Thursday, February 17, 2011

Black Point Settlement to George Town

George Town, Great Exuma Island, Bahamas
23 31.5 N 075 46.1 W

Carina anchored off Rudder Cay.
One of many grottos (right)
 After leaving Black Point Settlement on Saturday 2/5 we spent a night anchored off Rudder Key near an impressive grotto. The following day, Superbowl Sunday, we (translated “he”) disregarded our conventional wisdom to not travel to windward and motored into SE seas toward George Town for 5 hours. The (“his”) rationale was a combination of wanting to get to a place to watch the Superbowl and arriving a few days before Mark’s sister arrived. Mark made a vow NEVER again to bash to windward in conditions sure to produce a bout of seasickness for the Admiral if they can be avoided. 

Elizabeth Harbor arrival and Monument
Beach anchorage (left)
With salt-sprayed decks, we arrived in Elizabeth Harbor that afternoon, following the channel past hundreds of sail boats anchored along a 4 mile stretch of Stocking Island. We anchored just off the town marina docks in Kidd Cove on the George Town side of the harbor. That evening we dinghied into town to watch the game at Two Turtles Pub along with about 50 other cruisers. It was quite enjoyable watching the game on their outdoor patio with warm island breezes and stars shining overhead.
Kathy on Exuma Sound side of
Stocking Island 

George Town has been our “goal” for this…our first winter season. The area is “cruiser friendly” and has every possible store and service necessary for boaters (albeit less selection and higher prices than stateside). The public dinghy dock is located inside a protected small lagoon called Lake Victoria and is quite busy with cruisers coming and going to their boats anchored throughout the harbor. The entrance to the lake is under a narrow, one-boat-width stone bridge.

Doesn't get any better than this !
On Monday we loaded up the 10 boxes of school books that we had been carrying aboard Carina since Melbourne, FL and delivered them to the George Town School. The books were used text books and other school supplies donated by Florida schools. The Seven Seas Cruising Assoc. coordinates the delivery of these books by cruisers to the various Bahamas out-islands in need annually and we were happy to participate. After a few errands of our own we lifted anchor and relocated across Elizabeth Harbor to the main cruiser anchorage on the west side of Stocking Island.

View of Exuma Sound from
Monument Hill vista
 We did some snorkeling and Mark found his first conch which was promptly turned into a fine cracked conch lunch by Kathy. George Town is the final cruising destination for many snow birders from the US and Canada. There were about 265 boats in the harbor when we arrived and 325 boats as of today (according to the morning radio net). The number will continue to increase through Cruiser’s Regatta Week beginning 2/28.

Kathy taking in the view
 Some boats stay for months and others only a few days while passing through en route to the Caribbean and beyond. Every morning at 8am sharp the Georgetown Cruiser’s radio net is broadcast over the VHF to keep everyone updated on the day’s activities and upcoming events.
Johny V makes fresh conch salads
(including removing conch from shell)
before your eyes
There is never a lack of activities between beach volleyball, yoga, dominos and classes on all sorts of things from rug making to immersion swimming. The center of the activity is the Chat & Chill bar on Volleyball beach. Here you can just sit back and watch the activities with a cold brew and freshly made conch salad and meet fellow cruisers or join in any of the many activities going on. Evening activities include happy hours on the beach with bonfires or Texas Hold ‘Em and Trivia Pursuit games at the near by St. Francis Resort on Stocking Island.

Kathy laying in gin clear water on a
sand bar off Elizabeth Island
Mark’s sister Joan and brother in-law Evan flew from New York on the Thursday evening flight. We had moved Carina back over to the town marina that afternoon to make it more convenient for getting them and their luggage aboard as well as provisioning. We were also able to arrange for them to share the taxi ride with another cruiser’s guest arriving on same flight.

Carina as see from top of Mounment
Hill, anchored off Monument Beach.
 Friday we provisioned-up and then moved back across Elizabeth Harbor, anchoring off Monument Beach. The weather was perfect… 80’s and light SE winds, however the next front bringing stronger NE winds was predicted to arrive on Sat evening. So for Fri. & Sat. we intentionally crammed as much swimming, snorkeling and beach combing as we could for Joan & Evan on the easterly, ocean side of Stocking Island.
Mark & Evan enjoying a Kalik
at Chat & Chill beach bar

We also introduced them to the Chat & Chill / Volleyball Beach scene as well as experiencing a typical informal cruiser’s sunset beach party. Sunday was too windy, cloudy & squally to feel like getting off the boat so we just hung out and read books all day (even though it meant missing the Sunday afternoon pig roast at Chat & Chill). Monday we did more beachcombing and swimming along the way whenever it suited us. The surf on the ocean side was considerably rougher after 2 days of strong winds.

Valentine's dinner at the
St. Francis Resort.
 Monday being Valentine’s Day, we had a wonderful Valentine’s dinner at the St. Francis resort. After dinner we dinghied over to Chat & Chill for the cruiser’s Valentine’s dance under the stars (and moon). We dinghied back in good spirits and crashed a party on Dream Catcher before finally calling it a night.

Rougher surf conditions on Exuma Sound
side of Stocking Island
 Tuesday was more of the same – taking the dinghy to different parts of Stocking Island for beach combing & swimming followed up by afternoon lunch and cocktails at Chat & Chill. Joan & Evan had made reservations for the 2nd part of their vacation at the Augusta Bay Resort located about a mile across Elizabeth Harbor from where Carina was anchored. Rather than move Carina Mark took Joan & Evan and their luggage by dinghy over to the resort’s docks before the sun set.

Cruiser Central: Chat & Chill beach
bar on Volleyball Beach
We plan on getting together again on Friday to take a car tour of Great Exuma Island. Joan and Evan will be heading back to the frigid northeast on Sunday morning. We will stay in the area for another week or two as we have another friend coming to visit for a few days the end of the month.  
Mark finds the Conch that Kathy
makes a fine fried cracked Conch from