17 - Conception Island to Georgetown, Great Exuma
We had a sleepy 6:10 am start, pulling anchor just as the sun was
rising. We wanted to set off before the mid-day winds built
up, as we would be sailing directly into them. We motored
without any sail. Aaron
caught a small Spanish Mackerel for dinner. The cats
enjoyed eating the scraps after he finished cleaning it.
mid-day, we encountered a squall full of rain. At first we
were pleased, happy for the fresh water to wash off weeks of salt
build up on the boat. As the rains continued we had had
enough. Aaron would not put on his raincoat, and huddled under
the dodger wet and cold, looking up every few minutes to see if
there were any ships. Visibility was limited.
of a sudden lighting blasted and thunder cracked close by. We
were both startled, not having any memory of being so close to
lightning. Aaron went and shut off most electronics just in
case, and rather foolishly we unplugged the VHF and SSB.
minutes later, Aaron looked up to find a large fishing boat steaming
by us only about 100 meters away. We were both shocked.
We could have easily collided with it, and without our VHF on, it
may have been trying to contact us to avoid a collision. What
a lucky call. A little freaked out, I put my rain coat on and
told Aaron to go below to monitor the radar. With the protection of a raincoat,
though a bit miserable, it was fine to stand full time watch looking
out exposed to the rain.
squall eventually passed and we saw the North Channel rocks marking
he entrance to Georgetown. We had a smooth entrance through
the harbor using way points given to us by Sea Gypsy to manuver
around the reefs and shallow spots in the harbor. We dropped
anchor off of Monument beach. We were both tired from waking
up early. But wanted to go to town.
- So we quickly dumped the dingy in and took off for the one
mile dingy ride across the bay to George Town. Wow, what a
cruiser infrastructure. A little lagoon inside the inner
harbor with dingy docks for various businesses. Colleen found
the number for a vet and organized a visit for later in the day,
while I got a new prop for the outboard (its slipping again - the
one we fixed in Antigua). Quick inventory of the stores and
telecom options (few) and back to the dingy to box up the cats for
their trip to the vet.
finally settled on names for the cats: Manuel and Polly. Our
previous cats Basil and Sybil were named after the lead Faulty
Towers characters - Manuel and Polly were the main supporting
characters. Manuel also fits as "he" is a Hispanic
cat. We tried Barco and Vela ("sail" and
"boat" in Spanish - also Barco is a Barker and Vela [pronunced
"bella"] is a pretty girl), but these names did not stick.
the kittens were not thrilled with the dingy trip, but bucked up
pretty well. The vet lived across the bay right on the water
so we dingied right up to his house. This is a vet location
for animals of the rich and famous! Dr. D is a retired vet
from Michigan who operates a part-time practice. The received
their second round of vaccinations and were de-wormed again.
The vet confirmed they still have worms.
at the boat, both cats were very sluggish and had hurty stomachs
from the strong worm medcine.
18 - Georgetown
- George Town is a cruisers mecca. Many boats make it only
this far coming from Florida and spend months here. There are
scores of protected clear water anchorages, many social activities
(volleyball, softball, BBQ's etc.), and good services ashore
(laundry, stores, free water). There are "only"
about 200 boats here now, but about a month ago, there were closer
to 500 (people are moving back north now).
town in the morning to try to get on-line. Quel Horror!
The lines are just too slow to hold a conncection no matter how slow
I adjust the modem. No interenet cafe. Only one computer
in a hotel and they charge 50 cents a minuite for a slow connection
- takes five minuites just to get to your Hotmail page! Guess
no uploading of these pages till we get to the US.
fast-moving cold front on its way. Wind expected to come NE
25-30. We are in a good spot, and when we arrived back at the
boat, the number of other boats in the anchorage had doubled and was
rising fast. We've got boats just in front and behind
us. Hope there is no dragging.
