Hatchett Bay / Alice Town, Eleuthera

Published: June 17th 2017
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Geo: 25.3502, -76.4942

Hatchett Bay calls itself the Bahamas' most protected harbour.... Well isn't that kind of ironic?!?Mother Nature took out her frustrations on the only other boat in the harbour. Protected from wind and waves...yes. From lightning? Nope.

Since the lighting strike, we've become "good neighbours" with Mike. He's been doing a ton of work to his boat to recover from the strike (and fire) and move on. Yesterday after he spent the day in his engine well, we had him over for a big spaghetti dinner. Today, Tony hoisted him up his mast so that he could check for any damage - which thankfully he thinks is very minimal. Since the strike took out his auto helm, he gave Tony all of his spare parts for it (since it's the same one we have).

We are now watching weather in hopes for a window to cross to the Abacos.

Here's my email blast covering the Lightning Event:

July 20th, 2014 Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera – 50/50 Chance

Hello all,

We are now in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera. We are one of only two sailboats in the harbor. The crowds are definitely long gone.

On our first day here and we went ashore for a recon. (Reconnaissance
tour of town.) We were ashore for about two hours. It was a hot, humid day. We like to look for the grocery stores, and a good spot that has wifi, but it doesn't hurt to find a potential good dining spot for a nice dinner every once in a while.

We had checked out two places. The first (Front Porch) was ridiculously expensive, the second (Twin Brothers – as seen on various TV shows!) was actually REALLY great and we had delicious conch fritters for lunch (7 for $3 – that's a good deal) and they have a super dinner menu.

As we were leaving Twin Brothers to continue our tour, we looked up at the sky and the weather had turned. The sky to the north was dark. A storm was on our doorstep. So there was no thinking about it…we were heading straight back to the boat. We don't leave the boat when bad weather is present. There are too many variables. We could drag anchor in high winds. We need to check for possible water leaks if it's a torrential downpour. We need to be there…just incase.

It was still sunny as we started to dinghy back to the boat. We were in no rush, we were on the edge of the storm. The sun was still shining as we passed the only other boat in the harbor. Just as we were reaching our boat, there was a flash of lightning, and a crash that told us it was CLOSE. In fact, I even said to Tony, "Wow, that was so close I even heard the sizzle of the lightning!" As I climbed up onto the deck from the dinghy, I happened to catch something in the corner of my eye. Smoke. Black smoke. Coming from the only other boat in the harbor. It was on fire. “Oh My God, Tony! We have to go help them! I'll grab fire extinguishers!” Tony was hardly even out of the dinghy yet. He re-started it and I jumped in after grabbing two fire extinguishers.

We sped to the other boat. By the time we got there, the man on board had managed to extinguish the fire on his own. It was his canvas suncover and mainsail that was burned and the fire had dropped down into his cabin through his dodger and the open companionway but he caught it before anything spread on the interior of the boat. He had used up the two extinguishers he had on board. He was obviously OK, save for being terribly shaken. He didn't have any severe injuries, and there didn't appear to be any more sparks or fire present but we left him one of our extinguishers anyways. Ours was now the only one he had.

Once we were positive he was no longer in any immediate danger, we dashed back to our own boat as there was still lightning present and the winds were just starting to pick up. Wow. That was a 50/50 chance. It could have been us. Luck was on our side. This time. I have a new found fear of Mother Nature and the power she has over us.

We stayed on our boat for the remainder of the afternoon. The weather cleared. It was sunny and again, a beautiful day. Around 3pm, Mike (the owner of the other boat) dinghied over to us. We invited him aboard, and had a good long conversation with him. He's an “old salt” who has been living on his boat since 1966. He has his yearly route planned out between the Abacos and the Southern Out Islands of the Bahamas. He's been doing this for years, and knows the local safe havens. This is the second time in his 61 years of life that he's been struck by lightning!!

In chatting with him, I feel that I learned a life lesson. It was hours after lightning had hit his boat. He told us that a number of his electrical components had been fried (VHF, depth sounder, inverter and he was still in the process of tracing wires and figuring out what else had been affected). He lost his mainsail. But he didn't lose his spirit. As far as he was concerned, 'Sh!t happens' and you deal with it. (Sorry for the swear word, Mom). Life goes on. Bad things may happen…scary things may happen…but it's not worth it to go through life with too much fear or caution. We wouldn't be “living” if we let things like that stop us.

In the two days since this happened, I'm pretty petrified when I hear thunder (and of course, we're in this silly low front that is producing storms all around us). Today while Tony was doing a water run into town I was almost in tears with fear when I started to hear rumbles of thunder and I was alone on our boat, but that's ridiculous. This is my home. I realize that I can't live in fear. To enjoy life you must LIVE IT!

Bottom line: We are living within the elements out here and we have to be prepared for anything, but I will be more than happy if that is the closest I ever get to a lightning strike ever again!

Okay, it's not all a big stress game. Here's what we've been up to while in Eleuthera waters.

We have been moving up the western side of Eleuthera. It is very pretty and very civilized here. Rock Sound was our first stop and was one of the friendliest harbours I think I've been in! We stayed for 8 days and enjoyed every moment of being there. Sheltered, friendly, and amazing stores for provisioning! Everything that one can need. I felt spoiled! J It doesn't get better than a harbour like that. We stayed a few extra days because Tony did and oil change, and some maintenance to our engine. There was a NAPA (auto parts) store in town which something to take advantage of while there.

We moved up to Governor's Harbour for four days which was probably the most picturesque harbor we've been to thus far. The houses on the hill were just so pretty! So we took plenty of walks around town just to look at the beauty of it all. We also walked to the Atlantic side of Eleuthera from Harbour town – about a two mile walk – and enjoyed the old “club med” beach known for it's pink sand.

This is where we were for the World Cup. We found a sports bar that had satellite television. This was project number one upon arrival. Everywhere else we had been to in Eleuthera until then didn't show the games. The Bahamian telecom service had blocked the final games, making them pay-per-view at a rate of $250 USD for the final package. We were VERY happy to find a place with satellite. (Oh, and since Tony's team (England) was out, he cheered on Germany with me, even wearing the German colours! We were very happy when Germany won!

From Governor's Harbour we came here, to Hatchet Bay. This is a wonderfully protected harbour as well, and it's been VERY HOT, with no wind, because it is SO protected.

From here we will be moving to the vicinity of Egg Island (not inhabited, just an anchorage,) to position ourselves to make the jump to the Abacos. Looks like there's a good weather window on Tuesday/Wednesday. I likely won't have internet for two days after we leave here on Monday/Tuesday. I haven't uploaded any pictures to the blog yet, but I'll try to do that tomorrow or the next day, and then send a quick blast to let you know it's done.

Hope you are all enjoying your summer and we always appreciate hearing back from everyone to hear news from each of you.

Sending love and kisses from Inspiration!!!


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