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  • sailorstacey

Updated: Jun 14, 2019

Delfina finally reached her home mooring in Keyport, NJ on May 25, 2019, after a journey to the Bahamas and back of more than 4,000 miles. Our trip home took me on a personal journey from edgy anxiety to pure exultation.

Owen arrived at Marsh Harbor on April 1 to crew home with us. The next day, we had a beautiful sail through the Whale Cut to Green Turtle Cay, one of the Abacos barrier islands, and anchored in White Sound. An old wooden ketch anchored near us floated toward shore as her anchor dragged, and Christoph and Owen went aboard to help the single-hander re-set. Our sturdy Rockna held, but the stiff winds prevented us from taking our dinghy over to New Plymouth; instead we had a late lunch at Bluff Marina.

We departed Green Turtle Cay on April 3 for a sunny full- day sail, arriving at Sale Cay, our staging anchorage, at 17:00. Chris Parker had provided us with a customized 4 -night, 5 -day route to Norfolk along the Gulf Stream, with an updated forecast that arrived just before we lost our cell signal. We knew our trip would be sandwiched between two fronts, and this knowledge set me on edge. However, we were determined to make the trip; Owen had a few days before he needed to get home to Vermont, and I wanted to be back home in time to host Passover/Easter festivities in Lambertville.

Christoph and I had made many overnight passages together, but I had never made a continuous 5 -day ocean passage. While grateful to have Owen along as crew, I was filled with trepidation at the prospect of being so far from shore in the Gulf Stream with unpredictable weather ahead.

An East wind wind propelled us from Sale Cay into the Gulf Stream at an average speed of 6.5 knots without power––an auspicious beginning under a sky that matched the azure waves. However, as the wind shifted overnight to ESE and South, it strengthened to 23 knots; the building swells rolled us violently from side to side, and doused the sails. None of us slept much and fatigue fed the anxiety that began to overtake the thrill of making the crossing.

I was further shaken by radar images of the broad line of approaching storms, and too exhausted to relieve Christoph for my watch at 03:00. At 03:30 Christoph modified our course further westward, but still following the edge of the Gulf Stream. I came on deck to stand watch at first light, but had a strong desire to get off the ocean. We finally changed course to northward at 13:30, heading toward Fernandina Beach. A pod of dolphins joined us at 17:00, swimming across the bow and spinning through the air––a welcome sighting of Delfina's namesake. The wind lightened, and we continued on, eventually arriving at an anchorage near the bright lights of the paper mill, where we anchored after midnight. Large jelly-fish glowed as they streamed past the hull, and a strange flying object with red and green lights made two overhead passes––evidently, some sort of drone. Were we being surveilled? No matter; we were off the ocean, back in the US and I slept soundly.

We checked-in with Customs and Border Protection on the iPad at 08:30, and it couldn't have been easier. We submitted our information on line; an officer asked to see us on camera and we were done. The sea had turned flat and winds were NE to ENE as we motored all day at a bearing of 50 degrees, straight into a stalled front north of Charleston. Dark nimbus clouds and flashes of lightning surrounded us soon after we crossed the frontal boundary, and my anxiety spiked. I knew I couldn't make it to Norfolk, even if the thunderstorms passed us by (which they did).

After a long day and night of motor sailing, we arrived at the Cape Fear River and dropped anchor at 01:00. We slept for a few restful hours. At 06:15 we weighed anchor in thick fog and made our way upriver, motoring with favorable current at 9-10 knots. We were hailed by both the local sheriff and Coast Guard, who were surprised to find us traveling upriver––a crane was being piloted through the river, and all marine traffic had been suspended. Since we were headed to the Cape Fear Marina, we had to make the 10:00 bridge opening; fortunately, we were allowed to proceed, with Coast Guard escort. We pulled into our slip at slack tide, then packed and cleaned Delfina with stunning efficiency. Owen drove us in a rental car from Wilmington, NC to Lambertville, NJ in 9 hours, including a quick stop for Chinese food along the way. I was bone tired, but thrilled that I would get my wish––to make matzoh balls and Easter baskets with my granddaughter Juniper.

