Arriving in Georgetown - The Cruiser's Mecca in The Bahamas
After another great day of snorkeling at O'Brien's Cay in the Exuma Land and Sea Park, we picked up anchor at sunrise and picked our way along our Navionics path around the boulder and past all the sand bars to exit again onto the Exuma Bank. The winds were 15 or more from the SE, so directly in our teeth. The water was a stark contrast from the previous day with small white caps and no chance of seeing the bottom. We motored into it, covered up to protect our sunburns.
We made it to Black Point Settlement, at the northern end of Great Guana Cay, around 4:00pm and headed in to town to see what it was all about. There was quite a bit of swell wrapping around the point so it was still a bit lumpy. There are a ton of nurse sharks hanging out at the dinghy dock and the town has a few restaurants, one of which offers a cruiser's happy hour which we briefly checked out. We also picked up some of Mama's famous coconut bread which definitely lived up to the hype.
We had originally planned on spending a couple of days at Black Point but with the swell, we were fed up with rocking around and not getting sleep, so we left after one day. Making another jump south, we stayed on the Exuma Bank side and still had the wind in our teeth. As we approached the channel for Galliot Cay, we finally decided we had had enough of beating in to it, so we took about 6 long tacks and though we added miles, it was so much more comfortable.
We planned our last tack to perfectly enter the channel, and resumed motoring through this tricky section. This area of the Exumas starts to be filled with coral heads and sand bars, making visual navigation even more essential than normal. We came in south of Little Farmer's Cay and then turned southwards to drop our anchor off of Big Galliot Cay. There were already two other boats there, boats much heavier and bigger than ours, and they were visibly rocking up and down in the swell. We dropped the pick close to shore to try to get some cover from the fetch but after half an hour, we realized it was going to be an awful night if we stayed. By now, it was 4:00 pm and luckily we were at high tide, so after consulting the charts, we decided to pick up anchor and make a 4 mile run south to Rudder Cay. We were so glad to be at high tide because there were some depths of 6 feet (we draw 5') but we made it without issue. The anchorage at Rudder Cay was packed (well, relatively packed with about 20 boats) but the swell and fetch were minimal compared to Galliot. We were very happy we made the decision to move there. Aaron tried a bit of fishing but came back empty handed.
We endured the night of rocking around and woke up around 7am to prepare for our 40 nautical mile run to Georgetown along the outside. We watched a couple of boats leave the anchorage and we picked up around 9am, when we estimated slack tide to be that morning. After a close call in the visually confusing channel, we exited the cut at 8 knots (guess it wasn't so slack!) and were shot back out into the deep azure of Exuma Sound. We raised the sails and motorsailed our way south, passing about 20 boats heading northbound and only one other heading south with us. It was a gorgeous day to be on the water.
We entered Elizabeth Harbour through Conch Cut, and it was wide, easy, and had almost no current which is atypical of most of the cuts along this section of The Bahamas. We snaked our way past sandbars and coral and were greeted by more masts than we could count. We definitely found where all the boats were! We had arrived a few days after the annual Cruiser's Regatta had finished and many boats had left (there was close to 500 for the regatta) but there were still almost 300 dispersed among the many anchorages in the harbour. We found a spot right next to the friends we had come to visit, and dropped our Rocna in 18 feet of water off Monument Beach. We made it! Check out our next post to see what we did, and how long we got sucked in to staying in Georgetown!