Saturday, May 14, 2016

Exumas to Spanish Wells to Eleuthera to Harbor Island Through the Devils Backbone!


Easter Egg Hunt on Lee Stocking

Conch Fest!

Campfire Night!

School with Guest Teacher MadSam

Hog Cay Anchorage

Boo Boo Hill Signs

The crew of MadSam with Shambala 

Pink Sand Beach on Harbor Island (if you look close you might see a few pink grains)

Blow Holes on Rat Cay

Spa Day on Shambala

Queen's Baths on Eleuthera 

The coolest library on Eleuthera on Governor's Harbor

The Piano near David Copperfield's Island

Shambala touches bottom at low tide near Big Farmers

Plane wreck in the Exuma Land and Sea Park

The Aquarium in the park

Coral near Sandy Cay in the Abacos

Turtle - Sandy Cay Abacos

Sandy Cay Abacos

Swimming Pigs near Staniel Cay

Since we left Long Island and met up with our friends on MadSam we have been traveling throughout the Bahamas.  Here are some highlights from our trip through the Exumas.

The first few stops were anchorages just north of Georgetown.  MadSam had visitors for a few days and we showed them all of our favorite places.  Lee Stocking Island and the elk horn coral, hiking, beaches, and ruins of a previous ocean research facility.  Leaf Cay with the iguanas and drift dives.  Norman Pond Cay where we found a few conch followed by a conch feast.  Bon fire at the beach with roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.  A new stop for us was the blow holes on Rat Cay.  

After MadSam said goodbye to their friends we moved up to Black Point where we did laundry at our favorite laundry.  Then we moved up to Staniel Cay where we enjoyed beer, conch fritters at the yacht club, and fed the famous swimming pigs.  We stayed one night in Pipe Creek to enjoy the cool sand bar and enjoyed sundowners.  

Next stop was the Exuma Land and Sea Park at the Hog Cay mooring area.  It is a tricky entrance but exciting.  The views, scenery and snorkeling were amazing.  We snorkeled on some of the oldest lifeforms on the face of the earth, Stromatolites.  They supposedly pre-date our oxygen atmosphere.  The only other place they are known to be is in Australia.  

From there we moved around to Emerald Rock anchorage and stayed a couple of days to re-new our sign on Boo-Boo Hill.  

We made a big jump from there to Norman’s Cay but felt the anchorage was too rough for snorkeling on the plane wreck so moved up to Allen’s Cay.  The wind stayed strong and we were not able to snorkel as much as we wanted but took advantage of the wind to head up to Ship Channel Cay where we drift dived the west side along the corals heads.  

From there we made a big jump and sailed to Spanish Wells.  This town reminds me of a quaint little north east fishing harbor.  The houses are colorful and surrounded by water and fishing boats of all shapes and sizes.  

One day we rented a van to tour Eleuthera.  We were spoiled with air conditioning and got to see the sights by land.  We started at the Glass Window, Queen’s Baths, the Library in Governor’s Harbor, the Ocean Hole in Rock Sound, Hatchet Bay Cave, and back up to Preacher’s Cave. 

I think we were all exhausted but had a great time.  

For our next big adventure we decided to transit the Devil’s Backbone just East of Spanish Wells to get to Harbor Island.  It is recommended in the charts to hire a pilot to help navigate the intricate reefs.  We decided to brave it on our own in calm conditions (10-12 knots from the East )  with a partly cloudy sky.  We followed the charted line nearing high tide (according to Nassau) and found the only difficulty is dealing with the other boats transiting back and forth in the narrow passages.  

After visiting Harbor Island we moved north to the Abacos.  We came up the Bight of Abaco and through Spence Rock Channel.  We made it to Green Turtle where we decided to check out Black Sound and stayed at Donny's Marina.  An extremely good price and timing was good because our engine died and we were expecting bad weather.  This was our first time doing a hip tow but had no issues.  There we said Goodbye to our friends aboard MadSam as they headed back to the U.S. 

We stayed and snorkeled on the big reef at Sandy Cay where we saw a lot of elk horn coral and turtles.  We also had some calm weather and snorkeled on the wreck of the Adirondack and the Fowl Cay reef.  

Now we are making way to Double Breasted Cay where we will await the weather to return to the U.S. ourselves.  We don’t have any definite plans yet for where and when we return.  Traveling by the direction of the wind will still be in our future for a little while longer.