Peopled and partied out, on March 16, we power out of George Town, dash back through the Exumas stopping at several charming little cays. The odd palm or two finally make appearances and everywhere beaches pop from the landscape like big white Ipana smiles.
We’re making our way to Eleuthera, which Gary says sounds like a tropical skin disease: as in, “Put some Calamine lotion on that Eleuthera.” First stop is Spanish Wells, so-called because centuries ago Spanish galleons detoured to fill their water barrels with what was considered the sweetest water in the Bahamas. Sweet, apparently, but not sweet enough to carry home and do battle with Perrier.
There we will pick up a special captain or pilot to steer us through an impossibly shallow and dangerous 11-mile reef system on into Harbour Island, which some compare to Nantucket. Considering previous Bahamian promotional material we've not yet exhumed our whale pants or Lilly Pulitzers.
“Any modern society would put out markers and buoys to show the safe path through. But then the five professional pilots would be out of well-paying jobs,” grumbles Gary. “Calling the reef “The Devil's Backbone” is yet another brilliant Bahamian marketing gimmick to benefit the pilots.”
We’re one night from Spanish Wells when we choose the north side of Booby Island to stop; it’s a midway point and looks on the chart an ideal—or at any rate a possibly peaceful—spot in a south wind. For Gary there’s also something catchy about the name.
We’re the only boat and wonder why no one else has had the same brilliant idea. Maybe because Booby Island turns out to be a long, homely, decidedly subtropical—and 100% rock—outpost. Or maybe the smarter everyone-else’s headed into Nassau for a decent restaurant dinner. And, if not exactly an Easter Parade, then straw bonnets to church on Easter Sunday.
When Lulu drags hundreds of feet on our first anchoring attempt, we reassess, figuring everyone else knew the holding was poor. When our normally trustworthy CQR anchor finally grabs we are far, far out, our flanks available to ocean swells, not to mention too far from shore to appreciate any boobies (avian or human) the island might offer.
Hauling anchor to move closer in, we find the boat completely stuck. Several unsuccessful attempts later Gary shortens scope, wraps a heavy rope around a cleat and pulls forward, putting all LULU’s 80,000 pounds into the effort. This maneuver eventually releases the anchor from whatever rocky nest it bumbled into. Alas, its shaft arrives on deck newly curved into a graceful macaroni shape. Kind of a reverse nose-job. Whether this reshaping improves its holding remains to be seen.
The ocean swell increases—as it always does with approaching bedtime—and so we pass a wake/sleep/wake/sleep night rolling around nauseatingly—though mercifully not dragging—long past 7 AM.
Fortunately, daylight heals most nighttime ills. Thus, Easter Sunday morning finds us somewhat groggy but gloriously asail, with a snappy 18-knot southerly beam wind. In the galley are some hard-boiled—though nakedly un-dyed—eggs looking utterly unfestive but ready to be turned into lunch. I have, however, refrained from preparing a memorial macaroni salad to commemorate the anchor's death. Or resurrection, depending on one's point of view.
Gary, typically, thinks it can be heated and straightened, no problem, somewhere in these, for the most part, civilization-bereft isles, saving the $1,100 for a new one. Though he's probably right, and a guy in Spanish Wells awaits, his flatbed yawning and his kiln fired up, I've nevertheless got the West Marine catalog at the ready.
Happy Easter to all.
Lulu and Gary