Day 14 - Bahamas Cruising (Eleuthera - Hatchet Bay)
Checked out and lines slipped at 08:00, a short motor across the harbour to Paradise Island - although not into Atlantis marina this time - only for diesel and gas re-fueling at Hurricane Hole fuel dock - only 56 gallons for us - will take us 350-400 nm motoring, comparing to the mega-yachts the attendant has re-fuelled - his highest bill was for a 120ft mega-yacht some years back - 11,500 gallons at that time $7/gallon - a mere $80,000 bill at the pump!!! I was happy to settle a couple of hundred dollars and we were away!
Battling out of the eastern harbour exit against 20+ knot SE winds and 1.5m waves to Porgee Rock - had we left a day too early? Especially as we discovered the auto-pilot was not controlling the helm with error messages of "Rudder Response Failure". Finally, at Douglas Road, reefed sails were set, course laid in and we settled down to a fast 7-8 kn fine reach without auto-pilot and a little wet as waves and spray broke over the bow - arrival estimated at 6:00pm, just after high tide and in daylight would be perfect - so we carried on. Passing a fully rigged cutter yacht in the afternoon and a few small fish skipping the waves were some of the highlights of a good days sailing.
The entrance to Hatchet Bay was man made to open up a land-locked lake in roder to facilitate the now defunct cattle farming on the Eleuthera Island. It is well hidden within the rocky face of the eastern shores -t eh cruising guide describes it as "a little forbidding" due tot he apparent narrowness of the entrance - approx 90ft wide. Having done it before (last year) we located the entrance, committed Magic Friday, rocks looming either side, the waves on the beam rocked the boat - but within minutes we were in - a placid, pleasant lake with an little island (Olive Island) and a small community settled around the commercial dock, a few other boats on anchor. Immediately we get the Bahama Agriculture Institute welcome on the VHF (as we did last year) inviting us to take a mooring bouy or anchor and to enjoy our stay - how nice!
Anchored securely in 4m of water we watched the sun set and took our rest for the evening in the most secure harbour of the Bahamas....
Phil and Di