Monday February 26, 2018
We headed to Rudder Cay this morning. There were two very shallow places on this route which we took at low tide. Our strategy was that that we could easily wait for high tide if we ran aground, but that didn’t happen. We are headed for Georgetown next, but it is a bit far for one day, so this trip brings us a few hours nearer to our destination. Also the trade wind has been quite strong, causing it to be quite rough on the East side of the Exumas; it should be more pleasant tomorrow. Rudder Cay has a unique feature: Magician David Copperfield has placed an underwater life size sculpture of a mermaid and grand piano near this island. The Lat and long are readily available, and we went over to see it. There were several other boats anchored at Rudder Cay for the night. A 30” Barracuda took up residence under our boat while we were at anchor; he was gone in the morning
Tuesday February 27, 2018
The next morning we left at dawn for a pleasant sail to Georgetown. We sailed through Rudder Cut with three other boats, that were a bit faster than us, and gradually left us behind during the morning. As the day progressed, the wind gradually died, and we started up the motor so we would get into Georgetown well before sunset. We caught a 24” barracuda which we filleted and put in the icebox. We got into Elizabeth Harbour around 2:00 and found an anchorage near town sometime after 3:00. After we were settled, we went into town to look around. We ate at Eddie’s Edgewater, a local restaurant, bought some groceries and ice and went back to the boat. The grocery store had a note in the rather bare produce isle saying the mail boat is coming tomorrow.
Georgetown is quite a phenomenon. There are hundreds of boats here all winter long. It is the terminus of the route taken by many boats that spend the winter in the Bahamas with no intention of going further south; it is possible to get here, through Nassau, without sailing overnight . There are big boats and modest boats, and boats that stay here all year long like vacation homes. Georgetown is also the jumping off place for boaters going further south. We happened to show up at the beginning of Regatta week, so there are all kinds of events: dinghy races, local Bahamian sailboat races, Bahamas vs. cruiser softball games, Volleyball, talent show, church on the beach, The Bahamian Music and Heritage Festival, etc. There is also an active cruiser’s net on VHF radio where events are coordinated, and equipment bought and sold. We tried to find some charts here but didn’t have much luck. After we got here, the wind picked up from the North, caused by the storm in the N Atlantic which brought hurricane force winds to the midatlantic states. This storm also sent huge wave surges down here (up to 16 feet), so we will have to stay here for a while.
The town of Georgetown surrounds a saltwater lake called Lake Victoria. This lake has a huge dinghy dock that can accommodate more than fifty dinghys. The only way into Lake Victoria is through a small waterway, too narrow to row through. This waterway has been cut out of solid limestone and has a bridge across it for Georgetown’s circular one-way road. The lake is 2/10 of a mile in diameter, and has a tide of around 3 feet. This volume of water goes in and out of this small cut twice a day with the tides, and sometimes is so fast that we can barely make headway against it when going into or out of town, even with our outboard motor.
Between the Elizabeth harbor and Exuma Sound, is Stocking Island. Visiting volunteers have made and marked a system of hiking trails, connecting the various features of the island. We hiked over to the Sound (ocean) side on a day when the swell was running perhaps 10 feet, and there were great pipe shaped waves like Waikiki Beach. We hiked up to the monument at the highest point on the island, and could look down on our boat, anchored among about 200 others in the lee of this island.