April 16. We had a wonderful day at Galliot Cay. The beach is about 1.5 miles long. We walked it and then paddle boarded. We basically had a lazy day off a wonderful beach. We got in touch with the Cape Santa Maria (named after Columbus’s boat) resort as we were planning on staying tomorrow night and would go in for dinner. They told us no reservations required, just come on in.
April 17. We had a horrible night at anchorage. There was zero wind but there was a swell coming in, rolling Sonas around (they call this a surge on the charts). We wanted to stay another night, have dinner at the resort, but not in those conditions. So we walked the beach, lifted the dinghy and set off for Elizabeth Harbour and George Town. We followed a few other boats who had also left Galliot Cay and overtook them before we turned into Elizabeth Harbour, We anchored off Sand Dollar beach, not needing to go across to the anchorage off the town until tomorrow for provisioning. We got everything secured then went in to Chat n’ Chill for a couple of beers. We were disappointed as the staff were very surly. They were more focused on their cell phones than the customers, were rude in their responses, and service was extremely poor. Sian left a very negative TripAdvisor review.
After leaving Chat n’ Chill we dinghy’d into the two hurricane holes and had a look around. Most of the boats looked like they had been sitting there for a long time, and many were unoccupied. We also saw some property for sale – with a very appropriately placed for sale sign!
April 18. After breakfast this morning we moved across to George Town. We had seen the provisioning boat come is and tie up at the Government Dock. We rode the heavy wind and waves into the town dock and first went to a little souvenir store to buy birthday cards for Paul’s brother Paschal and Sian’s aunt Cath. After posting Paschal’s card at the post office Paul headed off to the bank to get some cash from the ATM while Sian started the grocery shopping. We then grabbed some items from the liquor store, got everything into the dinghy and pulled away from the dock.
CLUNK, and the outboard quit! What was that? Paul lifted the engine and we saw that our stern painter (rope) was wrapped around the prop! Luckily another couple were coming in on their dinghy and got us back to the dock. They were from New Zealand and on a round the world trip on their sail boat. We got the rope untangled, hand a long chat with the Kiwis, and then had a horrid ride back to Sonas getting totally soaked in the process – the wind and waves were building quite nicely.
April 19. The wind built to around 24 -26 knots today, meaning a mess of waves in the anchorage. So we stayed put on Sonas for the day, mostly reading! We did have one incident first thing during the Cruiser’s Net. The boat anchored next to us, name redacted, broke into the Net and said that his dinghy had broken free, could he have help getting it back! A guy with a 26 foot center console said he was on his way. We watched them search the harbour, finally disappearing into the far northern edge before returning with the dinghy. This suggests that it had broken free during the night and not just when he noticed it missing!
By the way, we “double bag” our dinghy every night. We cleat it by the main bow painter and then have a length of half inch rope which we also tie down loosely. If one goes then the other should hold until we realize we have an issue! We do this even though there are light winds when we go to bed, as things can get wild during the night! [Now read on, to see how we were humbled!]
April 20. Finally the wind died down, and we had a nice calm anchorage. We ran to the new resort development at February Point for lunch at the Rusty Anchor. Given its name, it surprisingly turned out to be a rather posh restaurant, especially given we were in swimmers. However lunch was enjoyable and Troy our waiter was very attentive. Later that afternoon we took the dinghy across to Sand Dollar beach and walked a few laps of the beach. The wind had died away to nothing and we had to leave the generator and air conditioning on tonight so that we could sleep comfortably.
April 21. Today is Easter! All this week we had been calling St Theresa’s Catholic Church to confirm the time for Easter Services, with no joy in getting through. We see from different sources that it is either 10:00 or 10:30. So this morning Paul asked on the Cruisers Net if anyone knew, the answer back was that they also had same conflicting information. So we decided to get there in time for the 10:00 start and, if we were early, say an extra few prayers!
We were there an hour early! So we sat quietly and thought our own thoughts. As the time for mass came near the little church became noisy with a surprising number of boys and girls in their Easter finery. The chapel held maybe 150 people max, and it was standing room only. Father Reggie was one of those happy boisterous priests, with a great singing voice. We had an organist accompanied by a man on a bongo drum! At the time of sharing a sign of the peace with each other there was pandamonium. People moved all over the little chapel hugging everyone and father Reggie walked among us and tightly hugged every single member of the congregation! We left there with the message of Easter ringing in our ears – he died for us, he rose from the dead, so now how do we walk in his footsteps!
