I have decided to describe where The Fox has been, by tracing a roughly NW to SE path that starts at the northern half of Eleuthera Island in the Far Bahamas, and will end at the islands and cays in the SE Bahamas just above the Turks and Caicos islands.
First stop: one of our favorite Bahamian destinations, Hatchet Bay on Eleuthera Island.
Hatchet is a fairly well protected bay that boats enter through a 50-foot-wide slot in some rocky seaside cliffs.The cruising guides say the entrance is 90 feet wide, but they must not have ever been there. Trust me, it's 50 feet wide at the waterline. Here's a sequence I took from the NW mooring field of one of the local supply boats (about 90' long x 25' wide) squeezing its way out of the cut. For a perspective on size, a vacant mooring buoy (about 2' diameter) is floating in the foreground:
The local government has installed a total of 9 convenient mooring buoys in 3 separate areas around the bay. Other cruisers report that the anchoring is reliable in only a few spots among the moorings in the NW section of the bay so it makes sense to grab a mooring ball if one is available - and one or more are usually open. (There are only rings and no tackle on any of the buoys, so be prepared to grab one with your own lines.) The depths vary around each of the mooring balls; the 4 that are located in the NW part of the bay are in about 12'-20'; but the buoy in the SE section that is closest to shore is as shallow as 5' at low tide. The buoys are free of charge and as of January 2014 they are all functioning well. However, another cruising couple dove on each of the moorings and told us that the chains on at least some of the moorings are about half-corroded. They held all us boats just fine through a couple of days-long wind events when we saw gusts to the mid-20 knot range, but as time goes on these circumstances may change. Plan accordingly.
There are 2 places to tie up your dinghy that have easy access to town. The town is small but has a couple of groceries, a few restaurants (Da Spott and The Front Porch are both highly recommended by cruisers), and there are pleasant walks through town and across the island to the Atlantic beaches - you may encounter the local herd of goats along the road. For wintertime seashelling the best beach is located on the NE side of town at the local cemetery. For longer walks or bike rides out of town, we hear there are caves to explore - ask around town and someone will connect you with a guide.
We've visited Hatchet Bay twice. It is an excellent place to rest from a 2-day trip from Florida, or to wait for a weather window to return to the US, or to hide in a calm bay when the weather picks up. Make this one of your destinations on your Bahamas adventure!