MARCH---Georgetown Regatta and Beginning the Journey from Georgetown (Bahamas) to Georgetown (Maryland)
The first week in March is Georgetown's Regatta Week with endless activities. The big eventx are two sailboat races---"Round the Island" and "Inner Harbor". Three Saga 43's entered the race......CAMELOT, CLOUDSPLITTER and NO SE. Both Carl and I participated in both races but on different Saga 43s. I raced with an all female crew on NO SE (the first all women crew to enter the Georgetown Regatta); while Carl raced with Keith on CAMELOT. Both Carl and I were assigned the same job.....trimming the main sail. NO SE had a fabulous start for the "Round the Island Race" finishing in third place just 90 seconds after the first boat to cross the line (CLOUDSPLITTER). Not too shabby considering it was a 4 to 5 hour race (approx 20 miles)! The boat that Carl crewed on, CAMELOT, did not do well in the "Round the Island Race" but remember--there are two races and Keith is very competitive. So CAMELOT was pumped for the "Inner Harbor" race two days later---having a great start and holding the lead position the entire race. This time, NO SE, made two or three mistakes but managed to cross the line in third position---a good race but not the great race CAMELOT had!
The picture below of the captain and crew from NO SE was taken at the Awards Ceremony. Yes, the girls were excited.
Carl and I participated in the Bocce Ball Tournament during Regatta Week. Neither of us had played before--had a 15 minute lesson an hour before the tournament started. . I was eliminated in the first round while Carl played another 2 rounds. Carl also participated in the Coconut Harvest Relay---4 person teams in dinghies without engines or paddles. Each person has one swimming fin to use as a paddle. The bay was filled with hundreds of coconuts. At the sound of the gun....each team ran to their dingy to gather up as many coconuts as possible in 5 minutes. After gathering coconuts they played games to gain additional points: Coconut Bocce Ball, Coconut Bowling, Coconut Basketball and Coconut Pyramid Building. Carl's team collected the most coconuts and scored the enough points in the games to take first place. I watched the Coconut Harvest Relay...it really looked fun. The next morning Carl said his muscles ached!!!
The following picture is of Carl playing Bocce Ball.
The following pictures were taken at the Coconut Harvest. The first one shows the mad dash in the dinghies. The second picture shows teams trying to pick up coconuts. The third picture is of a judge measuring the height of the coconut pyramid that Carl's team built.
Carl celebrated his birthday in Georgetown.....the big 60. Had the Saga Fleet (NO SE, CLOUDSPLITTER and CAMELOT) over for cocktails. I also requested a special announcement on the VHF Radio Net so that other people could wish him a happy birthday. All day, people would stop Carl to pass on birthday wishes.
As soon as Regatta Week ended, we started our journey from Georgetown in the Exhume Islands to Georgetown, Maryland in the northern Chesapeake. Sailed over to New Bight on Cat Island with CLOUDSPLITTER (Doug and Marianne), TRANQUILITY (Cindy and Lee Smith), and CHAPULIN (Jim and Nancy Brown). It was great to be moving again. However, all of us had problems during the sail. We had strong winds and pretty big seas. Marianne was very sea sick. Doug called us for remedies....ginger cookies are great but they didn't have any so Marianne chewed on saltines to help settle her stomach. Nancy wasn't feeling well and she fell when she went below bruising her forehead. By the way, have to admire Jim and Nancy who are in their early to mid 70s and still sailing! TRANQUILITY had a leaking hatch and waves were washing over the deck so they had a wet mess to clean up. Finally, DISCOVERY had trouble bringing in our jib----it twisted so we could not get it in and the wind ripped the sunshield fabric. Fortunately, Cindy on TRANQUILITY called and offered to repair our sail. She has a heavy duty sewing machine on board---we could not get better service anywhere! Oh, my personal challenge that day.....I was doused three times by huge waves. Yeck that salt water is horrible!