Juniper making matzoh balls with Bubbie

After several weeks of getting my land legs back, and adjusting to home life in Lambertville, NJ, Christoph and I headed back down to Wilmington, NC on May 15 to sail Delfina home. We pulled out of the slip at slack tide in time for the 10:00 bridge opening, and stopped at Port City to fuel up behind a touring replica of the Santa Maria.

We made our way through Snow's Cut as the tide ebbed, and found the Carolina Beach bridge eminently passable at 67'. We dropped anchor near Masonboro to be ready to head out the inlet at first light.

At 06:00 we headed outside in WSW winds blowing at 11-15 knots. As soon as we raised the jib, Christoph noticed a vertical tear, about four feet long, along the luff, close to the seam. We couldn't use the sail. Fortunately, we had a hank-on staysail in a deck locker that Christoph was able to rig, using the running backstays, while we were underway. This sail would be our saving grace until we could repair the jib in Deltaville, VA.

Christoph rigging the staysail

We rounded Cape Lookout at 15:00, and motor-sailed on a broad reach in moderateSW winds. At 17:00, a dozen dolphins jumped and dove around Delfina's bow, entertaining themselves and us for more than an hour. I stood watch after dinner while Christoph rested, and was sound asleep as we rounded Cape Hatteras at 23:00. We continued motor sailing northwest and finally headed into the Chesapeake Bay; we made it as far as Back River, where we anchored at 18:00 and took down the trusty staysail. We had made arrangements with Ullman Sails to repair the jib, and let our friends Greg and Glenda from Ti Amo know that we'd be spending a couple of nights in Deltaville, where they live.

We tied up to a face dock at Regatta Point Marina, and enjoyed a refreshing swim in the pool. Greg and Glenda picked us up for a great Friday night dinner at the Raw Bar. We took advantage of being at a marina, with plenty of fresh water, to give Delfina a deep clean, removing rust from all the stainless, and waxing the decks. The repaired jib was ready on Monday afternoon, and Jerry brought it down to us at the dock. Greg came by to help us hoist the jib as the wind picked up. We fueled up at Norview and made it to Pittman's Cove, where we anchored at 19:00, finishing our dinner just before the rain showers.

By 07:00 on Tuesday a north wind was blowing 15 knots and gusting over 20. Waves broke violently over the bow as we attempted to head north on the Bay toward Sandy Point. We considered turning around, when the lazarette bilge pump alarm startled us with its loud, insistent buzz. Christoph went below and cleaned the bilge pump filter, and the pump started up again, but we wanted to anchor and make sure there wasn't water in the lazarette. We arrived at Sandy Point, dropped anchor and ate lunch. Christoph rewired the connection from the lazarette float switch to the bilge pump while I cleaned and dried out the contents. We relaxed in the protected anchorage while the sun shone brightly and the wind blew.

We resumed our sail towards home at 06:15 in NW wind blowing 12-16 knots. The wind came around to the East, and at 08:45 we put up full sail and turned off the engine. Aaah. Unfortunately, the wind abated and changed direction throughout the day, requiring the motor again. We anchored in the tranquillity of the Rhode River at 17:30. There were only 7 sailboats in the spacious anchorage that gets crowded with loud motor boats on summer weekends. We were 45 miles from the Delaware & Chesapeake Canal, and relishing the last few sailing days of our first live- aboard adventure.

We weighed anchor at 06:05 and motor-sailed in SW winds at 8 knots. Severe thunderstorms were expected, so instead of anchoring at Reedy Point, at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, we opted to find a protected harbor. There was no room at Chesapeake City, where motor vessels lined the dock, and the tight harbor was crowded with smaller sailing vessels. So we continued another five miles to Summit North Marina, and tied up at the dock. Once again, the storms we had tracked all day on radar never came near us! One benefit of being at the marina was the opportunity to enjoy a meal al fresco at Grain H2O, a gastropub with live music. Another benefit was the fuel dock. In the morning, we topped off our tanks and departed at 08:30 for our final day on the Atlantic Ocean.

