Passage to Out Islands, Bahamas, May 25-31, 2000
We left Provo on Thursday, May 25, bound for Abraham's Bay on Mayaguana in the Bahamas, in company with another cruising boat --"Tigre", sailed by a nice Brit couple, Peter and Tonya. Because of threatening weather (which never materialized), we only went as far as West Caicos, in three hours across the Caicos Bank, dodging the occasional coral head. Went snorkeling when we got there, saw lots of fish attracted by some crumbs from Tigre and a BIG barracuda attracted by the lots of fish. Got out of water, had G&Ts aboard Tigre that evening.
Next morning Tigre left before us, because we decided to top up the engine oil and coolant. But we soon overtook her, sailing on a glorious beam reach across the deep blue sea in just about optimum conditions, 15 knots or so and us doing 7 - 8 knots. When we passed Tigre, both crews took the opportunity to take photos of each other. Unfortunately, their camera is not digital so we'll have to wait to see how Akka looked. We then pulles so far ahead that Tigre was almost over the horizon. They had mentioned being concerned about entering the reefs at Abraham's Bay, so we slowed Akka to 4 knots by overtrimming both main and jib. Eventually, we raised Tigre on the VHF and they said to go ahead. Akka almost perceptibly sighed with relief when we eased the sheets.
Tigre is 54 feet long, so they shouldn't be that much slower, even with in-the-mast roller furling (so no battens). Ah, the cruising lifestyle. But, they have electric winches and a bowthruster.
We entered at the wrong (i.e., further away) end of the bay because it's an easier entrance, but that meant we anchored behind a reef about 2 miles from the town. We piled into the dinghy to go clear into the Bahamas, which was our only reason for coming to Mayaguana, and by the time we got there we were soaked to the skin from the chop. The customs clerk charged us $32 overtime for being 3 minutes past closing time, then took half an hour to process the forms that WE filled out. She sat at an electric typewriter and pecked at the keys, at one point doing less than 60 characters a minute (we timed it). She finally handed us back some copies of the customs clearance forms we'd completed, and not a single typewritten form! We have no idea what she was doing all that time.
The town of Abraham's Bay is really desolate. The guidebook says there are 350 residents on the island, but almost none of them appeared to live in AB. Some folks had gathered in the main square under an open-sided roof and appeared to be shooting the bull. There was a store with a hundred or so cans of soup etc. lined up on the wall, and what claimed to be a "guesthouse and lounge" with a bar (we peered through the windows), but closed (on a Friday evening). There was no place that we could imagine staying as guests, unless you counted the enormous truck tractor in the front yard. There was a single T-shirt on display in a window, apparently for sale. It said "Mayaguana, Love It or Leave It". Really.
The next morning we left it, without Tigre, who was waiting for friends to arrive from St. Martin. Another glorious sail, downwind under spinnaker, with an occasional short rainsquall to keep us cool, and we came to Atwood Harbour, Acklin's Island. Though Atwood looks on the charts and in the cruising guides to be the first bay after you round Northeast Point, in fact it's two more bays west along the north coast. We found the right bay and anchored in soft white sand, with a sport fisherman who left by early light. The mosquitoes (first we've seen) got us up early, so we went for a great skinny-dip in our secluded bay before installing the new satellite antenna. We discovered that in drilling the hole for the new wire we might have severed the wire from the radar. Will we ever go one step forward without going two steps back?
Our next move will amaze everyone who knows us: We motorsailed 5 hours around the north ends of Acklins and Crooked Islands, to the lee side of Crooked, near Bird Rock lighthouse. As we passed the lighthouse, the water shoaled from thousands of feet to less than a hundred, and, eternal optimists, we decided to try fishing. We dragged the new little yellow feather we'd bought for no more than 3 minutes when WHANG, the line popped out of its clip. It was a beautiful tuna, which we cut into steaks and ate for dinner. The Landrail Point anchorage was deserted, and so lovely we thought we'd try to stay here for a couple of day, if Rob could do his email and rules committee conference call from there. However, we found out in the morning that there is no e-mail facility at all on Crooked Is., so we set sail for Clarence Town on Long Island, where we hope to find something. Oh yeah, the gorgeous sunset over the water gave us our first real opportunity to look for a green flash, and lo and behold, we saw it! In particular, ROB saw it. He reluctantly agreed, then began backing off, saying it wasn't really a "flash," it was more of a "glow," and it wasn't truly "green," but blue-ish or green-ish. But he saw it. He just doesn't want to give up making fun of Andi for seeing the flash in Antigua under the influence of rum punches. No excuse any more. He saw it.
As we'd expected, these Out Islands are very primitive. They're almost, if not totally, deserted and spectacularly beautiful. The snorkeling at Crooked Island was the best we've seen (except no lobsters), and the water is so clear you can easily see things 40 feet down, through the ripples on the surface.
We're now making 6-7 knots under main and spinnaker, and it's a glorious sunshiny day, so Andi's on deck into the shade of the spinnaker continuing her sewing project: replacing the cover for the binnacle compass with a new one made from our old mainsail cover. Rob's doing rules. More from Clarencetown, if we can get email access.
Next waypoint stop will be Georgetown, within the week. Here is the beginning of the story. Etc. Etc. Etc.