March 18th: Kathleen piloted us out of the Oven Rock anchorage off Great Guana Cay and through the Galliot Cut into the Exuma Sound for our cruise down to George Town. The seas were a little rolly, but easy, we had some light drizzle, which was actually great. George Town is the capitol of the Exumas and the largest town on Great Exuma Island (every wonder about the difference between “cay” and “island”? Well, Kathleen did – thank you Google – a cay is formed over a coral reef, with deposits from the sea on top building over time. An island is formed by a volcano or by shifting underwater plates. There – your geography lesson is complete.
The anchorages were very busy, as this is a popular place for boaters to “winter over” – free to anchor, two well-stocked groceries, fuel availability and a good spot to hop off to places north, south, east and/or west. We did not go ashore the first night as a) we were tired and b) it was pretty rolly. So we settled in for dinner and another Harry Potter movie…
Dinghying in to George Town the next day was “wet” as it was nearly impossible to avoid sea spray on the bumpy ride to the dinghy dock. The marina looked to still be in the throes of some repairs, so we followed the rest of the traffic under a cement archway into “Lake Victoria”, aka a shallow large pond with lots of dinghy docks to tie up to. We dumped our trash and walked around the island for a bit, doing a big circle. We wandered through a “straw market” – also known as a tourist spot for souvenirs, stopped to read some local postings about the local history of the area, went into a local grocery, then got served “turkey sauce” by some lovely ladies who were part of a church group feeding people for free. (Just as a suggestion, probably want to pass it by if offered – it was bits and pieces of hacked up turkey, skin, bones and very little meat – but it was very kind and we were happy to contribute to their work). By the time we got back to where we had started, we were pretty tired, so we hit the grocery store near the marina (we were extra lucky as the mail boat had just come in the day before – and WAS THAT STORE EVER STOCKED!) – we were overwhelmed with, well, everything. Fresh fruits, fresh veggies, frozen foods, dried and canned goods – we hadn’t seen this much plenty is almost two months. The store was mobbed, so we stocked up as quickly as we could, and headed back to the boat. (Neil was hoping to be able to buy some gas for the dinghy, but they were sold out – something to get used to here).
On Sunday the 20th, we took the dinghy to Sand Dollar Beach on Stocking Island, near where we were anchored. After passing sailboat Rock Chalk (the couple we had first met in Warderick Wells and had seen several times since!) we had a nice visit with a couple on shore who gave us directions for a short hike to a spectacular view. We all agreed it was one of the absolutely most beautiful beaches we had every seen, and we took a great walk up the coast.
A quick bite on the boat and a change of clothes, and we went back to George Town – Dave and Elaine needed to get their Covid tests as they were leaving the next day for Miami. It was hard to believe that their time with us was almost up! We decided to have lunch at a local stand, as most of the area was closed down (yes, it was Sunday, and yes, at some point we would figure this out). Lunch took over 1.5 hours to MAKE, but it was good and the owner/cook/server was very apologetic, stating that everything was made from scratch and that she had just come from church (!) to open for lunch. It did taste great, but we all wondered if the wooden table would have tasted great as we were really hungry. Ah, Bahamas time…
After another stop at the grocery store (and another failed attempt at getting gas as it was closed – on Sunday…), we went back to the boat, having left overs for dinner, and spending time together as Dave and Elaine packed. We also met another Nordhavn couple from Boulder! Very nice people on Puffin Quest, Paul and Renee. Super helpful and fun, and we hope we get to catch up with them soon.
The next morning, Neil took Dave and Elaine to the George Town dock (not enough room in dinghy for Kathleen this time!), and after securing them on land and bidding our love and farewell, we lifted anchor and took the five hour cruise to Thompson Bay off of Long Island.
The ride down was easy and beautiful, and anchoring simple, with not a lot of boats in the area. The winds have been steadily high (around 20 knots), which makes for interesting dinghy rides. We did get ashore the first day, walking around near the government dock, noticing a grocery and a beach bar, as well as a real Esso gas station and fish market nearby. We took a short swim once back at the boat – you HAVE to when the water temperature is 83 degrees. The evening was polished off with Kathleen’s homemade hummus, Neil’s Manhattan and nature’s glorious end of the day. Our second day started well with Kathleen making some chocolate chip cookies (they somehow taste better on the boat). However, shortly after Kathleen’s back demanded a day off, so we hung out on board, marveling at the stars that night, and actually watching a movie (we did finish Harry Potter with Dave and Elaine…).
The 24th was bright and sunny with billowing clouds – and super high winds. So, a day of catching up on this blog, laundry, housework, engine maintenance and the like took over. The next day had us exploring the island, crossing over to the “Atlantic” side, where after a good hike, we lounged on the beach, played a bit in the water and took it all in as the only people on the beach at that time.
We finally found our beach bar here – Tiny’s – with a very relaxed atmosphere, WiFi (Kathleen got to download some more pilates classes), and according to Neil, the best rum punch he has had yet. Combine that with a game of Cornhole on the beach, some swings and an incredible view and we were in heaven. During the dinghy ride back to the boat, the sunset was exceptional, painting the sky various shades of orange, bouncing off the water, silhouetting anchored boats with an unbelieveable backdrop.
We took time over the next couple of days to do some cleaning, polishing, laundry and maintenance in preparation for our next guests, daughter Meghan and wonderful friend Olivia.
On the 28th, we lifted anchor around 8:30 to cruise back up to George Town, where Meg and Liv were flying into on the 31st.