front hit as we went to bed and the wind howled through the rigging
19 - Georgetown
- The day dawned cloudy and windy. Everyone is hunkered
down in their boats waiting for the weather to improve. Its a
major adventure to dingy to town and no one is going on
took the dingy in to the beach on Stocking Island (we are anchored
behind it) and took a walk along the ridge overlooking the anchorage
and down to the beach on the windward side. Angry seas broke
violently on the sandy beach. Beautiful. No one
around. Nice to get some excercise.
then donned full foul weather gear and braved the trip to
town. Thriller! Glad to have the new prop. My butt
is sore from slapping on the dingy seat as we lift off and crash
the afternoon trying to send faxes and call the US. No e-mail
working in town. Phone lines down half the time. Very
expensive and frustrating.
cats have rebounded well from their trip to the vet.
Initially they were in pain from the shot and worm medicine, but now
they are growing faster than ever and Polly is getting strong fast
and is playing a lot more. She is still really bony, but
hopefully with the worms purged she will develop quickly now.
They are getting pretty comfortable now hanging around outside at
night and have the run of the boat.
20 - Georgetown
- Another hibernation day. 20-30 knots of wind and rainy
outside. Did not bother to go into town. What are we
reduced to? Reading and listening to the VHF radio and
following everyone around and listening to their conversations
(under the auspices of getting weather info). One guy came up
and called out on the VHF and asked if there was anyone in the
anchorage who knew anything about the Spanish Civil War. We
followed him up when somebody responded and participated in a
lengthy discussion with several boats about the war and its
implications for modern-day Spain. That was the big excitement
21 - Georgetown
- "Moonraker" called in on the VHF during the morning net that they
had a spinning prop problem on an 8 HP outboard and did anyone have
any spares / wisdom. I said we had just dealt with the problem
and had our old prop which might be good enough for them to use to
at least get by for awhile. We dingied over and had coffee and
discussed dingy props (how interesting) and got a fill of info on
what to expect from here to the Chesapeake. They are cruising
with two boys aged 11 and 12 and have a four year old daughter as
then converged on Joe Cool with the Easter Dinner gang from
Conception Island (Sambuca II and Sea Gypsy) for more coffee and
pancakes. Heart is racing by now with the caffeine.
Socializing on the boats is the main activity while we are all stuck
here by the winds unable to get out through the cuts to the open sea
and hampered from getting to town in the dingy by the chop in the
had to go in though to pick up Molly, our guest (a college friend of
Colleen's), so off we went in full rain gear and bathing suits with
several garbage bags in hand to wrap Molly's gear. Should have
packed swim goggles as well. I could barely keep my eyes open
as we were constantly doused with waves on the way to town.
than spend US$25 each way for a taxi to the airport, we decided to
thumb-it and were picked up as soon as out thumbs went out.
One ride, two, and a last by a taxi (for free - "Taxi 12"
- most popular on the island) right to the airport. People are
so nice here and willing to give rides, don't know how the taxis
make it. Molly's
flight arrived on time and we again sucesfully hitched the 14 miles
back to town.
another semi-submerged 2 mile dingy ride back to Redwings we
got Molly settled in to her quarters. I had hoped to get out
of here tomorrow as we need to have her in Nassau by May 1st (10
days from now) and as I want to spend as much time in the Exumas
(beautiful chain of islands all the way up to Nassau) as possible,
but its still blowing 20-30 and the seas are way up in the
cuts. Weather is the main focus of conversation for all in the
the evening, we headed over to Oz for drinks. They are leaving
tomorrow for Charlestown SC. Even though the weather is tough
now, it's supposed to improve by the time they hit the Gulf Stream
(1 1/2 days from now) and with an 87 foot boat, they will be a lot
more comfortable going out in this stuff than we would. Nice
to see them again and looking forward to connecting with them in
22 - Georgetown
- Went to "Beach Church". Hmmmm. Pretty
boring. Re-confirmed my aversion to getting organized
religion. Nice folks though and something different....
