Sailing to Eleuthera – A Beautiful Day and Sleepless Night

Sailing to Eleuthera – A Beautiful Day and Sleepless Night

A blow forces us out of JAWS beach a little earlier than expected.  We had planned to move around to the anchorage near downtown Nassau so we could visit the city for a day or two. But after looking at the charts, and reading the Active Captain reviews on Nassau Harbour, it seemed the holding wasn’t optimal for a big westerly blow.

So, we haul in the anchor and set sail for Eleuthera.  We weren’t too bummed about it as there’s a high probability we’ll swing back through Nassau while sailing about the Bahamas.

If you’re wondering why we decided to travel so far to escape the blow, well, it’s simple.  There are a limited number of anchorages within a day’s sail that protect from a South-to-West-to North blow.  Pretty crazy wind shifts, right?  Our best choices were to head for Harbour Island or Rock Sound (or stay at a marina which would easily be $100+ per night).  Since Nikki’s birthday is around the corner I figured why not spend it in Harbour Town, we’ve been told its the gem of the Bahamas.

Nikki is super excited about the pink sand beaches!  They are supposed to be gorgeous and from the photos I’ve seen online they look amazingly pink.  The town is apparently littered with great restaurants and beautiful scenery.  I don’t think we’ve spoken with a single person that had anything bad to say about Harbour Island and Dunmore Town…except maybe for the “certain death” entrance through the Devils Backbone.

We chose to sail around the outside and not hire a pilot to go through Devils Backbone.  It just didn’t seem right to let a guy come on board, who is unfamiliar with our vessel, and let him motor through the narrow entrance and 4 nautical mile reef lined corridor. Our thinking was simple: we’ll stay outside to avoid the dangerous reefs, we’ll be able to sail instead of motor which will save on fuel, we won’t have to pay the pilot fee and maybe we’ll snag a fish!  With the money we save it should afford us a little more luxury for the birthday celebration!

Should you decide to hire a pilot for your trip every listing we found mentions Devils Backbone Passage Pilots (and a guy named Bandit) 242-333-4695.  It’s about $100 for a 40ish foot catamaran and includes the return trip.  You will have to meet in Spanish Wells which means you’ll be motoring the full 10-15 nautical miles through Ridley Head Channel and Devil’s Backbone Passage.

We have a friend who hired Bandit and said he was very friendly and brought homemade bread baked by his wife.  So, they sat back, watched the show and chowed down.  Since their GPS tracked the route they did not bother bringing bandit back on board for the return trip as they had the exact route to follow out.  I asked him if he thought it was worth it and he says “Yes, sorta.  The conditions were perfect so I could have done it myself, but hindsight is 20/20 and I guess it’s better safe than sorry.”  We certainly can’t argue with that!

Our anchorage in Cistern Bay was perfect for the big blow, in fact we couldn’t have planned a better spot.  It gave us the protection we needed for the 40+ knots of wind howling outside.  It still blows my mind that just six months ago we had no idea how to read a chart or how to locate a safe anchorage.  Now we’re sailing nearly 100 nautical miles to get the best anchorage!  All our successes and failures over these past few months have taught us a boatload!

Although, I have to mention…our Mantus anchor has been a big part of our anchoring success.  It saves our hulls and gives us huge piece of mind in these high wind blows that seem to hit the Bahamas every week or two.  Our anchor has easily become one of our favorite sailboat upgrades, and it was well worth the slightly painful install process.

rain on sailboat means free wash

Rain on sailboat is like getting free popcorn at the movies.  We’ve only had a few good rain showers during the daylight hours where we could take advantage of the free water.  So, we still get pretty stoked about it.  I know some of you will want to know about our washing supplies.  We have started out with some standard marine friendly, biodegradable products. If we come across any of it we think is superior and worth recommending, we will 100% let you know.

Sailing Report

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sailing from nassau to eleuthera bahamas

Dates: January 21-24, 2017
Nautical Miles Sailed: 75
Anchorage: First Night was Egg Island and would have been great if the wind would have been blowing from the east.  It was blowing south at 20+ knots and was too rolly to sleep.  Our second spot was Cistern Bay and it was a great anchorage with good holding.
Cell & WiFi: Our BTC signal was good both places.

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