One Particular Harbour
04 February 2009
We get up early as planned and it looks like the conditions are good to get to Georgetown. We have to wait a while for the tide to ease off a bit so the run through the cut is not too rolly. Here's the deal, we've been travelling down the Exumas on the western or bank side. It is very shallow, normally less than 20 feet. We need to cut out to the Exuma Sound or ocean side in order to get to Georgetown. As stated in a previous blog, the variables are many and the consequences of getting it wrong can range from discomfort to danger.
This morning, conditions are good and the eight or so boats in our anchorage all leave around the same time. We can tell from the radio chatter that many other boats are transiting other cuts all on their way to Georgetown. Good thing too because, tomorrow we get a cold front which means that it would be difficult to leave for several days at least.
It is a glorious day and we motor sail the 35 or so miles to Georgetown. Now a bit of a description of this place. Georgetown is variously described as "Chicken Harbour" or "summer camp for cruisers". The first moniker, Chicken Harbour, is applied because many cruisers, with intentions of heading down through the Caribbean, make it this far and "chicken out". The passages from here down can be difficult and long and Georgetown has so much to offer that it becomes the most southerly destination where cruisers stay for extended periods of time.
The second attribution, "summer camp for cruisers" aptly describes what this place is all about. In a good year there can be four hundred or more cruisers, the vast majority sailboats, which converge on this large and complex harbour. The cruisers organize many events and the community is very close. For example, each morning at 8:00 o'clock, there is a cruisers "net" on the marine radio, where announcements are made, problems exposed and solutions sought, events announced, etc. etc. There are bible studies, art classes, lectures, dances, volleyball, softball, and just about any leisure activity that you would want.
In addition the town, while relatively small, has all the facilities that a cruiser needs; groceries, hardware, laundry, restaurants, etc.
This year the numbers are down, probably in the 200 boat range. This is likely a result of the sobering effects of the recession, particularly in the US. I would estimate that half the boats here are Canadian, and half of these from Quebec.
Anyway, we wend our way into the complex harbour and start to think of which of the several large anchorages to pick. We decide on a large bight called Sand Dollar Beach and as we enter, we are greeted by our close friends Roger and Jacquie from Fredericton on their boat Audacious. Visiting them are Mike and Bonnie, also from Fredericton and veteran Bahamas cruisers who I've relied on for much advice along the way. I mentioned these folks many times in previous blogs. We drop anchor and immediately Mike and Roger dinghy over to Sea Sharp to greet us. Both Judy and I are emotional as it sinks in that "we've made it". Despite our personal struggles we have arrived at the place which in some ways epitomizes the Bahamas cruising lifestyle. We are at the apogee of our cruise. We'll make this our home base for perhaps a month or more before we start our slow trip back to the US.