We left via Aderly Cut, and had an easy sail, sometimes too slow, but we continued. We motored thru the opening in the reefs north of the harbor and finally anchored by mid afternoon at Sand Dollar Beach anchorage off Stocking Island. We were greeted briefly by Greg and Luba from “Rapsody” who dinked over on their way to pick up family that were flying in for the week and heading out at first light for a run to Long Island. This was our first and last visit since we left them at Brunswick, Ga Marina Jan 6th. I should mention that all the effort that went into getting the auto pilot parts delivered to us were in vain… they were the wrong parts! But it was a great chance to catch up and thank them for their efforts!
A little background….. Georgetown ‘s claim to fame is having the highest annual cruising visitors in the Bahamas, sometimes more than 400 cruisers at a time exceeding the size of a typical Bahamian settlement! The harbor referred to as Georgetown is 9 miles long by 2 miles wide; great Exumas Island to the West and Stocking Island to the East. The formation of the islands offers great protection from most winds. Downtown Georgetown, the hub of commercial activity, offers the best stocked grocery store since leaving Nassau, quintessential bahamian restaurants, bakeries, laundry mats, electronics stores, gift shops and a straw market where little old ladies sit and weave palm fonds and reeds into beautiful baskets, handbags, beach bags and hats. There is also free water from a spigot at the dinghy dock so you can replenish your water supply 5 gallons at a time, and recycle and trash bins.
Stocking Island is a long narrow barrier island with several anchorages and home to lots of boaters activities; volley ball, cards, boards games, hiking one of the many eastern beaten paths to the breathtaking Atlantic shore for sunrises, shelling and good long walks, hiking up Monument hill for a great view, picnic tables for social gatherings and educational lectures….and of course Chat & Chill for all day frosty drinks & beer, BBQ, and conch salad!
In talking with many cruises on our way south we were getting mixed reviews on the Georgetown scene. Some cruises like “Rapsody” deadhead to Georgetown and stay for as long as they can and participate in the spring Regattas and many events/ activities throughout their stay. Others stop only to reprovision and continue on to avoid all the commotion in favor of the more subdued, remote stops. Our arrival was late in the season, regattas were over and many cruisers were already heading north to return home. We were in the company of only about 125 other vessels…. It was quiet! Every morning, 7 days a week, at 08:10 on the dot, cruisers tune in to channel 68 for the Cruisers Net. The announcer moderates a program that runs about 20-30 min filled with info on the weather and sea state, then invites others to participate by making announcements about cruiser planned activites/excursions, invites business owners to announce their specials for the day, and opens the forum to cruisers that might need some type of assistance or have something to sell. They also invite you to announce your arrival and when ready, your planned departure , thank you’s for help provided and even birthdays and anniversaries! In response to the latter, cruisers click their mikes on and off….the effect an applause of clapping hands!
Once settled we connected with several other familiar cruisers ( Cheers, Mesaluna, Hug, New Moon) via VHF and planned a sunset rendevous at Chat & Chill. Delicious rum punch and cold beers, we shared a plate of finger lick’n good BBQ Ribs for dinner and chatted on the white sandy beach beach till sunset. We were surprised to learn that George Town was essentially shutting down for the Easter holiday; businesses would be closed Friday, Sunday and Monday! That meant we’d be staying a few days longer than anticipated to do our much needed provisioning ,laundry and refill water and fuel tanks!
Friday was a good day to explore. After listening to the Cruisers Net we dinked to shore with Que Sera Sera and followed several trails. We walked a beautiful beach for a couple of hours and ended up at a gorgeous Villa overlooking two very protected anchorages. We took a short cut back to Volley Ball Beach ( thanks to some very nice Canadians who gave us a dink ride across the deep inlet to the anchorage saving us a long wet walk/swim!), to Chat & Chill. Adrien and Brian played Volleyball while the girls visited and chatted with other cruisers. We then walked back along the beach to our dinks, then back to our boats for dinner.
Saturday was the day to explore Georgetown and provision. Our anchorage was about 2 miles east from downtown Georgetown, across the channel. With the wind and currents we were sure to get soaked! Lauren and Brian climbed aboard, we weighed anchor and motored closer to Georgetown to make reprovisioning easier. We dinked into Lake Victoria for Diesel fuel, gasoline, food, Rum, and water for our tanks. We had a late lunch at Edgewater, delicious burgers and fried chicken. Adrien met a couple that worked at NASA, and they shared some old interesting stories. We motored back to Sand Dollar Beach at the end of the day and re-anchored.
Sunday and Monday breezed by with more exploring, this time via a steep trail to Monument Hill. Then more volley ball, cocktails at Chat & Chill, checkers, reading and a few chores on Dolphin. One of the cruisers net activity announcements was about a historian speaking about the Bahamas…..regrettably he did not show….something about not realizing he had church to attend at the time he committed to speak! It’s Bahamas time, mon!
A view from Monument Hill
Tuesday all businesses reopened…. it was a day of work for us too! We weighed anchor and returned again to a spot closer to Georgetown. While Adrien focused on reprovision rum after surveying all local liquor stores for the best prices, and made six trips back and forth to the water spigot to add 60 gallons of water to Dolphin, Nina did 4 loads of laundry, visited the bank for much needed cash (most places don’t accept credit cards!), visited two supermarkets to buy fresh produce and took a cab ride to Prime Meats, much noted for their good quality and price. Come to find out the owner was a meat cutter from Phili. He moved here to raise his kids. He buys all his meat from the states and doesn’t pay the duty tax others pay…not sure how, but he passes his savings on to his customers so we were paying the same price we would be paying at home! When we arrived the shop was quite busy and the cab driver that brought us from downtown (about 8 miles away) was on a tught schedule. She came into the shop to see what was taking do long. I felt bad because I knew she had another fare to pick up in just a few minutes. I offers her a slice of each of the cold cuts I’d picked up to help distract her while the rest of my purchase was being prepared. Surprisingly she had never tried sliced ham or turkey! She loved it! Go figure. My, what we take for granted! It’s interesting, here they offer “Value Pac’s” that consist of 5 lbs each of chicken, beef, pork and ribs, a 5lb bag of potatoes, 1 lb bag of rice, cans of black beans and cabbage….. All for $50. A good family deal!
We were hot and exhausted after all the running around, but decided we’d earned a nice dinner out. Near by, a dink ride away, was the Fish Fry…. A cluster of small shacks, siting on the waters edge, all brightly painted in different colors with a central picnic area. Each shack boasts fried fish, assorted dishes and sides, drinks etc. We chose one that looked “clean” and relaxed for an absolutely delicious dinner. Adrien and I shared the Grouper with curry sauce that just melted in our mouth!!! We payed for it the next day, but it was worth every bite! Tuesday night was a quiet night but we learned that the weekend is filled with live music and locals abound. Wish we could have been there to experience that!
All in all Georgetown was a good spot to stop, but I think we need to come back during Regatta season to really feel the Georgetown experience!!