MARCH--GEORGE TOWN (Great Exuma) to ROCK SOUND (Eluthera)
Georgetown-- It's all about Regatta, Weather, Food & Drink with Friends, and Controversy
Regatta--The 30th Annual Georgetown Regatta started on March 1st. Helped decorate the stage for Opening Night. The event opened with the Pet Parade followed by the No Talent Show. Oh yes, the Pet Parade---cruisers' dress their dogs in costumes (the owner will often dresses similar to the dog's costume). The owner parades the pet across the stage to their selected music. It is a crowd favorite. Kris (TILT) and I participated in the No Talent Show--members of the Conch Band. Our band director, Leo on SHENANDOAH, introduced our two musical numbers---following the Las Vegas theme we did "Concha-shane" and "Viva Conch Vegas". Only two qualifications for getting into the band--1) Must be able to blow a conch horn and 2) Must wear something blue. The No Talent Show is primarily skits and spoofs--a major crowd pleaser.
The theme for the 30th Annual Georgetown Regatta was Ocean Blue Las Vegas Style. The first two pictures were taken when Carl and I helped decorate for Opening Night. The back-drop for the stage was designed and painted by Sue from NICE n EASY who is in the first picture. Picture three shows the drawings submitted for next year's T-shirts. Every year T-shirts are sold as a fund raiser .The cruisers vote for their favorite submission on Monday before Opening Night. On Opening Night, everyone is encouraged to dress for the Regatta theme--picture four is our friend, Bev, from SCANDIA in her Ocean Blue outfit.
The next two pictures were taken during the Pet Parade. The first picture is Leo on SHENANDOAH with her little dog and the last one is the dog on MOSEY (the dog's fur is pure white but sprayed with blue food color solution for the parade).
Kris (TILT) and I performed in the Georgetown Conch Band or is it Orchestra?? The first picture is the entire band led by Leo (SHENANDOAH). The second picture is Kris and I blowing our horns.
The Regatta ran from March 1 to March 13 with 23 events. A few examples--Scavenger Hunt, Fun and Regulation Volleyball, Texas Holdem, Trivial Pursuit, Beach Golf, Bocce Ball, Sand Sculptures, etc. We did not participate any of the game events. Did, however, help our friends, Kris and Craig, by providing one item on their Scavenger Hunt list---a flag for St. Vincent & the Grenadines. When Kris saw the flag on the scavenger list she knew exactly where to get one.
Regatta includes two racing events--In Elizabeth Harbor Race and Around Stocking Island Race. Carl and I crewed in the In Elizabeth Harbor Race for Keith and Rose on CAMELOT (another Saga 43) along with Ron and Karen (SEA DANCER), Kris and Craig (TILT) and Wade (CELLAR DOOR). Winds were light for this race---finished second in the largest boat class beating a J-46 which is considered to be a much faster boat. After the race, the Captain and Crew ate lunch and re-lived the race highlights and lowlights.
The winds for the Around Stocking Island Race were moderate. Carl crewed on ALCID (another Saga 43 owned by Frank and Gail) along with Keith and Wade. ALCID took second in the largest boat class again beating the J-46. During this race, one boat lost its mast--not necessarily due to strong winds but one of the chain plates holding the spreaders fell apart. Several boats provided assistance to the dismasted boat! I was walking on an oceanside beach with binoculars so I could see the boat without the mast (did not see it come down).
Regatta ended with the Awards Ceremony for the various events and a dance party. There was a Variety Show scheduled for the following evening but a cold front with stong wind and rain caused the event to be cancelled. This year, the organizers of the Regatta were forced by weather to reschedule several events and totally cancel two events.
Picture one is Kris and Craig (TILT) picking up a flag from St. Vincent & the Grenadines for the Scavenger Hunt. Pictures two through six were taken during the In Elizabeth Harbor Race. Responsibilities: Carl on the main sail, I watched the instruments and called out depth, wind speed and direction for Keith, Kris & Craig had the jenny, Ron (SEA DANCER) was back-up helmsman and Wade was the muscle for moving the jenny through the slot at the bow when we tacked. At times Wade, Kris, and Ron were also "rail meat". Rose and Karen stayed below out of the way. The last picture is the lunch we shared after completing the race!
