Spanish Wells Recap

The beach in Spanish Wells is pretty damned spectacular…

As mentioned in a previous post, Further was headed for Spanish Wells on a schedule: the crew was getting off and catching a plane back to the real world. After a day of fun at Meeks Patch and a tricky little bit of boat handling, Further was safely ensconced on a mooring ball in Spanish Wells harbor.

And that was a good place to be ensconced, so to speak, especially with strong southeast winds headed to the area. The mooring field is right smack dab in the working harbor, which is a narrow waterway running east-west between St. George’s Cay, home to the core of Spanish Wells, and Charles Island, an island home to trees and sand and little else. And to the east, where the waterway opens up, there are shallow reefs and sand bars that would prevent the buildup of any big seas in the mooring field. As a result, I wound up spending three more nights on the mooring, while out in the anchorage, everyone was moving over to Eleuthera for several days to hide from the wind. And while in the mooring field, with its easy access to town, I got to take in the sights and sounds of Spanish Wells.

Sunrise over Eleuthera, as seen from the Spanish Wells mooring field

Spanish Wells is a small little Bahamian town, home to a prominent commercial fishing fleet. It’s sort of a counter to the glitzier and higher profile Harbour Island over on Eleuthera, where people like Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce vacation (not long before we were in the area, in fact). There’s a good grocery store, several decent bars and restaurants, and tons and tons of VRBO/AirBnB places for rent. The beach on the north side of St. George’s Cay is long and white (not pink, as the tourist brochures claim) and lovely, and there’s great sand bar walking and wading, and I even saw several kiteboarders out playing in the waves.

Simply put: I kinda dug Spanish Wells. The people drive golf carts everywhere—yes, there are cars but no need on such a small island—and they drive like maniacs, but they’re also pretty cool. The young guy who was working the pig beach on Meeks Patch (right before I got stung by the sting ray) stopped and gave me a lift when I was walking to the Food Fair one day. The bar/restaurant Budda’s Snack Shack had good food and service and I had one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time at Wrecker’s, the restaurant at the lone marina in town. I was also able to easily get some new reading glasses after I dropped mine into the harbor (I salvaged the lost pair a day later at low tide) and the folks who were working at the Shipyard restaurant (which I did not eat at) loaned me their pair of sun-viewing glasses during the solar eclipse. I’m glad I came to Spanish Wells, especially since my research prior to and in the early days of this trip, I’d been kind of scared off the idea of coming here, with tales of strong currents and shallow water making me think it was some kind of boat-eating horror show. It wasn’t at all. Spanish Wells was a great place that I can definitely see visiting again.

Beautiful twilight just a day-and-change after the solar eclipse

But the harbor WAS kinda manky: it’s not the kind of water you go swimming in, not least because it’s always murky and probably isn’t super clean, what with all the commercial traffic, but also because there are many reports of bull sharks (not the docile kind of shark) in the water, again, likely due to all the commercial traffic (and the guts, etc., they dump into the water when they clean their catch).

On top of that, the mooring field was tiny. I mean: minuscule. There are five mooring balls in a space that should really only accommodate three. The first two nights it was Further and one other boat, at opposite ends of the field. The third day, another boat came in but took a mooring ball at the end opposite Further. But on the final night in the field, two other boats came in, and in the middle of the night I was awakened by the sound of something hitting one of Further’s shrouds (the cables the hold up the mast): it was the solar panel above the stern of the neighboring boat. It wasn’t a big, hard strike and there was no damage, but at 3:30 in the morning, there I was maneuvering Further’s dinghy to the side of the boat to act as a fender. The two boats never touched again, although they did get close quite often, but in late morning, after the squalls that we’d all been monitoring seemed to scoot by to the north of town, I dropped the mooring ball and headed back through Spanish Wells harbor headed for one of the anchorages on the south side of Russell Island.

The April 2024 solar eclipse wasn’t a big deal in Spanish Wells (only 39% obscuration), but it was still cool nonetheless

The front that was sending those squalls careening past was also supposed to shift the wind from the southeast and south that it had been to the north, so the south side of Russell Island—the primary anchorage serving Spanish Wells—was going to be the best place to be. Thing was: as I exited the Spanish Wells harbor to the south into the anchoring area, I saw a wall of dark, grey clouds and rain barreling down Russell Island from the west. Oh boy. I didn’t want to be bouncing around during a potential thunderstorm so I decided to stop right in among all the other boats (they had all returned from over by Eleuthera where they’d anchored during the southerlies) and not a moment after I’d gotten Further’s anchor set, the rain came pouring down. And to be honest, it wasn’t much of a storm. The wind clocked from south to west to north in a matter of five minutes but never got very strong, I took advantage of the downpour to get in a quick fresh water shower, and after a mere 20 minutes I was raising the anchor again and continuing another mile or so west.

A bar with a view–in this case, of Further at anchor (dark boat at center) and my Austrian friends Klaus and Helene (at left)

I didn’t really want to anchor out near all the other boats (and indeed, within a day there were more than 30 boats anchored in that field) and I DID want to anchor farther down the island off an establishment called the “Sandbar.” It’s just what you imagine: a bar on the sand. Well, just off the sand but I dinghied into the beach at the Sandbar a few times and enjoyed a few beers and a couple of meals. I definitely recommend The Sandbar. Their Sunday brunch this morning was great and was the perfect way to cap off a week in Spanish Wells.

And cap it off I did because not only does The Sandbar close at 4 p.m. on Sunday (a fact I did not know; I was planning on having dinner there this evening), I, along with a huge percentage of the boats in the broader Spanish Wells area, will be departing in the morning, taking advantage of a good Monday of easterly winds and not-huge seas to cross the open ocean of the Northeast Providence Channel and head to the Abacos, the northeastern part of the Bahamas. I’ll report from there next.


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To The Abacos