Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Return to the Abacos ...

Our stay in Spanish Wells was quite wonderful, particularly in connecting with Peter and Dianne on Pearl.  We had them over for dinner the night before we left for Harbour Island, and also invited Reg and Teri from Blue Topaz to join us for drinks before we had dinner.  We all had a wonderful time and quite unbelievably Teri came from Morgan Hill, California, where I lived for some time while teaching at Gavilan College in Gilroy.  We even knew some of the same people ... six degrees of separation for sure.  Reg and Teri were heading south the next morning, ultimately aiming for Antigua in the Caribbean, but we promised to keep in touch.  Meantime, we had a fine dinner with Peter and Dianne, and we promised to get together in the Abacos.

To get over to Harbour Island, one has to navigate what is called the Devil's Backbone, and narrow passage through the reefs at the top of Eleuthera.  We hired Jock "Bandit" Morgan, from whom we rented the mooring at Spanish Wells, to pilot us over.  He made the trip seem easy, indeed, and I can vouch that it was tricky, for coming back when we left to go north to the Abacos, I grazed a coral head when I drifted off the track just a few meters.  No damage but a gouge in the keel, but it was a good warning about paying close attention.

Harbour Island is a refuge for well-to-do and celebrities seeking anonymity.  One of my cousin's family owns a house on the north end, which they've had ever since I can remember.  In our wandering about on a rented golf cart, we met an old-timer named Anthony who while now farming and running a produce stand made his career at sea as a charter boat captain and fishing boat captain.  He remembered my cousin's family quite well, and that's how we found where their house was located ... we were beat though, so never got up to see it.  We did have a wonderful lunch of truly unique "Cheeseburgers in Paradise" and really fine conch fritters at Ma Ruby's ... she had been recommended to us by Jock Morgan.  And, we got over to the "pink sand" beaches, which seem to be quite famous.  Lovely, yes.

After a couple of nights at Harbour Island, we took a weather window and had a wonderful sail north the the Abacos.  After finding our way out of the Devil's Backbone (barely), we caught a Yellow Tail going out the cut to the ocean, and then 45 minutes later caught our first Mahi Mahi on a hand line.  Very exciting!  Pen did her usual masterful job of filleting both fish, and our freezer was full when we pulled into Little Harbour in the Abacos that evening.  We celebrated with sushi and while in Little Harbour we had two wonderful Mahi Mahi dishes that Pen found amongst her recipe collection.

Our first day in Little Harbour was sunny and quite nice, and while talk of a cold front coming through the northern Abacos on Tuesday was on the weather internet and single-side band radio, our in-house meteorologist, the Captain, predicted a non-event for Monday.  It's a good thing he didn't suggest going north to Marsh Harbour on any other destination, though, for a poured buckets and buckets of rain all day and into the night.  We apparently dragged anchor sometime in midday when the wind clocked around to the north.  We were down below and didn't notice until we realized we were aground, and thankfully we went aground at low tide and before really getting into shallow water.  We floated free pulled in ten feet on the anchor line, which reset the anchor, and then the wind shifted south again.

The next day (Tuesday, April 27) brought a stupendously nice sailing day ... sunny, warm, 12-15 knot winds ... and we sailed all the way up from Little Harbour to Marsh Harbour.  It's a bit of a circuitous path, going around a couple of major sand banks and around some small cays, and we also had to tack our way down the home stretch into Marsh Harbour, but it was well worth the sail.  And, we caught two Mutton Snappers and a Yellow Tail along the way.  On arrival we discovered Peter and Dianne at anchor.  I stopped off just to say we'd arrived, and they were all apologetic ... they were going to leave in the morning for home, taking advantage of a big weather window to get to Florida, and they'd already made dinner plans for the evening.  We did have a chance to have a sundowner with them and catch up a little, and Peter promised that he'd make good on the dinner he had promised us when back in Spanish Wells.

Today we did some errands in Marsh Harbour, had lunch at Curly Tails, a favorite hang-out, and got our toilet seat repaired with new brackets (it broke down in the Exumas somewhere).  Now it's relaxation time, and the Sea of Abaco is the place to do it.  Lots of nearby destinations and lovely scenery.  It's a full moon tonight, and we got a sample of it last night.  Gorgeous!  We're very happy to be back.

Alizee's geotrack


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