The Regatta also includes an Arts & Crafts show. The painting class that met weekly on the beach held a Clothesline Art Show. Doreen (DELICIA) displayed her sea glass jewelry. Mary on CYGNUS showed her sea glass and shell jewelry. Joan on JODA had her weaving on display. NOTE to CLOUDSPLITTER who may be reading this log--Remember NORTHERN HAUNT with Joan and Dave? JODA is their current boat. Another Regatta event was Sand Sculptures. The last picture is Captain Frank (ALCID--another Saga 43) plus his crew picking up their second place award.
Weather--The month of March came in "roaring like a lion". The Bahamas Meteorological Services forecasted gale force winds (34 to 37 knots or 39 to 54 mph) with the front passing through Georgetown on March 2. The gale warning for the Georgetown area was cancelled but remained in place north of 25 N (latitude)! The winds in Georgetown both ahead and behind the front were forecasted at 25 to 30 knots (below gale) BUT with 40 to 50 knot squalls. With this forecast, boats were moving from the open anchorages to "hidey holes". With our draft, we can't get into most of the protected hidey holes so we moved to the west shore of Crab Cay in10 feet of water where we had protection from the southwest and west where the strongest winds would come from. TILT joined us and a third boat, SCARAMOUCHE followed TILT to Crab Cay. That evening, TILT invited DISCOVERY and SCARAMOUCHE (Bob and Lorraine) over for a "Prefrontal Cocktail and Happy Hour". Another example of the small cruising world that we travel in---Bob and Lorraine are good friends with John and Sandy on MOONSTRUCK (another Saga 43). The prefrontal boundary arrived at 2 AM--thank goodness only a gust or two over 40 knots!
From March 1 until March 20 when we left Georgetown, we had 6 cold fronts pass through. We only changed anchorages for a cold front that one times. For the other five fronts, we stayed at Monument Beach and just rode it out. Carl has NEVER liked putting out two anchors. However, we started putting a second anchor out if winds were forecasted about 20 knots. DISCOVERY "sails" at anchor when the winds exceed 20 knots. We found that a second anchor at about 20 degrees to the primary helps hold our bow in place. The second anchor also means it is quieter in the V-berth because the snubber doesn't rub against the dolphin striker when the bow weaves side to side. What an improvement.
In addition to wind and squalls, the cold front brought cold air. Had to dig deep in the storage lockers for sweatshirts and long sleeve shirts which we wore with our shorts. One evening, Carl wore a pair of socks around the boat to keep his feet warm. How bad is that? I hate to complain too much about the cool weather because I know that the northeast coast States back home had a very rough winter.
Food & Drink with Friends--Attended all the Official ARG Meetings (Alcohol Research Group). These meetings were called by Dan on BORROWED HORSE who is the unofficial spokesman for ARG. Dan announced the meeting dates and times on the Georgetown Net along with the message to bring your own research materials and an appetizer to share. Everyone was invited including those who don't drink. The only people asked not to attend were bad people. However, bad people who were also swimsuit models could attend. Dan has a great sense of humor---lots of cruisers attended the meeting so it was a good time to catch up with friends who recently arrived in the harbor or were staying in other anchorages.
Two pictures taken at an ARG party. Dan , the unofficial spokesman for the organization, is in the first picture and the second picture shows the party appetizers.
On nights when there was nothing else scheduled, we would get together with other cruisers to play either SEQUENCE or CATCH PHRASE. Always "the girls versus the guys" and in some cases the competition is fierce! These evenings almost always included appetizers, drinks and a bumpy ride back home in the dinghy.
Carl celebrated a birthday in Georgetown.....number 64 (yes, I still need him and still squeeze him). Had Kris & Craig, Rose & Keith, Frank & Gail over for cake and a couple rounds of CATCH PHRASE. Found a great recipe for cake (German Chocolate Cake Mix prepare and bake as directed on package. Poke holes in the top of the cake and pour one can of sweetened condensed milk over the top. Refrigerate till milk has soaked in. Next, pour one jar of caramel ice cream topping over the cake and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Before serving top the cake with whipped cream or Kool Whip and sprinkle the top with crushed Heath Bars--I used crushed Butterfinger bars).
Carl's birthday guests--Keith & Rose (CAMELOT), Kris & Craig (TILT) and Frank & Gail (ALCID).
