Thursday, April 23, 2009

We made it to Georgetown!

Kristen here - That's it, we're here. We finally made it to the Bahamian home for cruisers. The destination, that has been called day camp for adults. Georgetown!

We left Black Point Settlement this morning at 7AM. We were a bit tired after getting up at 5AM. Chris couldn't sleep because of the boat rocking, so he went to try sleeping in the cockpit. While there he noticed a squall approaching, and wanted to put the dinghy engine on its home on our back rail. He said he's heard too many stories about dinghies flipping in squalls. So at 5AM I donned my jammies and hopped into the rocking dinghy and helped hoist the engine. The squall missed us, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.

We were heading under 1/4 mile north to go out Dotham Cut. Up to now we have been on the West side of the Exuma Islands. In order to get to Georgetown, you have to be of the East side. So you have to find a break in the chain of islands that is deep enough for your boat to pass through. These places are called cuts. Dotham is a nice cut because it is just straight through. Many other cuts are winding passages through coral and rocks. I had glanced over at Dotham when we were going to Black Point, and I remembered seeing nothing but a deep blue passageway.

When we headed out this morning, I was very glad to have glanced at the cut. As we left Black Point, there was a large grey cloud front just to the West of us. We watched it, and it appeared to be moving North. No problem, we were heading South! As we rounded the corner and headed into the cut, it started to sprinkle. Good thing we got the foul weather gear out. Then we were half way through the cut and the wind picked up and the skies just let go. I had been preparing for the downpour and wasn't watching where we were going. That was when Chris announced that he couldn't see anything through the dodger with the driving rain and 25kt winds. Hmmm...this isn't good, we don't have much margin for error in this narrow cut. If only that rain had waited 1 more minute we would have been in 1,000 feet of water! I jumped out from under the dodger and squinted through the pelting rain. No problem, we're right on track between two jutting rocks. No less than two minutes later we were through the cut. The rain lasted about 5 more minutes before ending just as quickly as it had started.

It's funny, if that had hit us when we first started, I would have been terrified. Today there was no worry. I knew the winds would only pick up about 10 knots, bringing them to 20 knots. We were in 26 knots the other day and we were fine, so I knew we would be fine today. Experience is a wonderful thing!

We hit that beautiful purple water, and were glad to be in the open ocean again. It's oddly comfortable to have 4,000 feet of water under you. As soon as we got through the cut, we pulled out the fishing gear. We let out our hand line with a purple squid, and the pole with a silver/green spinner. Once again there was no luck :(. I then pulled out the big pink squid and attached it to the hand line. Now I was getting serious. I have been having a lot of fish lately and am really growing to enjoy it. I'm looking for some free food here! We also tried putting a piece of conch on the spinner. Nothing worked, and I'm still fishless. And to make matters worse, as we were coming through Georgetown harbor a huge fish swam by. This was of course after we had pulled in all of our lines. I think I actually saw him pointing and laughing at me!

Coming into Georgetown harbor was a bit tricky. There are a whole bunch of sandbars, so you have to zig zag around them in order to reach the anchorage. We had GPS navigation points to follow, but the ocean bottom constantly shifts and the most reliable way to navigate is by your eyes. I believe the entrance was something like this:

- Hit your first GPS point and then head for a hill that looks like this (picture on the chart book)
- Once past the brown water to your port, parallel the island until you pass a red/white buoy that may or may not still be there. That buoy marks a shallow reef.
- once past the red/white buoy, head for the pink house on the eastern shore
- when you are abeam of the point on your port side, turn and head for that point
- when you are abeam of the main island to your port, turn 90 degrees and head for the monument on shore
- when you are just off of land, you will see a deep water channel leading to the anchorages

As odd as it sounds, these directions actually worked! I sure hope that nobody paints those pink houses though.

When we were entering the port, the water was a color I had never seen before. I got really nervous because it's my job to read the color, and I wasn't sure what this was. Part of it was deep purple like the ocean, but there were brilliant patches of purple/green. It was almost like the water was glowing. I was admiring the beauty and scared of it at the same time. I yelled back to Chris to tell me the depth, and he said it was 50 feet. I figured that I was seeing the patches of sandy bottom which appear greener than deep grass covered bottom. I had just never seen this at a depth of 50 feet. Until now we have been in shallower water. The clarity of it is just amazing!

In the first anchorage we hit, we saw a space to drop the hook. Seeing as there were about 100 or so boats at the various anchorages, we decided to get while the gettin' was good. We pulled into the spot and dropped the anchor. We reversed to set the anchor and then waited a bit. It seemed we were dragging, so we reversed again and moved steadily backward. Not good. Maybe there was a reason this spot was empty. Not wanting to be up all night worrying about dragging, we decided to find another spot.

Our next spot was farther away from town, but the holding seems much better. As we pulled into it, the kids on the boat in front of us came out and started waving. So once we got settled, we dinghied over to say hi. The parents invited us on "Osprey" and the kids immediately started playing. We had a great time getting to know each other. Then it was back to Pelican for dinner.

Tomorrow we're excited to check out town and all of the excitement surrounding the regatta!

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