Monday, 10 March 2014

George Town and Beyond

The George Town experience has been much more fun and relaxing than we thought initially. 
The amenities and people of George Town speak for themselves for why so many cruisers can spend an entire season right here in this harbour.
Yes, there are more boats here than we can count, but with 3 large anchorages and multiple smaller ones we always felt like there was space for everyone.
An extremely organized group of volunteers that ran a cruisers network, organized sports and events like Yoga, Volleyball, kids’ activities ,and dances. Lectures you could attend on the beach, everything from local history to the never ending discussion on batteries.
This past week was the annual Cruisers Regatta, a week of boat races, large and small, along with varying land competitions such as volleyball, baseball and scavenger hunts. While we did participate in the opening ceremonies we decided that after 8 days of George Town it was time to duck out and explore some of the surrounding Islands.

Al filling the water tanks
George Town was a blast. It was also the perfect host to allow us to catch up on boat chores as we awaited delivery of parts Al had ordered. Valentine's evening was spent at Peace and Plenty, a fabulous meal and a bit of dancing. The grocery store was large(ish) and well stocked and they supplied free R/O water right on the dingy dock. We managed to have our propane tank filled, Lee ran a very organized laundry facility that was easy, accessible and a reasonable cost. Twice a week one of the local businesses, a deli/butcher shop that was a 15 minute drive out of town, picked cruisers up then dropped them back off downtown GT. The ride in the back of the pickup truck was DEFINITELY worth it! A beautiful shop with an amazing selection of fresh meats and cheeses that would rival any shop at home.

Prime Meats and Deli
Harmonium and ourselves ended up renting scooters for a day, having quite the adventure with lots of laughs as we toured a large portion of Great Exuma Island. Devoured probably one of our top restaurant meals at Santini's, bought delicious bread from Mama’s Bakery and just enjoyed soaking in the beautiful scenery – a fabulous day!

Outside Santini's. Little guy wanted me to take him for a ride.

One of my highlights included spending 2 ½ days volunteering with a group people brought together by the Canadian Royal Potcake Team, running a free Spay/Neuter program on the Island. “Potcakes” are the name given to the population of dogs on the Bahama Islands. Two veterinarians, one from Ontario and the other from Florida along with one tech and handful of Canadian and local volunteers managed to spay/neuter over 80 animals during the week. It felt great to actually be “working” again and felt very much at home. Everyone  did an awesome job and it was such a pleasure working with all of them!

surrendered momma and her "parasites"
Along with chores we were spent time wandering around George Town, enjoying the local food, spreading our beer money around the various local businesses and walking trails and swimming in the ocean on the sound side of Stocking Island. We also got to enjoy the company of old and new friends we have met along the way.

propane day

outside "Chat n' Chill
There is almost a mile (or maybe more) between some some of the anchorages over at stocking Island to the dingy dock in GT. The dingy ride back and/or forth could be a very wet experience with the way the winds were kicking up most of the time. When we needed to do laundry or refill water and fuel etc. we would move our boat close to town to make it easier on us. Sometimes the umbrella trick worked to hide behind for protection, otherwise we would just duck when we could and endure. 
We attended Eddy’s Edgewater “Rake n’ Scrape”, local Bahamian music and instruments as well as the
Opening celebrations of the Regatta via water taxis, the only way to go if you want to stay dry!

Anchored off Elizabeth Island were we spent a very fun happy hour aboard Harmonium joined by Millevassions and Seranada. Heading out the next morning for Conception Island, a 40 NM trip, we joined a long line of boats also taking advantage of the good weather system.

Jacques and Cathy with their first Mahi Mahi!!
The day was fabulous, great winds so we were able to sail all the way, right into the anchorage.
Unfortunately, Al discovered his real for the fishing pole was seized and unable to be repaired so no fishing for us. All the way across we kept hearing "fish on" from other boaters but when all was said and done, Millevasions was the only boat that landed one, a Mahi Mahi. They were very kind to share some with us for happy hour the next evening (delicious Ceviche) as well as brought Al and I a piece for us to cook later. -THANKS Cathy and Jacque!

Conception was just beautiful, a designated land park. We spent 2 days exploring the shores, got in some snorkeling as well as a fabulous dingy trip into the mangroves to watch the sea turtles.

Next was Long Island, making our way into Calabash Bay. The day was the epitome of a perfect Bahamian day. Very light winds, hot sun and spectacular blue water of varying hues as far as the eyes could see. For the first time on this trip we flew our brand new asymmetric light weight sail. It took a bit to rig it up and try to remember how to sail it but all and all it went really well and looked awesome. Sadly we still came in 3rd of 3 vessels fighting for a 1st place finish  – Congratulations to Harmonium for taking first with a special honorary mention due to the fact that they also managed to put a Mahi in their freezer at the same time.
Millevasions came a very close 2nd, if the finish was further away she may have taken them!

