Sailing into Rock Sound, Eleuthera by Christine

03/30/2013  We waited in Norman’s Cay a couple of days to get a good window to cross to Eleuthera.  Tom on Lucent (trawler) was one of our buddy boats for a while and we all agreed to try crossing on the first day the winds subsided to 10-15 knots.  We headed out Norman’s cut on slack tide but it was apparent within a mile of getting out on the sound side that the wave height was too big for us.  It would have been a very uncomfortable day.  Tom continued on to Eleuthera and we said we would try again tomorrow and meet him in Rock Sound.

The next day the seas were settled and we had a beautiful crossing.  Two other sailboats came out the cut behind us.  We made radio contact with them and they were both sailing to Rock Sound as well.  Having radio contact with other cruisers is always comforting and we enjoyed getting to know them along the way.

s/v Pearl

s/v Pearl

En route, we were looking behind us at s/v Pearl and saw a huge splash next to their boat.  It appeared to be a small whale and it breached two more times.  We got on the radio with Pete on Pearl and asked him what it was.  Whatever it was gave him a good scare.  All he saw were a big splashes.

Shortly after that we saw a pod of pilot whales ahead of us.  They swam right toward us and graced us with their surfacing and blowing.  We were oohing and aahing like you do when you watch fireworks.  There were 10-15 of them.  They swam all around our boat then continued on their way.  We called Pete & Dianne to let them know the whales were headed for them and to have their camera ready.  Moments like that make for a memorable crossing (you can see the video of them on Logan’s blog post)!

We enjoyed beautiful sailing conditions throughout the day.  The winds started to lighten up as we approached Rock Sound.  Pearl had been motor sailing and eventually passed us so we started the motor to get in the harbor quicker to make it to the grocery store before it closed.  We had not been to a grocery store for 2 weeks and were craving some fresh food.

A couple of minutes after starting the engine, it started to make a new sound and it died.  First time that has ever happened.  Hmm.  I started it again.  It died.  Mark sprang into action down below while the boys and I continued to sail into the harbor.

Mark working on the engine.  He loves the 5 sided engine access on Truansea!

Mark busily changing the fuel filters on the engine. He loves the 5 sided engine access on Truansea!

I called Pearl and let them know our engine died and Mark was trouble shooting it.  Pete said they would slow down and stay near us.  Pete asked what kind of engine we have, and wouldn’t you know it, he has the exact same Yanmar 35 horsepower engine we do.  He has owned his boat for 7 years and has sailed extensively in the Caribbean.  He knows this engine well.

I let him know Mark was replacing the primary and secondary fuel filters.  The boys and I were on a run into the harbor and had to jibe a few times to make our way in.  There were a few coral heads along the way to steer around as well.  Meanwhile, Mark is down below working on the engine, feeling all of our maneuvering and hearing us moving around on deck sailing.  That was a strange feeling for him not to be topside.  Talk about trusting the crew…

After the filters were replaced and fuel lines primed, I started the engine and it still died.  By this time we were getting closer to the anchorage and it was apparent that there was something else wrong.  Mark had called our diesel mechanic contact in Florida and he said it sounded like the lift pump.  I called Pete on the radio and he agreed that it was probably the lift pump.  Guess what?  Pete happens to have a spare lift pump.  What are the odds of the boat you just met that morning sailing would have the same engine and the spare part you need?

The winds were fairly light and we calmly sailed into the anchorage to drop the hook.  Other sailors that saw us later told us they thought we were purists and enjoyed sailing in to drop anchor.  Ha, little did they know we thoroughly discussed our plans of how we were going to execute sailing in to drop the anchor.  It was nerve-wracking to say the least for me.  This was a good reminder to keep practicing sailing skills in all kinds of conditions because you never know when you are going to need them.

Christine and Cole sailing into Rock Sound.

Christine and Cole sailing into Rock Sound.

Before dark, Mark and Pete had the new lift pump in and tada, the engine started and ran beautifully.  The next day we ordered a new lift pump to be shipped in for Pete.

Cruisers kindness is hard to describe.  As a sailor, you feel a sense of independence on your boat; at the same time, you are also completely vulnerable to Mother Nature and breakdowns on your boat.  Being in another country adds another level of complexity to breakdowns.  Once you have had to order spare parts and have them shipped in through customs, you will understand how it can make a person crazy.

Tom on Lucent, who we had tried to cross with the day before, was at the same anchorage and he had arranged for a rental car the next day to explore the island.  We made plans to meet him the next morning for a day of island exploring by car.

We traveled north up Eleuthera and caught the ferry over to Harbor Island.

Taking the ferry to Harbor Island.

Taking the ferry to Harbor Island.

The island was quaint with narrow streets dominated by golf carts.  It is famous for its pink sand beaches.

Pink sand beach Harbor Island.

Pink sand beach Harbor Island.

On the way down, we took our time, stopping at the natural arch.

Glass window Eleuthera

Bridge that now crosses where where the natural ‘glass window’ used to be on Eleuthera.

Glass window

Glass window history.

We stopped at a vegetable stand on the way back to pick up some fresh greens.

Fresh greens from the veggie stand sure beats canned vegetables!

Fresh greens from the veggie stand sure beats canned vegetables!

We had Pete & Diane over to our boat the next evening and they taught us how to play a game called Farkle.  If you have not tried it, you need to!   It is another fun game to add to the fun cruising games list.

The following day was calling for winds from the west to north, possibly 30, 40 or 50 knots.  All the boats anchored at Rock Sound headed for the other side of the harbor to seek protection.  The winds gusted into the 30s but nothing worse.  We did welcome the rain the winds brought.  It absolutely poured rain.  We have not had hardly any rain on this trip.  Little Darby was the only place we experienced a rain storm and that was a couple of months ago.  We quickly scrubbed the decks and cleaned the dinghy to catch as much clean, fresh water as we could.  Cruisers get downright giddy at the prospect of fresh, free water.  Mark, with his sense of humor, got on the VHF and asked, “Is anybody else’s boat leaking except mine”?  A domino affect of comments followed.  Who wound have known before cruising that everybody’s boats leak to some extent.  Some apparently leak a lot.

Dinghy bath.  The fresh water felt so soft.  The simple pleasures in life...

Dinghy bath. The fresh water felt so soft. The simple pleasures in life…

Fair Winds ~ Christine

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6 thoughts on “Sailing into Rock Sound, Eleuthera by Christine

  1. Loved reading about your sailing into the anchorage & dropping anchor under sail. Am going to share that story with future students especially comment on need to keep practicing and perfecting those sailing skills. I have enjoyed traveling with you all via your blog. All of you are becoming such seasoned cruisers. I just spoke to another former Boise student Beth G. and she told me that she and her husband just bought their first boat, a Catalina 25 for the lakes. I told her about your family’s adventure and passed on the link to your blog. She will be taking a learn and cruise with me later this summer. (She and her husband had come over for an ASA 101 weekend class a couple of years ago).
    Happy Sails
    Mary Ross

    • Mary, Glad you are following along on our adventure. You were with me in spirit as we sailed into Rock Sound. Your calm voice and logical planning guided me through! I hope Beth G sends us a message. There are not many sailors in Boise so we are always happy to meet another one. Have fun on your classes this summer. Christine

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