sail. Let me tell you, not only was that a great sail, the sun shining, the wind light and variable, but the anchorage was amazing. We tucked in to Half Moon Bay, the only place sailboats are allowed to anchor because the island is privately owned by a cruise ship line. We anchored about 100 yards off the beach and that afternoon, a gaggle of cruise ship guests went ashore and looked like they were having a blast. I had to work and Erik was dealing with head issues (diagnosing the backfill issue – so gross), so we didn’t go ashore. So while I worked from the cockpit, I watched as guests mounted horses and rode in the surf. How cool is that??
The next day, we hailed the island to request permission but after a dozen failed attempts to reach them, and with an inbound cruise ship on its way, we decided it wasn’t in our cards to go check anything out. We snorkeled and swam, and had lunch outside, and then shifted our focus toward Eleuthera. My vacation was just around the corner and I had lots of plotting to do.
Sunrise greeted us the next morning and we were off like a naughty girl’s panties. From Little San Salvador to Rock Sound, Eleuthera is a 60nm, 11-hour sail. And it was a great sail. An hour into our departure, we once again turned off the motors and let the wind take us west, then north, and finally east. We were making great speed, averaging 7 kts for several hours. The sail into Rock Sound from the point had us turn our motors back on though, as we fought the wind and current which were right on our nose, and finally set anchor about an hour before sunset. What a beautiful life, what a beautiful sail, and as we sat in the cockpit toasting our good fortune, we smiled.
Next up: Being naked, meeting new friends, and exploring Eleuthera