Back to Abaco via Royal Island

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Wed 12 May 2010 16:07
In position 26:32.81N, 77:03.59W
Having stayed two nights at Spanish Wells we motored five miles down to the protected harbour of Royal Island where we spent one night at anchor before heading off into the deep blue water of the Atlantic forty five miles towards Little Harbour.
Royal Island is in the process of being developed. Like many such projects in the Bahamas they either take an age to come to anything or nothing happens at all as we have found on our wanderings throughout the islands. The development here has an impressive internet website detailing all of the various amenities that Royal Island can (or will be able to) offer. A harbour with all-round protection but seemingly little else until created by the developers themselves. Fashioning the golf course from the rough rock and bush typical of all such Bahamian islands seems to be the stuff of miracles and we saw no evidence of that part of the promised facilities. However, there were security guards on site and on one side of the harbour a small dock area with some expensive looking sports fishing and day boats, all called Royal something, perhaps part of the marketing process. On the other side of the harbour there was what can only be described as a building site and ramp for the delivery of materials by boat - and one boat did arrive in the early hours to offload something or other. Leaving the next morning on the outer shore we could see a large property with some chalets close by.  Looking at the website there was nothing resembling the artist's impression of the finished work. Perhaps time will tell although we are unofficially informed that there are some law suits flying around over the whole development. Especially the golf course.
We had high hopes of catching a fish on the way up to Abaco as we would be leaving the shallows of Eleuthera and the Exuma chain where the seabed goes from a matter of a few feet to twelve thousand feet or more. It's on the drop off that some of the best pelagic fishing is to be had and we weren't disappointed as we hooked a large Mahi Mahi of about four foot in length. Well, we were disappointed actually, as we lost it minutes later. Just as the fish was about six feet from the stern and looking up into it's captors eyes it gave an almighty thrash and the wire strop between the hand line and the hook parted into tiny strands. The beautiful iridescent blue / green / yellow fish swam back into the deep to live another day. Gloom set in with the Commander of fishing operations on Ajaya and despite trailing no less than four fishing lines we were unable to repeat the event for the remainder of the voyage. The gloom was cast in stone when the yacht motoring just 400 yards ahead of us on the same track put out a radio call to say they were slowing down as they had hooked a Mahi Mahi. !!***XXX!!!!###!!!!!!
The gloom partly lifted when we reached Little Harbour - one of our most favourite of Bahamian locations where, regardless of what goes on in this mad world, peace and tranquillity prevails. We walked the ocean beach, collected a further quantity of sea glass to weigh the boat down with and then noticed that the Ruddy Turnstones (yes that's their name) had been busy procreating in the two months of our absence. We had to be careful not to tread on the roughly made nests on the beach high line containing the unhatched eggs.  Not being great 'twitchers' we had wondered about the strange behaviour of the nest-minders as they tried to lead us away from the site of the eggs, giving all the signs that they had broken wings, but we finally 'twigged' what they were up to and took extra care not to be hearing the sounds of cracking eggshells beneath our feet. 
Ruddy Turnstone nest with 3 eggs. Note cleaver use of local flotsam                            2 cute Ruddy Turnstones - but probably not the ones that built the nest!     
A Bahama Mamma cocktail at Pete's Pub completed the afternoon in great style as we prepared to head out early the next morning to snorkel on the Sandy Cays reef five miles further north in the Sea of Abaco. However, waking up the following morning there, just fifty yards away on another mooring buoy was our friends on their Prout Snowgoose Polar Pacer, (last seen in George Town) having arrived in Little Harbour in the early hours. It was good to see them again and hopefully, despite our early departure, we would get to spend some more social time together.
                                                                                   Cocktails at Pete's Pub - Little Harbour
We snorkelled over the coral garden at Sandy Cay, an impressively large reef with Elkhorn coral in abundance, making the whole scene look rather like an ancient shipwreck. It was full of other snorkellers enjoying the views so we stayed until the current started to run over the reef  before heading to Marsh Harbour.  As the weather was fine we took a new route exiting the North Bar Channel to fish on the drop-off zone (no luck) then in through Tilloo Cut, rounding Tahiti Beach and motoring up past White Sound and Hopetown Harbour on Elbow Cay before once more entering Marsh Harbour to spend a few days shopping and generally stocking up.
Impressive privately owned island at Tilloo Cut                                                                It gets a bit shallow on this route - just a foot under the keel at times