Week 10: Great Harbour Cay to Spanish Wells

Despite taking half as long, getting from Great Harbour Cay to Spanish Wells was more taxing than our Gulf Stream crossing from Ft. Lauderdale to GHC.

The difference? This time we motor sailed for much of the trip into 4-6 feet swells. When there is enough lag time between the swells, it’s not bad. But when the swells come closer together? The boat pounds into the water instead of gently slicing through it, making for an uncomfortable ride.

Sailors call easting against trade winds the thorny path, and this trip brought that home for me.

We pushed off from Great Harbour Cay Marina early on Wednesday, aiming to cover 70 nautical miles to anchor at Egg Island, hopefully by sunset, and then make a short hop to Spanish Wells on Thursday.

Our friend Gail aboard MV Seaquel snapped this photo of Vinyasa as we left Great Harbour Cay. Always so nice to have a photo of the boat on the move!
Our route from Great Harbour Cay Marina to Egg Island anchorage. The white spaces on the chart indicate deep water; deep blues are shallower areas.

After spending a week waiting for calmer weather at Great Harbour Cay, we were ready to move on. Allan spent much of the time plumbing our watermaker, wiring Pirate Lights, and finishing up the isolation of Vinyasa’s starter battery from the house bank. Each of these projects, like 98% of our projects are taking longer than anticipated.

Allan on deck below a pier.
At low tide at Great Harbour Cay Marina, it was a big step down from the finger pier.

It wasn’t all work and no play, though.

We enjoyed meeting other cruisers, like Gail and her husband Eddie, on the dock at GHCM, and we explored the island by dinghy, and walked nearby beaches and back roads.

Beach at low tide
Sugar Beach at low tide on a Saturday afternoon.
Perhaps a Bahamian equivalent of a multi-car garage?
Dirt road
Taking a dirt road home from Sugar Beach.
Allan and Lavonne on a beach
Allan finally made it to Sugar Beach on Tuesday morning.

But back to our trip to Spanish Wells: The first part of the day as we headed north and around Great Harbour Cay was calm, and Allan soon caught something on his fishing line. Given all we’d heard about abundant sharks in the area, we surmised a shark chomped the barracuda on the line in half.

Something bigger than the barracuda got to it before Allan pulled it from the turquoise waters.

We then passed by two Royal Caribbean cruise ships, Majesty of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas, anchored at Great Stirrup Cay.

Cruise ships at Great Stirrup Cay.

As we headed south east, we rounded into the upwind portion of our journey. Enough said about that above…

Darkness fell an hour before we made it to our anchorage at Egg Island, so I stood on the bow with our spotlight as we inched into the anchorage, and we dropped anchor further from shore than we would have otherwise, preferring to be conservative rather than risk running into a sandbar.

Winds were very light overnight but a slight ocean swell kept Vinyasa rocking side to side until we hoisted anchor on Thursday. It made me wistful for our protected Chesapeake Bay anchorages. I imagine that those who cruise The Bahamas year after year acquire a similar familiarity with these anchorages, knowing which ones are comfortable when. As best I can tell, very few offer protection from all directions…and understanding how to anticipate swell is a to-be-acquired skill.

Dock-lines ready as we pull into Spanish Wells.

Arriving in Spanish Wells banished my lingering queasiness, especially after we headed to Budda’s Snack Shack for some tasty conch fritters and tropical drinks.

Snack time at Budda’s!

We will be here in Spanish wells for a couple of days before we start making our way down Eleuthera. More about all of that next week!