Finally, the forecast wasn't perfect but it wasn't horrible either. The big seas had kept us from exiting the cuts from Spanish Wells and even more importantly, getting in the cuts once we arrived in the Abacos. We didn't want to arrive and then find out we had no place to go. There are two options when heading north toward Little Harbor. One is to go west past Royal Island and exit at Little Egg Island or Southwest Reef. This would add hours to our trip. The other option is to exit through the reef at Ridley Head just north of Spanish Wells. This route takes you toward the dreaded Devils Backbone and requires going between a series of reefs until reaching the deeper waters of Northeast Providence Channel. The ferry ride to Harbour Island gave us a good look at this route and it appeared to be very doable under the right conditions. This was the route we decided to take. When departure day came, there were five other trawlers beside Beach House that planned to make the crossing. We all paid our marina bills, cast off our lines at 8:40 am and headed out. BUT, no one wanted to be the first to go out across the reef. The morning was overcast, causing even more anxiety because visibility would not be good. We planned to use this exit anyway, so it didn't matter to us who went first, so of course, we did. The rest of the boats followed us out. Using our charts, shoreside points and good eyeball navigation, we rounded Ridley Head, lined up the ramp on shore and headed out through the reef - with five other boats behind us hoping we knew what we were doing. The reefs are wider apart than they appear on the charts and we took our time. In short order, the depth sounder was dropping to 25 feet, then 30 feet and then we were soon off soundings. I love it when a plan comes together.
The next morning we dinghied in to Little Harbour. This was the long time home of the artist and sculptor, Randolph Johnston, world renowned for his sculptures in brass and bronze. His son Peter now carries on the tradition, and the family foundry, as well as a gallery, are two of the main attractions. And don't forget Pete's Pub. We visited the gallery, had a great lunch at Pete's Pub and walked over to the Atlantic side to watch the surf break on the rocks. Little Harbour is a very picturesque location, but things to do are limited. There is now a charge to visit the foundry. The last time we were here, you could just walk in and watch them work. One can still see the caves in the rocks, located at the southwest end of the harbor, where the Johnston family lived when they first arrived in the Bahamas. It can all be done in one day, so we decided to move a little farther north and find another anchorage to put us closer to Marsh Harbour, our next major destination.
our anchorage book for the Bahamas and we had missed so much the last time, our plans were to stay in the Abacos for about a month and visit as many places as time would allow. At 2:30 in the afternoon, we pulled up anchor at Lynyard Cay and moved about 13 miles to Tilloo Cay. We arrived at about 4:00 pm and got a big surprise. As we reached the spot where we planned to anchor, the windlass decided to quit working. Hitting the up or down switched resulted in nothing. We carry a second lightweight Fortress anchor, complete with rode and chain, so we dropped the Fortress, figuring that if we had to retrieve it by hand, it wouldn't be as much effort as our heavier Manson Supreme. The anchor went down and we used our standard anchoring practice of paying out at least 7 to 1 scope and then backing down on the anchor to set it. As we backed down, the anchor just dragged across the bottom. The anchor and rode were hauled back up by hand and we tried again with the same results. The concern now was that for some reason the Fortress wasn't setting, so that only left using the heavier anchor and rode. Well, that didn't set either. Up it all came again, this time with a whole lot more effort. The bottom appeared to be a thin layer of sand over hard rock, making it almost impossible to get a good set. We moved to a different location hoping to find better holding. Down went the anchor and rode, and with the boat in reverse, we were still dragging. As we dropped back, we continued to let out more rode. Suddenly, and much to our delight, the anchor grabbed and seemed to be holding. The winds were forecast to be light overnight, so we settled back and took in the new location.