As we exited the marina, a Northwest wind kicked up to 15-20 knots, gusting 24. This was perfect for sailing down the Delaware Bay. With the jib reefed, and the current running in our favor, we flew down the bay at an average speed of 8-9 knots before the current changed and the wind subsided. We traversed the shoals off the shore of Cape May, and after a sunny day sailing up the New Jersey coast, entered the Manasquan Channel to Atlantic City. The colored lights of the casinos and the amusement park competed with the pink glow of the setting sun. It took a few attempts to get good holding near the bridge, where current ran strong, and five other sailboats were anchored. Once the anchor was set, we zipped up the enclosure against the raging no-seeums, and enjoyed a final dinner on deck. The hip hop music and shouts from shore died down after a few hours, and we slept soundly.

Approaching Atlantic City

At first light on our last day, Delfina made her way through the chop in the channel, where the wind opposed the current. The wind soon came around from West to Southeast, building through the day, as we sailed home on a broad reach. We came around Sandy Hook and into the Raritan Bay, and picked up our mooring at 17:40. We were thrilled to find out that there was room for us at the Keyport Yacht Club's Opening Night Dinner. We were warmly welcomed by our Keyport sailing friends and happy to celebrate Delfina's arrival home!

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  • sailorstacey

Updated: Apr 2, 2019

March 15 - 31, 2019

Like all Bahamian islands, Great Abaco Island and its cays are situated on shallow banks––essentially huge underwater plateaus which rise thousands of feet from the ocean floor and have only 10-40 feet of water over their flat tops, or, at low tide, much less. As a "deep-draught" boat (6'4") we were leery of navigating here, but we have found enough water, at high tide, to traverse many of the channels and harbors. The Abacos are considered part of the Near Bahamas. Like the Far Bahamas and Out Islands islands where we spent most of our time, they comprise a semi-protected natural environment, offering spectacular diving and snorkeling on healthy coral reefs. However, the social reality here is very different from what we previously experienced. The Abacos are much more developed, with resorts, vacation homes, and even gated communities. The 15% of the Bahamian population that is white descend either from white Puritans who left Bermuda in the 1600's, seeking religious freedom, or British Loyalists, primarily from Charleston and New York, who left the U.S. shortly after independence, in the 1780's. Many of them settled here, and for generations, earned their livelihood through farming, fishing, sponging and salvaging wrecks. There are also many Haitian immigrants.

The Bahamas remained a British Colony until 1973; since then they have been an independent member of the British Commonwealth with a parliamentary democratic system of government. The Hopetown Museum exhibited this article on black and white Abaconians who fought to remain under the Crown.

Local government was only introduced in the 1990's, and is still under development. The Abaconians pride themselves on being the economic engine of the Bahamas.

We made the sixty-mile crossing from Meeks Patch near Spanish Wells to Lynyard Cay in the Abacos on a glorious sailing day in moderate East and Southeast winds that eventually dissipated. We were anchored by 3:30 p.m., joining four other boats at the pristine anchorage. We headed out to swim at a nearby beach where a private home was under construction, and had the palm-lined shore all to ourselves.

The next morning, Christoph spent a couple of hours troubleshooting the generator, a frequent maintenance requirement. It turned out to have a variety of problems, all of which he was able to resolve, except for the intermittently functioning fuel pump, which needed to be replaced. We have found that even with 430 watts of solar power, we depend on the generator to keep the batteries charged sufficiently to run the freezer and fridge.

We motored to a day anchorage with big ocean swells at the Pelican Cays near Sandy Cay, a massive protected coral reef that is part of the Pelican Cays National Land and Sea Park. Since all the dinghy moorings were occupied when we arrived, we shared a mooring ball with Will and Rebecca of S/V Artemis. We each headed out in different directions to snorkel one of the most acclaimed coral reefs in the world. After so much fabulous snorkeling in the Exumas, we hadn't expected to be bowled over in the Abacos, but the natural underwater beauty at the reefs, and the clear, turquoise waters are just as breathtaking. After about an hour of snorkeling through the purple, orange, and pink coral and thousands of neon-colored reef fish, we spotted the unmistakable gray hunters lurking nearby: a 6 foot long barracuda and a massive reef shark. Even though the ocean is their natural habitat, I can't help hyperventilating when I see either of them. We returned to the dinghy and drove by Rebecca to let her know that a large reef shark was in the vicinity. Just at that moment she saw the barracuda, and realized she had forgotten to remove her earrings––barracudas are attracted by the glint of sun on jewelry. She climbed in, and we gave her a ride back to her dinghy.

