Day 16 - Bahama Cruising (Hatchet Bay - Eleuthera Island)
Early start to check-out, call at the fuel dock and out of Nassau harbour - eastern exit again onto the Grand Bahama Bank - only this time continuing east at Porgee Rock as we were headed for Eleuthera Island - Hatchet Bay. Struggling head-to-wind we motor-sailed for most of the journey across turquoise blue waters. Watching swelling cumulus and cirrus clouds gathering - rainstorms in the afternoon we continued east. Sure enough (on my watch) one very heavy downpour - winds picked up but nothing like a thunderstorm - just a wetting for the captain-on-watch! Time for a lesson in whipping (ouch..!) - well really it was the anchor trip line ends that needed to be whipped! The entrance to Hatchet Bay is described in the pilot as "a little forbidding at first sight" - a landlocked natural pond which had been opened to the sea by cutting through high limestone cliffs intended to secure success for a cattle-raising project (now defunct) - then entrance is supposed to be 90ft wide and 10ft deep. The chart plotter had a disconcerting 5ft depth marker (Magic Friday draws 6'6") - so not knowing whether to hold faith in the pilot or the chart (which has never yet let us down) - we held our breadth, committed to the narrow cliff entrance (significantly narrower than 90ft) and edged inwards....both were right - the shallow area was to one side - we were in - depths suddenly restored to 15-20ft! An anonymous voice on the VHF welcomed us to the Bay and Alice Town, described the facilities (a few mooring bouys (all occupied) or anchorage) and wished us a pleasant stay - how nice! Anchor and trip line secured we watched the sunset, studied more unusual cloud formations (this time not in the book - we will take the weather as it comes tomorrow!), took in our surroundings of a sleepy community and went to retire for dinner inside. Oh...but the local church service had just begun - singing, preaching and praying gently played across the pond....very nice.
Phil and Di