Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, Bahamas

23rd March - 20th April 2008

We'd told everybody that, after the hard work and traumas of the previous twelve months, we just wanted to get to the Bahamas and do nothing for a while.    The frantic rush to get down to the islands had only intensified this desire.   

It was with great relief that we dropped our hook in our favourite spot in Georgetown's Elizabeth Harbour, Monument Beach.    Anju was snuggled in the relative protection between the main island and the off-lying, smaller Stocking Island.    

We were glad of the shelter when, on only our second evening in town, a strong cold front passed by during the dark of the evening, bringing stiff winds and the normal chaos of boats dragging in the crowded anchorages.

Monument beach anchorage - Georgetown visible in the far distance.

Atlantic side treasure beaches

Our beach holiday was soon in full swing, with daily walks up Monument Mountain's tough 37 metre ascent for exercise (37 metres is a mountain in this part of the world!).   The rest of our exercise was found trekking up and down the beach at various stages of the tide to seek out treasures washed ashore in the breakers.  

The Atlantic side of Stocking Island had altered dramatically since our last visit two years earlier, with large areas of cliffs eroded and boulders crumbled onto the beach.    Our favourite walk was named "Nev's Trail" in memory of frequent Georgetown visitor and Welsh boating friend Neville who, tragically, had been killed in a white water rafting accident.    We found that the trail had become pretty precarious in places, where it was teetering on the edge of the newly eroded cliffs.  

It was interesting on our daily walks to notice how the locations of the best treasure hunting areas and the amount and quality of shells washed ashore changed with the tidal range and weather conditions.

After a successful treasure-hunting trip we would return to Anju to begin the time-consuming but relaxing task of cleaning of our finds.    Most of the shells would have large grains of sand wedged inside which was painstakingly scraped out in the interests of not turning the inside of our boat into a beach.    Once we had a good selection of shells to work with, we could set to work on our arts and crafts projects to display the shells.   It kept us out of mischief.....

Cleaning the "treasure"

Talking of mischief we were quickly reunited with friends Chris and Vivian who arrived in Georgetown a day behind us and continued to bring joy and chaos into our lives!    Their two Portuguese water-dogs, Zappa and Shelley were a continual source of entertainment and disruption to add to the fun.    As ever, intelligence was not the dogs' strong point but Chris did a remarkable job of training Zappa to crew a Hobie cat!

Who's in charge, Chris or Zappa?

Dinner with Vivian and Chris and Anju's "Outback" restaurant.

Chris and Vivian had a seemingly constant stream of visitors aboard Second Chance but we managed to fit in some fine dining and card game evenings aboard our boats.     They also introduced Phil to the bi-weekly "Texas Hold-'Em" tournaments held at the St. Francis resort.   It was a card game based on poker where for the sign-up fee of $5, each participant was given $1400 worth of chips for betting.    Of course the chips couldn't be cashed in, but at the end of the evening there were prizes for the last, second and third to last players to have chips remaining, with prizes allocated from the pool of sign-up fees.    Phil was soon hooked, sometimes playing twice a week.   His ranking on his first attempt, in a game of thirty players, was third at the end of the night and he normally managed to make it into the last handful of players each time he played.   This was pretty impressive for a novice.    On one occasion, however, Christopher was lucky to survive unscathed after knocking both Phil and Vivian out of the game in the same hand!
One Sunday we took a road trip with Chris and Vivian to visit their friends in the north of Great Exuma Island in a village called Barraterre.     Although they spent a lot of time in that area, Anju's deeper draft made it impossible for us to anchor anywhere near the village, so it was great to travel by road and finally meet the good Bahamian friends they so often talk about.

First we visited Norman, whose seafront restaurant in the village had recently burnt to the ground, leaving him with only the clothes on his back.    However, his business was back in operation from a wooden lean-to with a couple of picnic tables and sun-umbrellas for customers.

Strolling through Barraterre with Berthalee

Vegetable shopping, Barraterre style.

Berthalee and Hughrie gave us a warm welcome at their home, proudly showing us all the major renovations they were undertaking.     Berthalee had already been in the garden harvesting fresh tomatoes and red peppers, insisting we take a bag full of the tasty produce, even though we'd only just met.     Their grand-daughters quickly disappeared up a tree in search of their fruit, sapadillos, or dillies as they are know locally, for Vivian.   Meanwhile, Berthalee took us to visit her cousin Eunal's vegetable garden.

Gardening in the parched islands of the Bahamas seemed very hard work.    Luckily the vegetable garden lay adjacent to a fresh water pond, from which water could be carried by hand to keep the plants alive.   The results of Eural's hard labour were evident in the wonderful selection of sweet potatoes, onions, beetroot and carrots we plucked from the ground.


It seemed we weren't the only tired folks, enjoying relaxing in Georgetown.    Our trusty inflatable rib dinghy, christened Anjulita, was definitely relaxing too.   It seemed that each time we stepped aboard, we needed to take the pump with us to re-inflate the sagging tubes.    Apparently we had a leak which would require attention back at the yard but in the meantime we were sure not to travel without our foot pump!   Life in the yard and the indignity of being deflated and stuffed into our storage shed for the summer had not agreed with Anjulita!    

Pumping up the dinghy (again!)

During our stay in Georgetown, we'd often spotted the silhouette of a tall ship, Mystic, anchored in the distance and we were delighted to learn, one morning, that the cruising community were invited aboard for an "open house".     On arrival we were greeted by Amy, "Hello, welcome aboard, I'll be your parking attendant and I'm the Captain of Mystic".    What service, the Captain would be parking our dinghy, which was a relief, as the side of Mystic was congested with quite a crowd of small tenders.    We stepped aboard to enjoy our tour, with complimentary coffee, toast and bagels, our third breakfast of the day!    Mystic, like Anju, was steel hulled and she carried a crew of eleven plus paying guests for cruises in the Bahamas, Chesapeake and New England.    

When the time came to leave, our parking attendant was nowhere to be found, probably busy with Captain-type duties.    Anyhow, Phil bravely set off along the precarious ledge on the side of Mystic's hull, to retrieve Chris' tender.

Mystic in Georgetown.

Phil, part-time parking attendant.


Georgetown was slowly filling up, ready for the highlight of our stay, The Family Island Regatta.............
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