TRANQUILITY, CHAPULIN, CLOUDSPLITTER and DISCOVERY spent two days site-seeing on Cat Island. A Catholic Priest, Father Jerome, is well known through out the island. He was sent after the 1908 Hurricane to restore the damaged churches. Father Jerome then retired at New Bight and build "The Hermitage" for his retirement home. The Hermitage was very impressive....built on top of the highest hill in the entire Bahamas, Mount Alvernia, with a beautiful view of the Exuma Sound on one side an the Atlantic Ocean on the other. From The Hermitage we went to have lunch at the local food vendor's stands----great food at a reasonable price. At the Food Vendor Stands, we met a person who said he could take us on a tour of the southern part of the island. The bus driver would be available after dropping the kids off at school and the tour had to end by early afternoon so the driver could pick the kids up again. We did not know what to expect! The next morning, the 4 couples boarded a bus and away we went. Stopped to look at various plantation ruins from days of greater glory----mostly Loyalists from the Carolinas that moved to the Bahamas where they remained loyal subjects of the British Crown. After the bus tour.....back to the Food Vendor Stands for more Bahamian food plus live music! By the way, up until sometime in the 1930's, Cat Island was known as San Salvador. We stood on the beach at Columbus Point where Christopher Columbus was thought to have his first landfall in the New World. However, the Bahamian Government designated another island as San Salvador and named the original San Salvador----Cat Island.
The following six pictures were taken at Cat Island. The first picture is Carl and I at the base of Mount Alvernia. The second picture is of the Hermitage that consisted of a chapel, devotion room, sleeping quarters and kitchen. The third picture is of our Cat Island Tour Guide. The fourth picture is of Marianne, Cindy, Nancy and I outside the smallest bar in Cat Island. The fifth picture is our group with the Tour Guide and Bus Driver. The last picture is of our Tour Guide's band that entertained us during lunch.
From Cat Island we had a great sail to Little San Salvador. Holland America Cruise Line taken over the gorgeous Half Moon Bay. Years ago, Little San Salvador was a favored destination for cruisers----an untouched island paradise. But no more---two cruise ships, Zaandam and Maasdam were anchored at Half Moon when we arrived. TRANQUILITY, CHAPULIN, CLOUDSPLITTER and DISCOVERY dropped anchor in the northwest part of the bay to keep clear of jet skis, parasail boats, catamarans, paddle boats, swimmers and horses (they rode them in the water---where is the Humane Society????). Both cruise ships left by 5 PM which is cocktail hour for cruisers so the 4 boats got together for food and drinks. It was a peaceful evening but more cruise ships would be there in the morning so we headed to another island--Eleuthra.
Below is a picture of DISCOVERY sailing from Cat Island to Little San Salvador.
The water from Little San Salvador to Eleuthra is deep. We sailed along a 1000 meter contour---the water is such a dark blue. Within a matter of minutes we crossed from the 1000 meter deep water to 100 meters and then to 30 meters. We could actually see the bottom at 30 meters (approx 98 feet). Anchored at Rock Sound for two nights. Visited the local sites---an ocean hole and caverns. Had access to a high speed internet so we used Skype to call friends and family. From Rock Sound we sailed to Hatchet Bay for one night only .
From Hatchet Bay we sailed in water that was supposed to be "good
for fishing"---20 to 25 feet. All of four boats put out fishing lines.
TRANQUILITY lost their lure when something big took off with it. CHAPULIN caught
a barracuda (trash fish). CLOUDSPLITTER caught a mackerel but by the time they
reeled it in....something ate half of it! CLOUDSPLITTER put their line out again---this
time they caught a barracuda. Meanwhile, Carl and I had one light hit on one
colored bait so we switched colors for another light hit.....did not reel anything
in. So goes our day of fishing. Good thing we bought all those canned goods
when we provisioned in Vero Beach!
From Eleuthra we sailed to Royal Island where we stayed for 5 nights---another approaching cold front! This island is currently uninhabited. However, in the 50's and 60's......there was an elegant private residence on the island. The buildings are now in ruins---buildings with wooden roofs have been blown off by hurricanes....all the windows and doors are gone. You can tell it was a very elegant place in its time. One building...probably the living room has a concrete roof and the fireplace still functions. Rumor has it the island has been sold but the deal not closed because of questions regarding the title---hope they don't resolve the issues.
The second day at Royal Island, 6 couples hired a water taxi to pick us up for a 5 mile run into Spanish Wells. Spanish Wells is so different from any city, town or community we have seen so far in the Bahamas. It was settled by Loyalists from the Carolinas after the Revolutionary War. The Loyalists still wanted to be British subjects so they moved to Spanish Wells with their slaves. Today, the island has 1500 people....1480 are white. The town is very neat and clean with the Caribbean colored houses with extensive landscaping on small lots. Once again, we had access to high speed internet so we made several phone calls on Skype.
