4-29 Lots going on

Where to begin? The wind was really honking last week, and our friend Judi's flight was cancelled due to inclement weather. She re-scheduled and arrived this past Wednesday, in time to see part of the 64th National Family Island Regatta which takes place here in Georgetown every year. Racing Bahamian sloop sail boats from many of the Bahamas islands participate and the competition is intense. There are three classes of boats depending on size, and none of the boats have an engine or enclosed ballast. Crew act as ballast and go out on a "pru," which is a long plank shifted from side to side across the boat when tacking. The pru helps keep the boat sailing flat, and timing and coordination, as well as the talent of the skipper to play the wind gusts, is paramount. There were hundreds of spectators ashore and it was a carnival-like atmosphere. Food and drink booths were in abundance and there were kids aplenty playing in three different inflatable bouncy pens. BBQ chicken, ribs, pork and steak were commonly served, as well as conch fritters and conch salad. There were dance and band competitions, a fashion show, a skulling competition and a cultural show. The highlight of the last day was the performance of the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band. Future visitors to Georgetown and the Family Island Regatta: this performance is not to be missed! We had just finished a BBQ chicken platter (prepared by Grill Masters out of Nassau) and found ourselves directly in front of the reviewing stand where the Officials sat. What a great place to film from! The band marched directly in front of us for about a half hour, and we took a gazillion amount of photos and movie clips. We've been anchored at Sanddollar Beach at Stocking Island, and the dinghy ride back from town has been a wet one. At least the water's warm. During her visit, Judi conducted a few yoga classes at volleyball beach the last few mornings which were well attended. Between the hiking, swimming, trips to town, the Regatta, yoga, strumming her guitar, blowing the conch horn, and just chilling, she had a wonderful visit, and took the water taxi to town to get the taxi to the airport. We'll be here another few days before the weather calms down enough for us to leave Georgetown; our plan is to go to Cat Island. We plan...God sometimes laughs.

4-23 Update

It's been a mixed few weeks; some boring days, some busy days. Georgetown is a very sticky spot with lots of cruisers staying around for long periods of time. There's a daily VHF net at 0800 channel 72, and the hailing channel on VHF 68 is usually busy. The water taxis and dinghies run around with cruisers filling their water jugs with free RO water at the dinghy dock, as well as shopping or eating out. Here's a partial list of activities: water aerobics, Texas Hold-'Em, volleyball, bocce ball, trivia, Mexican train dominoes, informational talks from cruisers and other experts, music on the beach, bonfires and happy hours on the beach, and daily lunch and dinner specials at a variety of restaurants. Some folks get here and stay for the entire season, then store their boat at one of the local "hurricane holes" (good luck with that) for the season. So, all this as a prelude to say that in addition to attending a few of the former, we've also been busy hiking, reading, and just being lazy. We've done a variety of minor (thankfully) boat projects, and have re-anchored in a few spots just to have a different view. Today, we pick up our friend Judi who is visiting from Florida, and since she's a yoga instructor, she'll be giving lessons on the beach for the few days she's here. Fun and games in Georgetown; all's well aboard.

4-8 Update

These last days have been a hoot. Yesterday morning we dinghied the 1.2 nm across Elizabeth Harbour to go to town. Just in front of the entrance to Lake Victoria we saw the catamaran Tackless Too, with our friends Don & Gwen aboard, who we hadn't seen since dinner at our place in Florida back in October (?) 2016. After coffee and catching up, we found the dinghy dock and walked around town. Georgetown isn't too big and most shops are within a relatively small area. After a bit of provisioning we went back to the boat and in the afternoon dinghied to the beach where Sue cut my hair. For happy hour, we dinghied (notice a trend here...our dinghy is the family car...) to the Chat 'n Chill at Volleyball Beach here at Stocking Island, which closes daily at 1900. I was underwhelmed by my cheesburger, although Sue did enjoy her conch salad. On the way back after dinner, we spotted an SSCA Commodore burgee and stopped by Allegria, where Dee & Mollie invited us aboard where we spent a congenial few hours chatting; it was like meeting old friends again. When we finally returned to Infini, we had been aboard about 5 minutes when Kalle & Doris (sv Blue Sun) came roaring up to invite us to their farewell happy hour aboard sv Worlddancer II, graciously hosted by Heike & Herwig. We hadn't seen the folks from Blue Sun since Cockburn Town, and Worlddancer II since Boqueron. It was a late night... This morning at 0700, I blew the conch horn (yes, I am improving...) as Blue Sun motored nearby saying goodbye. After the 0800 VHF net (channel 72), we dinghied back to town to do a laundry, stopping briefly along the way at sv Champagne Moment to see Jody & Daniel. Unfortunately, we found the laundromat closed until Monday; this surprised a lot of cruisers...We spent the morning going to many of the shops we hadn't been in, and did further provisioning at the Shop Rite. We've found that shopping both at the Exuma Market as well as Shop Rite afforded a good selection of meats and chicken, as well as fresh veggies. We ate lunch at the Jerk hut, joined by Jody & Daniel; really good BBQ chicken, ribs or pork in large portions for $10-12; both of us shared one lunch. For those following, a few details: gas at the Shell station is $4.80/gallon. Provisioning as noted above. There is also a farmer that sells his veggies several days a week across from the Exuma Market. For wine and spirits, the Liquor Store offers a 20% discount when 12 bottles (of any combination) are purchased, as well as forgoing the 5% credit card fee usually charged at most stores. In the Bahamas, this is a very good deal indeed. Btw, to clarify...no, we did not buy 12 bottles; this is for public information only....
Pic: Notice the conch barge getting ready to go to the conch graveyard. Delicious conch salad while you pet the stingrays.

