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Old 01-12-2010, 14:19   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Currently on the boat, somewhere on the ocean, living the dream
Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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Western Eleuthera and Hatchet Bay to Rock Sound

Western Eleuthera and Hatchet Bay to Rock Sound

We left you as we started to explore Hatchet Bay, a small community on the
northern end of Eleuthera.

Our explorations of the area, unfortunately, missed the caves there, as we
didn't discover that they existed until picking up an Eleuthera tourist
guidebook, after we'd left, when we arrived in Governors Harbour...

Those of you following my logs for a while will recall that I have "Dad's
Chandlery" - a conversion from my shoreside life's "Dad's Hardware Store"
where friends and offspring would come when they needed something - aboard
Flying Pig.

One set of the friends we made in Hatchet Bay were the owners of the Front
Porch, a bar and restaurant right off the dock into Hatchet Bay. During one
of our chats, Francis, one of the owners, had commented that he used to have
a VHF radio, but it had been stolen. He shared with us that he'd eventually
like to set up a real base station, with a fixed unit and a mast for an
antenna, but it was outside his budget to even consider it at the time. As
I am a big one for spares, I had a new-in-the-box replacement for our helm
radio. As I could obtain another when I returned to the states, I offered
to bring it to him to consider. I also thought I'd had a replacement for
our nav station radio, a less expensive unit, but it's still in the box
waiting on our friends with the private plane's arrival and delivery. (We
went to the states this summer and on our return exceeded our baggage weight
allowance very substantially, so we had to make difficult decisions about
what to leave behind for the kind offer of transport by our friends when
they flew over to cruise with us.)

I called Francis to relate my internet search for a replacement for my other
fixed unit, and he said that was way beyond his budget at this time - due,
mostly, to the renovations he was making to the restaurant currently.
However, he shared that the stolen unit was a handheld, so, into the Dad's
Chandlery I go to fetch out the couple of units we've not used, due to their
bulk, in preference for some smaller ones.

I took them over for inspection, and he pulled out another very good
handheld, saying that he didn't have a power supply for it. As chance would
have it, the two units I took over were of the same make. The rechargeable
batteries had long since died, and no longer made, thus irreplaceable. They
had cartridges for regular AA batteries, but both units had come with 12V
plug-in (like in a cigarette lighter) charger supplies. I'd given another
to a cruiser in Georgetown last year with the same problem.

So, I thought that the other might work for his unit, and brought it back to
the boat to try, and, if it worked, to charge his handheld unit. Sure
enough, it did work. Ever the packrat, I knew that I also had a couple of
plug-in "bricks" which I'd cut off our Vonage phone charger bases,
connecting those to our computer's power supply. As the 12V
cigarette-lighter charger was the same voltage as the plug-in bases, I could
splice that for him, allowing him the ability to recharge inside the
restaurant instead of relying on his car, his only other means of 12V.
However, those were very well buried in my computer supplies bin, so it
would have to wait.

As you saw in my last, we set out for Gregory Town, about 10 miles up the
road, via hitchhiking. We're very thankful that "hitching" is alive and
well (and not incidentally, very safe!) throughout the Bahamas. We soon
caught a ride, on that hot and brilliant day, to very near the entrance to
"Surfer's Beach" - along which road was one of the two highly recommended
spots for our coming dinner.

As we'd learned from another of our set of friends, it was a long hike up to
the beach, but we got there after first stopping to check out the sign on
the (closed) restaurant. That sign promised a veritable groaning board of a
feast, with 5 or more choices of each of meats, vegetables, desserts and
other goodies, making our mouths water.

Good thing, too, as, while we'd hauled our water and lunch with us, we were
going to save that for when we finally reached the beach. A surfer was in
the water when we arrived, and another couple came along just after we
finished our lunch. The waves, of course, were very much smaller than they
would have been during the rage. Never the less, this was known as a very
desirable surfer's location, as witnessed by our new arrivals who'd flown
all the way from Jackson Hole, Wyoming to get there (it would have been as
easy to fly to Hawaii!) and we enjoyed watching for a time before we headed
back out to the road.

