“The Secret to happiness? … Enjoy Small Pleasures.”
— Samuel Snides
We had never been to Eleuthera and were excited to take on the adventure. Many do not attempt to cross the 13,000-foot deep passage from the Abacos south to Eleuthera, but after a few hours of 5-foot seas things began to calm down despite two tankers missing us by a mile, simultaneously. (One off our bow and one off the stern!)
Eleuthera is unique to many cruising spots in the Bahamas, because there are no cuts between the Atlantic Ocean and the Bahamian Bank.
Therefore, the west coast is preferred because there are small cays and places to get protection from high winds. Upon leaving the Abacos, we headed south 60nm to Eleuthera with Australians Bob and Deidre Blackman aboard Tide Hiker, a 49-foot DeFever Pilothouse Trawler, and anchored in the beautiful hurricane hole of Royal Harbor. Upon entering we anchored with 3 other boats and by nightfall we had over a dozen other boats join us. We left Royal Harbor outside Spanish Wells & Eleuthera and did a short run of just 2 miles to a small, uninhabited cay called Meeks Patch.
Meeks Patch Cay is a beautiful anchorage protected from the prevailing easterlies in 10 feet of clear water over sand that is covered with sand dollars. The water was very clear with great holding and we anchored on both sides as the wind changed between our trip to and from Spanish Wells a few days later.
Then we moved on to Spanish Wells, the largest town in Eleuthera and a very busy commercial harbor. It is amazing to be in there with clear water at the docks and delightful people everywhere! We rented a golf cart and explored the area, realizing that for us this might be the best town in all the Bahamas to live.
Just east of Spanish Wells is the upscale settlement on Harbour Island. We took the Fast Ferry there to avoid the treacherous coral reef called Devil’s Backbone. Many of the homes there are well over 200 years old and beautifully restored.
The Fast Ferry weaves through the coral heads at about 25 knots and is quite an experience. I’m just glad that I didn’t have to find my way in there with Mud Puddle Rose!
Upon moving south on the western side we passed through Current Cut, which has a current at times of 4+ knots. We were pushed along at about 2.5 knots and enjoyed the ride. The anchorage just south was another deserted area called Current Cay. We were very protected from the unusual western winds, and the water was again gin clear over bright sand. It was great to walk long empty beaches and enjoy the solitude after Spanish Wells and Harbor Town.
Next, we headed down along the cliffs of the west coast passing the famous “Glass Bridge” and Gregorytown. We poked our head into the narrow entrance of Hatchet Bay and came to our favorite anchorage on Eleuthera, Pelican Cay.
This small cay is beautiful and has a fantastic beach that was deserted the entire time we were there. There is a small airport nearby that was not a bother, but it was fun to watch the planes take off and land. Again the water was spectacular and only matched by the sunsets!
Then we rejoined humanity for a charming anchorage at Governor’s Harbour, the first capital of the Bahamas. A few of the oldest buildings have been restored and the town is a joy to explore; plus, we walked across to the pink beaches on the Atlantic Ocean.
Overlooking the pristine pink beach at least 2 miles long we passed what was left of the old Club Med, which was abandoned . . . who knows which hurricane made that decision! It is thought provoking to realize that the next stop to the east is Africa!
Finally, we anchored in another delightful cove called Ten Bay. The view off the stern across Exuma Sound toward the Exumas was terrific. I never get tired of clear water that is in the upper 70s and low 80s, depending on how close you are to shore. We then re-provisioned in Rock Sound and headed for the Exumas.
Eleuthera was a pleasant surprise and a fun part of the Bahamas that is often missed by cruisers. If ever you decide to visit Eleuthera, drive it by rental car or cruise on your own. Either way, it is a spectacular place; and don’t miss our “Magnificent 7” as you discover your own.