A Travellerspoint blog

George Town, Great Exuma Island

sunny 77 °F

Most of the boats in the marina arrived on Saturday or Sunday, 03/03-03/04 and stayed. The first good, well, mostly good, day for leaving was a week later, on Saturday, 03/10. The winds had dropped below 20 knots and about 2/3's of the boats here left, most to go north, a few headed south. One of those was French Kiss, headed to George Town after a spur of the moment decision to head out at lunch time. Then we were two.

What everyone had waited for was a day where it was not impossible or dangerous to exit the channel, a narrow thing, but deep enough, without getting pushed around by the waves and wind. People had mentioned that this could be a difficult place to exit with the wrong wind, wrong being generally from the east at the upper end of the teens or higher, exactly what we have seen for more than a week.


We decided that we were not ready to leave, wanting another look at the weather forecast and having several unfinished tasks such as topping off the fuel and water. So, we bid all those folks adieu, handled their lines for them and waved goodbye.

On Saturday a sailboat came into the marina and moored. I paced it off at 75~80 feet. It was, simply, the most beautiful boat that I have ever seen. It was a newer boat done up to look like one from the very early part of the 20th century with beautiful woodwork about the cockpit and deck. The boat had a professional captain, I assume, having seen a man with a white shirt with blue shoulder boards with gold braid stripes, a dead give away. This might have tempted me for an 18-acre swap, but I never got the chance to offer the deal or even take a picture as it left early the next morning, Sunday. The ship was named Braveheart and flew a British ensign. The home port is Sark Isle, which I assumed to be in the Hebrides or Orkney Islands but is actually a channel island between England and France. Obviously, this boat made an impression on me.

Click here to see Braveheart of Sark

After doing not very much over the weekend on Monday we, sort of, went to work, filling the fuel tank and jerry cans as well as filling the water tanks to be ready to move when we decided the time was right. All fine and well except that Monday seems to be the designated front arrival day, this being the third consecutive Monday that has happened. It was, again, blowing 20~25 knots; it rained off and on during the day. A very good day to stay aboard but we had stuff to do, so we did it, finishing all tasks except one, that one not important for getting underway.

After a little conversation between the two boats Monday night and Tuesday morning we decided to head south to George Town with David and Alice aboard Alice Mae. They needed to stop at the fuel dock so we waited until it seemed about right and then got some help from Burry and Wendy with our lines.

It may not have been my worst ever session of boat handling; then again, maybe it was, although I had help. Burry held the bow line to keep the bow from being turned by the wind; worked perfectly. But, in doing so, the wind forced the stern to move away from the wind into absolutely everything. We caromed off one boat, bounced off a metal piling before settling onto the bow of another boat which had a very large Danforth anchor poking into delicate parts of our boat. Somehow, and I don't know how, after a frantic while, we were able to get our boat off the other boat and back out of the open area. We ended up backing out of the marina into the channel. No real damage done to the boat; some of the stainless steel scaffold that holds the canvas needed a little help finding its original position and there is a very small tear in the canvas. My ego .... not a problem, 'cause I don't have one.

The channel exit was not too bad, whitecaps being at a minimum. The waves were notable but, with a decent period between them, the boat rode over them very well. Once again I appreciated the power of the new motor and the extra bite of the new propeller. They drove the boat quickly through the rough patch getting us to open water.

We caught up with the Alice Mae and they told us that they had no chart plotter and wanted to follow us through the north Elizabeth Harbour entrance, a tricky bit. So an hour and a half later we were in the channel heading for an anchorage. The first place we tried to anchor we were hailed by a local anchoring vigilante and told that we would be too far into the ship channel; of course, her boat was just fine. So we moved back north where there was less crowding to find a spot. If there are 250~300 boats here, only five are north of us, not a problem, just an observation. Being away from the concentration of boats is probably a good thing. Since few boats here use their holding tanks there are some cautions about being in the water. Up here I do not think that will be a problem. In the small world category, two of the boats closest to us we have met at Black Point Settlement.

We are anchored in the lee of Stocking Island, the eastern barrier of Elizabeth Harbour, just below the monument, sort of the Sugar Loaf mountain of these here parts. We don't know what the monument commemorates, if anything, but we will find out. The hill on which the monument sits is about 115-ft. high, probably the highest land we have yet seen in these islands. The Alice Mae headed deeper into the harbour to anchor, we're not sure where. Maybe near the French Kiss, which is still in the area.


When things had settled down, the anchor was set and the motor was off, Carol told me that we had a topless neighbor. It had to be true because the boat had the French tri-color on the halyard. It reminded me of the CBA Harley rallies we attended with the VFD. One guy might offer $5 for a lady to take off her top; seeing the lady, another, more sober and discerning individual, might offer her $10 to keep her top on. The next door neighbor turned out to be a $10 lady, might even be worth more, to me anyway. I was considering a bottomless bath this evening to rephrase Flip Wilson's point: we don't have it and we shouldn't flaunt it. That plan was trashed when I saw that some old, flabby guy had beaten me to the punch. Maybe it was a Dominique Strauss-Kahn sighting. The hair was about right; the age was about right; the build was about right; the bare butt .... luckily, I don't know.

After a while I put on the mask and flippers to check the anchor set: marginal but not a concern. While swimming back to the boat I found this fat boy, about 1-ft. across. I messed with it a while and then brought it back to the boat, thinking that, maybe, it was just a hollow shell since it seemed so light while in the water. The points and spines were pretty sharp, requiring a fishing glove, and the exoskeleton was very rigid. Carol was excited about keeping it but I decided that it probably was alive and put it back into the water. If I find it again in he next day or two it will probably stay on board.