We immediately caught another ride into Gregory Town. Our objective there
was Elvina's, known locally as THE place to come on Tuesdays and Fridays,
when there were open mike sessions. The owner, "Chicken," who'd come to the
Bahamas for a few weeks nearly 20 years ago, but got stuck there when he met
and married Elvina, had progressively added more and more to the stage which
now featured a full drum set, many guitars, bongos, and a very serious sound
system. Lenny Kravitz happens to live in the area, and while he'll
occasionally visit, he doesn't play. That doesn't stop any of the three
band members who ALSO live in the area from taking the stage! There have
been many other notables who have also played and/or sung on past occasions,
so, it's a great place to go.

However, the immediate reason we'd gone there was that we'd been told that
this was also THE place to go for Thanksgiving dinner. When we asked how
much it was, and what would be on the menu, we learned that it all
complimentary - just buy your drinks. Our kind of price! We made plans to

Before we left, we toured the town a bit, including the place where we'd
been dropped off. That featured ice cream, we learned as we encountered a
couple just about to leave with their cones. A substantial cone was all of
$2 - unheard of in the Bahamas. Needless to say, at least for those of you
who've been reading these for any time, we made a beeline for there.

Walking along down the hill on which Elvina's was perched, we stuck out our
thumbs a few times, to no effect. We figured the cement mixer wasn't likely
to stop - and didn't - nor the big delivery truck, so we didn't bother.
However, the delivery truck pulled up next to us, and asked us where we were
heading. "Hatchet Bay." "Well, let's go - come on and get in!"

It was a beer delivery truck on the way back to Governors Harbour, driven by
Huey, a most gregarious fellow. He dropped us right at the Front Porch.
However, along the way, we learned that he worked for Kalik, as seen by the
Heineken sign on the side of the truck - but he preferred Busch, as
demonstrated by the open can in the cupholder on his dash. He sipped at it
as we went, a common occurrence here in the Bahamas. We'd learned from the
Sands folks who'd taken us to see the rage at Glass Window that unless you
killed someone, it was highly unlikely that anyone driving under the
influence - or having (and actively using!) an open container in the
vehicle - would ever come under the influence of traffic laws. As he
appeared in full control of his faculties, we didn't give it a second

Along the way, however, we learned that Governors Harbour was a considerably
better place to seek out Thanksgiving dinner, if for no other reason than
its size. So, that being Tuesday, as Thanksgiving approached, we shifted
gears and made ready to leave. I burrowed into my computer supplies and
came up with one of my cut-off plug-ins for Francis. Wednesday morning, I
dinghied in and dropped it off, being assured that he could do the splicing,
and we set about to depart.

By 11AM, we were off our mooring and under way out the narrow cut in the
rocks which had converted this inland lake into a seaport so many years ago.
As has been our very good fortune of late, the weather was nearly ideal for
sailing. Our course had us at 131*T with 45* apparent wind of 6-10 knots.
That produced a speed of 3.5-3.8 knots. We continued to find our newly
tuned rig doing beautifully, other than that our forestay, on which our
genoa furler is mounted, being far too loose for my taste. We'll have to
tighten the backstay a bit, because, under way, we have a slight forward
lean to the top of our mast. That's just the opposite of the usually
favored shape of a gentle curve to the stern.

We put out the fishing lines, ever hopeful, but were shut out as usual.
However, by 11:30, the wind had shifted slightly, allowing us to improve our
heading to 121*T. Easing the sails to accommodate that change also improved
our speed, now up to 3.7-4.2 knots under a brilliant sky and light chop.

Sailing as close to the wind as we do makes for constant watchfulness, and
the light airs became fluky, to boot, so one moment's inattention had us
backwinded, requiring a 360* turn (a penalty turn, as you'd say in racing,
for our inattention!). That all worked out immediately, of course, and we
were soon back under way in the right direction. Unfortunately, that wind
shift required us to bear off to 150*T, not getting us closer to land, as
you'll see on the SPOT locator page (

By noon, the wind had died enough that we were seeing only 4-7 knots of
apparent wind, dropping our speed to only 3.4-3.8 knots again. As I took
over from Otto (autopilot) and hand-steered, I was able to pinch our way
back up to 129*T, using my friend Roger Long (the Titanic researcher who
also designs workboats)'s technique of "full and bye" - bearing off, and
gently pinching back up until the sails start to luff, and doing it again.
That technique, described in one of his articles for Down East magazine, is
the best course, despite it's being a bit snaky, for the best CMG (course
made good) speeds.

