More Bahamas

Swimming Pigs!!
One of our next stops is the anchorage known as “Pig Bay”. It is adjacent to Big Major Cay and Staniel Cay. We grab a bag of veggies, hop in the dinghy, and head for the beach. As soon as we approach the beach, the “greeting party” wades and swims towards your boat… large ones, small ones, striped and polka-dotted pigs. All of them hankering for a snack!

A friendly greeting as we arrive to the beach.

We start to attract a crowd.

Much to our surprise, some of these rascals are much bigger than anticipated!

Good bye little piggy!

This herd of pigs hangs out on the beach and waits for cruisers to feed them. It’s become a tourist destination, but there were only a handful of people there when we stopped by.

Staniel Cay
We leave the pigs to relax in the sun, dinghy to Staniel Cay and wander around the neighborhood. Very low key and funky.
Tiny cottages cling to the rocky shore and the water is unbelievably crystal clear.

Letting us know where we are!?

The water is so inviting, and it's warm as well.

This wall is covered with conch shells!

Haven't seen one of these in awhile!

Where the local critters are.

It’s simply amazing to look over the side and see bottom. Back on the boat, we can even see a “small” (6-7’) nurse shark swimming around under Bravo!

Even though these are harmless, they look menacing to us!

In the morning we pull anchor and continue south. Next stop, George Town, Exumas.

George Town
We arrive in George Town after a leisurely 8 hour scenic journey from Staniel Cay. We say goodbye to our friends Mark and Dawn, and a few days later our friends Chet and Lynette arrive, also from Bellingham, Washington.

Bravo at anchor in George Town.

Wintering in the Bahamas
George Town, Elizabeth Harbor, and Stocking Island are a major cruising destination in southern Bahamas. We arrive late January, but by March there are over 350 boats (mostly sailboats) in the harbor. Powerboats are probably 5% or less of the total boats.

However, there are 6 Nordhavn’s at anchor when we arrive. This is a great place to meet people. More Nordhavns come and go in the anchorage… N68 Floating Stones, N63 Anura, N60 Booke-End, N57 Worknot, N55 Odyssey, N55 Roam, N47 Southern Star, N47 Fusion, N63 Silver Spray, N40 Sprezzatura. Our friends on Worknot have their son Joey visiting. Joey brought his drone and gets some spectacular photos of the boats in the anchorage and surrounding islands.

This great drone photo is showing just a portion of the boats at anchor.

When Nordies get together, they socialize… A Nordhavn cocktail hour on Floating Stones creates a dinghy traffic jam off their swim step!

We join the fun and dinghy over to Floating Stones for cocktails and appetizers.

From the anchorages, the access to George Town is via the dinghy dock in Lake Victoria. Access to Lake Victoria is through a narrow low tunnel. Transiting this tunnel is a unique boating adventure especially when the tides and wind are against you! Clear the tunnel, pull up to the dinghy dock, and you've arrived in downtown George Town!

The small tunnel ahead is the entrance to Lake Victoria and the dinghy dock.

Going through the tunnel, and the dinghy dock is now in front of us.

Cruisers make George Town their destination for several reasons… lots of fun activities, miles of beautiful empty white beaches, plus an international airport for guests arriving and departing. But especially important, George Town is the central location for businesses servicing both the local and cruising community… supermarket, restaurants and food stands, laundry, general store, liquor store, bank, trash removal.

Things do not happen quickly in the Bahamas. The mail, food, supplies, and just about everything else comes to George Town via the “mail boats”. On the smaller islands, "mail boats" are their only commercial connection to the rest of the world. Therefore, in the island and cruiser communities, arrival of the “mail boat” is one of the weekly highlights.

Supply ship is unloading goods for the island. Just about everything arrives by boat.

The mail ship also arrives, and brings more goods. Not too organized!

Boaters and locals flock to the supermarket (think small) and other stores to stock up on fresh produce, meat, bakery, and dairy products. Cash is preferred at most businesses. US and Bahamian currency are at par and used interchangeably.

This is the local supermarket. It's not Trader Joes, but it's pretty well stocked.

Fresh Water
Many of the cruising sailboats depend on the generosity of the local Bahamian community for fresh water, since their onboard water tanks are relatively small. In George Town, the Exumas Market maintains a water spigot on their dinghy dock. So boaters who need water, bring jerry cans to the dinghy dock and fill them, for free, with fresh water from a single white garden hose. At times, there is a long waiting line. At most other Bahamas’ locations, there is a fee for fresh water. Providing this water is a sure sign of the Bahamians’ hospitality and generosity.

The line of dinghies on the left are lined up to get water from a single spigot.

This is a slow process to get water, but necessary if you don't have a watermaker.

Usually it's the small sailboats that have to come in to get fresh water.

Bravo and the other Nordhavn’s have desalinization water-makers. Therefore, we are independent and can produce our own fresh water.

Water-maker on Bravo can make 600 gallons of water in a day.

The Bahamians also provide cruisers with a simple and convenient trash removal program. A small pick-up truck is parked a few yards away from the end of the dinghy dock. Cruisers place their well bagged trash in the bed of the truck, and put $2.00-3.00 through the window of the truck…. Honor system. Low tech but it seems to work well and helps keep the trash off the beaches and recreational areas of the island.

The trash truck.

The cash just piles up on his seat.

