On Sunday 11 March we left Atlantis and headed out the new Providence west entrance, past the cruise boats and a very modern USN amphibious vessel. Besides sightseeing, this exit was chosen to maximize the fishing opportunity enroute Spanish Wells. The ride was not ideal and Melissa was a trooper considering her condition. Young Bill took charge of the two trolling rigs along the six hour transit. The first five were a disappointment as Dad tried to find the right course and still keep the girls from mutiny. At last, on the bank near Egg Island both reels began to sing, simultaneously. Jean grabbed the helm, and the Bills cranked around on an ever crossing retrieval effort. When the catch came into view we saw three beautiful green/yellow mahi mahi....with only two lines in the water. The three were reduced to one as Dad managed to lose his off the swim platform and the curious intruder departed. Young Bill landed the best of the bunch and the ladies cheered as we motored out of the trough. We were soon on the shallows leading to the marina and calmer waters.
Yacht Haven in Spanish Wells is a favorite and we were greeted by old friends on the staff. The youngsters set off to explore in a golf cart...this is a really small town and it was no surprise that they were on time for a fish dinner. This is our fourth visit in the past three years and we have yet to make it to the nearby Harbor Island and Dunmore Town; the oldest settlement in the Bahamas. Over dinner it was decided that the oldsters would catch the ferry in the morning for northern Eleuthera and the youngsters would look after the boat and work on their tans.
The next day the catamaran ferry arrived on time and we were off across the Devil's Backbone to Great Harbor. This trip takes 20 minutes on the cat and is a tribute to their skill as they navigated the swells coming in from the Atlantic and nasty coral heads along the narrow passage. It was in this area that the Eleutheran Explorers foundered in 1647 before crawling ashore to establish a settlement free from Anglican oppression that they felt in England and Bermuda. A first refuge was Preachers Cave which later split off to Dunmore Town over an internal squabble. These early Puritans had a hard beginning and it wasn't long before they sought help from kinsmen in less harsh conditions. Emergency supplies came from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and years later a shipment of the prized Bahamian Brazilette wood settled the debt to the Boston colonists. It was this shipment that bought the land for the original Harvard College...and now you know the rest of the story.
Another golf cart provided our transport at this delightful stop. We toured the two marinas and settled on the Hammerhead Grill for lunch. The day passed quickly and it was soon time to board the ferry back to Spanish Wells. Dinner that night was Bahamian lobster...or crayfish as they call them. On 13 March Chapter III headed back to Nassau to bid farewell to Bill and Melissa. Our transit was a little better than the inbound leg, but not by much. We returned to Hurricane Hole Marina on the Paradise Island side of the harbor. At the same price as Atlantis, this place has really gone down hill in the year we have been away. Dockhands seemed more interested in washing/waxing the boat than assisting in the tie up. We managed to get a gouge in the stem from the concrete quay as a spring line was dropped to catch a breast line. The power was so erratic that we ran the generator for the stay and it was a relief to pull out on Thursday for Grand Bahamas.
With the kids safely back in Virginia, our first intervening stop was at the newly renovated marina at Chub Cay in the southern Berries. New construction surrounded a mint, nearly vacant marina that is definitely geared for the bill fishing community that frequents the lucrative grounds near the Northwest channel of the Tongue of the Ocean. On Friday we had a good run across the shallow banks, but the deeper waters of the Providence Channel to Lucaya brought higher following seas. The entrance to Bell Channel at dusk was a welcome sight. Even better was having old cruising friends take the lines at arrival.