Eleuthera to Spanish Wells

As we continued our way up the eastern side of Eleuthera we spent the night at both Alabaster Bay and Hatchet Bay.

Alabaster Bay offered a nice white beach for walking and an abandoned Navy Facility for exploring.

The facility has an interesting history. Short story is it was opened in 1957, housed 150 officers and enlisted men. It part of the Air Force Missile Test Center’s Atlantic Missile Range, which was used for long-range monitoring of rocket and guided missile launches among other things). The base was closed in 1980. More information and an interactive map can be found here: http://www.projecteleuthera.org/ruins#TOC-NAVFAC-Eleuthera-Eleuthera-AAFB

Our walking route to and around the the abandoned naval facility.

Overgrown and deteriorating it was still fascinating to guess at what each building used to be. Did not get a picture of it but on the property there is still the original gas pump that shows $0.17/gal.

Huge generators which used to supply power.

Water thanks that were filled from a large rain catchment area.

Pink(ish) sand beach with the dark blue waters of the Atlantic. Not a bad view for anyone stationed here.

We came back to Alabaster Bay from our exploring to we find our dingy higher and dryer than we thought it would be. Took us several “heave hoes” to drag it back to the water.

Hatchet Bay claims to be the safest harbor in the Bahamas. There is a narrow (90’) man made entrance cut into the limestone cliffs into what is then basically a completely protected lake. We happen to enter with a bit of chop but got in just fine (as you can see in the video).

With a cold front and strong North winds predicted for the next several days we could stay in Hatchet or make our way to Spanish Wells for protection. The small town of Alice Town (which is where Hatchet Bay is) did not have much to offer so we headed out the following day for Spanish Wells knowing there would be more there to keep us busy.

Basketball backboard (plywood) and hoop (crate) on the palm tree keeps the kids happy in Alice Town.
Due to the weather we spent several days at a marina in Spanish Wells. Spanish Wells is a town of ~2,000 people and lived up to the high expectations we had heard from other cruisers. By the time we will have left we feel as though we explored the entire island, including a wonderful private tour of the local museum to help us understand the island’s history.

The first day here we spent walking around with golf carts whizzing by us on the narrow streets. The next day we broke out our bikes. We have not had a chance to use them much in the Bahamas and they have been taking a beating from the sun and salt water. I used a half can of WD40 and still had to hammer out the seized/rusty chains and various other bike components. It was worth it as having the bikes gave us the ability to explore all of the streets on Spanish Wells as well as ride out to nearby Russell Island. The bikes also meant we could whiz by the golf carts if we wanted to.

Spanish Wells is by far the cleanest and well maintained settlement we have seen in the Bahamas. Flowers, plants and lawns are in lovely condition throughout the entire town and trash is placed in bins (not something we have seen in the other places we have visited).

Low tide exposes a great sand bar for walking on just off the beach, we walked it most afternoons.

We have not seen much ice cream in the Bahamas so we made up for it when we found this place a short walk from the marina. Papa Scoops offers 2 flavors a night and there is usually a short line of golf carts waiting to drive through when we walk up.

Budda’s Snack Shack started out of school bus before food carts in the US were a thing. The kitchen still resides in the bus but they added a large seating and bar area as the business grew.

Kent finding his inner Budda.

One of the days while still in Spanish Wells we decided to explore Eleuthera by land. We took a ferry over to N Eleuthera and rented a car from one of the locals, who happened to be a police Sergeant. We felt fairly certain that if we got into any trouble we could just drop her name but we also knew we better bring the car back in the same condition as it was lent to us! With the car we drove a good portion of the 90 mile island, seeing a lot of what we felt we missed by boat.

Kent getting the hang of driving on the opposite side of the road.

As the story goes – Eleuthera was discovered in the 1600s and Preacher’s Cave (pic) served as a protected place for the stranded crew of a ship that went aground on the nearby reefs..

Glass Window Bridge from the air – this is narrow area is where the calm green colors of the Bight of Eleuthera meet up with the dark blue of the Atlantic.

Not sure why someone would take an entire coconut tree but apparently there have been issues of it happening to warrant a sign.

Queen’s Bath – pools below that fill and the sun warms the waters.

We found a great beach/taco bar for lunch by following small signs down a dirt road for several miles. It was a perfect road trip stop.

Hidden Beach is not so hidden when there is a sign announcing it but it was a nice small beach and gave us a chance to get out of the car for a bit.

From Spanish Wells we are now waiting for the weather to allow us to cross the ~55 miles north to Abacos.

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