It is hard to imagine we are at the last day of January already! Time is flying by! It’s also hard to imagine a month ago we were still in Florida waiting to cross to the Bahamas.
We are currently anchored in Georgetown and are loving it! We are anchored right off Volleyball Beach, also known as Chat ‘N Chill as there is a restaurant there by than name. On the beach by the restaurant is a gathering place with a lot of picnic tables, shade, volleyball courts and a big beach. It is so cool to be here! We arrived this past Sunday already and will probably be here, or around here, for a while – I’ll get into that a bit below.
We had a great time at Black Point, where the last update left off. Sharon did get laundry done – all cruisers we have run into seem to rave about the great laundromat at Black Point, so we had to use it. The weather was good at Black Point but the forecast was talking about some stronger SW winds coming on Sunday into Monday. (The Exumas sort of run SE to NW) Our original thought was to go to Little Farmer’s Cay on the west side, but there is no protection there from SW winds so we decided to go first to Rudder Cay and stay the night – a passage of about 20 miles. We were able to motor sail with an ENE wind of about 11 – 15 knots. We were able to hold our speed at 6.6 – 6.8 knots with the motor at only 1600 RPM so it was great. We did have to be careful as we approached Rudder Cay from the north as it was quite shallow – one chart showing just over 4 feet. The shallowest depth we saw was 7 feet as it was high tide so we passed through fine.
Rudder Cay and the Musha Cay area is where David
“The Musician,” an underwater piano/mermaid statue, is so we wanted to get an idea of where it was. We didn’t snorkel on it this time, but we will later as we plan on returning there in the next few weeks. Apparently it is a replica of a full size Steinway grand piano with a mermaid on the bench that you can snorkel down to. It is in about 10 – 14 feet of water is supposed to be cool to see. We are hoping to return there with Jason and Patti in a couple of weeks.
Protection from the S and SW was also quite limited there as well so on Sunday morning we left for Georgetown, a trip of about 41 miles. It proved to be a windier, bumpier ride but we had anticipated that as the winds were forecasted to be from the SE – the direction we were headed. We made it with no difficulty out the Rudder Cay Cut, which then got us on the east side of the Exumas into the Exuma Sound. Because the islands were then west of us, with an SE wind, we had no land protection from the winds. The wind picked up initially to only about 10 – 11 knots from the SSE and we had waves of 2 – 4 feet, but they were more of swells rather than a chop and all was good. We put out the mainsail to help stabilize the boat and we did well motor sailing at about 6 knots. The wind picked up a bit later in the morning to 12 – 14 knots but we still did well heading SE down the Exuma chain.
We stopped at Emerald Bay marina for fuel ($4.68 per gallon!) and water ($0.48 per gallon – and we needed 110 gallons!) and then headed back out into the Exuma Sound for the remaining 11 miles to Georgetown. By this point the wind was picking up even more and the waves were a lot bigger. The wind was in the 20 – 22 knot range with gusts up to 26 knots, and the waves were in the 4 – 6 foot range being a bit closer together resulting in the boat banging some.
Shortly after about 2:30 pm we entered the Georgetown Harbor area and it was so cool coming into Georgetown! We could hardly believe we were here! We took our time coming down the harbor channel just gawking at the boats and the islands and at 3:15 pm we had our anchor down in Kidd’s Cove, which is on the west side of the channel (which is about a mile wide) for protection from the SW winds. Kidd’s Cove is also on the side of the channel where the town of Georgetown is so it was easy to get there the next day.
We had our celebration beer after anchoring and just reveled in the idea we were here. The winds did pick up a bit that night but it was no problem where we were and we slept well. On Monday, Jan. 28, 7 months to the day we left Muskeogn, MI, we woke up on our boat in Georgetown, the Bahamas. How cool is that?! It was a trip of just over 3,150 nautical miles (3,153, to be exact) and many, many adventures along the way.
We put the dinghy down Monday morning and headed to town to check it out. You take your dinghy into Lake Victoria, a very small lake in the middle of the town, through a tunnel and a large dinghy dock is just off the left where we tied up. Max, of course, was very glad to be on land and promptly did his business after finding bushes and grass! We found the two grocery stores, and yes, prices are quite high here!, and enjoyed getting the lay of the land there.
A local lady, Jillian, happened to see us walking around probably looking a bit dumbstruck at everything, and sat with us a few minutes sharing what is happening at Georgetown and how to find information. There is a Cruiser’s Net daily held on VHF channel 72 that is quite comprehensive, she said, and other than during the Cruiser’s Net everyone stays on channel 68 to hail each other or make announcements during the day. Good to know! She also told us there is no pump-out boat in the harbor, and in fact has not been one around in over 5 years. The Waterway Guide and Explorer chartbook is quite clear that there is a $1000 fine for direct discharge of your head (toilet) into the harbor and to use the pump-out boat. She said, “Rubbish!” and that everyone just direct discharges into the harbor. Just be careful where you swim, she said!
Tuesday morning, Jan. 29, we pulled anchor and moved to the east side of the channel, over by Volleyball Beach anchorage, Sand Dollar anchorage and Monument anchorage. This side is by far where most boats are anchored. It is also the side where there are three hurricane hole protected areas with mooring balls and is where the Chat ‘N Chill restaurant/bar is and the gathering area. Most afternoons there are volleyball games happening at 2 pm and it seems there are often people sitting on picnic tables visiting with each other throughout the day. Looks like it will be great fun learning about the area from others!
We took our dinghy through the hurricane hole mooring areas and were able to find Bob and Diane Walter’s catamaran, Two of A Kind, on a mooring ball. They are fellow Muskegon Yacht Club members who took their boat to Georgetown a bunch of years ago (8 or 9?). They often tied up next to our old boat on the old docks at MYC and I remember being amazed that they could take a boat all the way to the Bahamas from Muskegon! We had consulted with Bob and Diane prior to this trip numerous times, so it is cool to finally catch up with them. They are in Michigan now (with a ton of snow and cold, cold weather!) through Monday so we look forward to their return here next week. After seeing their boat we beached the dinghy and took a short walk over the hill to the Exuma Sound side and marveled at the beauty there.
On the Cruiser’s Net Tuesday morning we heard they would be holding a workshop on making conch horns to blow at sunset. There is a tradition in the islands, and we have heard them throughout our time here, to blow a conch horn at sunset from your boat. So Tuesday afternoon I went to the pile of conch shells on the beach and picked one out for our horn. After soaking it in bleach and saltwater overnight I went to the workshop where I filled in the holes in the shell and they cut off the end to make it ready for blowing. And last night at sunset I joined the many other boats in blowing our horn as the sun went down. It will be a great tradition to have on our boat!
This is getting way too long, so I need to end it. We will be here at Georgetown until our daughter, Kristi, arrives for a five day visit. We may find some other areas around here to go to for snorkeling and swimming while she is with us. She leaves on Feb. 12 and Jason and Patti Flier join us the same day until the 25th. What fun! We will probably head back north a bit with them to Black Point, Rudder Cay and maybe even Staniel Cay with them Who knows?! The weather is supposed to be rainy the next couple of days, but after Sunday it is supposed to be sunny for the next at least week or two.