Fw: Bahamas

Sat 11 Jun 2011 15:55
300nm plus. I have been sailing up the coast of Eleuthera, the most easterly of the Bahamas.  For most of the time the land has been in sight or some of the lights anyway.  This is nothing more than a sandbank on the edge of an ocean, typically only 15-20m above sea level (actually limestone).  As I come up the coast it becomes clear that I won’t make my planned destination tonight.  Passing Harbour Island I can see the large motor yachts in the basin.  Not having the cartography for the region or a cruising guide I look for the most likely point of entry and find a spot called Deep Cut, sounds good.
The entrance is not straightforward and they’re are rocks in the entrance but not many.  I make a perpendicular line to the shore, straight through the deepest part of the channel.  Sea and wind from behind I run for the gap while jumping in and out of the cabin looking at charts.  Soon after I touch, I jump back into the cockpit and hammer the engine astern.  Glancing around me I see large boulders all around and water breaking on them.  When I manage to whip the boat about into the wind and get it stationed, throttle versus wind and waves, I am shocked by the amount of breaking water about me and how far I have made my way in without hitting something.  With boat under control I stand as high as possible, straddling the cockpit seats and try to plot a route through.  Ducking, diving and crabbing between the boulders I escape but keep driving on until I see 30m of water.  Definitely my closest encounter with loosing a boat.
So, back on my original route to Spanish Wells, I’m not going to make it before nightfall, a reef to the north forces me out another 10nm while I listen the captain of a motor yacht request a pilot to transit the northern passage, “oh so that’s how they do it”. 
I manage to get to the western head of the island and turn into a bay which is pretty shallow, about 3m at most but transit-able.  With 18kts of breeze on the nose I decide that this is not worth it and find holding on a small uninhabited island at the western end of the island.  I dive to check the anchor is laid correctly but for some reason I am nervous about staying in the water.  As soon as that is done I get out and cook a meal of chilly and veg and look forward to a good nights sleep.
Pretty disappointed with the aridness, lack of provisions, expense and lack of water under the keel, I decide to head for the largest town/city of the Bahamas, Freeport Grand Bahamas.  On arriving they’re are two options, the main resort which is $60 per night and the summer bay harbour with “great rates”,  I decide on the summer bay marina partially because of the cost but mostly because it has a draught of the 2.3m in the channel, the other only 2.0m  so with that choice made I ran the gauntlet into summer cove marina.  Being the Sunday of a bank holiday the marina office was closed but a local man came out and introduced himself explaining that he was the husband of a woman that worked for the marina and asked the cleaner to leave the door of the facilities open for me, of which I am very appreciative.
During the night I had somehow managed to break a cast aluminium part of the vane steering which rendered it useless. A 20$ taxi ride failed to provide any solutions regarding finding a place to repair the part.  The girls in the office in the Lucaya resort were extremely helpful but still it was evident that I was not going to be able to repair this until Tuesday at best , if at all.  With that in mind I aim to catch the next tide out of there and head for the port of Charleston.  Not being able to find the guy that looked after me when I arrived I left a note under his door explaining what my motives for leaving were along with my sat phone no.