With only a 6-12" chop, our progress wasn't impeded by wave motion, but we'd
have to tack to make our harbor. Fortunately, we'd left in plenty of time
to make that happen, enhanced by just a bit more wind, allowing us an
increase to 5 knots just before 2PM, albeit at a course of only 150*T. The
entrance to Governors Harbour is to the NW, so we'd need to make two tacks
to enter it under sail. Our first tack, taking us to 357*T, was at 3:20.

Continuing on that line until 3:40 allowed us to make the turn into the
harbor, where Troubadour, our buddy boat, had already arrived. The harbor
has several moorings marked on the chart, but the charts also allow that one
may have to use their own tackle. That caution proved to be accurate, as
there were no mooring balls visible. Our diver friends had already located
and secured theirs, but stayed in the water to find another in the crystal
clear water, to which they attached one of their fenders, as we approached.

When I picked up the ball with our dock hook, we discovered that the line to
the chain was too short to allow us to connect directly. No big deal, I put
our mooring lines we'd used successfully before on the line, secured our
boat, and had returned their bouy to them by 4:15. A great day sailing was
completed by our inviting our benefactor, who'd saved me from having to get
suited up and dive for our line, over for dinner. I tell ya, it's hard to
beat this lifestyle - good friends, good sailing, and a secure mooring sure
go well together!

Thursday saw us ashore relatively early, ready for exploration for our
Thanksgiving dinner. This being the Bahamas, it wasn't a holiday, so
everything was open. Our first stop was the library...

This is a historic building renovated and given to the town for use as a
library. The history was detailed, inside, which we found interesting. We
asked, as we entered, about dinner, and one of the local resorts had a menu
less broad than the surfer's beach road restaurant had, at half again the
price, let alone the freebie of Elvina's, tacked to the door. Uh-oh! Did we
make a mistake coming down for today? The library has a book exchange which
doesn't require an even-swap for what you remove. As a result, Troubadour
and Flying Pig left with many new books each. Dropping our books in the
dinghy, we continued our exploration and search for dinner.

We wandered around a bit, asking locals for recommendations, and checked out
a couple of them, some of which would be doing nothing other than the
standard menu. Arriving back at the crossroads, who should we meet on the
corner but Huey! He recognized Lydia and me immediately, and was not only
very firm in his recommendation, but noted that it was all of $15 for all
you could eat, with a drink included. That was enough for us, so, even
though it was only 2PM we trooped off to Harbour Inn where, true to the
recommendation, we had 4 meats, 4 veggies, 4 desserts, all you could eat,
and a soft drink - with beers and other drinks economically (by Bahamian
standards, anyway!) offered. They were doing a brisk business with locals
who stopped in to take out the ubiquitous styrofoam containers laden with
their Thanksgiving suppers. So, despite it not being a "holiday" there, the
locals embrace the concept, or, perhaps, just the opportunity to have a huge
variety and quantity of food at an unusually affordable price.

We finally waddled out after doing our best to get our money's worth (well,
we surely did - perhaps I should have characterized it as "making them wish
we didn't have quite the capacity we did"), and continued our explorations.
Guess who? Pay the contestant, you're right - Huey! He tells us that
tomorrow, if our stomachs have sufficiently recovered, that we MUST not miss
the fish fry which happens every Friday night. Thus forewarned, we headed
back to the boat, so full that thoughts of ANYTHING to eat were the furthest
thing from our minds for the rest of the night.

Still a bit stuffed from all that excess, we stayed on the boat during the
day, but planned to go in for the fish fry, based on the accurate
recommendations of Huey from the day before. It became apparent that
preparations for the event were well under way early in the afternoon as
supplies arrived, entertainment was set up and sound checks made, and the
wood fires which would stoke the deep fry bucket and barbeque oven were lit.

By 7 we were ashore in a moshpit of activity. Clearly this was a social
event well appreciated by the community, as it was packed. A choice (not
all you can eat, but a three-section styrofoam take-out container groaning
under the weight of LOTS of peas and rice - a Bahamian constant with most
meals - and another choice-of-three side dish plus your meat) of barbequed
chicken or pork chop, or deep-fried fish (in this case, barracuda, our
favorite fish) plus the side dishes proved well worth the $10 they charged,
as we found a picnic table to eat our dinner.

