Ahoy from Spanish Wells, Bahamas!
Spanish Wells is a unique island located at the north end of Eleuthera. It got its name from Spanish slave traders who stopped here to fill water casks. It's a relatively small island and is only about 2 long by less than 1/2 of a mile wide. Lying parallel to it and connected via a bridge is Russell Island, which is about 3.5 miles long and even narrower.
What really makes Spanish Wells unique is the people. According to a 10 year old guide, there are about 1500 people who live here and 1480 of them are white. They speak English with an accent that reminds me of heavy Maine with a touch of Scottish thrown in. The houses on the island look nothing like most of the rest of the Bahamas. Spanish Wells has 2 main streets which run the length of the island and 32 cross streets lined with immaculately maintained and landscaped houses which are generally closely spaced. After looking at a phone listing, I'd say that most of these people are related. If your name is "Pinder", you probably share your last name with 20% of the people here. There appears to be about 5 names that make up the majority of the population.
The populace makes most of their income from fishing and/or lobstering. The fishing fleet is the best maintained fleet that I've ever seen. Many of the boats are immaculate without a trace of rust. Right now the fleet is in harbor as the lobster season is closed and I assume that they've been doing maintenance on the boats. The people here are extremely industrious, particularly when compared to the more laid-back typical Bahamian work ethic. They are very self-sufficient and that means that you can find just about anything that you want for a boat.
We pulled into Yacht Haven marina to allow me to work on the air conditioning. I've been spending a lot of time debugging it and felt that it was ready to go. Before we got to the east coast of the US, I wanted to make sure that things were running OK. We pulled in, I charged the system and we're back up and running! That was wonderful because the no-see-uhms were horrific! For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting one, you can think of them as flying teeth which are smaller than a pin head. They can go right through a normal screen and man do they hurt when they bite! I've heard that they inject some kind of acid when they bite, and that's what causes the pain. They come out when the wind dies, like it did the night before heading over here and we had a terrible night's sleep. Anyhow, it was wonderful to have the AC running as it was calm here and the no-see-uhms were out in force.
We rented a golf cart to explore the islands and haul supplies. It's the common mode of transportation, but I would swear that the show "Pimp My Ride" must be popular here as they definitely have some non-standard golf carts. I did have to laugh when I saw a young kid with a Mustang GT. Listen, the island is only 2 miles long! I wonder how fast he's ever had that car going?
The golf cart did let us see a lot more of Spanish Wells and Russell Island than we would have by foot. Russell Island is probably where the people live who don't fit the demographics of Spanish Wells. Russell Island is much less populated than Spanish Wells and has much larger lots. I swear that the entire island is for sale as there were for-sale signs everywhere. I must admit that out of all of the places that we've visited, this is one of the few places that we would consider. It's beautiful; they speak English; you can get things; it's close to the US; but forget eating out...Everyone has the same thing. Cracked conch, burgers, fries, etc.
Tomorrow we're headed out of here just before high tide. It's skinny getting into here. I saw 5' MLW (Mean Low Water), which is 6" less than we draw! We're just going to an island just a couple of miles from here where we're hoping that there won't be any no-see-uhms. High tide is around 11:30, so we'll leave at about 10:30. The next day we'll leave early to make the jump to the Berry Islands which are about 55 miles from here.
-- Geoff & Sue
For the cruiser:
Dockage at Yacht Haven is $1/ft, power $0.45/KW and water is $0.15/gal. We rented a golf cart from here for $40/day. Mooring balls are available at the E end of the island.
Diesel at Spanish Wells Marine was $3.73/gal and everyone was within a few cents of one another. You can also get fuel at Pinder's Supermarket.
If you rent a car to explore Eleuthera, consider taking the ferry to Spanish Wells to check the place out before coming with the boat. The ferry costs $6 round trip and runs on a regular basis.
You'll find almost anything that you need for your boat at several shops here: R&B Boatyard, Spanish Wells Marine, On-site Marine & Auto, Chris' Electronics, D&S Electric, and Pinder's Tune-up (propane.)
There are 2 grocery stores of note. The Food Fair is by far the largest and has a very good selection. Pinder's Grocery by the main docks is much smaller but carries quite a bit.
The best restaurant that we found was the Anchor Snack Bar by the government dock. Unicorn said that they had a good meal at Teen Planet, but service was extremely slow.
Internet is available at Teen Planet for $10/hr.
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