Four-year-old Meagan from Moonraker and
friend Mira from Cool Breezes came by to visit cats as well as
parents from Moonraker. Driping wet. All packed into
Redwings for coco while the cats tried to hide from the
kids.... That was the day's big excitement. Weather still windy and
seas big - scary to go out cut. Wait till Tuesday at least to
leave. 10 foot seas out front forecast over the next 24 hours on the
Tropical Prediction Center chart (NMG). That was enough to
convince me we should try to make the best of it here for now.
23 - Georgetown
- Into town to make calls, do-email, get newspapers, shop, dingy gas etc. There
is only one place in town offering a PC with internet access, and
they closed down the service for the week due to the coming Bahama
boat sailing regatta. Go figure. The connection is
horrible anyway and about $1.00 per minuite.
bought a pole spear (for fish) and am really excited to give it a
try. Only pole spears and "Hawiian Slings" are legal
for spear fishing in the Bahamas and only snorkeling gear can be
used (no diving). A pole spear is basically a long (7 foot or
so) pole with a point and barb on the end and a loop of surgical
tubing at the other end. The hunter puts the tubing between
his thumb and forefinger and streaches it tight taking a grip
further down the pole. He then has to get the point 1-2 feet
away from the target and let go. Sounds look good sport and
another way to get food. I know I am gonna love it.
Unfortuneately, spear fishing is off limits in Georgetown Harbor so
I'll have to wait till we get further down the Exumas.
the afternoon, I got the dive gear out and Colleen and Molly grabbed
masks and snorkels and we headed to Hurricane Hole Zero with the
crew of May-Britt, Rasmus and Kerstin, for a blue hole dive and cave dive.
We met Rasmus and Kerstin in Mayaguana briefly. They are a
young married couple from Denmark and Norway respectively, and are
delivering May-Britt from the Bahamas to New York for their
Danish-American friend Robert.
are several hurricane holes (fully protected anchorages - land all
around) behind the Volleyball Beach anchorage. The furthers
one back is Hole Zero and on the bottom, is another type of hole - a
hole in the bottom that leads to a tunnel that leads back out under
the island and out to sea somewhere. What a fantastic
dive! The hole (on the bottom - the blue water hole that is)
was clearly visible just 20 feet below the surface and was
surrounded by fish and coral life. As we neared the entrance,
a large barracuda followed us down and I looked up and saw him
cruising right towards Rasums' head from behind him. I
motioned for Rasmus to turn to greet his friend face to face.
As we descended into the hole against the gentle out flowing
current, we were engulfed in fish. We worked our way down to
the bottom of the hole (where it turned off into the darkness) 90
feet below the surface and just held on and looked up at the fish in
the sun-lit aquamarine blue tube above us - really cool.
be careful though. The current must be flowing out, otherwise
you can get sucked in. Apparently last year, a dad and his two
14 year old daughters came down here, were sucked in, and never
the "blue hole" we tried the small cave near by.
Lots of fish and Rasumus and I followed a rope down into the cave
for awhile, but then the current started tugging us is a little so
we quickly exited. Fun day. We plan to do another
"blue hole" dive tomorrow in Red Hook bay as it looks like
the weather will still be bad for traveling. Forecast is still
20-25 from the NE.
23 - Farmer's Cay
- Woke up and wind was only 15 knots. Sunny. Seemed
that we have Wednesday's forecast weather today! All cruisers
reporting on 4003 net at 0700 above us reporting similar light winds
so... should we go? No. Well yes, why not. Threw
all wet stuff down, quickly cleaned, told May-Britt change of plan,
and left. Others waiting behind for yet better weather.
May-Britt decided to follow us. Beautiful sail to Farmers Cay
in 10-15 knots on the beam. Made 6-7 knots under full
|| Caught 5 pound Big Eye tuna after one hour and 15 pound
Dorado after two! Dinner
(and lunch, and dinner...) Made it into cut no problem.
