By Bill the Guest Blogger
We hadn’t really planned on spending New Year’s anchored off an
island with a glorious white sand beach in the Bahamas. But we got lucky.
The original plan was to celebrate a land-based new year with a large group
of friends in Nassau,
but as soon as I found out that John and Caroline had
anchored their 50 foot cruising cat only a short fast ferry ride away in
Harbour Island, Eleuthera, and that they were
willing to spend New Year’s
with my wife Caroline and our friend Roberta, we jumped at the chance to
leave the relative hustle and bustle of the Nassau party scene in our wake.
Boy was that the right call.
After spending several chilly days (a cold front had blown in) in Nassau,
the peace and quiet of spending a night with great food and company at
anchor off Harbour
Island was just what the
John and Caroline welcomed us with a fantastic lunch
and then we were off to explore
the charming streets of Harbour
Island. At first glance,
it felt like we
were in a Bahamian Nantucket. The cute houses and as we soon found out, the
cute people, and expensive little shops we saw, would not have been out of
place in Nantucket either.
For us refugees from Nassau,
(We ran away from the all night parties B-list celebrities from Los Angles back
at the rented house where we were staying in Nassau. It’s a long story and not
hardly as romantic or scandalous or as exciting as it sounds) we breathed a
sigh of relief at the more familiar, warm and easy pace of Harbour Island.
And that was before we even reached the white sand beach. In addition to the
restorative qualities of swimming the in the cool (not cold) water, we also got
a chance to do a good deed. A vacationer had flipped his Sunfish not far from
us and we all chipped in to get his boat up and going again. Seamanship to the
wonderful unwinding continued through dinner and the full night’s sleep
in Discovery Magic’s
ultra-comfortable aft cabins was a revelation to us all.
The next morning, we received a special treat when a pilot came aboard to
lead us out through the coral-ridden Devil’s
Backbone channel between
Harbour Island and Spanish Wells. Even with a
chart plotter, hiring a pilot
is essential to ensure safe passage through that tricky stretch of water,
but we also got a good dose of local colour (along with local knowledge) when
A-1 (his name was A-1) came aboard with a wide smile and more one liners
than David Letterman. When asked if
he grew up in Harbour
quipped, “Does Jimmy Carter
like toothpaste?” When I pointed to the chart
and asked if the fishing was any good there he said, “Is a bullfrog
waterproof?” The stand-up routine (along with a discussion of island
and various other random thoughts) went on for the entire passage through
the coral. He seemed to concentrate more on holding court than paying
attention to the channel, but he got us through. After we’d made our way
over to Spanish Wells, A-1 shared his last bit of local knowledge with a
smile and a wink: “Nine times out of two, if you stay in the channel,
be just fine.” Now, can anybody explain that one to me?
Once we’d said goodbye to A-1, we wound our way past the fishing town of
set our sails in a following breeze, and plotted a course
towards the small islands to the west. The cruising guide offered little
info about where we were headed, but that’s what made finding the perfect
anchorage and the white sand beach on the North side of the island we found
so special. I’ve been on countless charters and cruises all over the
but there was something special about our little piece of Bahamian heaven.
We were the only people there. It was the last day of 2010. The water was
crystal clear. The cold front was on its way out. The sun shone in beams
through the dissipating cloud cover. The beach beckoned.
After swimming the short distance into the beach (and discovering plenty of
dry firewood) it was obvious how our impromptu New Year’s Eve celebration
was going to play out… and it was going to be a whole lot different than
celebrating in the crowded streets of Nassau.
We got the fire on the beach
going just as the sun was setting during the last hours of 2010 and we
basked in the warmth of the fire and friendship under a blanket of stars. If
the rest of 2011 is anything like the first days we spent anchored off
that special island in the Bahamas…
it’ll be a very good year indeed.
But as I write this post from the dark and wintry cold of New
think we can all agree that John and Caroline may have the best plan.
They’ve already spent 6 months or so cruising the east coast of the US and
in a way, they’re just getting started. Sadly for us, our last glimpse of
Magic was from the top deck of the fast ferry back to Nassau. Under sunny skies and full sail, John
and Caroline were making their way south through the clear water of
Eleuthera’s Current Cut and further down island, while we were sentenced
to return to the world of snow shovels and traffic lights. I can only imagine what
fun they’ll be having as they continue south and west (with a few detours
along the way), and only hope that I’ll be able to join them and be guest
blogger on a future leg of their journey.