Sometimes sleeping on a boat is like the best kind of camping, that special feeling of almost sleeping outside and nature being very close.
If you like that feeling you will know it makes you sleep very contentedly, even if you do wake in the night with the noises of animals, rain or sloshing wavelets and changing sea breezes. If you don’t like that feeling…why on earth not?!
We awoke in the 3 mile long, picturesque natural harbour of Rock Sound, Eleuthera on a calm and sunny day.
A bit of a landmark day for me, being not only my late February birthday but the 1 year anniversary of giving up working for a living. I started a day of thankfulness for (probably) the best year of my life with a large papaya wiv’ a little candle stuck in it.
Rock Sound is an old-fashioned town, well loved by cruisers for its warm welcome, decent shops, restaurants, spacious and sheltered anchoring and a selection of nice things to do. We started with a walk about, admiring the brilliant garden flowers and brightly painted colonial cottages.
An attraction called the Ocean Hole was sign posted so we followed.
Surrounded by trees and shrubs, a perfect circle of depth unknown, Ocean Hole is the local swimming hole, picnic spot and petting zoo for fish. Jacques Cousteau once tried and failed to find the entry point of its tidal waters, which have a fresh water layer on top and on the day we visited a few snorkelers were floating about exploring the rocky edges.
Having read a tip in the guidebook I had some cream crackers with me and a few pieces attracted a well fed shoal of mixed tropical fish. Not having got stuck into the whole snorkeling thing yet they were fascinating to watch.
Also fascinating was to hear L call over to me “Sue, we need to go, this American couple have invited us to go to the pub” (Thrust remaining crackers into hands of closest child and go before he changes his mind!)
So began one memorable afternoon and evening in the company of Candis and John.
The walk to the pub was not entirely straight forward as it involved getting directions from a taxi driver to 3 possible bar options and a lot of wandering chickens and dogs. Fortunately John can sense alcohol from a long way off and just a glimpse of a beer advert seen through a derelict fence was enough to tell him we had arrived.
The bar was dark and cavernous with a purple pool table and the kind of sturdy wrap around bar stools that will keep you upright after way too many Kaliks (the best Bahamian beer IMHO).
After John had disarmed the jolly regulars by telling them that the taxi driver had asked them not to beat us up please, we had beers and birthday “fruit champagne”! L and I earned much kudos by being the only people who had ever heard of Echoes, the Pink Floyd album track after which John and Candis’ beautiful Catalina yacht was named.
By the end of the day we had enjoyed a gift of delicious guava “birthday cake” from Candis, had a lobster lunch and had joined with their friends for dinner at the groovy waterfront restaurant Frigates.
Well travelled Anglophiles Christopher and Robin and charming super-sailors John and Diana were great company. After (surprisingly little!) liquid encouragement John started his loving recreation of all the best bits from Monty Pythons Holy Grail and The Life of Brian in some pretty convincing British accents.
Our table resounded to his cries of “they say they’ve already got one!” and “what have the Romans ever done for us?” until we wobbled back into our dinghys and across the calmest of waters on a beautiful moonlit night after a most special day.
More delightful calm greeted us in the morning as we reluctantly pulled up the anchor early and motored out of the bay to make progress up the island, which was needed if I was to catch my Easter flight from the USA to the UK.
We motored north up the leeward West coast of Eleuthera Island, to a quick stop in historic Governor’s Harbour.
Traveling across a sparkling smooth sea with reflections of clouds and even of our boat, the pale blue horizon blended seamlessly into the sea like a dream. The rocky coast line was full of strangely eroded cliffs with shadowy overhangs and cave like holes, as well as enticing coves and beaches dotted with anchored yachts.
A slightly too close for comfort encounter with a ferry rushing out of Governor’s Harbour from behind the sea wall did not detract from the loveliness of the scene for too long!
We managed to get ashore that afternoon for a short walk round some lush tree lined streets. I fail to buy some local fish (all sold) but manage to spend $110 in the grocery shop. Stuff here in the Bahamas is very expensive.
Opening the cruisers guide book we pick another stop for the next day, the quirky sounding Glass Window.
A narrow point on the island where the Atlantic and Caribbean seas are separated by just 30 feet of rock, which has a hole in it like a “window”, there can be no more vivid demonstration of the benefits of sailing on the “lee” or wind sheltered side of an island.
The contrast between the foaming, pounding rollers flinging up mists of sea spray and hissing like the Devil through blow holes in the ground on the Atlantic side versus the gin-clear waters and peaceful beaches on the Caribbean side was stark.
We kayaked ashore and walked through a little woodland to have a good look at the amazing views on both sides – L as always skipped towards the spray-soaked cliff edges in a manner calculated to make me light headed with fear.
Also on the calm side we enjoyed our first proper little snorkle in the shallows of our anchorage off Twin Sisters beach, with some actual brightly coloured tropical reef fishies and even a small sting ray, which was staying very still camouflaged amongst the yellow brown sea grass beds.
Another spot for our “spend more time next year” list and our 3rd happy day in Eleuthera Island.
Next morning we reluctantly pull up the anchor again and head North West for New Providence Island and the reported craziness of the Bahamian capital Nassau, USA visa applications, reported crime waves, multiple marinas and massive resorts with some anxiety as to what we would find.
Just how crazy would it be…