Abacos, Bahamas

 26th April - 11th May 2005

Maybe we were out of practice or perhaps our fifty mile trip to the Abacos, the Bahamas' most northern islands, really was pretty uncomfortable and rolly.   In any case, we were glad to arrive in Little Harbour and stop rocking.  Unfortunately this phenomenon was short lived and we spent an uncomfortable night at anchor when the swell picked up again.

Next day we pushed on quickly to Marsh Harbour, the Abacos' main yachting centre, regretting that we didn't have the right weather to enjoy snorkeling the reefs on the way.   Later the weather even caused us to just pull over and drop the hook wherever we were at the time,  as the lightning hits came closer and closer to poor Anju and in torrential rain, visibility was down to zero.    We were lucky to avoid a lightning strike as the storm raged around us.  It was a pity our water-collection awning wasn't set up while we were sailing as we could have filled our water tanks many times over in half an hour.    

Greatly relieved we anchored a couple of hours later in Marsh Harbour with a whole 20 centimetres below our keel at low water.    Our neighbours on Troubadour were observing us closely with their binoculars, we wondered why but were so happy to arrive that we weren't bothered.   Shortly afterwards came a call on the VHF from Troubadour welcoming a fellow Welshman to the anchorage, that was how we met David and his Canadian wife Kate, who quickly became good friends.

Together we poured over the charts of the area around Hopetown on a nearby Cay and jointly decided it would be much less stressful for people with boats with drafts of six feet to take the ferry there instead!  Of course there was a little back-seat navigating on the way there!  

Troubadour anchored nearby at sunset in Marsh Harbour

Back seat navigators Kate, David and Phil on the ferry to Hopetown


On arrival in Hopetown we wandered through the twee streets, mostly made up of holiday homes.    We decided to walk to the town's main landmark, the lighthouse.   After strolling a couple of miles we realised that the lighthouse seemed to be getting further away and decided it was finally time to ask for directions.   We flagged down a passing golf cart, the islands preferred method of travel. We were told by the driver that it wasn't possible to walk to the lighthouse, you had to get there by boat.  Unfortunately we'd left ours in Marsh Harbour!  We struck lucky however and the driver not only gave us a lift back to town, he also gave us a lift to the lighthouse in his boat!   It was well worth the effort of getting there and we climbed the steps to the top to admire the view.   Then we just had to persuade someone to give us a lift back again.

Back in Marsh Harbour, the crews of Anju and Troubadour shared the experience of staying up all night worrying about their boats being hit by a menacing Norwegian boat, during a 180 degree wind shift.    When the Norwegian boat had arrived in the anchorage earlier, we'd all felt he anchored a little close between our two boats, but weren't unduly worried as anchoring etiquette dictated that if there was a problem, he'd be the one to re-anchor.   However as we shone spotlights on his boat and used our foghorns to rouse the captain from his deep slumber at 3 am, to alert the him to the fact that his boat was about to hit first Troubadour and later Anju, he informed us that his hydraulic steering cylinder was ashore for service, leaving him without steering and the ability to move to re-anchor.   "It is a bad situation", he told us.   "Too right", we thought, especially for the crew of Anju, who were forced to take up their anchor in the pitch dark and pouring rain and try to find a spot further away.    Not only had he anchored thoughtlessly when he knew his boat would be disabled but he also wasn't displaying an anchor light at night to help us avoid crashing into his boat as we motored around the anchorage in our search for a safer spot. 

David and Kate climbing the lighthouse - pink paint must have been on special offer in Hopetown!

We even managed to get Phil to come outside at the top, to admire the view.

We decided it was time to leave crowded Marsh Harbour and headed to Man-O-War Cay in search of peace.   Unfortunately the holding in the anchorage there was poor.  We were worried about our anchor which was barely hooked into the sea bed and Troubadour couldn't get their anchor to hold at all.  Finally we all decided to head further north to the next Cay, Great Guana Cay, instead.   Troubadour left first as their anchor was already raised.

As we made our way out of the anchorage, we managed to find an uncharted underwater rock with Anju's keel.   The boat heeled over alarmingly as we passed by whatever we'd hit and for several frantic minutes we rushed around checking our bilges for any water ingress.

Searching for treasure on Great Guana's Atlantic beach.

Finding nothing amiss, we hurried to the next anchorage and Phil braved the cold water, thick with brown weed, to check for damage below the water.    When he surfaced again, having found only a scrape mark along one side of the hull, we were grateful for Anju's sturdy steel construction.

We spent the next morning beach-coming and on returning to our boats, found we'd been joined in the anchorage by Pat and Liz on Catspaw.  Later we all enjoyed a "pot luck" dinner together.

Our next stop was at Green Turtle Cay, to visit the attractive but hurricane ravaged town and pick up some very pricey diesel, ready for the trip back to the States.


Converting treasure to junk aboard Anju.

At Allens-Pensacola Cay, Christine was able to clean Anju's bottom in the clear water.   We were going to need all the help we could get to keep up with Troubadour!   Later we went in search of the ruins advertised on the chart but failed to find them.   Instead we came across a stack of mementos left by previous cruisers.   

The cruisers' gallery on Allens-Pensacola Cay

"Hey, wait for us Troubadour"

Our final Bahamas destination was another hurricane ravaged town on Grand Cay and then it was time to set sail for the United States.
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