We went back to Sonas in our dinghy, dressed in church clothes! Got changed, had lunch and then moved Sonas across to Sand Dollar Beach. Unless there is a need to be off George Town itself, like grocery shopping or church, we prefer to be across the harbour where Sand Dollar Beach is a quieter anchorage and somewhat away from the madness of the larger anchorages. It is also a lovely beach to walk and paddle board from. However it is still close enough for us to dinghy across to where they will have the regatta races on Wednesday!
Sian got on the paddle board, of which she was becoming quite proficient , and headed off for the beach. Paul took the safer route, using the dinghy! We walked the beach, Paul had a go on the Paddle board AND DID NOT FACE PLANT this time!
Back on board we prepared our traditional Easter dinner. A leg of lamb with aspharagus, roasted potatoes, home made mint sauce and gravy made from the lamb juice! We ate at the well set table in the pilot house looking out towards Sand Dollar beach. A delicious meal and a fine way to end Easter day.
We grabbed an after dinner drink and sat out on “our patio,” the boat’s cockpit. Around 9pm we saw a host of red, green and white lights descending on our stern, with searchlights flashing everywhere! It looked like aliens were landing. We saw that there was a catamaran in the middle of the pack and thought “why would anyone want to come into tricky Elizabeth Harbour in the dark?” After a period it all calmed down and went dark, what the heck was that all about!
April 22. We work up today with the catamaran anchored behind us. Listening to the 8am Cruisers Net we got the answer to the puzzle. The French flagged catamaran Liladhoc has tried to enter the harbour by a route they had on their Navionics software, and not using well publicised waypoints. They hit a reef and were holed. A MayDay went out and the local salvage company, along with a good number of center consoles from the cruising community, went and got the vessel secured. They brought her into the anchorage safely. Those on board did not speak very good English so a call went out for translators and someone found them a hotel room for the night.
Later this morning, seeing them on board, we motored over and offered the young couple the use of our washer and dryer, assuming that everything on board had received a good soaking. At first they seemed surprised that a boat had these facilities, but then thanked us and told us that they were going to go into George Town and use the laundry there.
We got after some boat chores and then dingy’d into the Sand Dollar beach for an hour’s walking. While ashore we met the owners of Nordhavn 68 Kava and their dog Penny. Australians Mike and Katie bought the boat in San Diego, came through the Panama Canal and were now working their way north to the US east Coast.
April 23. While listening to the Cruiser’s Net this morning the yacht “Bear” came on and said that they had snagged a runaway dinghy! Sian took a quick peek outside to make sure it wasn’t ours knowing of course it wasn’t because we double tie our boat – and the dinghy was gone! We got back on the radio and confirmed that it was our little duckling that had wandered in the night! We arranged to have it returned and when the crew of Bear brought it over we rewarded them with a nice chilled bottle of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc! Well, so much for thinking we had her well secured – we still have no idea how she came loose, as it wasn’t even a blowy night!
The rescuers reported that she was bumping against some coral when they found her, so Paul took her to the beach and checked her out, engine and hull, and everything was fine. What with getting the line caught around the prop a couple of days ago and now this, we were having some issues with our little boat – all operator error of course!
We went over to George Town and found the dinghy dock totally full. We managed to squeeze little us in and went to the grocery store for a couple of things. We got back to Sonas and after putting our purchases away we took ourselves off to Sand Dollar Beach for a long walk. Tomorrow is the start of the Family Island Regattas. We are going to watch the first day’s races, get some photos, and then on Thursday head off to Cat Island, another new-to-us destination!
April 24. The Exuma Family Island Regattas, the oldest regattas in the Bahamas, start today. There are three classes. C Class, the smallest boats with the smallest number of crew, B Class, the middle size, with slightly more crew, and A Class, the largest boats with around ten crew on board! Our plan was to wait for the Class A race, film the start and follow them in our dinghy for some photos.
Since the A Class was not scheduled to start until 3:30 we took ourselves over to Sand Dollar beach and waked both trails across to the “ocean side.” One trail took us to a long beach, with waves crashing onto the shore. Retracing our steps the second trail took us to an overlook, where we again saw waves crashing against the rocks below, but also a good view of the boats, including Sonas, anchored off the beach.
We decided to treat ourselves to a dinner ashore tonight, but wanted to avoid the madness of George Town during the regattas. So we called The St Francis Resort and booked a lobster meal for Sian and a snapper meal for Paul.
We got ourselves in great position to film the start of the A Class. We got a great view of the start gun and the crew pulling in the anchor and raising the sails. Then followed the race . See below for video and photos!
After tidying ourselves up we went over to The St Francis for dinner – and found ourselves the only ones there apart from some of the boat crews! It seems everyone else wanted to go to the regatta madness over in George Town! We nevertheless had a nice dinner, and got back to Sonas in enough light to lift the dinghy onto the boat deck, ready to bid George Town farewell first thing in the morning.