After an overnight stop in Mayaguana, we start the first of many long day sails to get up to the Exumas. The weather turned and yesterday’s bright blue skies and light winds have been replaced with thick cloud cover, making exiting the harbour a stressful experience as we couldn’t see the coral heads with any clarity. The dark patches weren’t visible until we were almost on top of them, and even then discerning the depth was pretty much impossible. However, we had a secret weapon: our friends Bo and Allison on Selah who followed their incoming track, and we simply followed them.
Once we had exited the reef and were on our way, the skies started to darken and the temperature dropped. Even though the camera couldn’t pick it up, we could see lightening and hear thunder all around us. It started to rain heavily and the radar was picking up a dark patch of activity in front of us. The storm front was clearly visible as a black mass ahead. We couldn’t tell which direction it was moving, so we continued on course in the hope it would move out of our way. Although it was a little scary- it was our first time caught in an electrical storm, and I couldn’t help but imagine what would happen if our mast was struck by lightening- it passed soon enough and apart from giving Ruby a thorough rinse, we all came out of it unscathed.
As we arrived into the Plana Cay anchorage in the early evening the clouds started to break up and by the time we were ready for our BBQ’d steak (thanks Costco in Puerto Rico!), we had a beautiful sunset to gaze at as we were gently rocked by the slow waves making their way into the bay.
The next morning we woke after a restful sleep to find Selah facing a completely different direction to us. After a few minutes of bleary deliberation, our brains finally fired up and we realised they had rigged an anchor bridle. We were puzzled- there had been a brief moment of rocky swell overnight, but it had barely registered with us; we merely rolled onto our stomachs and went back to sleep. We radioed Bo and he said they had had a terrible night dealing with swell to the point where it was impossible to sleep- hence the bridle, which he rigged at 2am. It was interesting that although we were so close in proximity, the motion of the swell affected our boats in very different ways.
We sailed the relatively short distance to Acklin Island- only about 25 miles. Once again we trolled the line, and this time we were rewarded at last! As we were approaching Atwood Harbour, in only 20 metres of water, the line went and we excitedly jumped up and Nick began the process of reeling the fish in. Our sails had already been dropped, so it was an easy prospect to slow the boat. As Nick brought the fish in, we realised we had a mahi mahi! We were so excited, I cannot tell you. I hurriedly attached the camera to one of the winches in the cockpit, aimed the lens in roughly the direction of the back of the boat, and got down to the business of gaffing the fish.
Well. It’s a lot easier said than done, let me tell you. The fish was flapping madly (understandable) and getting the hook in the gills proved to be impossible- for me, at least. I tried with the net, which turned out to be about 50 times too small to hold a big mahi, and in the end- with no help from me- Nick simply hauled the thing over the guardrails and into the cockpit. Success!
Atwood Harbour turned out to be not only exceptionally beautiful but very well protected from the strong easterly winds that were forecasted over the next few days. We weren’t alone; there were about five other yachts that joined us to wait out the windy weather, and we all got together on one memorable afternoon to have a fresh conch salad, prepared by Fedel, a local guy who was building a little hut (which he hoped to turn into a bar for cruisers) down one end of the curving bay. It was the first time I’d had conch like that and although it was certainly a tasty salad, the conch itself was a little underwhelming. It tasted like tough squid, frankly! But we greatly appreciated the effort Fedel went through to provide the salad for us- he didn’t even accept payment.
In retrospect, Atwood Harbour proved to be one of the most beautiful beaches we visited during our time in the Bahamas, made even more so because of its isolation, and had the weather been less inclement we would have spent a lot more time swimming and diving on the reef that protects the entrance. After five days there, it was time to continue to make our way to Georgetown, and so once again we hauled anchor and sailed somewhere new.