This year we met Larry and Carol Robison (CYGNUS). Larry worked for Upjohn for over 30 years (note--Upjohn later became Pharmacia and eventually Pfizer). Carl and I worked for the same company for almost 20 of the same years Larry was there but we never met him. We know so many of the same people but never met each other until this year in Georgetown. Larry and Carol invited us over one afternoon to visit over brownies and lemonade.
Pictured below is Carl with Larry and Carol Robison.
Cruising isn't all about appetizers, games and sundowners----it also includes some mundane things like grocery shopping, laundry, and boat chores. Now that I mentioned boat chores .....below are pictures of just a few boat chores. The first one shows boaters waiting in line to fill their propane tanks on Wednesday Propane Fill Day! The second picture is Carl cleaning the bottom of the boat---actually he is coming up for air.
Controversy-This year's big controversy ......moorings and a pump-out boat. The United Nations provided a grant for improving the quality of the water and protecting coral reefs in Elizabeth Harbor (Georgetown). A report was issued stating that cruisers are contributing to the problem of high nitrogen by discharging their waste into the water. Also, anchoring may be a threat to the coral reefs. In my opinion, yes the discharging of wastes increases the nitrogen content and it is possible that some cruisers have dropped an anchor on the reefs. There are, however, bigger contributors to these two problems (the town of Georgetown dumps their sewagedirectly into the harbor and the commercial traffic drag their keels through the sand threatening coral). However, this grant was given to take care of the portion of the problem caused by cruisers. Some cruisers have taken this personally so the mooring and pump-out boat was discussed constantly at parties, on the radio, at dinner, etc. I guess you have to start addressing the problem somehow and starting with the cruisers was the easies place to start. Some cruisers say they are not coming back next year.
Georgetown to Black Point, Rock Sound and Alabaster Bay.
We FINALLY left Georgetown on March 20th headed for Black Point with Kris and Craig (TILT). Oh was Carl happy to have ocean water running past the keel. Winds were slightly north of east at 12 knots. Sailing on a beam reach with two fishing lines out. Caught a mahi mahi which was quite exciting. It felt good to be back on the water again. Used Dotham Cut to exit the Exuma Sound--the tide was flooding so we had about 1 knot of current helping us move through the cut and the wind was behind us so there were no waves. Arrived in Black Point around 5:00 PM. Invited Kris and Craig over for grilled fish. Kris brought mac and cheese plus dessert.
The following two pictures were taken underway from Georgetown to Black Point. The first picture is DISCOVERY once again riding the waves in the deep blue sea courtesay of Craig and then second picture is the mahi mahi Carl caught while underway.
The following morning when we went through Dotham Cut, the tide was flooding again but this time we had 4 knots of current against us as we headed through the cut into Exuma Sound. Fortunately, the wind and current were the same direction so we did not have to deal with short, choppy waves only the swirling current. The wind was a few degrees south of east at 18-23 knots. Once again, the point of sail was primarily a beam reach. A great, fast sail to Rock Sound.
Just a little about Eluthera Island. Eluthera in Greek means "Freedom". The island was named by its first settlers who were in search of religious freedom. William Sayle (a former Governor of Bermuda) formed a company to settle this island. The primary reason for Sayle's interest in the island was it was teeming with seals--Sayle wanted to establish a seal oil trade with Barbados. Sayle and his group wrecked their two vessels along the northern shore of Eluthera taking shelter in a huge cave known today as Preacher's Cave. The group lost all its provisions in the wreckage so they had a hard time surviving until a relief ship arrived from Boston. Some of the colonist spreadout over the island while others emigrated to Boston. Eluthera is 106 miles long and 2 miles wide--a long skinny ribbon of limestone.
Our first morning in Rock Sound we woke up to the sound of distant thunder. Yes, another cold front coming through. The skies continued to get darker as the morning progressed. Finally, in the afternoon the front came through. DISCOVERY did an "about face" at anchor as the winds clocked immediately from the southwest to the south to the northwest. The squalls were around 35 knots although we had at least one gust at 42 knots. Remained on the boat for the rest of the day because it was pretty lumpy with strong northwest winds kicking up waves.
Below are two weather related pictures. Picture one is Monday's squalls. Picture two is how we rig the second anchor for quick release in case we have to move--all the rode is on deck and tied to a large fender. If we had to move quickly--we'd deploy the second anchor by tossing the fender (pick it up later) and then use the windlass to pull up our primary anchor.
