Little Harbor, Abacos

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

026-21.240 N
076-59.100 W
Marine forecast for this location

June 14, 2006

Ahoy from Little Harbor in the Abacos!

We're currently located in Little Harbor, which is the first harbor on the W side of Great Abaco Island when you're coming from the S. Great Abaco Island is about 35 miles E of the Berry Islands, where we were previously located and Little Harbor is about 37 miles N of the S end of Great Abaco.

Believe it or not, we actually SAILED here! Wow, what a change! It was quite a raucous and wet ride here. We were supposed to have had 10-15 kts out of the SE to S and instead we had 15-25 out of the ESE. When you're headed NE, that's a huge difference. I had told Sue that we were going to have a nice flat sail with wind on the beam and instead we were close-hauled with the rail in the water. The seas that were supposed to be 2-4' were actually 4-6' with some good 8 footers thrown in. We had waves crashing over the bow on a constant basis and washing the cockpit. The good and the bad thing was that we were doing 7 to 8 kts. It was good because we were getting there quickly, but it was bad because all that speed makes for a rougher ride. We had 35 miles of that, so Sue only had to put up with up with that motion for 5+ hours. At one point Sue asked me if I was enjoying this (I was reading at the time) and I replied that while I didn't find it enjoyable, I didn't mind it. Every day can't be flat calm sailing and the seas would be building for the next 2 days, so unless we left when we did, we would have been stuck.

Just as we reached the S end of Great Abaco and were about to make our turn to head up the W coast all of the instruments and the autopilot failed. Sue ran down below and flipped the breaker for the instruments. Nothing happened. I made the turn up the coast and flattened the boat out. Once I got us on course I had Sue take over the wheel. Sue had never taken the wheel in good sized seas and gusty winds. After a few minutes she felt comfortable steering and I started to diagnose the problem. Unfortunately I determined that it wasn't a problem at the power panel. I say "unfortunately" because that meant that the problem was located at the course computer and that was buried in an aft lazarette (deep locker in the stern) where all of the lines are stowed. It's a small space that I can barely squeeze myself into under good conditions and the boat rocking and rolling while underway didn't qualify as good conditions. I emptied the lazarette of all the lines and disappeared down into that tiny compartment armed with an electrical meter and flashlight. I quickly determined that the problem was a short on one of the SeaTalk busses that instruments and displays plug into. I knew that it would probably take hours to determine the location of the fault, so I disconnected the offending bus and was able to provide GPS position data, heading data as well as powering the control panels. That was enough to turn the autopilot on and to track us on the electronic charts. The big problem was that we didn't have any depth data...Not good in the Bahamas!

The sail up the coast was MUCH more enjoyable as we had turned 30 degrees downwind and the winds were moving more southerly and were dropping. I had no problems navigating the S reef pass into Little Harbor, but was later told by locals that it's a tricky pass that I that they would recommend the N pass. Then we went in search of an anchorage. There were good swells rolling through the pass so we headed N to Lynyard Cay. As fate would have it we were at dead low tide and there were multiple 5' deep areas that needed to be avoided. We took the captain's seat out which allowed us to step on the swim platform and use the hand-held depth sounder to check the depth. We ended up dropping the hook in a nice sandy spot in 8' of sand. Lovely! We'd been underway for 11 1/2 hours, so it felt great to relax.

We went into the inner Little Harbor via the dinghy and had lunch at Pete's Bar. For the amazingly low price of $33 we got a fried fish sandwich, a hamburger and two sodas. Yikes and those were lunch prices! On the way out we found a boat aground in the channel. The channel only has 3.5' at low water, the tide was well past high and they drew 4'9". Sounds like a problem! The captain was this muscle bound guy with a busty first mate. They had no clue as how to free themselves and had a deer-caught-in-the-headlights look to them. We pushed their bow around and managed to free them. We later met them and they were very appreciative, but I don't think that they had a lot of sailing experience.

While in Little Harbor we met up with some friends from the Rio Dulce. A year ago they escaped the Rio and headed to Little Harbor where they manage a private cay. It's a beautiful cay with a large house on it as well as multiple smaller houses, a power plant and supporting infrastructure. They're is doing a great job upgrading everything, but they certainly have their work cut out for for them!

We tried to dive at Sandy Cay at the N end of Lynyard, but there was too much surge with 3' waves rolling through. We snorkeled instead. There are mooring balls there for small boats and there's a lot of current. If you go, be sure that it's at slack tide. We were treated to two Eagle Rays that kept ghosting by us. We saw lots of large fish, but the coral was just in OK shape. I would guess that the depth was 25'. According to the guide there's good snorkeling on the small reef to the E of the entrance to Little Harbor. Forget it! We found that the snorkeling to the S of Lynyard Cay was better than the former but no where near Sandy Cay.

Tomorrow we're off to Hope Town on Elbow Cay. See ya later!

-- Geoff & Sue
Log ID: 867

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