4-6 Sand Dollar Beach, Stocking Island, Exumas

Pos: N23deg30.68min /W075deg44.67min. We had a beautiful run from Conception Island here. Winds S-SSE 14-16; full main and Yankee, speed 6+ knots. We entered the Exumas at North Channel Rocks and motorsailed to here, anchoring in 17' sand. There are lots of boats here; all of us waiting for a cold front to arrive tomorrow bringing strong winds and squalls. We're about 1.25 nm from Georgetown by dinghy; we'll see what the weather does before going exploring.

4-5 River run, Conception Island

What a great time! Doug and Caroline (sv Viento) asked if we were interested in taking a dinghy trip up the river located on the SE side of the island. We packed our snorkel gear and the two dinghies planed the few miles to the river mouth. It's better to enter at high tide as the entrance is quite shallow. We didn't time it exactly, but had enough water to enter on a high-speed plane, followed by a sharp turn to port about 100 yards in. Keep your kick-up gear to rise if you hit; we only bumped a few times, and that after we were in. The river is a miles long mangrove estuary, with abundant underwater critters around. At high tide, the water is crystal clear, and we saw numerous turtles, fish, stingrays, and one nurse shark. We snorkeled the small blue hole and explored the mangrove branches where all the fish hide out. We also dinghied to a beach further in and walked over to the water, finding some beautiful small shells and enjoying the many hues of color. When it was finally time to go, we steeled ourselves and revved up. Unfortunately, the outboard died a few hundred yards before the exit. Actually, that was a good thing, as it would have been perilous to stall out right in the cut. Cause of stall - probably water or dirty fuel. Well, we got out OK and got back to Infini with smiles on our faces. We highly recommend this dinghy river tour, but leave a few hours to explore, snorkel and enjoy the solitude.

4-4 Conception Island

Pos: N23deg51.00min
/ W075deg07.26min. We had a nice run here and anchored in West Bay in 14.5' sand. There are 12 boats here; it's no longer "off the beaten path and out of the way." The island is a part of the Bahamas National Trust, and as such, is a protected area, with no harvesting of marine critters.
Pic: Michael fought for quite awhile to bring in our first strike on our lure...only to find a 3.5' barracuda. Thank goodness it was a painless release.

4-3 Touring San Salvador

We rented a car along with Doug and Caroline of sv Viento. Dorette (242-331-2484) of Dorette's Grocery in CT, arranged our pickup at Riding Rock Marina at 0900 and we were off. There's only one road around the island, with offshoots to several small settlements and sites, so getting lost wasn't an issue. This is a large island which is also known (per the Explorer Chartbooks) as the "Land of Lakes" and it takes a while to get around. We stopped at the Gerace Research Center in Graham's Harbour, where Dr Troy kindly let us in the library and explained some of the research going on at the center. They only had one group on campus, but have up to 200 university researchers in residence when things get busy in May. Continuing along, we visited the Dixon Hill Lighthouse. Constructed in 1887 in England, it was shipped over and welded together here on island. It is one of only two lighthouses in the Bahamas (the other being in Hopetown) to run on kerosene, and seeing the original pressure vessels and machinery is always a joy. Also of note is that the personnel manning the lighthouse take 4 hour nightly watches, just like the old days. Somehow, we drove right past the ruins of Watling's Castle so our next stop was the Columbus Monument in Long Bay (also charted as Fernandez Bay), which is right next to the Mexican Olympic Flame Monument. This, folks, is where it all took place way back on October 12, 1492 so, presumably, we were stepping about where the Man himself stood to give thanks to the Lord for his safe arrival. Lots of history here. A few days ago, we had previously met Deacon Gregory Taylor, who explained that the museum in CT had been destroyed in the last couple of hurricanes, so, unfortunately, there isn't much other historical artifact available to review at this time. By 1:00, we were all ready for lunch and stopped at the Paradis restaurant for a delicious home-cooked meal. We got dropped off back at the marina about 2:30, and all four of us felt our mini-tour was a great way to see the island.