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We made our way to Royal Island off Eleuthera and then to the town of Spanish Wells and we have been here for 10 days now. We have unintentionally gotten to know Spanish Wells really, really well. The day we arrived in Eleuthera we knew if we didn’t leave the very next day for Abaco we would be stuck in Spanish Wells due to weather for a week. But we wanted to see a little bit of Eleuthera, so we stayed on and it looks like we will be here 2 weeks. That is sailing – being at the mercy of the weather and why we are continually reminded why flexible timetables are a must when cruising.
Every one commented on how Spanish Wells is so unlike anywhere else in the Bahamas, and it truly is. For starters, it is a mostly white, more affluent, tight-knit community. It is apparent right away as you enter the harbor and glimpse the brightly painted quaint cottages, large fishing boat fleet, and orderly businesses. Most people on the island can trace their ancestry back to the Eleutheran Adventurers, a group of English Puritans who left Bermuda in 1650 escaping religious persecution and were shipwrecked on Eleuthera. This results in many of the inhabitants sharing common surnames like Pinder and Roberts. Spanish Wells’ main industry is lobster fishing and is apparently responsible for 75% of the lobster (crawfish as it is known here) harvested annually in the Bahamas. Reportedly most of Red Lobster’s lobster comes from the Spanish Wells fleet. It was fascinating vising the museum and hearing about the evolution and mechanization of this industry and the wealth it has generated for the island. Spanish Wells has also suffered through some direct hits from hurricanes, which severely affected the community.
Throughout the time we have spent here, I can’t decide if Spanish Wells is a little utopia of a town that would be perfect to live in or if I would go crazy living here. It is a town of 1,500 people and therefore has all the charms of a small town where everyone knows each other and they zip around on their golf carts. The homes, shops and town in general is maintained in a very careful way and there is definitely pride of ownership and community. Most people stay on the island their whole lives; even the young adults seem to stay. And yet I can’t imagine living on an island 2 miles by ½ a mile. At first when I thought we were going to be stuck here a week, I had no idea what we would do to fill the time. Amazingly, that week has slipped by quickly and effortlessly. There is a wonderful playground (the first we have encountered in the Bahamas) that we visit daily, Ella and Gavin have attended the local school for a day, the library is well stocked and welcoming, when it isn’t stormy there is a great beach, there is place that makes homemade icecream (we rush to Facebook in the morning to check what their 2 daily flavours will be), Ella had a skype date with her class in Canada, seeing the resident manatees. We took the fast ferry through the aptly named “Devil’s Backbone” reefs to Harbour Island, a quiet, high-end vacation destination known for their pink sand beach. We also rented a golf cart one day and toured around the island. We have been stuck here with a small group of other cruisers that we have gotten to know really well including another couple named….Dawn & Paul!
Why have we been here 10 days and counting? The weather. We have had an unusual amount of rain, squalls and high winds. From here we will be making our longest crossing of the trip up to Abaco (50 miles in open water). We want to make sure we have good weather for that trip as it will take us 10 hours (we travel at 5 knots/hr generally). Hurricane season doesn’t officially begin until June, but there is a tropical storm that is brewing and may develop in the Bahamas tomorrow that we have been keeping an eye on. It looks like we will finally get our break to head north to the Abacos at the end of the week.
So even though we definitely didn’t plan to spend 2 weeks in Spanish Wells, we have really enjoyed our time here. It has been great to really get to know a town and community. It has been refreshing to access good facilities and experience the industrious and entrepreneurial spirit of the people here.
|Ella & Gavin go to the local school for a day|
|How we have filled our days|