We arrived in the Bahamas November 8, after crossing the Gulfstream and sailing along the south coast of Grand Bahamas most of the night. At first light we reached the entrance to Luccaya and followed the channel markers into the harbor and the customs office.
An extensive canal system branched out from the main harbor and we dropped the hook in a well-protected anchorage in 10 feet of water. A strong low-pressure system was approaching and we were happy to be in protected waters in our first foreign port.
Our highlight in Luccaya was Oddliegh’s house. Hot and hungry and looking for a restaurant in a rural neighborhood, we had the profound embarrassment of stumbling into someone’s personal living room, thinking it was a restaurant, and encountering two older people sitting at their dining room table watching daytime TV. Turns out no problem, Oddliegh had some sodas to sell. We sat on his porch for a spell after declining to watch TV with him and his mother in law Beatriz. Oddliegh called several relatives who lived nearby to unsuccessfully see if they would cook us a meal. Being a former chef, he decided to do it himself. He and Beatrice spent an hour whipping us up a wonderful lobster and pepper sauté with delicious coleslaw that will be one of the culinary highlights. How can one not love the people of the Bahamas!
The Bahamas consists of hundreds of islands, and turquoise waters teaming with aquatic life. We have seen turtles, sharks, rays, manatees, all kinds of coral and colorful reef fish. Our first month we have caught 4 mahi mahi , two tunas, one barracuda, speared two lobsters, and found 4 conch. Needless to say we are eating well.
The colors never stops to amaze pink sunsets; orange skies, water shifting from emerald green to turquoise to ultramarine blue and reef fish splashed in neon. Houses and shacks in different states of disrepair throughout the islands are painted in the same colorful pallet adding jolts of energy to each community.
After 5 days in Luccaya, we set sail from Grand Bahamas for the Berry Islands, a chain of islands 50 miles to the south–east. We spent time in the small town of Harbor Cay and 4 days in a couple of near deserted islands to the south. It was remote, with surge and strong currents that rocked us in unprotected anchorages. At night the sky was covered with stars and all you could hear was the distant surf crashing against the corral. It was beautiful but unnerving.
A 45-foot catamaran was anchored in the same area and we got to know Trish and Mike from British Colombia. We had dinners and played Scrabble on their boat, which was like a palace compared to our little mono hull.
One of the highlights of the Berries was visiting Ma Flo’s Conch Shack in Little Harbor. Ma Flo has passed, but her son Chester has carried on. It sat on a bluff overlooking the turquoise inlets and islands below. Reachable only by boat, the only settlement on the island consisted of a number of shacks and outhouses in different stages of disarray all belonging to Chester. The food was typical Bahamian fare; deep fried conch and fish, coleslaw and french fries. With the view and ambiance around us, it was a memorable meal.
With favorable winds we arrived in Spanish Wells, just north of Eleuthra Island, the day before Thanksgiving. We picked up a mooring ball next the settlement, a fishing village and an organized, prosperous, mostly white community dating back to the British Methodists in the 1700’s. We explored the area by foot and dinghy and met a few of the 2000 inhabitants. Ferries, Cargo ships, pontoon boats and every other kind of imaginable vessel passed like a parade day and night in front of our mooring, where we became part of the local texture.
After a few days, Captain Kirt helped us pilot through the treacherous reefs and shallows of Devils Backbone to Harbor Island, a two-hour trip. Harbor Island hosts high-end tourism, mega yachts and a few scrappy, transiting sailing boats such as ours. It is Paradise with an amazing pink sand beach, beautiful architecture, and lush vegetation. The majority of the population is black and the culture laid back and colorful.
We are currently anchored in the big bay in front of town. As is typical for boat life, we do boat work most days but have plenty of time for walks in town, swimming and snorkeling. Most importantly we are preparing for Mika, Eric and our 9 month old granddaughter Axelia’s arrival from Sweden in mid December. The three of them will sail with us in Exuma Islands for 7 weeks.
More about that later.
Island Greetings from Ninni and Bill