Tuesday went into town---get rid of trash, buy groceries and have lunch with TILT, and SUNCAST (Bill and Barb) at the Four Points Restaurant. The interior on this restaurant is decorated with several Junkanoo Costumes. In the late afternoon a bunch of cruisers met at a Tiki Hut owned by Four Points. One cruiser, Doug from ABOUT TIME, played his guitar while the rest of us enjoyed refreshments purchased at the restaurant. This was a great opportunity to get to know other cruisers who were in Georgetown this year but didn't know them. A case in point, Cameron & Nancy on DOUBLE-WIDE and Doug & Sharon on ABOUT TIME. Often when in Georgetown, you get involved with a group of people so it is hard to get to know other cruisers who are also tied up with their close friends.
Picture one shows Carl and Craig fixing the outhaul line. While sailing from Georgetown to Black Point we lost the fitting that held the clew for the mainsail in place. As a quick fix, we used line to tie the clew in place. During the quick fix, Carl pulled the outhaul line out of the boom so the line had to be re-run into the boom. The second picture is Doug and Sharon (ABOUT TIME). Doug played guitar for a group of us cruiser one afternoon. He sang his heart out while the group at first listened but later started visiting with one another.
The Four Points Restaurant used a couple Junkanoo Costumes for decorations. Just a little about Junkanoo---Christmas and New Year celebrations in The Bahamas is not complete without Junkanoo. Junkanoo began during the 16th and 17th centuries when the slaves were given a special holiday, when they could leave the plantations to be with their family and celebrate the holidays with African dance, music and costumes. After emancipation, the traditioncontinued. Today, Junkanoo has evolved from its simple origins to a formal, organized parade with sophisticated, intricate costumes, themed music and incentive prizes. Troupe selects a theme for its costumes and members are dressed in variations of that theme. The troupe short-step or merengue along the street, depending on the music they play with their goat-skin drums, cowbells, conchshell horns and whistles. Revelers on the sidelines cavort with the same abandon, singing and dancing along. The last picture was just one of the safety signs in the restaurant that I just loved!
Wednesday Carl, Kris, Craig and I visited a cave and then stopped at Ocean Hole Park. Actually, Carl returned to the boat after the caves so Kris, Craig and I continued our land tour. After the Park we stopped at the new library run by the South Eluthera Mission. Kris and Craig (TILT) came over for dinner. I made taco meat while Kris brought all the condiments except lettuce which I had! Kris also brough dessert which we munched on as we played cribbage. Kris and Craig taught us how to play cribbage two years ago but we forgot how to play. So--Craig helped Carl with his hand while Kris helped me. The guys won the first game by 2 points then the girls won. Had a good time. Kris is very good at cribbage......she just loves to win.
Thursday Carl went lobster hunting with Norm on BLOWN AWAY while Kris, Craig and I walked to the ocean beach. The walk to the beach was good for the body and soul. However, we were harassed by dogs 4 different times--I thought a couple of the dogs would actually attack us. Back to lobster hunting---Carl and I had 6 small lobster for dinner (Norm let us have the entire catch). Followed Norm's directions for grilling lobster--yum yum.
The first three pictures were taken at the Rock Sound Caves. Picture four is of the windward beach at Rose's Restuarant Picture five is Carl's fresh lobster on the grill.
By Friday, Carl was anxious to get going. After listening to the weather, decided it was best to stay in Rock Sound until the next cold front (forecasted to be strong and squally) passed through on Monday. The problem is the anchorages to the north of Rock Sound on the west coast are open to the south and west and the squalls most likely would come from the southwest. Friday night, we went to the Rock Sound Fish Fry for food, beverage and music. The food wasn't of the highest quality but the price was right and they gave you plenty to eat.
Saturday we did the usual chores--trash and groceries. The Four Points Restaurant held a Happy Hour for cruisers with special rum drinks and special prices on appetizers plus music. More boats arrived in the anchorage since the first cruiser get together at Four Points--this party was well attended. Sunday we just relaxed on the boat--mostly reading. Sunday night we listened to the VHF Radio transmissions between the US Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter and the Cruise Ship OASIS OF THE SEAS. OASIS OF THE SEAS is the largest cruise ship in the world.....saw it in St. Thomas in January. OASIS OF THE SEAS was located at 25N/76W...off the east coast of Eluthera. Rock Sound is on the west coast so the cruise ship was almost directly across the island from us. The helicopter was picking up a 13 year patient along with one parent and a nurse. Listened to the rescue plan which was to drop a basket with a warning to the cruise ship personnel to let the basket touch down to dissipate static electricity before approaching the basket. The rescue went as planned and hopefully the patient is better.
