May 8, 2011 – Smith Bay to Eleuthra Point

41nm cruised today, all motor sailing at 5.5 to 6 knots, averaging 2300 rpm; 744nm total – high temp 81 degrees; water temp 78 degrees – N to NE wind at 5 to 10 knots; light chop with Atlantic swell less than 2 feet

It’s warm and still when we rise. Since it’s Sunday and Chris Parker doesn’t broadcast weather today, I don’t get up until 7am. Sandy fixes french toast with the loaf of cinnamon swirl bread she bought at the bakery yesterday. Excellent. While putting pots and pans away, she discovers water in the port side bilge. Not excellent. I taste the water, and it’s fresh. Apparently I have a leak in a connection for the Plastimo bladder water tank. I’m not looking forward to locating the source of the leak. For now, I pump the water into the sink with the hand bilge pump.

Chris radios us and says they’re ready to go ashore. We dinghy over and pick them up. We’re off in search of the tomato patch. We take a left on the main road, but don’t find the cross-island road that Maciek is looking for. We do find several coconut palms which have dropped a good number of coconuts. We gather up several when we backtrack to try the other direction. We flag a local down and ask him where the cross over road is. He gives us directions, however, he also says that, because of the drought here, the tomato season is pretty much over. We decide to give up on the tomato picking idea and focus on our coconuts. I dinghy out to the boat and grab my hatchet, along with a couple of containers. We whack away at coconuts and manage to decant several containers full of coconut water. We sample the coconut jelly from the green coconuts, and it’s excellent.

As we head back to the boat, I tell Chris and Maciek that I think it’s time we made tracks north. We need to get to James Cistern on Eleuthra for our volunteer mission week in the next couple of days, and we have a long way to go. We drop Chris and Maciek off at their boat and bid them farewell for now. They’re pretty sure they’ll catch up with us while we’re on Eleuthra, so this is not really goodbye yet. We’ve really enjoyed each other’s company, and look forward to a little more time together in the next week or so.

I raise anchor around 11am and we head out from Smith Bay. I raise the main and jib, but in the light air, I soon furl the jib and rely on the motor. For the first hour or so, the little breeze we have is on the nose. I study the chart, to try and determine a destination. We could just go up Cat Island toward the north end, and stay in the Bennett Harbour area, however, that would not give us very many miles. Little San Salvador Island would be an ideal distance for the day, but our cruising guide informs us that Holland America Cruise Lines owns the island, and prohibits anchoring there. I’m not sure if they have the legal right to do this, but the uncertainty eliminates this option. The third choice is to change course and head directly across for Eleuthra Island. I scrutinize the chart for mooring options. I see a marina at Davis Harbour, but it’s just too far. We wouldn’t reach there until after dark, and you just don’t arrive at unfamiliar places after dark in these waters. My chart book shows a little anchorage near the southern tip of Eleuthra, at Eleuthra Point. We can make it in there by 6:30pm if we maintain a speed of 5.5 to 6 knots on the 30 mile crossing. That looks like the most appealing option, and I take it.

With the new course we have a bit of a sailing angle, so I set the jib in addition to the main, and we motor sail. As the breeze improves, I gradually ease back on the throttle until I’m running at around 2100 rpm. Initially, we’re cruising over 25 foot depths, but the water gradually deepens. When we reach 50 feet of water I let the fishing line out. About half an hour later the reel zings. Fish on! I slow the throttle and grab the pole. I definitely have a fish, and it’s staying down. The barracuda I hooked on the way to Long Island jumped, and I’m hoping this deep running fish is not a barracuda. While I’m cranking on the reel, Sandy pulls the landing net out from down below. When I get the fish in close I can see it’s some sort of snapper, and likely to be excellent eating. Sandy nets the fish, and then the work begins. I spray alcohol in its gills to kill it, and then remove it from the net. I fillet it on the fiberglass cockpit seat. I dip seawater in a bucket to rinse the fillets off and clean up the cockpit. All this is done with “Ray” handling the steering. We never have to slow down, and with such a long way to go, that’s worth a lot. We’ll have some good fish dinners in the days to come.

This is a lonely stretch of water. The radio is virtually silent, and I see only one other boat, way out on the horizon. We pass by Little San Salvador Island, and at around 10 miles out, catch our first glimpse of the southern tip of Eleuthra Island. I monitor the display on the GPS, adjusting the throttle setting as the wind increases or decreases our speed. I apply just enough throttle to keep us moving at 6 knots. We reach our destination right at 6:30pm, which gives us enough light to see bottom on our approach.

Eleuthra Point is a lovely place. A series of step stone islets project out from the point. Their steep edges remind us a bit of the landforms at Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baja Penninsula. An old abandoned lighthouse stands on the bluff at the end of the Point. A scenic crescent beach frames the anchoring cove, and coconut palms provide a tropical skyline. We look forward to going ashore in the morning and exploring this lovely area.

I add some pineapple tang, lime juice and rum to our coconut water, and the concoction turns out to be great. Hamburgers on the grill make for a simple, quick dinner. This anchorage is a bit rolly, with a refracting swell sneaking around the point. I’ve rigged a bridle to the anchor rode, in hopes that it will keep us pointed into the swell and reduce our rocking motion. It seems to work fairly well, so long as the breeze keeps pressure on the hull. When the wind backs off, however, the boat puts her broadside to the swell, and we rock.

I think this is the first anchorage on our entire cruise when I can see absolutely no artificial lights except for our own. No house lights. No anchor lights on other boats. No navigation lights. No lights of any kind. The stars and a crescent moon provide our only night time illumination. Small waves swoosh almost continuously on the nearby coral sand beach. Peace and solitude be here.

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