George Town and beyond
13 March 2015 | George Town
After a fantastic ten day visit with our daughter, Courtney, we thought that we would make a jump across to Cat Island, then down to Conception, Rum and Long Island before coming into George Town to meet up with Roger's sister Betsy and her family. Well the weather had other ideas. The wind was coming out of the east and showed no signs of letting up so we took a few days and headed down to George Town.
We made most of the trip with the protection of the Exumas on the Banks. The final trip into George Town, however needs to be done out in the Sound. With winds of 20 knots gusting to 30 pretty much right on the nose it was a long -wet - day. We took lots of water over the bow but made it into the harbor safely.
We weren't too sure how we were going to feel getting back to George Town. Fifteen years ago, we spent a month in George Town so there are lots of wonderful memories. On the other hand we know that George Town can be a bit of a black hole for cruisers - it lets you in but doesn't let you out. We really didn't want to get stuck. As you enter the harbor, there are at least five anchorages to drop your anchor, with over 370 boats. It sounds a bit daunting but you actually can find a place to anchor and more importantly, find a beach or a hiking trail all to yourself if you want. We quickly fall into the routines that make the harbor so attractive. The cruisers net in the morning gets you oriented - providing news on the activities and answering your every need. The Chat 'n Chill tiki bar is a gathering spot for all the cruisers, and it's good fun to see some boats that we might not have seen since November in the ICW.
We just missed the Cruising Regatta - a weeklong series of events, activities, races, etc but there is a cruising rally to Long Island that we are able to join. The Rally worked well for us because it gets us to one of the outer islands that we were hoping to visit and it also allows us to get back to George Town to stage for Betsy's arrival.
While not quite as brisk, the trip to Long Island was a bit more of the same slog that we had down to George Town a few days before. Again, we made it in good shape - just a bit wet. With over 40 boats, the Rally was very well organized and there were lots of fun dinners and activities. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to do the race in the harbor. It was pretty much a tailored Island Packet race - beam reach out - beam reach back. There was an open starting line for 15 minutes so no big maneuvers at the line. Oh well - We had a fix it project - changing the propane solenoid. Roger has done it a couple of times but it's never fun. We decided that it takes priority over the race. Sanderling's race debut will need to wait.
Nonetheless, we did take a bus trip to the southern part of Long Island; highlights were Clarencetown, the capital of Long Island, and Dean's Blue Hole. Although Long Island has many blue holes, this one was spectacular as it goes down 600 feet. You can snorkel the hole, filled with beautiful fish- even squid!- and can jump from the cliffs if you are so inclined. But this is the spot where free dive championships are held twice a year. No, we were not adventurous with free diving, nor cliff jumping, but we certainly took in the beauty of this place. A "must see" if you ever come to Long Island.
Another special treat for us..... We were taking Casey for a walk and before we knew it, we were being driven around to some of the most spectacular beaches on the eastern side of Long Island, down all these amazing dirt roads that aren't on any maps. Our tour director was Mr. Willis Harding, a spry 78 year old, who is somewhat considered the "mayor" of Long Island. This is just one example of how well the island natives treat the cruisers.
The only good thing about banging against the wind is being able to have a nice downwind sail back to George Town. We decided to make it a two day trip of it and stop at Hog Cay, a private cay on the northern part of Long Island, with a gorgeous crescent shape beach filled with beautiful shells and snorkeling reefs. This was a beam reach in 20+ knots with gusts to 31. Sanderling loved it and we made fantastic time - averaged 7 knots and saw 9.56 - briefly. We head back to George Town today which will be another beam reach - nice... And get ready for the Edies' arrival on Sunday.