Eleuthera to the Exumas

We had wanted to leave Eleuthera the day after we dropped mom and dad off but in Spanish Wells nothing was open so we spent the day on the boat doing odd jobs like cleaning after a week away and filling the water tanks with slightly salty tasting water. The next morning Leah did groceries and I took several fuel, propane and ice runs to get us ready to go.   About noon we cast off and headed south.   Our departure was a bit of a gong show but thankfully still scratch free due to some well placed (a fluke)  fenders.  As we left I wondered to myself if I would ever come back to Spanish Wells or Eleuthera ever again.   Time will tell I guess.

A fishing ship returning to Spanish Wells

A fishing ship returning to Spanish Wells

Going from Spanish Wells to the Exumas or from Nassau to the Exumas generally involves crossing either the Yellow Banks or Middle Ground.  Both of these areas average 8 to 20 feet deep and are littered with coral heads which are 6 foot wide rocks that reach almost to the surface. Most of them are uncharted so you need to travel by day and keep a watch on deck to steer around the heads which are large black spots on the otherwise yellow sand, hence the name yellow banks.

To add complication to our passage the area through the middle ground we would take is not surveyed for depth and bears only the note: “nearly 2 meters watch for rocks and coral heads.”  We only need 1.5meters so we would be fine but it wasn’t the most confidence inducing note. We almost went around the uncharted area but decided to decided to trust our eyes and the route on the chart.

Before we hit the middle ground we passed through the Flemming Channel where I saw a massive plume of smoke that burned for hours. It reminded me of the fires from world war 2 moves when a ship is destroyed and burning.   I almost changed course to head toward it but it was too far based on the triangulation I did.   Turns out that it was Nassau burning their garbage.

The plume

The plume

The plume.  Not much sailing today see how flat the water is 20 nautical miles from anything

The plume. Not much sailing today see how flat the water is 20 nautical miles from anything

We crossed through middle ground without seeing a single coral head and with over 10 feet of water the whole way,  far better than the prediction on the chart.  We did see large grass beds which we avoided just in case.  The last half hour was a little touch and go as the light was fading and the dark spots became harder to see.  Leah was awesome though, staying on the bow the whole way and watching out.

Leah on the bow watching for coral heads

Leah on the bow watching for coral heads

Good job Ber!

Good job Ber!

A potential coral head to port.

A potential coral head to port (left).

Soon we spotted Beacon Cay and were in deeper water in Ship’s Channel.  The time was about 5:30 and morale had hit rock bottom about 9 minutes before.   It is funny how everything can be going perfectly one minute and the next minute we have three very unhappy kids all fighting, whining or crying – usually one of each.  Leah went below to calm the crew and I piloted us the last 4 miles to the anchorage.  We anchored at Pimlico Cay for the night.  A successful cruising day with no incidents of consequence and we had finally made it to the Exumas!

Sun setting on Beacon Cay.

Sun setting on Beacon Cay.

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