Weighing anchor once more, we set out on the Sea of Abaco to Tilloo Cay, along a shore of private homes. It took seven attempts to get good holding in a mostly grassy bottom. During one attempt, the anchor picked up an underwater cable. We finally found a favorable spot, and once the anchor was set, we enjoyed a lovely, quiet night on board. In the morning, a pod of seven dolphins surfaced and dove off our beam.

Our next destination was Marsh Harbor, on Great Abaco Island, the third largest city in the Bahamas, behind Nassau and Freeport. Marsh Harbor provides every service a cruiser might need, as well as a protected, but very crowded harbor, and a season-long cruiser community. We hadn't realized it was St. Patrick's Day. There was a rollicking party at Snappa's, where it seemed the entire harbor of cruisers had gathered, but we opted for a quiet and tasty tuna dinner on the terrace at Colors of the Harbor. We only spent one night in the harbor, because the next front was approaching, and the packed harbor did not seem like the best best place for us to ride it out at anchor. We opted to join Asana and Brin de Folie at the Treasure Cay Resort marina. In addition to a mooring field and slips, the resort offers residence cottages, several restaurants, laundry and a small shopping strip. It was our first stay at a marina in the Bahamas. Our three vessels motored north together in light wind under gathering clouds, which developed into a brief squall just as we approached the entrance channel.

An inviting natural feature of Treasure Cay is its three mile stretch of beautiful, sandy ocean beach. Once Jamal, the dock master, assisted us in tying up securely at the dock, we set out to explore. As we walked on the beach, a giant sea turtle swam swiftly by in the surf, which was already a bit rough. The next day, the front arrived full force, bringing torrential downpours and strong winds. Christoph had another intense game of chess with Daniel (of Asana), by text, because he didn't want to leave the boat, which strained against the dock lines as wind gusts reached 35 knots.

Our 90-day immigration cards were due to expire on March 23. We thought it would be easier to extend them at sparsely populated Treasure Cay than at busy Marsh Harbor. This was a good call––we got a personal appointment for 10 a.m. the day after the front passed (and 2 days prior to expiration). Extensions in hand, we drove the half-hour to Marsh Harbor to fill our propane tank, buy groceries, and find a new generator fuel pump. All missions were handily accomplished.

After three nights at Treasure Cay, we left the slip, bound for Great Guana Cay. On our way out of the marina, we stopped to fuel up at the fuel dock, just outside the channel. There was no room for us at the dock, and no place to wait, so the dock hand asked us to return to the mooring field, and promised to hail us when a space opened up. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to us, he was also responsible for pumping gas for cars. After about 20 minutes, he told us to come down the channel to the dock, but when we arrived, he was busy pumping gas and was unavailable to take our lines. Before I could step onto the dock, two guys on a motor boat, already tied on, offered to take our lines. I tossed our bow line to the captain, but his friend had no idea what to do with our spring line and the current swung us around until we were perpendicular to the dock. I quickly changed all lines from starboard to port, and we eventually got Delfina alongside, only facing the opposite direction.

We caught up to our buddy-boats, and joined them in Fisher's Bay, outside Great Guana Cay. This cay is largely developed with rental properties, vacation homes, a few resorts, and beach restaurants. We walked past the dive shop, boutiques, and the market, and checked out Nippers, a beachfront restaurant on the ocean with a small pool, lounge chairs, gift shop and great views. While the ocean beach has extensive offshore reefs, the wind and sea were too rough for snorkeling.

In the quiet of early morning, I watched seven white-tailed tropicbirds as they swooped and dove over the water, calling sharply to one another, their long thin tails dipping down far behind them as they flew. We wanted to take advantage of this sunny post-front day to snorkel, but we weren't sure about the sea state, which remains agitated after a big front. We headed for Fowl Cay, another preserve, and anchored near the reefs. We jumped in the dinghy and headed for the day moorings around the point, but the swell was still strong; we turned back in lieu of being swamped. We landed at at the cay and watched the breakers spray as they met the reef. A family played in the shallow pools formed by limestone cays.