Anchored and then re-anchored in deeper water. Lots of
current. Worried about cats falling in. They are
starting to do spaz runs at night. Beatuful. BBQ fish on
24 - Farmer's Cay
- Dingied into "yacht club" for fuel and a bit of
water. Walked over whole island. Not much to see, but
very cute. Ate fish sandwichs, went snorlkeling in area with
May Britt. Caught conchs, speared fish, saw sharks (reef and
nurse), cool. Brought rest of fish, new fish, and conchs to
Ocean Cabin. Talked with Terry and pals. Guys cleaned
and skinned conch's for beer. Had great, but expensive, dinner
25 - Staniel Cay
- AH and May Britt did drift dive through cut in am and then
quickly got underway for Staniel Cay. On way out, touched
bottom. Nice sail under genoa alone. As approaching,
huge dark storm clouds on horizon came close quickly.
Lightening. Furled sails and motored in - ready for major
pouring , but never came. Great easy anchorage with limited
current. Spent afternoon on Redwings with May-Britt gabbing,
eating, and drinking.
26 - Staniel Cay
- Headed off with the crew of May-Britt to go snorkeling in
Thunderball cave at 1000. Apparently, scenes from the James
Bond movie Thunderball and also from the movie Splash (Daryl Hannah
as the mermaid movie) were filmed here. WOW. Amazing
spot. Probably the best snorkel I have ever done.
Thunderball is an small limestone island that is hollow with several
"caves" entering into it several feet below the water.
Light comes in through the "roof" and other caves.
Its teeming with fish and coral. We took lots of pictures with
our disposeable underwater camera. Hope they come out.
Anyone heading to the Exumas this is a don't miss!
then headed off to explore two submerged plane wrecks (again, easy
snorkeling in 5-10 feet of water), and watched a large nurse shark
a quick walking tour of the island and its "supermarkets"
(one room huts with rows of canned goods - tin of beans is US$2!) we
headed back to the boat for lunch.
spent the afternoon (4 to 7 pm) spear fishing. I was bound and
determined to get three fish for dinner, but could only manage two
small (10 inch trout-sized) squirrel fish (little red guys with big
eyes). I really enjoyed the hunt though. No way would I
otherwise spend three hours paddling around. It's good
excercise and encourages longer and closer observation of reef life.
With a pole spear and snorkeling gear only, the fish have a better
chance than the hunter. I must have taken 100 shots. The
bigger fish are smart and stay just out of range and quickly hide
inside coral holes whenever I look at them. Saw a large nurse
shark cruising back and forth by "my" hunting grounds (in
fact, "its" hunting grounds - but they mostly eat conch and
crabs though so I was not too concerned).
the fish in white wine and spices. Pretty good chow.
Neither I nor the cats (girls did not try them) died, so I guess we
can add squirrel fish to the menu of edibles.
29 - Norman's Cay
- We said our goodbyes to May-Britt and left Staniel Cay at 0930
with 15-20 knots of wind from NE and a 2X reef in the main and 75%
of the genoa rolled out. Had a great sail in low seas (swell
blocked by the island chain of the Exumas to the East of us) with
the wind just forward of beam. We smoked along under sunny
skies at 7-8 knots soaring over coral and sand clearly visible
through the transparent water just 5-10 feet under the keel (10-15
feet deep). Takes some getting used to! At one point, we
got a bit too close to shore and quickly found ourselves in 8 feet
of water doing 8 knots towards some nasty looking coral heads.
I quickly yelled to Colleen and Molly to get the *#&$! genoa in
to slow us down and headed out to sea. I was sure we were
gonna hit, but we did not and got back into the "deep" (20
foot) water without incident.
dropped the hook in 10 feet of water off the SW corner of Norman's
Cay (and old drug running island base) at 1430 and quickly settled
in. Colleen and Molly went ashore to explore for the
afternoon, I vegged out, cleaned up, and plotted our course for
brutally competitive game of hearts followed dinner and scared Molly
off from playing cards with us again.
to Previous Log
to Next Log
©2001 All Rights Reserved by Aaron Henderson and Colleen Duggan