Bahamas - Nassau to Georgetown, Exumas

12th - 22nd February 2005


With our slightly battered dinghy safely re-secured on the davits, we left Nassau, heading out onto the Yellow Bank to cross to the Exumas.   The Yellow Bank has many isolated coral heads and because of our relatively deep draft, we selected a route to avoid most of the charted coral heads.   Despite making it a longer trip, it paid off as we only had to change course once to avoid coral. It was tricky to see the coral heads, as we were heading south into the sun, so we took turns on the bow until we turned east again and into deeper water.   We anchored for the night off Highborne Cay, where we definitely lowered the tone of the neighbourhood!


Our super-yacht neighbours at Highborne Cay


As we had a deadline to arrive in Long Island for the Ocean Cruising Club get-together, we decided to press on south straight away, our next stop being at the Exuma Park at Warderick Wells, after a motor sail with (naturally) the wind right on the nose!   When we called up the Park, no moorings were available, so we selected an anchorage at Emerald Rock.  We were nervous entering the anchorage as the charted depths were 1.8 m in some places and finally chickened out and dropped our hook a long way out, leaving Pat and Liz from Catspaw with a long dinghy ride when they came aboard Anju for sundowners.   Next morning we decided to brave our way further into the anchorage on the rising tide and on picking our way in, found good depths much closer to shore, so we were able to be more sociable and anchor nearer to the other boats.



We spent a couple of wonderful days in the beautiful and tranquil park area which had many great hiking trails.  One trail took us to Boo Boo Hill, where many cruisers had left mementos of their visits (no plastic allowed).  We didn't have time to make our own offering while we were there, but hoped to visit again on our way north.

As we hiked a path around the south and to the east side of the island, we found the ground littered with many amazing holes of varying sizes, where fresh water collected.  We certainly had to take care as many were large enough to fall inside.  We also had to watch out for poisonwood trees, which would give you a nasty rash if you touched them. 

Cruisers' Offerings on top of Boo Boo Hill

Phil plays his own kind of "rock music"on Warderick Wells.

We were lucky to spot one of the island's normally nocturnal inhabitants, a houti, which reminded us of a guinea pig but larger and faster.   We were also scared by a brown snake, slithering across our path!  

The islands holey rocks, were not only useful for water collection but also had musical properties if you struck them with a hard object.   All in all the terrain was pretty unusual, leaving us with the feeling that we may have arrived on an alien planet! 

At the visitor centre, the resident Bananaquit birds were very sociable and would land right on your hands, provided they were full of their favourite treat of sugar!   Not only were they friendly to humans, they were also very kind to one another, passing sugar on to any other birds who couldn't find a close enough spot to land and reach the sugar for themselves.

Next morning when we left the anchorage to push on south, we found a whole 20 centimetres of water beneath our keel but managed to pick our way out safely, even at low water!

At Big Major's Spot, a popular anchorage with around 50 anchored boats, we arrived just in time for the party.  The local youth association on neighbouring Staniel Cay were having a fund-raising "cook-out", so we didn't even have to make our own lunch!

Staniel Cay is famous for being the home of the grotto used in the James Bond "Thunderball" movie, a great spot for snorkelling, especially at low tide, when you don't have to duck under the water to get inside!

Christine mobbed by bananaquits at Exuma Park


The fish inside were plentiful and well fed by all the visiting snorkellers.  We took along some bread along and were mobbed by the sergeant major fish as we tried to feed them.  Often they missed the bread and bit our fingers instead and they certainly have sharp teeth!  There were plenty of huge snappers too, mutton and yellow tail, who seemed to know where to hide from the frustrated fisherman!   The inside of the cave was beautiful with the blue water lit by a couple of holes in the roof above.   We took photos on our underwater camera, yet to be developed.


"Hey mon, where de fish, dis porridge be garlicky!"

 "Sorry but where exactly are the piggies?"


Our anchorage spot was off "piggy beach", named after its group of hungry inhabitants.   We kept our food scraps for the pigs, which "always come running when they here an outboard motor" but they didn't turn up for us.   Instead a group of hungry cats hassled us for the food.  They were unimpressed with the mixture of the porridge we'd burnt that morning, garlic and pepper stumps from the previous nights dinner but it disappeared anyway.

Our next stop at Black Point was very quiet and pleasant but we were soon joined by lots of other boats.  We were beginning to suspect our popularity stemmed from the fact that they kept up with us so they could listen in when Phil checked in with Chris Parker on the SSB radio for our daily weather report!

We took a hike along a pleasant but later overgrown trail, to take a look at the Dotham Cut.  Early next morning we'd be taking Anju through the cut and out into the deeper water of Exuma Sound.  Dotham Cut seemed to be one of the less scary cuts!  

On the beach we found what we think was our first seabiscuit, similar to a sand dollar but shaped like a scone. After our two mile hike and scramble, we were hot and tired but found the energy to search around the town for some coconut bread.  After asking around we finally found ourselves buying freshly baked bread in somebody's kitchen, which seemed to double as the local bakery.  Everyone in the town was very friendly and it was great to see the kids out in the street playing marbles, not sitting in front of the TV.

Dotham Cut

Anju anchored with several hundred of her closest friends at Monument Beach in Georgetown, Great Exuma.

We started off early next morning, too early in fact, before the weather forecast, when we frustratingly discovered that the wind promised for that day was delayed by a day.  However, to compensate, we managed to catch a nice dorado to refill our ice box as we motored to Georgetown.  

On arrival in Georgetown, Great Exuma Island,  we found not only our friends on Meredith but also several hundred other boats, mostly from the USA and Canada.  It seemed we'd tracked down all the snowbirds who had passed us on the Intracoastal Waterway in the States!  The highly organised radio net and social programme came as quite a shock to the system after the peace of the other islands.  No sooner had we arrived than we found ourselves at a "dinghy drift", a happy hour attended by dinghy.   There were around 60 dinghies in all, which were lashed together and drifted menacingly towards an anchored super-yacht, whilst jokes were told and snacks passed around from boat to boat.


Being the party-poopers we've now become, we decided to miss the sand sculpture and T-shirt designing competitions and the conch shell horn blowing workshop.  We were disappointed, however, to learn we'd missed a Ham Radio course.  Mostly we entertained ourselves by taking walks on the island near our anchorage, along the windward beach and in search of the path to reach the monument after which the beach was named.   On our first attempt we found ourselves at the top of the wrong hill but refusing to be beaten, finally tracked down the right path the following day!

Georgetown offered all mod cons and even free water to cruisers.  It was a good pit stop before heading on south to more remote spots in search of more peace!   First, however, we'd be off to Long Island to continue partying at the OCC rally!

"I felt sure this one was going to be the right hill!  Oh well the views good anyway."

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