Our first stop on Eleuthera is Alice Town. I am not sure who Alice was but there are several places in the Bahamas who seem to be quite fond of her. Alice Town is tiny. It has just one food store and a couple of shops and restaurants. Looking at the map of Eleuthera, the population is concentrated on the most northern and southern part of the island. This town is in the boondocks. We found the grocery store. The directions were to walk to the lime green building at the top of the hill. We needed milk and bread. The bread had just arrived and was baked locally by a town resident. However, there was no milk. We were told milk comes from Miami and arrives on Fridays. Oh well. We have a supply of powdered milk aboard Cream Puff for events such as this. Powdered milk is normally horrid. We found some that is tolerable and purchased a ton of it.
For sailors, the most appealing part of Alice Town is Hatchet Bay. Not because of its scenic beauty mind you; because of the protection from wind and storms. The approach to the bay requires the skipper to navigate through a narrow entrance. And, we’re talkin’ narrow. From the sea, the entrance is barely visible. Once, inside care must be taken as the depths vary from 30 feet to just 2-3 feet very quickly. Cream Puff requires 7 feet to still be floating.
There are mooring buoys inside the bay and apparently an ongoing controversy regarding ownership of the buoys. As the story goes, the moorings we put into place by the Bahamian Government for free usage. On 24th December 2014, Francis, a local restaurant owner started charging rent on the buoys at a rate of $20 per night. Several boaters questioned the charge and called the police. The police told the boaters the moorings were free. But after talking to Francis, the police changed their minds and told the boaters they had to pay. We decided to not use the mooring and instead dropped our anchor in the western side of the bay, for free. While running about in our dinghy, I looked closely at a couple of the buoys. They are in terrible condition with frayed ropes. Then we saw a couple of loose buoys washed up on the shore. We were glad we hadn’t entrusted the safety of Cream Puff to these dilapidated amenities. I look at it this way: if Francis is going to collect money for the buoys, he should be required to maintain them.
A good portion of the properties in Alice Town are abandoned. There seems to be a shortage of roofing shingles. And, there is an ongoing contest to see who can have the most variation of colored shingles on one roof.
We have visited some parts of the Bahamas where homes start at five million dollars. Baker’s Bay on Great Guana Cay comes to mind. Great Guana Cay has no airport and is very hard to get to. Ferry or sea plane are the only options. Baker’s Bay looks like someone took an upscale country club from the USA and transplanted it onto an island. Yet, here we are just about 100 miles south and small homes have staggering ocean views. I am guessing in Alice Town property is not very expensive. And, they are not far from an airport.