Happy Birthday James From George Town
19 March 2009 | Little Farmer Cay to Great Exuma Island
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Well, we made it to George Town after a later start than we intended. We started to leave at 9am and didn't leave the harbor until after 11:00am. We kept playing bump-um with a sandbar until we got around it and then slowly felt our way out of the harbor. One of the local fishermen and his lady were having a great fishing morning. I yelled over to them "hello" and he waved and told us to "come back soon". I said "we may never leave at this rate", and he said "that's okay too" and he gave us some sage advice - "stay in the darker water - Avoid the light patches". Lessons are repeated until learned... We heeded his advice and managed to get to the cut (which was really kicking up) and throttled up for control and managed to spit out of the cut and into Exuma Sound. We were finally on our way!
Wayne put out our Cuban Yo-Yo, this time with a pink hula lure, but no luck. Not even a nibble. What do we have to do to catch a mahi? The winds were supposed to be out of the NE but they were out of the SE - on our nose the entire way. Needless to say, we had to motor, but that should have been expected since everyone seems to be out of diesel and gasoline until the 26th. We'd heard everyone calling around to the different Cays and marinas in search of fuel but none of the islands around here have any. Even the Marinas and the park were discussing it trying to figure out what to do. Rumor has it the Fuel boat will depart from Nassau for the outer islands on March 27th so who knows when it will get here in the outer islands.
As we approached Great Exuma we got a few sprinkles and watched the clouds continue to build in front and all around us. It was beautiful to watch the showers in the distance and the chatter on the radio indicated that a lot of people were using the opportunity to catch the rainwater to fill their water tanks. Unfortunately our decks are so salty we'd need a full downpour first to scrub the salt off before loading our water tanks. A beautiful rainbow streaked across the sky, and the closer we got to Elizabeth Harbor, the brighter it got. I wondered if George Town is supposed to be the "Pot of Gold" at the end of the rainbow. It is theoretically the "Mecca" of Cruisers that come down to the Bahamas and spend the season. I hear that they are a tightly knit group that has all kinds of activities going on "in season" for the cruisers (Volleyball, basket weaving classes and conch horn lessons as well as card tournaments and boat races).
According to the chartbook, you should only try entering Elizabeth harbor during good light and weather conditions. Some of the things that the chartbook said and the Exuma Guide had me quite worried - from breakers washing across the entrance to rocks and shoals in and near the channel. Needless to say, we were coming in under cloudy conditions (semi-hazy due to rain), low light (around 5:30-6pm) and I could see large breakers surging and breaking over the reefs and rocks. I truly started shaking as we took her off the autohelm and I took my place at the helm. The Exuma Guide had talked about all the fools that decided to set in Waypoints to guide them in to the harbor and ended up crashing and destroying their boats on the rocks, and said DO NOT follow waypoints. I only had waypoints to guide me in since I couldn't read the water in the lighting conditions that we had coming into the harbor. We couldn't do a straight run into the Harbor because of our draft and I had followed various waypoints to the deeper water to guide us in. I noticed that it had taken the shape of a lightening bolt and hoped that that wasn't a bad omen.
Our path stayed deep enough. We had to give it a bit of gas in a few spots to counteract the breakers trying to push us sideways, and we got into the calmer waters of Elizabeth harbor. We're now anchored under the monument. There are still a lot of boats here, which amazes me with the flood of boats we saw the last few days heading north. We passed a small freighter port to port that had been trying to hail us to determine our intentions in the channel (I didn't know it was us he was hailing) then tucked in out of the channel in an open spot next to a boat throwing some kind of party. It had all it's flags out and they were having a pretty good time. A boat two down from us and on the other side was having quite an argument "I do everything around here and f*$% you..." Whoa!!! She sounded pissed at him. Wayne got the party chatter side and I got the swearing, ticked off first mate side of the boat. Needless to say, he didn't want to switch sides with me, so I went below and made some clam (shoulda been conch) chowder for dinner. We had a late dinner in the cockpit after a spectacular sunset with the requisite conch horns putting it to bed behind the hills.
After playing bump, bump, bump all morning with the sandbars, then the adrenaline rush of trying to get us into Elizabeth Harbor during huge swells and poor visual conditions - I suddenly feel quite tired after filling my stomach. Time to call it a day. The pot at the end of the rainbow? We are snug as a bug at anchor in George Town. Safe and secure for the night and you can't ask for more than that...