Our Second Bahamian Week
Sat Jan 28 - Gun Point, Eleuthera - Devil's Backbone Bandit to Man Island
Another sweet day - a calm northern wind forecast for tomorrow, and then on Monday an 18-knot wind is predicted. Mystique is on the move today motoring northeast above and through the notorious reef Devil's Backbone towards Dunmore Town on Harbor Island.
While Clint uses my Dremel (an electric multi-purpose tool) for making a bolt fitting and as organize my mechanical and electrical "stuff", I notice a 40' catamaran approaching 1/2 mile away leaving the Spanish Wells' east channel. I immediately inform Clint to get ready to weigh anchor. We are going to follow this cat through the reef. Or so I thought!
Within a few minutes, we were ready...free and adrift with port engine on and anchor up. The lead cat was now a quarter mile ahead of us as we headed out around Gun Point to the open ocean as we veered around a No Wake sign which waved us goodbye. Then suddenly our lead cat turned away out to sea and away from the so-called Devil. Just like a cat to scurry away when it's being followed.
All the cruising literature and info we had onboard about the reef and region known as the Devil's Backbone Bandit highly recommended we hire a pilot through this supposedly treacherous collection of coral heads. Apparently the reef and northerly storms and huge waves had lured at least five ships over the centuries to their final resting place. These wrecks had supposedly attracted numerous divers and snorkelers over the years.
Last summer I had stayed away from this spot because I had thought it too risky without another pair of eyes. I also had a friend who thought it a special place. Now I gained a different first-hand perspective. Now the thought of hiring someone, especially named Bandit, would be unnecessary after viewing our charts. On a calm sunny day this would be a walk in the park. As it turned my premonitions were correct.
As Clint sat aloft on the boom and fueled sail as lookout, I steered by the GPS course and motored slowly along with at least 9 feet of water under us at all times, but not one place along the 3 miles seemed challenging or dangerous to us. Maybe in rough seas the need might have been there, but we were both scratching our heads about why some boaters in calm seas were using his service. We listened to our radio after seeing an advertisement for the Bandit as a pilot to guide inexperienced boatsmen through the reef, but I could only imagine what a misleading regional and unfortunate portrayal.
The words "much ado about nothing' crept into my thoughts. Both Clint and I noticed the duality of the names: - while it discouraged some and lured others. It had portrayed a dangerous eeef, numerous wrecks and the need for a pilot's expertise while at the same time telling boaters to stay away. The Devil and the Bandit the Devils Backbone had discouraged my visiting it last year because of its supposed dangers in heavy weather
After we anchored we swam ashore at Man Island and walked the beach until we encountered a makeshift motorboat - probably a Haitian effort to get to the US. Read my post on that experience.
Sun Jan 29 - Man Island to Dunmore Town
lint and I woke to a calm sea near Man Island, a couple miles north of Harbor Island and Dunmore Town.
We dinghied ashore to a quiet town dock filled with assorted small craft. All the stores were closed so a cafe with internet was doubtful. I asked where we might find internet and a passerby directed along the shore street. We walked the street the homes were different from Spanish Wells. Like the guidebook had described, the town has a more quaint feel. I walked into an elegant restaurant and out...a simple cafe was all we really needed. A hundred steps further a stairs beckoned me...I went up to ask and returned to find Clint had disappeared, I called but no answer so I assumed he walked on. 5 minutes later he appeared as I sat poolside at a elegant setting - Clint said he would keep walking so I remained and
I had a tasty lunch at the Rock House - 2 grouper tacos and a slice of key lime pine!
For two hours Clint roamed Harbor island without stopping for lunch. With a fresh rain chill in town, I finally found Clint huddled up in the protection of a storefront porch waiting not far from the dock where our dinghy after the 4:00 pm storm front passed through the town.
A low tide had waylaid our transportation; it stuck in mud. So I sat with him n the new fresh chill for about an hour for the tide to return. Finally I said let's wade and drag our dinghy to deeper water. About 50 yards later we were afloat and finally able to find enough water to lower our outboard Yamaha and motor back to Mystique.
- Clint drank coffee
- Granola and blueberries
- Protein smoothie with chia seeds, walnuts and banana
- Clint drank coffee
- Fish taco and key lime slice ashore at Rock House
- Spaghetti with garlic tomato sauce
Mo Jan 30 - Dunmore Town
A blustery 18 knots of northerly wind kept us onboard Mystique all day. Actually the wind wasn't our deterrent, as we found enough projects and activity onboard to keep us busy. We first made a feeble attempt to create a rain catcher on the foredeck - too windy! So I finished reorganizing and stowing some boat tools. We read, I wrote, played solitaire, took a late morning 1-hour nap - beauty rest! Not sure why my body spoke to me after 10 hours of shuteye the previous night, but I did not resist reclining again. It must have been a combination of fresh sea air, full sun and my gourmet boat cooking!
