Exploring Eleuthera and the Out Islands

Exploring Eleuthera and the Out Islands

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Exploring Eleuthra
Da’ Spott Bar & Grill, a local hangout in Hatchet Bay on Eleuthera. Photo: Rex Noel

There’s much to see when exploring Eleuthera.
Eleuthera is one of the better-known Out Islands and frequently serves as a jumping off point or first landfall from the Abacos and Nassau. The adjacent destinations of Spanish Wells and Harbour Island are also well known. These and other small islands surround the northern reaches of Eleuthera and form pristine cruising grounds. One other long and narrow island—roughly 90 miles by 3 miles wide on the east coast—presents a nearly continuous stretch of reef from Harbour Island to the southern tip and beyond to Little San Salvador. Although there isn’t much shelter for cruisers, there are world-class surfing areas and resort destinations. Here are Southern Boating’s tips for exploring Eleuthra:

The west coast is bordered by shallow waters and is usually approached from the north at Current Cut or from the south near Cape Eleuthera. In settled weather with easterly trade winds you can anchor off many of the small communities that dot this coast. The beaches are beautiful with the usual shallow, clear waters for which these islands are famous.

Island School and Cape Eleuthera Institute

The Island School (islandschool.org) maintains a unique blend of education and research and serves the scientific community while also providing many opportunities for high school students to engage in the community and support research efforts. But the focus is not entirely on research and the marine environment; the facility is also a learning center for sustainable living in an island environment. Every aspect of the program helps students explore how their lives interact with and affect the natural environment.

The campus generates its own electricity from a mix of solar and wind generation and captures rainwater from the building roofs for use. Students practice water conservation in their everyday lives—the “Navy” shower is required here—and part of their routine is monitoring water use and reserves. Solar collectors heat the water and wastewater is collected and treated naturally with the effluent filtered through the gardens on site. Much of the food is grown locally on site or in the surrounding communities.

Students come from The Bahamas, the U.S. and Canada, and most spend a fall, spring or summer semester here during high school. The curriculum includes all the usual math, English, science, and history requirements but focuses on relating these subjects to the mission of sustainability and research in the marine environment. Furthermore the Cape Eleuthera Institute (ceibahamas.org)—a research organization closely allied and co-located with the school—brings scientists, professors and teachers to the island for learning and original research.

Tours of the institute and school can be arranged for individuals or groups with prior notice at either 11AM or 2PM on weekdays. Contact Karen Knight at karenknight@ceibahamas.org or call (242) 334-8552 for more information. There is no charge for tours but tax-deductible donations are welcome. The School is not directly accessible by large boat. Consider staying at the nearby Cape Eleuthera Marina or just a bit farther away at Davis Harbor Marina. You can easily arrange transportation from either location.

Governor’s Harbour

Governor’s Harbour is a quaint and beautiful community with rambling Victorian-style houses along Buccaneer Hill that overlook the harbor. Narrow streets make for a wonderful walking experience with spectacular views as well as the opportunity to take a peek into local private gardens. Haynes Public Library, an attractive and historic building, faces the harbor and is close to St. Patrick’s Anglican Church, which dates back to 1848.

The 25-acre Leon Levy Native Plant Reserve (leonlevy.org) rests two miles south of town and is a tranquil and lovely place to visit. Operated by the Bahamas National Trust, visitors can explore miles of trails showcasing native plants and tree. One focus of the reserve’s research and exhibits is native bush medicine, its history and its importance to the island population through the centuries.

Navigation Updates

The Royal Bahamas Defense Force has advised mariners that the automatic light at Bird Rock Lighthouse, off Pitt’s Town, Crooked Island has been relit. The light at Bird Rock is situated at Lat 22° 50.7’N and Lon 74° 21.6’W. The Flashing 4s 4m 4M light on Morgan’s Bluff shown on most charts reportedly no longer exists. A new light has been established close to the point of the old water barge dock on a tall utility pole near 25° 10.8′ N/78° 01.6′ W. The white light currently flashes once every 33 seconds and is approximately seven meters above sea level (Fl 33s 7m 5M). The lighted range shown on Joanne Point has been discontinued. The old metal towers still exist but can no longer be seen because of tree growth and are no longer lighted. Furthermore, the charted buoys on the Morgan’s Bluff Channel no longer exist. Mariners are advised to stay well clear of the submerged and partially submerged wrecks near the south end of the old water barge dock.

 

By Rex Noel, Southern Boating Magazine October 2016