The Acklins, also known as the Crooked Island District are a small group of islands encompassing 260 square miles lying inside twice that amount of shallow water known as the Bight of Acklins. The entire area is untouched by large developments. There are no marinas or large towns and only a few small settlements. It’s a very remote area. Perhaps Christopher Columbus described it best “Though all the others we had seen were beautiful, green and fertile, this was even more so. It has large and very green trees, great lagoons, around which these trees stand in marvelous groves. Here and there throughout the island the trees and plants are as green as Andalusia in April. The singing of small birds is so sweet that no one could ever wish to leave this place. Flocks of parrots darken the sun and there is a marvelous variety of large and small birds.”
We are excited to be here as it is one of the places in the Bahamas we most wanted to explore. Inside the Bight are beautiful coves with names like, Delectable Bay, Snug Harbor, and on the northern coast, Lovely Bay. Sunday morning the weather seemed favorable for traveling 20 miles south and then east to make our way inside the Bight. We started off around 8 a.m. enjoying a lovely sail on a beam reach making 5.5 to 6 knots under a reefed main and jib. Conditions were so nice Coleen was able to do school lessons and I did a bit of tidying up and made bread while underway.
Sometime around 12:30 pm we arrived at the entrance to the bight and turned east. We knew the first 5 miles would be motoring into the wind, but after that we would be able to turn southeast and have a nice 20 mile sail to get in the lee of Acklins Island while anchored in Delectable Bay. Since the bight is shallow, less than 8 feet, a moderate to strong wind can bring up a quite nasty chop. We committed to pounding our way through 5 miles as it would only be and hour and half’s worth of torture to reach our goal. However as it happened the wind picked up even more and veered SE. We realized we would never be able to pound our way 20 miles in daylight hours. The area has too many coral heads to traverse it safely in the dark. Disappointedly we had no choice but to turn back. At this point, we were scooting along at 5 knots with just a reefed main, the wind was so strong. Well, without going into too many more boring details, let’s just say we had two nasty squalls, fierce wind which shifted again, this time to NE so we were still pounding into it. It was a crazy day! At one point we were actually going 3.5 knots under bare poles, meaning no sails and no engine. Thankfully there were no big waves as we were in the lee within a .5 mile of shore.
It’s one of those sorts of places where you just can’t anchor anywhere you’d like as there is too much coral near the coast and the water is well over 100 feet deep until about a 1000 feet from shore. We finally found a suitable place near French Wells which is about 10 miles south of where we started the day! It took a bit of trying to find our way in through the coral to find a nice sandy spot to anchor in 12 feet. We’re still quite a ways from shore, but it is a safe place, and mostly comfortable in this wind direction.
The wind is supposed to be ESE at 20 to 35 until the weekend when it may moderate enough for us to continue our journey. On the plus side, although we will probably not get to see the places in the bight, this area where we are stuck, is incredible. Yesterday, we took a 3 hour walk on a gorgeous beach to the tip of Crooked Island and back. We were thankful to get exercise as neither Coleen nor I had been off the boat for 3 days. We had great fun searching out the well that’s noted on the chart. We were hot and tired when we returned and I enjoyed short afternoon nap before making a Mexican Monday dinner with 3 kinds of enchiladas, Mexican rice, and sopapillos. Our fresh food supply is diminishing rapidly and soon we’ll be down to eating our supply of freeze dried fruits and veggies.