Spider wrestling


Dave has been making friends with the wildlife. You may have heard him from afar. This quiet man can up his decibel count remarkably on occasion.

We’d headed off for a walk to the wild Atlantic Coast on Elutheta from our anchorage in Rock Sound. Up the road for a mile or so, onto the beach and turn left. All good. A couple of miles later, we reached a big inland salt pond and an aerial picture of google maps (yes the cell phone reception is pretty good here) suggested a faint trail so we could make a loop back, a circular walk being much better than retracing our steps.

It started all fine and dandy. The trail obviously hadn’t been walked in a very longtime but we were making progress with the odd bit of thrashing. We were chatting away, dave walking in front. That’s when the decibel count peaked and a wild dance with windmill arms commenced. He’d walked into a rather large web and big boy/ girl arachnid 🕷 was now on his t shirt. Well they weren’t for long as windy miller did his thing and heart rates gradually abated. He or she was a large bugger,  and now faced quite an afternoon of work to rebuild their home. Dave made me walk in front for a while after that.

The trail eventually petered out and we end up wading around the edge of salt pond, sometimes in deep sand, sometimes on stoney limestone. Progress was slow but we emerged in a small quarry with a track heading out so all was tickety boo. Things got better when we spied a small restaurant, Rosie’s, up a hill so we headed there for a well deserved medicinal beer and an account of Rosie’s life. Lovely lady then gave us a lift back to town.

Liking a life of contrasts, we then headed to Little San Salvador, a small island owned by a cruise ship company. It’s like Disneyland for cruise ship passengers. We were the only boat anchored off the beach when a monster cruise ship pulled in. It disgorged its couple of thousand passengers onto the pristine beach for a few hours of entertainment and by 3.00pm they were all gone, leaving us alone again. It was fascinating to watch, we felt like were looking  in from the outside to the inside of a goldfish bowl. All in all, it was an impressively slick operation, although the taunting smell of bbq from the beach was most cruel.

To bring you upto date, we’re now on Cat Island and will depart likely tomorrow towards  Conception Island when the SE winds drop a little. It’ll be a bit of a bash to wind but when it’s warm, a few hours of relative discomfort don’t seem so bad.


The relaxation spectrum

Well.....it was Valentine’s Day.

Sailing can reward both end of the relaxation spectrum and the change from one polar to the other can be swift. This morning we are at the smiley end.

Anchored off a quiet sandy Eleuthera beach, we are the only boat in the anchorage. There’s zero wind so little point in moving as we’d be motoring. The sun beats, we had a morning ‘naughty but nice’ skinny dip, not done that for a while but it felt good. Dinner cooks in the pressure cooker for this evening, the fridge raw water intake strainer has been cleaned, l have a new book on the go and the larger part of day lies ahead. More swimming, perhaps a snorkel around the rocks, some paddle boarding, a bit of work and all of a sudden it will be 6pm. The second coat of paint required on the boat ceiling will be ignored till a later day. Forget any ‘top up’ varnishing.

It’s not always this seemingly idyllic painted picture, the other end of the spectrum can arrive swiftly. We were anchored in Governors Harbour, a place where the holding has a reputation for being poor, meaning anchors don’t set too well. It took us a couple of attempts to get ours to behave. We have an anchoring routine. Dull but methodical! It can take some time rather just lobbing the anchor out and retiring for tea and medals. Dave did a quick snorkel to check it had dug in okay and wasn’t just teasing us. As this can happen. To any boaters.

Later the same evening, we went across to another boat for chats and beverages. Beverages is a word I have picked up through spending time in the States and Canada. It’s not in my usual speech quiver but I quite like it. Beverages.

The sun had long gone, the wind picked up and a squall came through. Their boat was no longer in the same place, it was drifting rapidly downwind towards the shore, thankfully dancing smoothly around the bow of another boat. It was close(ish). In what seemed like the time it takes a for the british parliament to reject a Theresa May Brexit proposal, the boat was hard aground. No amount of engine power was shifting that baby. The best anchor of all, the hull, was stopping that boat going anywhere. And inevitably the tide was on its way down.

Soaked to the skin by now and quite cold, Dave and I hopped in our dinghy and went back to Grace, changed and gathered some resources……kedge anchor, 100m of line, large knife, head torches, the BIG torch, VHF radio, think that’s the complete list.

Over the next two hours, we play a few rounds of the anchoring winching game. The boat wasn’t shifting much but when the game ended, two anchors were laid out in deeper water. It was then a case of letting the moon and earth do their thing and wait for the tide to rise. We went to bed about midnight and grounded crew were able to winch in a bit on each anchor line until around 2.30am the boat broke free and was able to do what boats do best, float.