However, that wasn't all, as there was a digital DJ set up in the back of a
panel van, with a dance area of street blocked off with sawhorses. He mixed
LOTS of songs expertly, moving from theme to theme, stitching together dance
tunes which lasted over 5 minutes while giving you a flavor of a dozen or so
artists' most notable moments from their songs. Thus, what sounded like it
was going to be "Pennsylvania 6-5000" merged after only a few moments into
some other swing tune, followed on its heels in the same fashion by artists
from many decades - all in the same style, and all in the same "set,"

After watching the many dancers in awe we learned that there were prizes
attached, as one couple was awarded a bottle of wine, and the 4 runners-up a
free drink from the bar. We're continually amazed at the variety and
originality of the Bahamian lifestyle, including celebration of community.
We also find, without exception, the most beautiful, caring, kind and warm
folks, everywhere we go.

Being cruisers, "midnight" is about 7-8PM, so we made an early night of it
with our friends. However, as we're making our way down the beach to our
dinghy, we see another coming in. That turns out to be other friends, who
we've meet or spoken with over the airwaves in several places in the past
year, on Boto, a Jenneau 40. Chatting reveals that they're headed to
Palmetto Point to visit some friends, soon. Hm. That wouldn't be Skip and
Sharon Warner, by any chance? Of course! That is the couple with whom we
shared a shelter from the rain up in Spanish Wells. They'd insisted we come
visit them if our travels took us that way - and Boto was on their way to
see them the next day! More examples of the small world cruising turns out
to be...

As we wanted to go visit the beach on Saturday, we'd not be joining Boto on
their trip down, but we resolved, the weather being forecast as appropriate
to do so, to follow them on Sunday, after church. Our visit to the beach
was a bit roundabout, as we confused the directions on how to get there. As
a result we got in a nice long walk to get to the OTHER end of the 2-mile or
so long, totally deserted, beach.

Walking down the beach, we passed what we surmised might have been the
wreckage of the prior Club Med which had been destroyed in a hurricane in
years past, and eventually wound up at yet another resort. This time, we'd
forgotten to bring water, so we indulged ourselves with a thirst-quencher at
the bar, and headed back to town. Sure enough, we scarcely get out of the
door before we're offered a ride by a couple who split their time between
Eleuthera and the states. Amazing how short our walk would have been if
we'd been able to figure out the route - we'd actually crossed the road we
SHOULD have taken, on our way to the beach!

Sunday we went to church. Well, that is, we went to THE church. One day a
year, they have a celebration on the island, as seen in the pix of the
dinghy races which were held in the harbor, and this year it was this
church's turn to host the ecumenical service - so there was no regular
service. Well, what to do? It's still early - so Troubadour and we trooped
off in hopes of finding the tradtional Sunday sweet rolls. No such luck,
and nearly everywhere you MIGHT have found such a thing was closed, but we
met someone who directed us a mile or so down the road. No such luck there,
either, but it WAS a very inexpensive place to have a snack and a drink
before we headed back to town and a bit more exploring before returning to
the boat in preparation for our trip to Palmetto Point.

We'd called the Warners, but got a machine, on Saturday night. When they
returned, they called us back. They'd come to Governors Harbour for dinner
with Boto! - and half expected us to walk in the door while they were eating
:{)) Expecting us, then, mid-afternoon or so, we set about getting under
way. Raising the sail beforehand, I soon had our mooring lines aboard after
undoing them in the dinghy and, catching up with Lydia as she came about to
aim at our exit, came back aboard after securing our dinghy's tow line.

We were under way at 2:45 for the brief trip. We couldn't have asked for
another nicer day, once again, as we saw apparent wind of 4-8 knots at
30-45* - giving us 2.8-3.4 knots on a 150*T course directly for Pineapple
Cays which were immediately offshore of our destination. A short tack put
us off their beach, where the other "Skip" stood waving his arms at us to
tell us not to get too close due to the sand bars out front, at 4:15.

Dinghying ashore, we found out the seriousness of his alarm, as even the
dinghy scraped the engine long before we got to shore. They offered to have
us for dinner, which we gladly accepted (a home-cooked meal is a nice change
from boat fare). We set about taking the tour of the amazing property, their
home having been built entirely from ground to roof, by themselves, while
they lived in the guest house they now have available for holiday makers. If
you're looking for a relaxing vacation, you should give them a try. You can
get a good view of it by clicking The Barefoot Beach House ...

