April 25. We left GeorgeTown this morning, saying good bye to the Cruisers Net and headed towards Cat Island. We had planned to leave by the north Elizabeth Harbour entrance but there were a few rain squalls up that way, we so went out the south entrance and managed to head to Cat behind the squalls. Crossing the Exuma Sound we were in a couple of thousand feet of water so Paul decided to get the fishing gear out and try his luck. After about 30 minutes he got a bull mahi on the line, and fifteen minutes or so fighting it he got it to the back of the boat. It ran across our stern and as Paul tried to get it to the cockpit gate it threw the hook! Ah well, we needed to either defrost something for dinner or find somewhere to eat once we put the anchor down!
We got to the anchorage off the beach at New Bight, on Cat Island. We saw what looked like a small blue painted bar/restaurant on the beach, looked at Trip Advisor and saw that it was a place called Hidden Treasure. So we waited until just before dinner time and launched the dinghy to go ashore. We first walked up to check on the place and confirm they were serving dinner, then went for a walk along the beach. We first went south and found the beach strewn with pieces of glass, turning around we headed the other way and found the beach in much better condition. We ordered a couple of grouper dinners and then joined another couple at the only table! They were on a sailing catamaran, and we shared cruising stories over dinner. Just before dinner was brought out a young lady grabbed a big handful of the pine needles from the beach and lit them by our table, billowing smoke over us, which was a bit surprising. She then told us that it would keep the flies off our food as we ate!
April 26. The next day we went ashore to visitThe Hermitage, which we found extremely interesting. You can read about Father Jerome and The Hermitage by clicking here. The Hermitage sits on top of the highest point in the Bahamas, at a dizzying 206 feet! As we got to the beach we found that the switch on the dinghy console that lifts and lowers the outboard had stopped working. There is another switch on the motor itself so we have a workaround for the rest of the trip.
Getting back to Sonas we lifted the anchor to head around the corner to a small bay called Fernandez, where there was a nice beach. When we got there we found it was rolling with the swell, so we carried on to Alligator Point and turned into the anchorage off the beach at Bennetts Creek. There was only one other boat there, so we had the beach all to ourselves and watched another great sunset!
April 27. We decided to stay at Bennetts today. The one other boat left so we had the place to ourselves. We walked the beach and swam, did some small chores on Sonas. In the evening the wind died away and we had a very quiet night.
April 28. After breakfast we ran slowly north west towards Little San Salvador. The forecast was for thunderstorms passing through all day, but we arrived off the island without meeting any bad weather. In fact Sian was able to do some yoga on the boat deck. On the way we called Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina and booked a slip beginning Monday for four nights. There was some bad weather coming through and now seemed a good time to tie up to a dock for a few days As we approached the Little San Salvador anchorage we saw a large barge, crane, tug and other boats working. So we slowed down to minimise our wake. They didn’t have a diver-down flag displayed so we felt we could pass by relatively close. They then came on the radio and told us they did have divers down and were about to raise something large from the sea bed and could we give them wide berth – which we did. We went around them and into the anchorage.
Little San Salvador is owned by the Carnival Corp. and they use it as a private island for their cruise brands, including Norwegian Cruise Lines, Carnival, and Princess. We had previously been there on a Norwegian Cruise ship, where Sian took yoga on the Half Moon Cay beach. We swam to shore but our walk was curtailed by some thunder in the distance, so we turned around knowing it would take some time to swim back. There were storms around the island but not over it for most of the day. We watched the salvage crew working and listened to them on channel 6. We were extremely surprised at what they lifted from the water. When they were completed and ready to leave we radioed them and congratulated them on a job well done! There were only three boats in the anchorage that evening and we experienced strong thunderstorms as a weather event started to form We also saw at least one water spout. We didn’t know it then but this was to be the start of the first tropical disturbance of the season!
April 29. Around three in the morning an absolutely amazing electrical storm came through the anchorage. We went up to make sure we were not dragging anchor with the winds to see the whole bay lit up time after time with the lightning. It was a pretty restless night.
It finally calmed down and we got a few hours sleep, to awake to the sight of a Carnival cruise liner coming onto the anchorage. When this happens the ships tenders start to work, and we knew that they would throw wakes about the anchorage. So we had a quick breakfast and headed out for our next stop at the Cape Eleuthera Resort And Marina where we planned to ride out the coming storm.
We got into the well protected marina, which is still being developed. So far they have the marina, swimming pool, cottages and villas. After getting everything squared away we went up to the Harbour Ponte restaurant for drinks and dinner.
April 30. At 5:45a.m.mph and Paul woke thinking “did I just feel a bump?” He lay for a while and there it was again. He got out of bed and saw that the wind was howling and the rear of Sonas was up against the dock. After much pulling on lines and tightening the bow using the bow thruster we were able to get her where we wanted her. During the day the wind got even stronger, blowing over 40mph. We kept a close eye on our lines, but Sonas stayed tight in her slip. The weather stations were now saying that a tropical event had appeared over the Bahamas and, while they did not expect it to turn into a numbered storm, it would be a windy and rainy event!
We felt confident enough that we could leave Sonas and go for some exercise. There was a marked four mile trail, so we set off on that. The “trail” took us on miles of some very overgrown asphalt roads that we heard conflicting stories on – that these were the roads of an abandoned US military airbase, or the roads of a more recent abandoned housing development.
Just after lunch a Nordhavn 47 entered the marina basin and made the turn for the slip next to us. After a couple of failed approaches due to the extremely high winds, Paul, who was on the dock with some others to lend a hand with lines, advised the marina staff that these boats only have one engine and, given the wind, couldn’t they find him a bulkhead to go against rather than trying to thread it into a slip with major cross winds. They eventually did just that and got him secured against an end dock. We later walked across and chatted to the couple on board. They had sold their home and were now off on their Nordhavn on the adventure of a lifetime. They planned to be at the Panama Canal by December, and then cruise the south Pacific – for starters!
Paul spent the afternoon walking the docks and chatting to many of the other boat owners, including Tim on a 40 foot cat and Ray on a 75 foot Fleming. We went up to the Harbour Pointe bar for a couple of pre-dinner cocktails, met a young man from London and another from down the road from us (Ponte Vedra) in Jacksonville. He worked at the Lexus dealership and in fact we discovered we had some friends in common! Paul asked bar lady Kenell for one of their cocktails – a Sky Juice. This required a coconut, which they didn’t have. Paul suggested they wait a while, given the wind, and one would land outside! Kenell told him to come back tomorrow and she would make sure that the coconut was in place!