Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Heading to Georgetown

Chris here... We stayed at Sampson Cay Club last night. It's always enjoyable being tied up to terra firma, plugged into unlimited power, water available, and having shower facilities. The place definitely caters to the upper echelon of society though. Dockage was $2.75/ft, plus $0.50/gallon of water plus $0.40/kW of power. We were going to eat at the restaurant at the club, but they wanted $40 for a lobster dinner (small piece of lobster, roll, salad and vegetable), $38 for the steak, and $36 for a piece of Mahi-Mahi. It was even more expensive than the Norman Beach Club! Instead, Angie and Mark from Side by Side dinghied over with the kids and we left them on the boat watching a movie (with some food) and headed to the bar for a few drinks. We retired a couple of hours later back to Side by Side and ate some food on the boat, and then went back at around 10pm. It was a wonderful, relaxing evening.

We woke up early this morning and tried to get the weather for the next few days. Unfortunately, the SSB radio doesn't work very well in marinas, so we really couldn't hear Chris Parker. We spent the morning doing laundry, filling our dinghy gas tanks, taking showers (first real shower in 3 weeks - it was a religious experience) and we finally emptied our Nassau water out of our tanks (ick!) and refilled them with good quality water from Sampsons ($60 for the fill).

We then headed about 12 miles south to Black Pointe Settlement. It's the second largest town on the Exuma Chain (after Georgetown), and is more of a Bahamanian town than a tourist location. Side by Side headed out before us and sailed most of the way down. We started out with motoring, but ended up putting the genoa out to stabilize Pelican some.

The waves were about 4'-5' and somewhat steep, so we were rolling all over the place on the way down. Traveling with a catamaran (Side by Side) can be a bit frustrating sometimes, especially when the talk about leaving drinks and trail mix out for the kids while they do jigsaw puzzles and play with their legos while underway. We're pounding through the waves, and they're sipping martinis. If we go cruising again later in life, I will definitely give catamarans a second look - the room, the comfort and the flatness is very intriguing. On the other hand, on a great sailing day there's nothing like slicing through the water at 7+kts, heeled over, wind blowing and the sound of the wind and waves driving you on. I haven't sailed on a cat, but I don't think you get the same feeling of raw power (and sometimes sheer terror) that comes with monohull sailing. A few days ago we sailed from Warderick Wells to Pipe Cay (next to Compass Cay) in 20-25kts of wind. We had a double reefed mainsail and a double reefed headsail (reefing just means you've reduced the size of the sail - each reef reducing it further - we can do up to 3 reefs on our sails) and still did 7.2kts for most of the time.

Anyway... Black Pointe. It's basically one long street that runs the length of the island. They have two restaurants, three churches, a post office, a police station, a small clinic, one of the best laundromats in all of the Bahamas (go figure - they have to have some sort of attraction, right?), a grocery store and The Garden of Eden. We arrived at Black Pointe and anchored off of the government dock. The anchorage looked to be protected on the charts, but apparently the wind direction was just too far north and it ended up being very rolly. As a matter of fact, I'm sitting her right now and the boat is bouncing up and down like we're on a trampoline. It reminds me somewhat of our first night at anchor just south of Bimini.

We dinghied into the town dock, met a bunch of other cruisers who shared with us what was in town, and struck off down the main street. The first place we stopped at was the laundromat. While we did laundry in Sampons Cay this morning, we knew that Side by Side had to do their wash, and we indeed found them there. The laundromat is everything everyone has talked about - 10 or 12 new washers and 6 or 8 dryers. I guess they are looking to have cruisers stop there and do their laundry, partaking in food and supplies to help support the local economy. We passed a sign that asked for cruisers to donate 4-6 hours to teach at the local school, helping students learn math, reading and other skills. Apparently, they also let cruising kids go to classes there.

We're disappointed that we're leaving tomorrow and won't be able to participate, but since we also want to stop at Staniel Cay/Thunderball Cave at some point, I'm sure we'll be back through here.

We then stopped at Lorraine's Cafe. Many cruisers have told us to have dinner here so we took a look at the menu. Just like most other out island restaurants, you usually ignore the menu and pick from the 3-4 items that they actually have. We then continued on to see the "Garden of Eden". The Garden of Eden is located at one of the Willie's home - a local. He sees shapes and ideas in the clouds and then goes into the bush to find pieces of wood shaped like what he saw. He doesn't carve them - he just orients them so you can see what he saw. He's spent 30 years working on this. It's funny - the driftwood and other wood and rocks actually do look like things, ranging from whales, to people, to lions, to eagles and about 50 other displays. On the one side, it's pretty cool. On the other, I think you need to pop a few pills to really see what Willie sees in the wood. It's an experience though.

We headed back to Lorraine's for dinner. The food was pretty tasty, very reasonably priced, and it's always nice to get off the boat for a night - especially in a rolly anchorage. We enjoyed pork chops, Mahi-Mahi, chicken and a cheeseburger, along with some cole slaw (cabbage is a mainstay here since it lasts so long) and the Bahamian national dish - rice and beans. For all of this, plus three sodas, a beer and a side of french fries, we paid $66+tip. Not bad at all! We then headed back to our boats.

The weather is a big factor over the next several days. There are several weather fronts around, and we're caught in between them. When you get caught between fronts, the air between them is compressed and that causes elevated wind levels. Elevated wind levels cause high seas. Tomorrow is supposed to be a benign day, but by tomorrow night the wind is supposed to rapidly pick up to 20+kts and just keep picking up throughout the weekend. They are calling for 25-30kts of wind by Saturday or Sunday. Basically, everyone has tomorrow to pick where they want to be for the next week (unless you want big waves and big winds).

As a result, we're going to make a run for Georgetown tomorrow. It's a long trip from here - about 53nm. That's a lot to do in one day, but we've worked out all of the calculations, and as long as we can keep up 6kts of boat speed (please let the waves be with us!) we can make it down to Georgetown by 5pm. It will be somewhat difficult to navigate the sandbars and reefs at that time of the day, but we'll go slow once we get there. The wind is supposed to pick up tomorrow evening, so we have to hurry our way down. By the way, the big reason we want to get to Georgetown is because the Family Island Regatta is going on. We'll post more on that in a few days. Side by Side is supposed to be
following us on Thursday. We'll see how that goes.

As usual, we'll have our SPOT on so you can watch along. Hopefully the next entry will be coming from Georgetown.

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