Spanish Wells

Rumor has it that the Spanish explorers brought their ships here before sailing off for Spain in order to fill their stores with fresh water from the wells here. There is a water bottling plant here, but I don’t believe there’s a relationship. There’s no documented evidence that there were fresh water wells here. But it’s a good story!

We made the short hop from Royal Island to the Yacht Haven Marina on Wednesday morning after hearing other boats heading in for the promised 25 kt. winds forecast into the middle of next week. If we were to be weather-bound, we’d just as soon be able to get off the boat and move around the town.


Spanish Wells is one of the Bahamas most prosperous districts, and the homes on the island reflect the prosperity in their appearance. Vivid colors are everywhere, neatly trimmed lawns and landscaping are the rule here, a sharp contrast to the squalor found everywhere in Nassau. The homes here are mostly smaller, substantial buildings. There is a public water system, and the docks run nearly half the length of the town. Dockside activity dominates the landscape, with golf carts, the primary


mode of transport, buzzing up and down the streets. (All on the wrong side of the street!) The people (pop.1,500) are universally friendly, everyone has a wave or greeting as they pass. Several grocery stores on the island have a varied stock of provisions, and except for the conspicuous absence of fresh milk, look almost like any grocery store in a small town anywhere. There are exceptions, with the local bakers selling their bread alongside Roman Meal, and home-canned goods also for sale. Being the recently-indoctrinated assistant provisioner, I did notice that things were a bit more costly- $5 for a bag of Doritos… oh, and NO


LIQUOR or beer. Spanish Wells is dry! The other noticeable difference is that Spanish Wells is predominantly white. We’re told that up until about 2003, there were no blacks living on the island. They would come to work, but at the end of the day would be off the island. They call it “demographics”.


We did a good bit of bike riding, covering nearly all of the island in about a half hour! There is a bridge to Russel Island at the west end of Spanish Wells. Many of the homes there are beachfront vacation homes, some built on the limestone cliffs facing south. We took a ride out by Russell Island in the dink, retracing our steps toward Royal Island, it doesn’t take too long since it will clip along a twice the speed of the mother ship, and it was a delightful day. We stopped and put ashore at a beach, and walked a part of the road. Not much there save a few lots that appeared to be semi-developed, with water service and some buried conduit for electric, cable, & phone. One lot had a small block structure started, and it’s obvious there’s little in the way of code here! Molly & Sammy had a great time checking out all the smells, and Molly found some dried road kill, a favorite treat for her here in the Bahamas.

We joined other cruisers Friday night for a casual “docktail” party, BYOB  some potluck appetizers. It was interesting to share stories, and hear of the experiences of the other cruisers, mostly sailboaters. We’re definitely in the minority, as we’ve encountered few trawler folk. Some of the sailing community seems to treat us with indifferent tolerance, some are a bit more congenial, but there’s a different philosophy at play there, and we occasionally get the idea from some that we’re not “real” cruisers, as in: ‘come on board our sailbote & we’ll show you what a REAL cruising boat looks like’…. Oh… Kay…. The Admiral says to just let it slide…. That sort of thing sticks in my craw.


Saturday we did a shopping tour of the island, stopping at nearly all the retail outlets, except the hardware store at Ronald’s Seafood which was closed. Most of the stores close at 5 PM. I suppose when you live on an island and you have a finite area within which to shop, you shop when the shopkeepers decide they’d like to be open, because you can’t go elsewhere! Our big purchases were a couple of tee shirts, we wanted to have something from Spanish Wells since we’ve enjoyed our stay here.


Our internet here is a throwback to old dialup. It’s not very fast, when it’s connected, which isn’t too often, and doesn’t last too long! I did manage to get quite a good update up to the blog, but the photos in particular took quite a while to transfer to the server. We had an opportunity to catch up to Dan & Myla who are following us now, and are in Nassau at this writing, and plan to come to Spanish Wells with the first weather window. It’s less than 40 miles, so a short window will do. The internet connection also allowed us to chat with family and friends at home, and even a short video Skype with our friends waaay up north!

Our weather is not holding out to what was predicted (it rarely does), and we’ve had a couple of very nice days here. Saturday evening brought some gusty winds and some heavy showers as the frontal system moves through, but not the steady blow of 20+ kts that was predicted. Not that we’re complaining, but it seems that if we head for a marina to escape nasty weather, the weather fizzles out in reply! It’s nice to be tied to something, but it comes at a cost!

Our next move will likely be south toward the Exumas. Eleuthera is not far, but the cruising there is not as good as the Exumas, and since we’ve not seen any of it, where we go is really a moot point! The Exumas boasts clearer water, better holding, and a more laid back feel. Since we’re getting into more stable weather patterns because of the time of year, it’s not as critical that we have ready access to long-range forecasts, we can move if the weather changes, there is plenty of good anchorage there so we won’t need to duck into a marina to get protection from a blow.


Today (Sunday) we biked to the other end of Russell Island, stopped by to see the power plant, and saw some more construction as well as the other side of Spanish Wells where the houses are not so neat, and the city water is a hose bibb at the curb. There were some folk cooking over an open fire, rather primitive, but it’s the life they know.

Presently, we’re planning on leaving probably tomorrow, although there are still winds predicted in the 15-20 kt. range, our travels won’t require any passages with long fetch, so we should be relatively comfortable making our way south toward the Exumas. The morning weather forecast and conditions will tell the tale!

3 Responses to “Spanish Wells”

  1. Karen on 24 Mar 2009 at 5:15 PM #

    We have water over here too, and it’s been really nice out. Any chance you’ll come west EVER? We miss you! Talk to you soon I hope!

  2. Andrea on 26 Mar 2009 at 1:45 AM #

    I miss you! Thank goodness for this website.

  3. the eichers on 26 Mar 2009 at 7:39 PM #

    Hi Barb and Steve, wow, what a trip – we envy you guys! Almost makes us want to buy a boat! Ha! Will catch up soon. Have a fantastic time, think of you often. Take care, The Eichers