Seeking calmer waters, we headed for Mermaid Cay, a small reef just north of Marsh Harbor. There we swam among hundreds of fish, including snapper, grouper, grunts, parrot fish, trigger fish, and angel fish. The fish seemed to swim right towards us, leading us to wonder whether they were fed. Artificial reefs in memory of loved ones are scattered on the sea bed here, and over time, coral and fish are attracted to them too.

We continued on to Parrot Cay, an anchorage outside Hopetown, on Elbow Cay. We opted to anchor out, because the channel to the Hopetown harbor is quite shallow and the moorings are very close set. The Hopetown museum provides a wonderful cross-section of island history through family artifacts and exhibits on the history of the settlement and its inhabitants since their post-Revolutionary arrival in the 1780's. Climbing the candy-striped Hopetown lighthouse, the last kerosene powered lighthouse in the world, we gazed out over views of the tranquil harbor and vast turquoise blue landscapes formed by the Sea of Abaco and the Atlantic Ocean. Local inhabitants had opposed construction of the lighthouse in 1863, since the initially fixed light illuminated salvage activities, diminishing their financial return for the locals. Bill, a resident of Annapolis and Hopetown, volunteers at the lighthouse gift shop and teaches pickleball. We chatted amiably about his past sailing days on a Little Harbor. He described the Hopetown vacation community as Harbor Island without the investment bankers.

From Hopetown, we had an hour sail on a beam reach to Man O'War Cay, where the famous family of Albury boat-builders still builds fiberglass runabout boats that are extremely popular in the Abacos. Locally made Bahamian crafts are sold in numerous gift shops, including Joe's Studio, which features Joe Albury's hand-carved wooden boat models; Albury's Sail Shop, which now sells souvenir bags sewn from sailcloth; and Sally's, which sells pillows, clothing and fabrics in brightly-colored Androsia hand-prints and batiks. Most of the cay's local population are descendants of an original settler couple, Pappy Ben and Mammy Nellie.

The name of a motor boat tied up in the harbor caught my eye.

With yet another front about to blow through, we returned to Great Guana Cay to tie up at Orchid Bay Marina. We were snug and secure through the 30 knot squalls and torrential downpours. When the front passed, we rode our bikes all around the island, and relaxed by the pool. Sir Eden, a local organic farm, holds a farmers' market at the marina on Saturday mornings, so we stocked up on incredibly fresh and delicious arugula, greens, tomatoes, papaya, and cucumbers while sipping spicy Bloody Mary's.

We are back in Marsh Harbor, waiting to meet my step-son Owen, who arrives on April 1 to crew with us on the journey home, as soon as a suitable window for a Gulf Stream crossing appears.

This afternoon, we had a chance encounter with a single-handed sailor out of Newfoundland, that illustrates the generous and helpful spirit with which we have been met throughout our journey. On the way to shore with our bikes, prepared to ride to the supermarket, our dinghy motor conked out. We had been having trouble with the fuel line connector. When Christoph attempted to pull out and reconnect the fuel line to the gas tank, the connector completely fell apart. We pulled out the oars, and Christoph rowed us to a dinghy dock near the laundry.

Christoph suddenly realized that he had left his wallet on board, so I remained on shore with the bikes while he rowed back to Delfina to retrieve it. Unfortunately, both the hand-held radio and Christoph's cell phone were still in my back-pack. After a long while, Christoph still hadn't retuned. Frank, an old Irish salt, emerged from the laundromat and asked if I could hand his laundry down from the dock to his dinghy. As I did, I told him what had happened to our dinghy, and explained that I was waiting for Christoph to row back, but that I had no way to reach him. Frank promptly offered to ferry me out to Christoph so he could explain how to put the hose directly into the fuel tank, and hand pump the fuel.

