Previous Port: Miami to Long Island, Bahamas
Anchorage: N23021.200 W075008.100
During most of time in George Town, there was an active front or trough or some other weather condition that made it difficult to totally enjoy the area, but also made it difficult to leave. I'm convinced that the Exuma Sound is almost as bad as the Gulf of Mexico for choppy waters. We bounced and rocked in the Volleyball Beach anchorage but that was still better than being underway in the sound.
The morning of the 24th was one of those great weather-window days. We headed south out of George Town with Island Dreamin' and some 20 other boats. Most all the other boats were heading to Conception but our destination was Long Island. When we arrived at the Thompson Bay anchorage, there were only three other boats there and three of us coming in. By the following afternoon there were thirty-plus boats in the anchorage. You would think that all of George Town had headed south but the vacant spots there were soon filled by boats that had been waiting north of G-Town for a good passage into Elizabeth Harbor, the actual name of the G-Town anchorage.
On our first full day in Long Island, we shared a rental SUV with Island Dreamin' and Patrick & Shirley on Intrepid. The island is far too long to cover it all in one day but we did get to collect shells on a couple of beaches, buy reasonably-priced fresh produce from the Packing House, and have a nice lunch along the way. Unfortunately, the growth along the roads prevented us from having a good view along the drive but it was nice to ride along for awhile anyway.
We all agreed that Long Island is by far the nicest of any Bahamian island we've visited. All the houses we saw were clean and nicely maintained. The streets and roads were clean and had none of the big potholes that's typical of other settlements. Also, it didn't have the groups of locals just hanging in the streets like in George Town and Black Point.
After the day of exploring, we made our way to the
Thompson Bay Inn for dinner. The owner/cook, Trifina, served the best food we've
had in the Bahamas. It was served "family style" in a nice setting and
included fish, ribs, fried conch and chicken, along with all the fixings. The
cost was $12.00/person plus gratuity and that was a bargain. Trifina was
certainly one of the friendliest people we've met here.
January, the 26th, brought one of those miserable fronts with winds that churn up the water so that getting in the dinghy guarantees a saltwater bath. Those miserable conditions lasted several days. On Sunday evening , the 28th, we did brave the conditions to have a farewell (temporary, we thought) dinner on Island Dreamin'. They headed for points south the following morning.
At that point, we still had no passports. My daughter was doing a status check with the passport office almost daily. On the 23rd, passport office personnel finally admitted that the passport applications were lost. They seemed to be completely shocked that such a thing could happen and regretted that our only choice was to appear in person and apply for new passports, just as if we'd never had one. That put a kink in the plans but we found that we could also get into the Dominican Republic with only a birth certificate. That sounded highly unlikely but we were willing to try and then apply for passports in Puerto Rico.
Then came the problem with insurance. When we called to have the agent change our policy to include the Caribbean, we were told that it would require going with a new insurance company; that meant an out-of-the-water survey. We should have taken care of that while still in the States but with the passport thing and trying to hurry to meet up with Island Dreamin', it just didn't seem like a priority.
The plan was to talk with some of the local insurance agents first. We had no luck in Long Island the next day with that, so we headed back to George Town, hoping to either find insurance coverage or someone to do a survey that would be accepted by U.S. insurance companies. We figured our only hope was that a U.S. surveyor was on a boat in George Town.
George Town, Exuma
January 30-February 3, 2006
Anchorage: N23030.556 W075045.650
We anchored near Kidd's Cove to be closer to town for the business we needed to take care of. Nothing worked out with the insurance or the survey. The only other option was to head back to Florida and take care of the insurance and the passports. That just seemed like too much trouble so we decided to enjoy the Bahamas awhile and then head back to Florida.
When we returned to the anchorage from town, we found Carolina anchored on one side of us and Kokamo on the other. What a nice surprise. We met Mike & Suzanne on Carolina and Bonnie & Roger on Kokamo while in Baltimore in 2002. It was great to see them again and to know that they are finally getting to fulfill their dream of cruising.
Surprise, Surprise!! We received a call on the 31st to let us know that our passports arrived in the mail that day. Doesn't that give you lots of confidence in our national security program? Even though it was not great news because we still had the insurance issue, it was good to know that we wouldn't have to fight with a government agency to get the refund for them.
Anchorage: N23021.653 W075008.163
This move was to avoid another bad front that would have left us totally exposed in George Town. During our time in Long Island we had a short visit with Carol & Kim on Crux. They were our neighbors during our month stay in New Bern, NC.
Anchorage: N23039.343 W075020.353
This anchorage was one of the rolliest we'd had in a long time. A generous sports fisherman in the anchorage stopped by the boat with gift of a large king mackerel. He must have sensed that our freezer was getting bare. Otherwise, Calabash Bay was just a stop for the night.
Anchorage: N23050.014 W075005.595
Conception is regarded by many as the prettiest island in the Bahamas. The plan was to spend a day or two seeing for ourselves. From the water it was not all that impressive but we will never know for sure. Strong winds and heavy cloud cover moved in before sunrise. We were anchored in a really bad spot between two reefs. There wasn't any really good places to move to in those conditions, so we weighed anchor and set sail for Cat Island. Of course the wind was right on our nose and we could only make around 3 knots without taxing the engine. So, we headed back to George Town once again.
George Town, Exuma
February 9-10, 2006
Anchorage: N23030.522 W075045.462
This almost started to feel like home. I'm personally very glad that it's not though. I'm also certain that the natives in George Town are even happier that it's not. Never have I seen as much dislike for cruisers as in this one town - they hate cruisers and the boats they sailed in on. Unlike Florida, that can survive well without cruisers, George Town exists mainly because of the cruisers. Yet, they never speak to you unless they want something. Even in the stores and restaurants, it's as if they are doing you a favor by taking your money. I've seen the cashiers in the Exuma Market try to hide behind the registers to keep from checking you out - never would they say "this lane is open". Heaven forbid that they should say "thank you" afterward.
Cruisers contribute many things to the community - the library and clean beaches are only some of them. Cruisers seem to go out of their way not to offend, always mindful that they are visitors in this country, never complaining even when a local cuts in front of them at the stores and gets immediate service.
Each time we leave George Town, I hope it's the last. Finally, on the morning of the 11th, we headed to Cat Island to avoid riding out yet another front in George Town and also to see the highest point in the Bahamas.
Next Port: Cat Island to the Gulf