Calabash has one of the most beautiful beaches in regards to the sand quality I heard it described twice in one night, male version= ”like dry wall mud”  female version= ”like icing sugar”. I would agree with both!

First flight in the Bahamas!

the water never ceases to amaze us!

Our time in Calabash started out great. Happy hour at the resort with a bunch of fellow cruisers, and a long walk checking out our surroundings in northern Long Island the next day with a delicious dinner with Millevasions aboard Harmonium as they shared their Mahi catch with all of us. Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse, mainly wind direction and strength, leaving us open to VERY uncomfortable waters. After being up all night and exhausted we decided not to move the boat as the winds were supposed to lessen that night and the waves made it very dangerous to put our dingy and engine up for the trip. We went to shore early and enjoyed an entire day on land. Breakfast and lunch at the resort, napped on lounge chairs and read, took that wonderful shoreline walk. To end it all off we had drinks and a good game of Dominoes in the bar with Phil and Krista. Not a bad way to spend a day in the Bahamas.

So, for a second time the weather man was wrong again and another bad night on the hook. In the morning a decision was made just to go back to George Town as the anchorage further down (Thompson Bay) would also be exposed and we couldn’t bear another night of no sleep. We had great winds and although we had to tack a few times to keep us from beating into the waves we managed again to sail the entire way!

Back in George Town and calm(er) waters and picked up an email from Millevasions who had gone on from Calabash that first morning. They reported a good, quiet night on the hook. Oh well, you win some and loose some. We hoped to return to Long Island to see what we missed when the weather system settled out.

Well, the weather system never did settle or even become predictable. Chris Parker “THE" weather guy, sounded as frustrated as the cruisers as he continued to get it wrong day after day. A decision was made that a return trip to Long Island was not in the cards.
We were able to catch the closing party for the regatta and had a chance to meet and share a wonderful meal with friends of Harmonium’s who had just come into town, Nina and John from “Sun kissed”.

Al bought a new real for his fishing rod, our parts finally came in, filled up on water and fuel. I made another trip to the butcher, this time by cab as there were too many of us waiting for the truck. A quick shop for some fresh produce and we found ourselves ready to start our trip north bound. Winds in our favour for the next few days we headed out with a trip plan. This would have us stopping at a couple of places we missed on our way down and then put us into safe anchorage for a predicted storm that would be hitting us Thursday and Friday.
So, winds from the wrong direction and stronger than predicted prevented us from two of our anchorages and took us into one great spot that we wouldn’t have considered if we didn’t meet up with Sea Spirit who had a set tract to get in.

Now here’s a great story. Making our way up from GT to our first anchorage and just before heading into the cut from the sound, Harmonium gets a hail on the radio from a vessel, Sea Spirit. Great folks from Hawaii who all of us have met before. Apparently they had just recovered a dingy floating with a name on the side that 
they recognized, “Harmonica”. Harmonium looked to their aft and were horrified NOT to see their dingy in its usual place! Thank goodness for small miracles – 1. someone saw it and picked it up 2. That someone wanted to return it and 3. That someone actually new who it belonged to.

Harmonica coming home!
Jamie and his gang (wife and 4 young daughters) were making their way into the same anchorage and were happy to drop the dingy by for them. Great end to what could have been a HUGE inconvenience and royal pain in the ass for Harmonium. They we so very thrilled and relieved to have their “car” returned.  It can sure happen to any of us when we are dragging the dingy. The lesson in it for us is that we need to put our boat information inside the dingy, just in case!

We had a great night sleep at this anchorage, Children’s Bay Cay, but it was very shallow and ended up bumping the sand in the early morning. Given the winds weren’t going to let us get in to Barraterre settlement anyway, we choose to move on.
Investigation of our next choice again turned out to be more uncomfortable waters so we ended up going all the way up to Little Farmers to wait out this weather. Just couldn’t win for loosing.

After a wonderful, leisurely 4 hour sail with our fishing line out (no bites) and 2 lines on the dingy we brought our sail in and made our way through the cut. Dropping the hook in almost same place as the last time we visited Little Farmers Cay.

Little Farmers Cay

A really lovely spot that we’re happy to be back at and we know we have great holding. Now let’s just wait and see if the storm ends up hitting us.

Bye for now.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, looks like paradise! Love the sea turtles. So glad you are having such a great adventure.