We intercepted Christoph, who had tied up at a dinghy dock closer to Delfina, and was now walking along the road towards the laundromat. We picked him up at the nearest dock. Christoph showed Frank the broken connector, and it turned out that Frank had on board the exact Yamaha hose connector that we needed, and said he would gladly give it to us. This was welcome news, because all the engine and marine stores are closed on Sunday. Frank further explained that he had been taken, because he was told that this Yamaha part would fit his Mercury outboard, and it didn't. Of course, we told him we'd be more than happy to buy it from him. So I rode with Frank in his dinghy, and we towed Christoph, riding in our dinghy, out to Frank's boat, also at anchor in the harbor. Christoph told Frank all about the time he had set out to crew with Don Johnson from Newfoundland to Iceland. Frank knew exactly where they had been. Christoph attached the connector, and with the dinghy motor nicely humming along, we set out once more towards shore.

My thoughts have been turning increasingly to home, ever since a pipe burst at our house in Lambertville, NJ in mid-March, flooding our newly- renovated bedroom. The task of managing an insurance claim from abroad invaded the sense of timeless presence in which I had been floating. For encouragement, I contemplate the unending fortitude and resilience of Bahamians, forced by relentless hurricanes to rebuild year after year.

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  • sailorstacey

Updated: Mar 28, 2019

A group of English Puritans know as the Eleutheran Adventurers sailed from Bermuda in search of religious freedom in 1649. They named the island they settled Eleuthera, from the Greek word for freedom, "eleuther." Spanish enslavement had eliminated the entire Lucayan Indian population by 1550, and the island had been uninhabited for about 100 years. Descendants of these Puritan settlers comprise the local white population, many of whom still earn their living through fishing, and who operate many local businesses.

The first notable difference between Eleuthera and the other Far Bahama islands is the racial composition of the local population, which has many more white Bahamians ( 85% of the total Bahamian population is black). The island is a study in contrasts: local black settlements of brightly painted stucco and wood; charming, victorian homes surrounded by hibiscus and bougainvillea; many caves, gracious resorts, and stunning ocean beaches of powdery, shimmering sand, streaked with pink coral.

Rock Sound offers a four mile long harbor in a well-protected anchorage. We were delighted to meet up again with our friends Tim and Karen from Grace V, out of Toronto. Karen is a casting director who manages to work part-time while sailing. Although we have met other sailors who work while sailing, they seem to be a rarity. Most of the live-aboard sailors we have met are retirees (of all ages), and Bahamas repeaters, who come down to sail every winter, while they can. We have met the occasional cruising family, whose kids are home-schooled on board. Even though there are cell towers on almost all the populated islands, cell coverage can be spotty and is non-existent on passages, which makes work and school challenging. Theoretically, one can plan to be in a particular place at a particular time; however, the incessant fronts that come through all winter have the final say on where we need to go to duck the strong clocking winds that follow them.

We hiked together as the sun rose high, warming the inland road, a mile and a half across the island to the gorgeous ocean beach, graced with limestone cliffs. There were a few upscale homes to the north, and one well-known restaurant, Rosie's Nort' Side. We were surprised and happy that this ocean shore was not strewn with plastic, as so many are. On the return trip, we hiked to an ocean blue hole just past the elementary school, where we heard the happy shouts of local kids on recess. Fish swim the perimeter of the ocean hole, and approach human visitors, because they are fed. This amusement, delightful to many visitors, is particularly disruptive to the natural ecosystem. Nearby, a lovely Bahamian woman named Gigi sold locally-made gifts (and fish food) including straw work, shell and beaded jewelry, and locally made hot sauce.

We spent a day on the boat, waiting out strong Northeast winds. The following day, Christoph and I explored the blue hole south of town known as "The Boiling Hole" across Queens Highway from the Allen Chapel AME Church. There are many churches on all the inhabited islands we visited, of various Christian denominations. Their physical condition is extremely variable. This church was well-maintained and immaculate. We followed a shady footpath through the woods to the Boiling Hole, and found that it wasn't boiling ––an effect caused by gas bubbling to the surface. Just behind the blue hole lies "The Cathedral, "a series of caves where enormous banyan roots cascade into the karst, limestone formations eroded over millennia by the ocean.

