Thursday, June 27, 2013

Georgetown, Or Chicken Harbor

  Our anchorage just off of Lee Stocking Island, as spectacular as it was, was beginning to lose appeal as our desire for human interaction increased. A somewhat favorable weather window presented an opportunity for us to head to Georgetown on Monday, the 24th of June.
  I would have preferred less wind coming from the east, but the forecast was for even more wind later in the week, so we took a chance. We chose the early morning on an ebbing tide, not what one would normally do, exiting the various cuts out to Exuma Sound, but the cut we were going to use was protected from the easterly winds, so the opposing wind/tide rage was not to be expected.
  We poked our way along on the bank side of the Exumas until we found Rat Cay Cut, running Swing Set just feet from some reefs and islands dotting our course. The transit through the cut was non-eventful, as advertised, but when we got out on the Sound, we knew we were in for a  rough ride for the next two and a half hours.
  Our route headed southeast, but a decent wind was blowing from the East. Our heading was putting the waves nearly on our beam, never a good ride. Positioning them to approach us on a quarter beam would put us on a longer course away from our destination, so my frugal nature made for more discomfort, but it was as economical as we could make it.
  Not much conversation takes place when conditions are like what we had. Rosie holds Holly, more because Holly wants to be held, not necessarily to keep her from being pitched overboard, and she holds on too. I concentrate on turning into the more formidable swells, but then turn back to keep us on the best course possible. If you ever saw a dog on a surfboard, this is what I look like, feet splayed apart at the helm for stability, and a death grip on the wheel. Trips to "the bathroom" off the stern are precarious to say the least.
  Not any too soon, Conch Cut came into view. We turned west and surfed in, a piece of cake, and entered Elizabeth Harbor with Stocking Island (not to be confused with Lee Stocking Island) was on our port and Great Exuma Island was on our starboard, as we sniffed our way into Georgetown proper, and into our intended destination of the Exuma Yacht Club, where we expected to get fuel.
  When we got closer, I called the yacht club on the VHF and was directed to the fuel dock, which we found after backtracking around to the other side of Kidd's Cove. The fuel dock was open to the east, and a stiff wind was blowing on our stern as we motored into the fuel dock, but I spun Swing Set around in a tight space and put her into the dock on the port side with her bow into the wind. Rosie tied her off without a hitch, and soon we were getting help from a very nice man by the name of Clavon, who dragged the fuel hose over and started the pumps. Fuel was more reasonable than we expected at $5.83 per gallon, and the ten day trip down from Staniel Cay only took 59 gallons.
  Even though our water maker was making water for us, we topped off our tank with 40 gallons of RO water for 40 cents a gallon, more for insurance than anything.
  Clavon offered to let us go to the grocery, or the liquor store, but we wanted to get to our anchorage. We would go shopping in the dinghy, next day.
  After fueling up, we picked a spot across the harbor just off Hamburger Beach, and within the shadow of Monument Hill, in between an express cruiser we have been regularly running into, a sailboat we've seen somewhere before, and two very large yachts. We were out of waves rolling in from the Southeast end of the harbor, but we still had plenty of wind coming over Stocking Island to keep our wind generators working.
  We needed to recuperate for a while after our run down, but by late afternoon, I dropped the dinghy and we went exploring.
  We checked out two hurricane holes on Stocking Island, very snug looking spots with wind and wave protection from all fronts, and we also found the Chat and Chill, one of the most popular beach bars in the area. They have a huge sand beach and two sand volleyball courts, and of course an almost outside bar and casual restaurant. A conch bar is right on the beach which serves up fresh cerviche seven days a week.
  We sat out on a picnic table under a palm tree with Holly and nursed a couple very cold Kaliks. Within minutes we were joined by a young woman named Jensie. Her daughter and her boyfriend had made their regular trip down in their Citation Jet from Birmingham, Alabama. We eventually met the whole family and Jensie bought us another round of beers, and was soon offering to trade time on our boat for air time in the Citation. Much to her boyfriend Bill's relief, we politely declined the offer, probably insuring the future of a budding friendship, as opposed to squashing it. The whole concept of traveling in the boat with a young child and another couple presents more complications than I'd care to contemplate, and there is no where we need to go in a jet, at least nowhere they would want to go.
  We promised to meet up with them later in the week, and they made their departure. Jensie did a decent job of staggering to their rented dinghy, maintaining at least for now, her dignity and social standing. We both think Jensie can be a lot of fun.
  On Tuesday morning we took the dinghy over to Georgetown and passed under the low bridge into Lake Victoria, more of a pond that sits in the middle of Georgetown. We shopped at the Exuma Market because they provide a nifty dinghy dock for the many boaters that spend their winters here, and they also have a nice water station for boaters to fill up jerry jugs with free water, just as a courtesy.