We were happy to help. That relaxation spectrum can change quickly. So stay away from too many beverages.

….and an unrelated picture. Well it was Valentine’s Day. 😀


One of our clients in the UK is Skanska. They know a thing or two about civil engineering, tunnels, buildings and bridges being part of their portfolio. They cropped up in our conversation as walked to a bridge in northern Eleuthera. The road bridge sits on a particularly narrow piece of land, the wild indigo Atlantic on one side, the protected translucent sea of Eleuthera on the other, the sea flowing under the bridge from blue to green. It’s a remarkable place. Said bridge connects the north of the island to the south along the regally named Queen’s Highway. And to be strictly accurate it also connects the south to the north for you pedants out there.

The reason we went to look at the bridge is a little while ago, a rogue wave hit it and the construction shunted in a south westerly direction around seven feet. The bridge now appears to be in a constant state of repair but it is in use, single file only. In an age where you don’t get much for nothing, its a road that comes with free jeopardy. Serves you right if you’re driving along looking aimlessly at your phone wondering if anyone has sent you a photo or message or a cute photo of a dancing polar bear in spotty dotty pink lycra and then oops, there’s no bridge, or road, only gravity.

I imagined the conversation between the civil engineer who did the sums based on the potential forces involved and his or her line manager. “Well the computer modelling said this. We didn’t account for a massive storm up near Hatteras sending pounding waves south or the explosion of internet polar bear photos.”

We’ve had some great sailing of late, mostly short distances and even our brief forays to windward have been enjoyable. The bays have almost exclusively delivered deep grabby sand and the anchor comes up pleasingly clean. It’s a small thing but it makes for a good start to the day when moving from one place to the next. No anchor cleaning.

Yesterday we went and found a cave near Hatchet Bay. Dave was able to return to his previous student life and scuttle off along side passages and down rickety ladders to a lower watery level. The cave was more substantial than we had expected, with what once would have been an impressive array of stalactites and stalagmites, sadly some now vandalised. It turned into a through trip. The exit was 15 or 20 feet up an old rope ships ladder. It was actually fine but climbing up it, I had no idea how substantial or immovable the rocks or trees or rope that provided the belay were going to be until I got to the top.

Still here so that was all okay.

Double F’s

There are two things on my mind. One lovely and to be cherished, the second incredibly irritating.
1. Friends
2. Flies

Once again, paths have crossed, friendships have grown, good times have been had then it’s time to say goodbye. This phenomenon appears to be one of the inevitable downsides of being sailing transients. Boating lives run parallel for a while then plans no longer align and divergence is inevitable.

It’s happened to us on several occasions in our two and a half years afloat. Paul, Barbara and Julian, Brian and Steph, Phil and Linda, Hugh and Miranda, Danny and Emily and more recently Ali, Karl and the boys.

We first met Betty Ann and Rob in Halifax, Nova Scotia back in July. Grace and Beyond, their boat, departed south on the same day in October and we’ve hopscotched our way to the Bahamas. This week we’ve headed south to Eleuthera, a cracking sail, while they will stay in the Abacos, awaiting visits from family and friends.

In 6 months, they have become good friends and they come with a bundle of fine positive qualities. Rob and Dave both have a penchant for real ale and so that relationship was established in no time!
There will hopefully be other ‘fresh friend collisions’ and new beginnings as we move on but there’s always a bit of sadness as a particular friendship chapter comes to an end.

So that’s the friends bit, now onto number two, flies.

I don’t believe we have any rotting carcasses on board. So where do the blighters come from? We’re anchored maybe 150m from the beach. There’s 20 knots of wind so it’s reasonably breezy. There are no slaughter houses, butchers shops, municipal tips or piles of unpleasantness within site. Or any buildings or people for that matter. We’re anchored off the west of Little Egg Island. All alone.

Yet for the last 30 minutes I’ve been on fly killing patrol in the cabin with a rolled up newspaper and a spirit of vengefulness. Dave says what we need is a good hard frost to kill them off. Not too sure about that one as I am currently enjoying sun and warmth. Although I do like a hearty walk on a cold frosty day in the UK.

I have dispatched close to 30. I know, that’s hideous. It’s good training to keep your reactions swift. That’s me trying to see a positive in the situation. But I’d rather be chilling out post lunch, reading my book travelling down the Volga river in Russia. Before a trip ashore for a walk and explore.

I still have no answer as to where these flies come from and why they are here. We will sail round to Spanish Wells tomorrow and hopefully any remaining irritants will self-destruct before then.

As a quick footnote. The Bahamas are lovely. Much much nicer than the Caribbean. IMHO.