Monday morning you could tell the coming cold front was going to be a significant one--hazy and quite warm and humid. Invited Kris and Craig over to play SEQUENCE. We were having a great time playing SEQUENCE when an announcement came over the VHF Radio for all cruisers in the harbor from Dingle Motors in Rock Sound. There was a tornado in Freeport (Grand Bahamas) and severe thunderstorm warnings for Nassau and the Abacos. The severe weather was headed our way. It was suggested that all cruisers prepare for the weather including moving to the west side of the harbor where there is more protection from the west winds. After the announcement we decided to finish the round of SEQUENCE we were playing but soon gave it up because no one was concentrating on the game. The wind was already blowing at 30-35 knots---we wondered what it would be like when the squalls arrived! Carl decided we would stay put--we had two anchors out and had held in more than 40 knots. TILT decided to move to the west side. Suddenly there was a mass exodus of boats to the west side. Only 4 boats stayed on the town side. The wind did moderate to around 20 knots before sunset so it was comfortable for sleeping. Around 2 AM, the front came through with strong squalls and lightning. We did not have our wind instrument on so we can only estimate the strength of the squalls--40 some knots. The squalls passed through quickly and the winds dropped to 25 knots so we could go back to sleep.
The following are bits and pieces of information I found on the internet regarding the storm: A tornado touched down during a fierce thunderstorm in Freeport on the Grand Bahama Island on Monday and toppled a port crane, killing three people and injuring at least four. The crane collapsed at the Freeport Container Port on the western side of Grand Bahama, where trees were uprooted and windows blasted out of hotels as at least one tornado cut a destructive path on the island about 60 miles (100 kilometers) east of Florida. Damage on Grand Bahama appeared to be greatest in and around Port Lucaya and Freeport, with witnesses reporting many uprooted trees, broken windows and damaged roofs and cars. At the Port Lucaya Marina, five boats were damaged as they seesawed in their berths while the storm whipped up white-crested waves around noon. After hitting Grand Bahama, the storm moved toward Abaco island and the capital of Nassau on New Providence. No damage was immediately reported on those islands.
The winds were still blowing 20-25 knots out of the northwest Tuesday morning thankful that the worst weather passed north of us. Ken and Leigh on ONE EYED PARROTS called on VHF radio to invite us to play CATCH PHRASE along with TILT and DREAM WEAVER (Pattye & Frank). So, we moved DISCOVERY over to the west side where everyone else moved the day before for protection from southwest and west winds! Good appetizers and lots of laughter. Before returning to the boat, we discussed sailing plans for the next couple days. DREAM WEAVER and ONE EYED PARROTS planned to stay one more day in Rock Sound while TILT and DISCOVERY planned to sail to Alabaster Bay. Although we were leaving at different times, we would meet around Current Cut or Royal Island for a crossing to the Abacos on Friday. It is said, Cruiser Plans Are Written In Jello---both ONE EYED PARROTS and DREAM WEAVER decided to leave Rock Sound when they saw all the other boats leaving harbor so they ended up sailing to Alabaster Bay too.
Alabaster Bay is a pretty bay. The new airport is on the north end of the bay with a resort, Coco DeMama, on the south end of the bay. Getting the anchor to set was a challenge. We dropped our anchor once--it did drag but eventually caught. The boats we traveled with had to make several attempts. TILT managed to get their anchor to hold--they were south of us. All the other boats tried to set their anchor south of TILT without success-moving north of us where their anchors did bite. TILT went to Coco DeMama's for dinner--we decided to eat on board. I want to make sure our stores are depleted by the time we reach Deltaville. Before dinner a couple in a kayak from St. Joseph, MI stopped by the boat--they noticed our hailing port on the back of the boat. They were staying at the resort for a week. They highly recommended the resort and restaurant.
Weather-wise--March came in like a Lion but out like a Lamb. Finally have mild settled weather. Enjoyed two great sails (Georgetown to Black Point and Black Point to Rock Sound). Had to use the iron jenny to move to Alabaster which I say "Nuts" to. Remember, Carl wants to buy more gasoline for the dinghy than diesel for DISCOVERY!!!
April 06, 2010