My tour was mostly of the construction elements of the property, while
Lydia's was of the artistic enhancements which Sharon had added, but - of
course! - one of the most interesting to me was the huge shop Skip had below
their home. Every imaginable tool, including a tile saw, was there, along
with what we learned over dinner was an entire pallet of Travertine tile,
cut from solid stone, left over from a production error which was cured by
the manufacturer shipping a replacement, but not wanting to pay the
freight to have it returned. So, while they used the new pallet hugely
throughout their new home (Skip's artistry with the tile saw to perform
amazing cuts, including rounded inside corners, and hand labor to modify
some of the pieces to round edges is jaw-dropping), including tile floors
throughout their home and vacation units, there was still lots of it left

My mind eventually stumbled upon the fact that we'd had lots of
recommendations for fixing our onboard oven's irregular temperatures having
to do with putting tiles on top of the thin stainless steel plate in the
bottom. It turned out that these tiles were nearly exactly the width we
needed, and more than needed for the depth to accomplish that with a single
piece. So, over the scrumptious pork loin dinner, we agreed to take one of
the worst (cosmetics are of absolutely no concern to the function here) of
the leftovers and cut off the excess on the morrow.

After breakfast, and bringing them aboard to have the tour of OUR home, I
took them ashore and we cut the tile to size. The single piece is
absolutely perfect for the application, and the cosmetics are of no
interest, so it was a perfect use for what otherwise might have been
considered "defective goods."

While I was there, I helped him change his home's local WiFi router's
transmission to a different channel than the repeater he used to provide his
signal to the guest units so it wouldn't be in conflict with their home
unit's signal, and we said a fond farewell. The Warners are like some of the
Seven Seas Cruising Association folks who have "swallowed the anchor" in
that they go out of their way to be friendly to cruisers, offering help from
a shower to a ride to the store or other helps difficult to accomplish from
the boat. If you'll be in that area by boat, be sure to contact them via
their website and get acquainted!

Our trip to Rock Sound looked like it would be ideal, with a bit more wind,
and a good point of sail for our course of 187*T. Sure enough, with the
wind at 11-15 knots over the 70-80* apparent direction, we were seeing
5.4-6.2 knots in very light seas as we departed at 11:45 following our tile
installation. Another day for visitors, the seas were kindly, the sun was
shining, our level of heel was a gentle 15* and all was right with the

Of course, as you've seen frequently in these pages, everything's subject to
change, and at 2:15 we were rewarded with a bit more wind, allowing us a
brief period of 7.5 knots. By 2:45, as we cleared Tarpum Point and headed
upwind to 137*T, we were seeing apparent wind of 16-18 knots due to our
change in direction yielding a tack of 20-35* apparent. Some of that wind
was due to our forward speed of 5.5-6.0 knots as we pinched along. Sailing
that close to the wind made us heel further, and put a great deal more
pressure on the furler due to how tightly I had to pull the genoa in to keep
it flowing the air properly.

Thus, I was easily able to see the considerable curve in the furler, and
renewed my resolve to tighten the backstay, which would both tighten the
genoa but also take out some of the negative mast curve (forward, over the
spreaders). In the end, I took 4 turns on the backstay turnbuckle, and all
looks well, as both the backstay and furler seem much more appropriately
tensioned by feel in addition to my having cured the negative curve in the

Because our route into Rock Sound would be from the Exuma Sound (the body of
water between Eleuthera/Cat Island and the rest of the Exumas), we'd have to
pinch up even more. As the genoa was already as tight as it could go, we
rolled it in as we turned to 120*T, pulling the mainsail to the center on
the traveler and pulling it extremely tightly. Due to our 6 full battens,
which curved out making an airfoil, we continued at a VERY close beat, with
15-20* apparent wind of 15-18 knots yielding 4.9 knots of speed. By 4:10,
following the recommendation of Boto, who'd preceded us the prior day, we'd
dropped the hook near to the dinghy dock only a couple of blocks' walk away.

Another wonderful day at sea, with an anchorage well sheltered from the
worst weather we might experience, based on our forecasts, a nice internet
signal - and the sun hasn't gone down yet. What more could you want?

Well, I'll tell you, but this has gone on way too long already, so you'll
have to wait for our next installment. In the meantime, you can see our
photos from Harbour Island (featured in my last log) onward at these links:

Picasa Web Albums - Lydia Fell - Trip to Harbo...
Picasa Web Albums - Lydia Fell - Hatchett Bay
Picasa Web Albums - Lydia Fell - Gregory Town ...
Picasa Web Albums - Lydia Fell - Thanksgiving ...

Until next time, Stay Tuned!


Skip, lying Rock Sound
Morgan 461 #2 SV Flying Pig, KI4MPC
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