  The wind, as expected, picked up, and we were against it for the long dinghy ride back across the harbor to the boat. We got drenched, but the groceries stayed dry somehow.
  The sun came out and we decided to take another trip across the harbor and find the local NAPA affiliate here in the Bahamas, A.I.D. I parked the dinghy at a resort near where I thought the store was, and we walked up to the bar at the Exuma Beach Resort and asked if we were close to the autoparts store. A young girl there, Sarah, who manages the resort, offered to drive us as she needed to make a run out anyway. We got to know Sarah on the way to NAPA, and we also found out what kind of specials the bar had during the week. We made some purchases at NAPA and Sarah drove us back to the resort, and before getting in the dinghy, we promised to return for dinner, or at least some beers and appetizers.
  Tuesday evening was extremely pleasant, and we were lured back to the Exuma Beach Resort by the attraction of two for $5 Sands beers. We returned to the resort with Holly and got two prime seats at their outdoor bar and restaurant called Latitudes.
  Sarah was very happy to see us again. We met a local fella who knew his way around these islands very well, having lived aboard his sailboat for the last 15 years. "Reg" was super nice to us, and a very good conversationalist, so the time passed quickly.
  They also had fine WiFi at the resort and I was able to call my dad using Magicjack, so the call was free and we didn't use the bandwidth on our data system. I had a nice chat with my dad. He was concerned that I had described myself as being fat in my last blog. He didn't understand that I was using what is called, "self-depreciating humor". Anyone can see by our recently posted pictures that I am just as trim as ever. Right? Right?
  The restaurant was pretty full in no time. They had some live music playing, (one guy on an electric organ) and our new friends Bill and Jensie came in with a group of friends for dinner. We were reminded to meet them on Thursday night, and we promised to be there no matter what. It was just after dark when we finally made our way back again across the harbor to Swing Set.
  On Wednesday morning I had to make a trip back to the Exuma Beach Resort because the nice fella at NAPA, or A.I.D., sold me a 5/8" bolt instead of the desired 3/4" bolt. Not really a big deal until you consider that I was charged $5.20 for a two inch long bolt that I would never use.
  This time, because I knew the way, I walked to the NAPA and we did a switch for the proper bolt, and I was soon back to the boat.
  We spent Wednesday afternoon hovered around the phone. Not only did we expect a return call from an insurance company we'd been playing phone tag with, our financial advisor wanted to set up a call with us, and there was some logistical issues to contend with. That was OK with us, because rain was threatening and Rosie and I were both reading a good book. Just hanging out on the hook is a good thing to do at times.
  An added consideration is that I'm battling an ear infection, gotten from extended snorkeling while attempting to spear some snapper back off of Rudder Cay. The fish have gotten their revenge. I don't want to talk about it. Swimming and snorkeling will be out of the question until my ear gets better. Now I know how Holly feels.
  Yesterday we finally got our calls into our insurance company and our financial advisor. We managed to stay insured and we also were able to stop the hemorrhaging from a bond fund we had bought with proceeds from the sale of our condo, not yet eight months ago. I hate insurance companies, and I hate investing even more. Both things are necessary evils, like flossing and using earache drops. Not quite, but I'm rushing to get this blog done.
  There was supposed to be a beach party at Hamburger Beach at 5 o'clock last night. We took Holly and some beers over to the beach, no appetizers this time. At 5 o'clock when no one else showed up, we left and took a dinghy ride. We met up with some other cruisers over on another beach that meet every day at 4 P.M.
  We met some more nice folks, one couple anchored in their catamaran just over from us. John and Joanne have been coming here from Jacksonville, Florida for years. They have lived on their boat for the last 13 years. There is hope for us.
  Today Rosie gathered up the laundry and we took it to town to the local laundromat. She washed two loads and dried them for only 13 bucks. Not a bad deal. There was a couple of very nice attendants there, so we didn't have to sit and guard our stuff. While laundry was going, we walked around and got to know the town a bit more.
  It takes time to get to know a new area, and that's all we seem to be doing, but the process gets easier with each new place, because in the end, they are all a lot alike.
  Georgetown is in a pretty place, but except for some of the resorts, it's still a run down town, where if it were back in the U.S., a person would be afraid to walk the streets. But the people are mostly very, very friendly and happy to deal with us. There are a lot of similarities here to a city like, say, East St. Louis, only with friendly people.
  We're still waaaaay over on our data transfer for the month, but it's only money. As frugal as we try to be, we don't plan on taking any of it with us. If our financial advisor knows his stuff, and so far he has, we'll at least have some left later on as we get down this road of life.

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