We left Rock Sound for Governor's Harbour, a four-hour sail north in strong east winds and occasional squalls. We traveled with our with friends from Montreal––Daniel and Lynn on Asana, and Jacques and Diane on Brin de Folie. We were anchored in the harbor, reputed to have poor holding, by noon, but our buddy- boats picked up moorings from French Leave resort. This allowed us to use the resort's convenient dinghy dock to bring our folding bikes ashore. The afternoon weather settled and the six of us explored the island by bike, crossing the spit onto Cupid's Cay, where the Puritans first established their seat of government. The homes and businesses in the settlement were diverse, including a local bakery, gift shops, and a dive shop, where Christoph bought much-needed diving weights.

We ended the day with a drink at the poolside bar overlooking the harbor. I enjoyed making such fun use of my high school French, even though our friends' English is far superior!

The next day, Christoph and I rode our bikes to the magnificent Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve, part of the Bahamas National Trust. The Preserve protects 25 acres of native coppice for conservation, research and education on endemic Bahamian species of flora and fauna, including butterflies, bats, bees, crabs, turtles, and birds. The preserve currently contains more than 85% of the endemic plant species found in the Bahamas. All this glory is displayed throughout the preserve's lush and winding nature paths and natural habitats, and illuminated through informative exhibits on medicinal plants, edible history, poisonous plants, ephiphytes, mangroves and more. We caught glimpses of bananaquits flitting about and were serenaded by warblers. We were so heartened to see the ongoing efforts made to maintain, restore and provide education about the natural environment. I also learned that the ubiquitous casuarina, or Australian pine, introduced in the 1930's and now seen on virtually every shore, is actually an uncontrollable invasive species that is contributing to the loss of biodiversity and native flora.

We had local grouper and tuna for lunch at nearby Tippy's, a famed beach restaurant, brightly decorated with colorful sculpted heads and intriguing paintings by local artists.

Our last Eleutheran anchorage was at Goulding Cay, near the famous Glass Window, a bridged breach at the narrowest part of the island. A natural bridge between the ocean side and the bay side was destroyed by the ocean's incessant pounding, and the manmade bridge was knocked 7 feet west by a rogue wave in 1991. The bridge has been repaired, offering a stunning view of the pounding Atlantic ocean to the east, and the tranquil turquoise bay to the west.

The island of Spanish Wells lies just north of Eleuthera. We weighed anchor at noon on March 11, (Happy Birthday Sam and Nina!) and motor-sailed in Southeast winds, arriving at Meeks Patch, a series of small limestone cays across from the settlement, at 3 p.m. We were joined at the anchorage by sailboats Asana and Brin de Folie. Once again, we took our bikes ashore at the settlement, dotted with locally owned businesses owned by white Bahamians, including a grocery, hardware store and marine store. Eventually, we found our way to Wreckers , an outdoor restaurant overlooking the harbor. The afternoon was hot and sunny, perfect for a harbor- side lunch.

There was still time to snorkel in the afternoon, so Christoph and I headed across the anchorage to the North point. Both coral and fish seemed sparse here, but a long swim was the perfect end to a hot day.

Following a day on board riding out strong clocking winds, the six of us braved the long dinghy ride in East head winds and choppy seas to the shore of Spanish Wells with our bikes. We arrived soaked! Lynn had arranged for Pinder's, one of the local businesses, to carry us by water and land taxi to the Harbor Island ferry, so we could explore this "upscale" island.

The ferry was a brilliant alternative to attempting the highly dangerous approach through shoals to Harbor Island, through the part of Eleuthera known as the Devil's Backbone. (In fact, it is essential that entering boats hire a local pilot). Our taxi driver was an older Pinder, who regaled us with stories about his past life as a cargo ship captain, loading boats with produce and transporting the goods to Nassau. He said that farming on Eleuthera was totally wiped out by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Another major source of income for generations was sponging. Pinder family businesses are found throughout the Bahamian islands. Our driver informed us that he and his family are descendants of the original Puritan settlers.

Once at Harbor Island, we rode past flower gardens and charming Victorian homes to the beach to dig our toes into the gorgeous pink sand. We had amazing tuna burgers at Sip Sip, another wonderful beachfront restaurant, and took the ferry back to Eleuthera, where Mr. Pinder was waiting to meet us and transport us back to Spanish Wells.

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