The cold front arrived our third night at Royal---started around midnight with thunder and lightning. Then.....at 4 AM it was dead calm---not a good thing. Carl mentioned that when it is dead calm like that there is a gremlin lurking about. All of it sudden it started to blow. . Our boat was rolled on its side just like when we are at a close reach out sailing. Thank goodness it did not last very long. One boat, MAKING The TURN, did not hold....their anchor let loose and then the boat drifted up to shore stopped by shallow muddy water. This is a good thing because the shore here is all rock. MAKING The TURN requested that all boats in harbor put as many lights on as possible so that when they motored around waiting for sunlight they would not hit anything. Another boat called out that they lost some equipment off the back of the boat. We recored 42.2 knots of wind.
The following picture is of one of the squalls that came through while we were anchored in Royal Island.
After the "blow, we went to shore to explore the island. Walked through all the buildings and across the island to a man-made harbor where they must have kept boats. There is a air strip which we could not find and some railroad tracks for moving things around the island. After investigating the buildings, Carl and I planned a Cruisers' Potluck. Made an announcement over the VHF radio inviting anyone in the area. I went into the building that was the living area and swept the floor to prepare for the potluck. The Potluck was a hit---14 boats attended. Marianne had a nice plastic coated tablecloth that we used on a makeshift table (Marianne even brought a vase with flowers for the table.
The following two pictures were taken at the Cruisers' Potluck. The first one is a shot of the crowd and then second is Carl and I standing next to the fireplace.
From Royal Island, we traveled with 5 other boats through the Devils Backbone to Harbor Island (PASSPORT---a Michigan boat, MALAKA II, TRIO, AURORA--another Michigan boat, and CAMELOT). This is the first time we left our buddy boat, CLOUDSPLITTER behind---their keel was too deep for the passage. Keith and Rose on CAMELOT led the group through a narrow route of deep water between reefs and coral heads. The route is so breathtaking in terms of beauty and hazards. When we arrived---all safe and sound, Carl told me he thought what we did was fairly high risk. If any of the boats would have run into trouble, there was no way to get help. Harbor Island is the "FORT LAUDERDALE" of the Bahamas (my designation). I thought Spanish Wells was different--well Harbor Island consists of resorts, marinas, shops, restaurants and hotels with golf carts everywhere. The most beautiful aspect of Harbor Island is the pink beaches. The beaches have a pink tone from the coral. The fleet had dinner at a local place.....great food at a decent price but not much for ambience! A place for the rich and famous.
Below is a picture of the pink beach at Harbor Island.
Carl and I left Harbor Island by ourselves to head to the Abacos. The inlet for coming from and going to the Atlantic is unmarked and relatively narrow. We had huge ocean swells coming through the inlet on our bow.....most were 6 feet with an occasional 10 foot. Carl stayed down below most of the time using the computer chart to tell me what direction to turn as I motored the boat up those huge swells. It required so much concentration that I didn't have time to get nervous. From there, we sailed 5 hours with huge swells that were spread apart so we rolled up and rolled down the waves. I went down below to use the head and came back up not feeling so hot. Had to lay down in the cockpit for awhile to recover my balance. Carl was also having some difficulty with the waves....more of a headache and dizzy compared to my nausea.
We anchored at Lynyard Cay in the southern part of the Abacos meeting up with CLOUDSPLITTER, TRANQUILITY and CHAPULIN again. Made a quick dinner and went to bed very early. From Lynyard we motored up to Marsh Harbour coming in at low tide. CLOUDSPLITTER, TRANQUILITY and CHAPULIN with their deep draft boats all ran aground in the harbor having to wait for the rising tide to move to the anchorage. Went to the Jib Room for rib night one evening and back there the following night for Cruisers Happy Hour.
The last day of March we sailed over to Hope Town with CLOUDSPLITTER. The harbor is filled with moorings so if you don't go to a marina (dock) you have to take a mooring. Had lunch in town. Carl went exploring in the dinghy while I went shopping with Doug and Marianne. Once again, we had a great high speed internet connections so we called friends and family on Skype.
The following two pictures were taken in Hope Town. The first one is a picture of the lighthouse and the second one is a shot from the lighthouse of our boat.
By the end of March, we had traveled a little more than 3750 nautical miles since leaving Pentwater. We are really enjoying the Bahamas but at the same time we know that we are starting that long trip back north.
The following picture is of DISCOVERY sitting peacefully at anchor. Isn't it a beautiful shot!
Submitted by Marilyn Thoreson
April 10, 2006