A new wind picks up from the southwest. Our anchorage at Little Farmers is exposed, and I know if we are going to sleep tonight I need to find a more protected anchorage. I figure we can move to the east side of Little Farmers and be fairly protected. Unfortunately as we cross over to the eastern channel there is a fairly brisk current. The wind is against the current and that leaves us hovering over our anchor. There looks like some other areas that may provide a protected anchorage without the current, so we lift anchor and explore the other options. Unfortunately they are equally ill suited for us. We putt around for an hour and end up right back at the same spot. The wind picks up as we settle into our cabins, and I’m glad we’ve moved. From where we are anchored I can see the mast head light of a boat at our old anchor site and they are bouncing around like a top.
We wake up to a calm morning. The wind has settled and Kelly and I decide it looks like a good day to make the trip out of the banks, into the ocean, and down to George Town, i.e. the hub of cruising in the Exumas. Soon after we clear out of the Little Farmers Cut, the wind picks up nicely and I raise the sails. The sail down to George Town is fantastic. We have 10 -15 knots on a close reach. As we head down the islands the wind starts to back and we trim the sails to a beam reach then a broad reach. Finally the wind settles and I put up our jenniker. The jenniker came off of my parents 38 foot boat, so it is woefully undersized, however, it’s colorful and pretty. Unfortunately after an hour or so, the wind veers on us and I have to take it down. We sail at 5-7 knots on calm seas all the way into George Town. Everyone is pleased with the sail. (I agree, this sail was much better than the last one. 🙂
Getting into George Town harbor is no issue at all. The water is clear and easy to read, however finding a place to anchor can be a challenge. We motor along the west side of Stocking Island looking for some space. There are well over a hundred boats here. The place has changed a lot since I was here in 1991. We head past Chat n Chill, and find a good spot off Black Rock. As we let out the anchor and settle in, our stern is only about 30 feet from a nice sand bar that extends from the beach. Cloe and I decide to swim in and see how much the ol’ cruising area has changed.
Before that, let me add how impressed I am with the water clarity. A happy surprise. I assumed with the amount of boats anchored here, the harbor would be a mess, but it’s not. Must be the massive amount of water that flushes the harbor with the changing tide. Thank goodness for that. Ok…back to Eric…
It is sad to see the march of time trample over some of your childhood memories, but nothing lasts. When I was in Georgetown in 1991 the area, now called Chat n Chill, was nothing more than a peninsula of sand with a few trees and a couple of makeshift volleyball courts. There were driftwood benches, a bonfire pit, and the “weather rock”, which was a rock hanging from a branch by a string. The weather rock was notable for its ability to tell you the weather. There was a sign next to it to understand the complex meteorology of the weather rock. It went something like this.
If the rock is hot, it’s sunny.
If the rock is wet, it’s rainy.
If the rock is swinging, it’s windy.
If the rock is blowing straight out, it’s a gale.
If you can’t see the rock, it’s dark.
I’m sure there was more, but you get the gist.
Commercialism has made it to the ol’ cruising spot in the form of a bar/restaurant/gift shop named Chat n Chill. There is still a volleyball court and cruisers still play a form of volleyball with rules that are nearly volleyball, but more suited to the laid-back cruising life. Like you can hit the ball as many times as you need to get it back over the net, even so it rarely makes it back to the server’s side, if the server can get it across in the first place. The old driftwood benches have been replaced by picnic tables of questionable strength. The weather rock doesn’t seem to have made it through. There are signs discouraging one from bringing their own food and drink. It’s a commercial place with commercial goals. That’s not a bad thing, just different.
However, some things don’t change, and while I’m throwing Cloe into the water, another kid comes over and wants to be thrown as well. I tell him he needs to ask his parents if it’s OK, to which the child runs away and promptly comes back saying it was. I doubt very seriously that he even found a parent to ask, but for the next 45 minutes I throw Cloe and him as high as I can into the water and nary a person came by to wonder why I was throwing their kid. Even thought it saddens me to see the commercialism take over this cruising spot, the vibe is still the same. People are still just hanging out, and that’s really what it was always about anyway.
We make our trips to town and find the library. It’s manned by cruisers and is a great book exchange.
To be honest, we didn’t find anything compelling about George Town. Groceries are the most expensive we’ve seen in the Bahamas. No interesting sites to be found. That being said, the best thing George Town has going for it are the people. The locals are super nice, and the cruiser community is the best we’ve found. There is a morning vhf net where local weather and events are shared. It also happens to be ‘kid boat central’ for cruisers in the Bahamas, and although most would consider our trek to George Town past peak season, thanks to Kids4Sail, a Facebook community for cruising families, we do find a few other kids running around. One of the things that is both endearing and kind of gross are Chat and Chill’s island cats. There are a handful of cats that wander around looking for food and love. Of course the girls love it, meanwhile I notice the cats also lounge around on the tables that the people eat on…don’t think they’d be able to get away with that in the U.S. There’s also a HUGE conch shell pile outside their beach conch shack. I can’t imagine the amount they go through in a season. No wonder we haven’t been able to find any conch while we’ve been snorkeling!
While in George Town, we hang out at the beaches, but our last couple of days the wind picks up. I get some great windsurfing in, but the nights are not that smooth. We stay for a little over a week, and though we’re having fun, I’m ready to move out. The forecast is calling for wind out of the southwest which will be perfect to sail to the next island, Long Island.