Our Worst Day Aboard Unforgettable

Starting from where we left off at our anchorage at Cat Island, we could see Little San Salvador, commonly known as Half Moon Bay, to our west. This made for a short cruise as we headed northward toward the Abacos. Little San Salvador is small private island owned by the cruise ship industry, thus we were only allowed up to the point of high tide. We took advantage of a walk on the beach but noticed that there wasn’t a single sign of aquatic life but plenty of bird songs. Nice beach but not impressive and totally commercial.

After a quick one night stop we headed north to Kemps Cove in Eleuthera. Our intent was to solely anchor in Eleuthera because we wanted to avoid taking an RT PCR test that Eleuthera, and other islands with higher numbers of covid cases, required. I came up to the pilot house as we were getting close to the southern point of Eleuthera and learned that Scott had called the Cape Eleuthera Marina and made a reservation and managed to find a mechanic to change our oil that very afternoon. I reminded him about the covid test requirements. We decided to take our chance and honestly keep our feet off the land which was so tempting as they have a sweet beach with a hammock and nice streets for walking.

Eleuthera seems rather long but we traveled 58 nm the following day and anchored just past Current Cut. As you can see on the speedometer it is called Current Cut for a reason. We had planned to arrive closer to slack but had stopped at Goulding Bay thinking we could push our luck and go to shore at one of Scott’s favorite beaches. We decided to stay honest and just keep going which delayed our arrival. We felt the push of the water speeding us up to a brisk 10.2 knots!

Spanish Wells Yacht Haven was our home for the next 2 nights. This is a charming island with lush flowers, watered lawns, colorful homes AND a great grocery store! Scott ordered a fish sandwich at the marina restaurant, Wreckers, that had a piece of grouper soooo big it hung over the bun…he was a happy man! Because of covid, tourism has been hurt dramatically throughout the Bahamas. We noticed probably less then 50% of the usual boats present and visitors via air is probably even less. We’ve tried to help the economy by eating out more often that we would normally and we have purchased several SPF shirts.

Shipyard restaurant on the east end of Spanish Wells.

I digress, back to the things I like about Spanish Wells. Just like the last blog mentioned, it is a simple life in the islands. Case in point, we walked back to the boat from the Shipyard Restaurant and decided to stop by a small, ice cream shop. When we walked up I noticed that there were no walls to the “shop.” I asked the young woman working how she closed up for the night. She responded that it is so safe there, all she has to do is clean at night. They leave the ice cream machine, refrigerator, etc, sitting out. The low crime rate is similar everywhere we’ve been in the Bahamas other than New Providence. By the way, she served an excellent warm chocolate chip cookie!

Now for our ‘terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day’ aboard Unforgettable. Perfect weather was predicted for our crossing of open water from Spanish Wells to Pete’s Pub in southern Abacos. And, boy, was it perfect both for weather and for fishing as this is Mahi Mahi season. We have developed a routine for fishing: Scott sets up the poles/lines, I reel in the fish, he guts them, I prepare them, we eat them. It wasn’t long before we heard the scream of a reel and, BOOM, we have a fighter on the line. She leaps, she dances, she dives, she sparkles in the sun, it is hard work pulling this girl in. (I know it is a girl because of the shape of her head, more rounded less square than the male.) I have learned not to do arm exercises the days that we fish because it is hard work, especially with the Mahi Mahi. It is so darn exciting until…we pull her onto the aft deck and her iridescent green, blue, yellow skin starts to fade as we spray alcohol into her gills to accelerate and ease her passing. This process saddens me every time even though I rationalize her death knowing we eat every bite and only catch what we will eat. She was a beauty and we now have 4 dinners.

What a treat having a pod of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins flit happily by our bow!

No sooner did Scott bait and rerig the line, I pulled in another fish, darn, a Barracuda! It was all down hill from there. Three more times we had Mahi on the line and lost them, one was mere inches from the swim platform and Scott was trying to gaff it. Twice a fish took all but the beak of the Ballyhoo bait. Three times our knot came untied where the line attachs to the steel leader. We were so very excited to hear the squeal of the line running out when we had a bite and my arms were exhausted from reeling the line in so many times, we became quite depressed and subdued knowing that so many fish were out there with hooks in their mouths, injured, and exhausted from swimming so hard. Perhaps we are just too tender-hearted to be real fishermen.

In our sad state we thought perhaps a visit to Pete’s Pub in Little Harbour might cheer us up. The Little Harbour anchorage was too shallow for us so we anchored outside with 4 other boats. The winds were low, coming from the south where we had protection. The small swells were coming in from the east, right out of Africa. We also discuss all of our decisions, both big and small. This was no different, we discussed the potential of the danger of swells affecting the dinghy going up and down from it’s chocks and danger from unhappy clouds. I always say that the most dangerous aspects of our life are the dinghy and mooring. (Thankfully, we don’t moor very often.) However, our dinghy is our transportation and is probably safer than riding in a car on a road. I thought we had a 50/50 chance of having an issue this time. Scott thought we would be fine so we lowered the dinghy into the water. It was definitely a challenge but nothing we couldn’t handle. (We lowered the dinghy off port side then tied it to cleats.) I went back inside one last time, while Scott was on the dinghy getting things ready. I came out to find that some large swells had rolled in and bashed the dinghy into the side of the boat doing damage; Scott was okay because he was not in the drivers seat but standing port side. The back rest of the seat and it’s latch were both broken, the engine shifter was hit and moved, and the grab rail on the drive station was damaged. Okay, bad decision, we’re not going anywhere in the dinghy. The big swells continued while we reserved our plan and stowed the dinghy. While setting it into it’s chocks we bent a transducer and knocked off two chock pads. Talk about adding insult to injury. Hurting our dinghy really hurt our hearts. We got her tied down with neither of us hurt (except for our pride.) Lesson learned: Don’t misjudge the power of swells just because they have a long period.

With our tails tucked between our legs we lifted our hook (anchor) and moved Unforgettable two miles to the more protected and calm Lynyard Cay. We ate a very delicious, yet solemn, grilled Mahi Mahi dinner.

This sign at Half Moon Bay expresses my sentiments about the Bahamas!

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