As an afternoon activity, Clint decided the engine needed to be dissembled in order to diagnose why the cooling water was running hot. His conjecture suggested the heat exchanger was clotted and stopping the flow of water.
After 2 hours of motor surgery and a broken bolt, the heat exchanger was extracted from the engine's anal cavity and announced "it is a boy"...no he didn't say that...he did say he found the piece to be free of any debris or obstruction.
Ah, the proctologist's prostate prognosis! Maybe it was the gasket or a cracked head! The irony at that moment did not escape my notice. To add to my frustration was Clint's references to either saving money or spending money. Some warped joy seemed to invade his character as he tried to jest away situations whenever cost was involved. I later told him this seeming pleasure he derived in by alluding to using my credit card or spending my money was not appreciated. I think he finally got the message!
- Clint drank coffee
- Granola and blueberries. With rice milk- Clint drank coffee
- turkey and cheese and pickle wrap
- Spaghetti with pesto and pine nuts.
Tue Jan 31 - Dunmore Town
Winds calmed down through the night, more northeasterly... another 10-hour sleep.- glorious! Ashore around 10:00 am...errands included: Internet cafe, bank, beach, fish market, grocery store. Arthurs Cafe on Dunmore Street was a sweet little eatery with an outdoor patio all with wifi. As we emailed, I treated Clint to a tuna melt sandwich. I was afraid he would wait to return to the boat to eat because the food onboard was already paid for.
Afterwards we walked the streets to the northern beach. Exclusive resort cabanas and beach chairs lined the 3-mile stretch of a flat and silky white sand which actually in the midday sun felt cooling afoot. We lay down shirtless to take in the sun and to read when shortly a lumbering, white beach-wandering Labrador waddled over to sniff of our common scents. Discovering we had none, the canine soon continued on for other casual, uninvited olfactory treats; the handful of humans about did not give him many options! Soon a motorized kite flew overhead; a white tourist soared above the white sandy stretch just above us to be noticed and have us wonder if some palm might fell this fellow!
We soon wandered back through a private beach house - I followed Clint because he seemed to know the way despite telling me there was a sewer line trail ahead. He obviously had scoured the area the day before!
- Clint drank coffee
- Granola for breakfast
- Grouper tacos for dinner
Wed Feb 1 - Dunmore Town to Spanish Wells
The wind was now easterly and less than 10 knots so we decided to transverse the Devil and return to Spanish Wells where we could continue our pursuit of boat parts. I had wanted to snorkel the wrecks, but the chill and overcast day were less inviting.
I had mentioned that I thought a second opinion about the motor might be a good idea as my impression that Clint was uncertain about what was wrong with our starboard engine. I later found he was certain, but that message was somehow lost in translation.
Thur Feb 2 - Spanish Wells
Wind easterly 5-8 knots, warming sun feels more intense than usual. Clint wears favorite bamboo shirt and comments too warm!
I hoisted Clint up mast for second time with fixed anchor light, tested and works finally after replacement bulb in Ft. Lauderdale 2 months earlier.
- Clint drank coffee
- Lunch lasagna ashore at Edie's Cafe
- Grilled grouper and potato salad
Fri Feb 3 Spanish Wells to Royal Island
Easterly 12-13, high clouds, mostly sunny. By 9:00 we were ashore on our way to Pinder’s Gas Station for the second opinion about starboard engine situation. Mr. Pinder confirmed Clint’s diagnosis as 99% correct - the head of engine cracked! I looked at Clint in disbelief as he said he had been 99.9% sure it was a cracked head and then he spoke for me while I stood right next to him and asked if he could pay for his advice with my money. Mr. Pinder said no thanks and we thanked him for his time and confirmation.
I had mentioned to Clint I appreciated our going to Mr. Pindar and just wanted him to know that. I wanted him to also know I had confidence in his expertise. I came away with the impression that both of us needed Mr. Pindar’s expertise and reassurance.
While we were ashore Clint then made numerous calls to Nassau to order parts. - delivery by Tuesday!? - plan to return to New Providence before then and get prepared for the repair. We had some days to enjoy before we dove back into the starboard engine project.
Walked back to the dinghy full of water….leaking more and more each time we return from errands - I pumped her dry while Clint made friends with nearby fishing trawler crew member. Motored over and picked up 20 lbs of ice and a shackle at Roland’s on the east end of town. Used ice to keep freezer cold and rest the refrigerator compressor while we recharged our house battery.
- Granola and rice milk
- Creamed chicken and cauliflower and I had a chicken fillet sandwich and sweet potato fries
- Spaghetti with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese
Sat Feb 4 - Royal Island to The Glass Window Bridge
Sun Feb 5 - Back to Nassau