Well, $852 later we were back in business keeping the beers cold. Ouch! Thankfully it didn't happen when Kelly was here.
So, after dealing with that on Saturday morning the weather looked good for us to continue towards the Caribbean and we got the boat ready for sea, said goodbye to our friends in the harbor and raised anchor. We left Elizabeth Harbour around 6 p.m. heading for Crooked Island. The winds were forecast to be light into the evening out of the S.E. and then back to east through the night. That would have been great for our trip but instead they built out of the S.E. through the night. We raised the main at midnight as we were rounding Cape Santa Maria and motor sailed slightly off the wind at around 3.5-4 knots. Seas weren't to bad, around 4', but the going was slow. The wind slowly laid down and by morning we were moving at 5.5 kts. We trolled the whole way during daylight hours but caught nothing. Landrail point was our landfall just before sunset on Sunday. There was a small surge here causing the boat to roll at anchor but we managed to get some sleep.
Monday morning we got up early, listened to weather from Chris Parker, and made our way south 8 miles to try to get into the French Wells anchorage. The Explorer charts describe the entrance into the anchorage as intricate and shallow with shifting sand bars. We arrived about 50 minutes before high tide at the nearest tide station (Datum Bay) and slowly followed the course on the charts. Almost immediately we were aground on the sandbar so we backed off and anchored in deeper water. The Captain and Admiral jumped in the dinghy with the iPad and lead line to search out a clear path in. After a short time we found a good path north of the charted course and marked the waypoints on the iPad. if anyone wants these points feel free to email us but the entrance appears to shift quite often. Back on the big boat we raised anchor and followed our waypoints in with no problems. After congratulating ourselves we discussed how we never would have tried that 2 years ago, risking a grounding so far from any help in the middle of nowhere. We anchored as far in as depths would allow after trying in a couple of places with no luck getting the anchor to dig in. The bottom is hard scoured sand from the fast current that runs though here.
The day was spent exploring the area. At Gun Point, just north of us, there is a cannon lying on the ground and the ruins of an old fort. Just to the west of that is the wreck of S.V. Secret. It appears she dragged her mooring, which she is still tied to, and ended up in the mangroves far from deep water.
After checking out the sailboat we decided to try to find the well French Wells was named for. On our way to the beach we saw a mangrove creek and went up it as far as we could. It rivaled the creek at Conception Island for wildlife. We saw three sharks that we think were Caribbean reef sharks, a few turtles,lots of fish and a juvenile flamingo.
We continued on to the beach where the well is and found the rock lined path that leads to it marked with cairns and a large rock arrow on the ground. The well looked a little stagnant. You'd have to be pretty desperate to drink from it.
On the beach some cruisers have piled rocks into a circular wall. Quite a few have carved their boat names onto the pieces of rock so naturally we had to add Shambala's.
On Tuesday we started the day with school, made water and then the Captain and Admiral cut each other's hair. This was my (Paul's)first time cutting hair and I must say I did a stellar job after some internet research. We then dove at a couple reefs looking for dinner but came up empty. We saw some giant grouper but they were wise to us and we couldn't get a shot at them so it was falafel for dinner.
Tomorrow we are going to continue south toward the southern tip of Ackilins, then onto Great Inagua Thursday night. Originally our plan was to head toward Ile a Vache, Haiti and then along the south coast of the Dominican Republic but this past week a couple on a cruising boat was violently attacked by six armed men while anchored off the north peninsula of Haiti. We would sail right past this area and decided it wasn't worth the risk. So, instead we will sail east from Great Inagua with the help of very unusual south winds off the north coast of the D.R. Hopefully they materialize and all goes as planned.