I woke up last night as is the wont of older guys. While up I decided to check our position; the anchor was holding. I also usually check our power consumption, which I did. To my surprise the batteries were at lower power than I expected. I went to the cockpit to check the wind generator. After nine nights and nine days of unrelenting winds, never blowing at less than 15 knots, the vanes on the generator hung in immobile uselessness; no air stirred; the water was glassy; the boat rode with the current. The treat was to see the efflorescence of anchor lights stretching across the harbour like some horizontal, monochrome Christmas tree, each reflected onto the waters surface creating a new firmament against the dark night's background of island and water.

We spent a pleasant, early morning in the cockpit watching several boats leaving the harbour to the north. It was interesting to watch. The channel has several waypoints, each with relatively short legs, about 0.50 to 0.75 miles, requiring precise turns at specific points and precise travel between those points. Since all the boats were following the same track it was rather like some arcane marine minuet, each boat following the "steps" of the leader, the same moves in the same places, the aspect of each boat presenting itself in the same way at each turning point, offset only by time, until each reached the open water. One of those things you had to be there to appreciate.

We took the dinghy to town this morning, a longish ride since we traveled slowly, not knowing where things were exactly. We did eventually locate the entrance to Lake Victoria. I wonder how many lakes in the world carry that name? In fact, this is a very royal place: The George in George Town, at least three of those; the Elizabeth in Elizabeth harbour, two of those and one Victoria in Lake Victoria. Six English royals, at least, and that's only on the south end of the island.

To enter Lake Victoria there is a channel cut underneath a bridge carrying the Queen's Highway, the main route along the east side of the island. The posted speed limit is 3 mph in the lake, not kilometers per hour. George Town is well set up to accommodate cruisers. In most places you have to pay for potable water; here it is free at the dinghy dock. Trash drop off is also free. The dinghy dock is right behind the bigger of the two grocery stores and across from one of the two banks in the very center of town. One of our tasks was to drop off books at the library, having accumulated a supply to offer in trade. This library may have more volumes than the Buncombe County Leicester Branch Library. Of course, there is a paucity of true literature and a surfeit of mind numbing page turners, exactly what's needed for reading on a boat. It's a pretty good deal: $3 for an annual fee per boat; hard cover books must be returned; paperback books are on a swap basis or return when, if ever, you get around to it.


On the rides to and from town we saw some empty places, perhaps where boats had left the anchorage. We thought about moving to a better place but finally decided against it. The gain in weather protection would be minimal.

This afternoon we went exploring; my main goal was to get to the monument, a trip to which Carol, feeling poorly, was not inclined. The trek would have been nothing in our mountains wearing proper boots; wearing sandals and going up in soft sand it was a bit of a challenge. The main learning: the monument has no plaque commemorating anything at all. It is, apparently, just a big concrete stele on the top of a hill signifying nothing. The view, however, was worth the effort. Carol has been demanding pictures of me for the blog, so here I am, proof of accomplishment, been there, done that.


The windward side of Stocking Island


The south end of Stocking Island


Our anchorage, north of the monument; the boat is in there somewhere.


We then took the dinghy down to the area where most boats anchor. The main attraction there seems to be the Chat 'n' Chill an open air bar on Stocking Island that also serves the usual assortment of greasy fried food and, we've been told, remarkably good hamburgers for $5.00. It's pretty well set up with lots of chairs, picnic tables and a volley ball court; amazingly, the volley ball net does not droop in the middle in deference to old white folks who can no longer jump. Then we went down to see Alice and David; his chart plotter is still on the fritz and there are no good options available.

At 7pm, 1900 hours, on Wednesday, 03/14/12, my computer weather stations had: Hot Springs, 77o; Brunswick, 77o; George Town, 77o. Who wouldda thunk that?

Carol likes most wines, hates all beer and has no special affinity for any particular hard spirit. Since drinking is a critical part of cruising, she has been working on a drink strategy, what to order in a bar, ever since we arrived in Freeport during the last week of 2011. After about 10 weeks of experimenting she has arrived at a solution which seems to involve a mix pineapple juice and coconut milk and, if a blender is available, a portion of ice, producing a vapid mixture with the consistency of a Dairy Queen soft serve. What is difficult for the wait staff, especially if it is a man, is to get the resulting blend just right so that the drink will color coordinate with her shoes, her earrings, her eyeliner or whatever fashion accessory with which she is forming an emotional bond at that moment. The ordering process is both exhausting and time consuming; when we were out with one couple, the man keeled over from dehydration before Carol had finished her order. Curiously, she doesn't seem to care what alcoholic beverage goes into the drink, rum I suppose, just so long as she looks good while eating her drink with a spoon. The good news is that she doesn't seem to have a need a paper umbrella to complete the picture.

Despite the fact that the worst of the wind and weather have passed, the seas have yet to calm all the way down.


We have cleared customs & immigration three times in the Bahamas. Each time we had intended to come here, George Town, making it the apogee of the trip. This time we finally made it. Carol, being Carol, has a bottle of champagne on board to celebrate our arrival. Carol, also being Carol, brought the bottle on board having beenasked many times: no glass on the boat.

We have been told that lots of people come here and stay a good while then turn around and head home. We had thought that we would tarry here a while but probably will not, having spent ten nights in the Marina at Emerald Bay that might otherwise have been spent here. And we do intend to head farther south, going to Long Island as Dawn and Bruce recommended.

The ubiquitous sunset after the storm.


Posted by sailziveli 10:55 Archived in Bahamas Tagged boats boating bahamas

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