Staying in Touch - Cruisers’ Net
With over 350 boats at anchor, there’s a lot going on every day. At 8:00am each morning, Bill from SV Charisma, or Emily from SV Temptress, host a cruisers net on VHF Channel 68. This is a broadcast of the latest news and weather for the George Town cruising community. Important information is provided regarding weather forecast and tides, sports tournaments and regatta activities, meetings of cruiser groups, kids’ corner, boaters’ in need, taxi ride-shares, propane deliveries, etc. You also hear which boats are arriving and leaving from the harbor. It’s information central for “Summer Camp for Adults”.

Bill hosts the Cruisers broadcast from his boat "Charisma".

Boaters in Need
One of the services facilitated by the cruisers net is boaters in need. Cruisers count on each other for assistance and technical advice to maintain their boat systems, and for general community assistance.

Our friend, Gale, on Worknot, got a call from friends who lost their anchor the previous night. The swivel broke detaching the anchor from the chain, leaving the anchor buried in the sand at the bottom of the harbor. Luckily they deployed an emergency anchor but were trying to find and recover their main anchor (about a $2500 investment!). We took our dinghy and Gale to the other boat and slowly criss-crossed the last known location of where they anchored in the harbor.

This is the GPS on our dinghy that shows our tracks in search of the anchor.
Wind made it impossible to do an orderly grid search. Also depth is incorrect.

Using “glass-bottom buckets” we amazingly located the anchor. Gale then free dove down to attach a line so the anchor could be pulled from the bottom back onto the boat. It was a lucky find and an example of how boaters help each other on a daily basis.

The lost anchor is being hoisted up.

Another example of cruisers helping, one day a distress call came over the radio asking for assistance with a boater who seemed to be having a stroke. Our friends from N55 Roam, Clark and Michele, quickly dinghied over to the sailboat, picked up the woman and transported her across the harbor to the dock closest to the small local hospital. Luckily, Michele is a nurse so the woman was in good hands. The cruiser was then airlifted to Nassau and returned to her boat a week later thanking everyone over the net for the help.

“Summer Camp” for Adults
When our friends, Chet and Lynette arrive, we head to Chat and Chill for some burgers, conch salad and the local beer, Kalik.

Chat & Chill signpost showing distances to cities of cruisers.

A funky homemade dingy arrives at Chat & Chill. I guess it floats?

Outdoor seating on the beach at Chat & Chill.

The Chat & Chill bar area is covered with cruisers tee-shirts.

The amazing conch salad is freshly prepared for each order. Empty shells are piled on the beach and barged away when the stack becomes taller than the shack!

The initial conch work table.

A mountain of conch shells outside the Chat & Chill Conch Bar.

They make an outstanding fruit conch salad here!

Chat & Chill beach is Chet & Lynettes favorite hangout!

The discarded conch shells are free to whoever wants one. Classes are offered for learning how to turn the shell into a conch horn. We simply pick one and take it back to Bravo as a memento of this beautiful harbor.

They are loading the conch shells onto a barge to make a reef.

Nora with her very own conch shell, and barge in the background with empty conch shells.

A small group of manta rays hangs around the Chat and Chill beach “begging” for conch scraps. People wade in the water up to their ankles and hand feed the rays.

I think I'll stick with looking at these guys from afar!

Nope, that's not anyone from Bravo feeding the rays! We still have our hands!

Water aerobics are held almost every morning. Gale, Mary, and Nora join the gang for an early workout!

Really? Water aerobics?? Looks like chaos on the water, or a mass drowning!

Karl and Keela pass on the water aerobics offer!

Keela and Karl manage to entertain themselves.

Sunrises, sunsets, snorkeling fill the days. Ahh, taking it easy!

Another wonderful sunset!

We go snorkeling at a nearby reef. Lots of coral!

Nora swimming off the back of the boat. You can't sink!!

Bahamas Hiking and Walkabouts
George Town is on Great Exuma Island. Stocking and Elizabeth Islands are narrow low barrier islands that separate, and protect, the George Town harbor from the open Atlantic Ocean. These two skinny islands are sparsely populated and accessible only by boat. Hiking trails crisscross the islands and offer a chance to walk and discover new horizons. The harbor side has long white beaches, with shallow calm water. The Atlantic side is rocky with waves breaking offshore.

A lonely dock by one of the hiking trails.

Some of the beaches are completely covered by small shells and other strange creatures!

We start to see shells on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island.

And more! "She sells sea shells down by the sea shore..."

I couldn't get Nora to leave! You'd think she found gold nuggets!?

And after all of that, this is it... Some of Nora's picks.

Now these things look prehistoric! Our nature expert Joe Van Os
tells us these are "chiton", which are a primitive mollusc.

The Art Walk Trail is one of our favorite hikes with cruisers adding new “objects de art” each day. This trail takes you from the sandy shores of Sand Dollar Beach to the rocky Atlantic side of Elizabeth Island.

Wow! There is an actual sign at the beginning of the Art Trail.

Various pieces of art are all along the trail.

Some items are a little more abstract than others.

This was on a swivel, so it spun with the wind.

Our friends from Floating Stones, leave a memento of their visit on the trail!

Too bad they couldn't have mounted the stone so it looked like it was floating!?

This is the Atlantic side of the Art Trail. Rocky, but also beautiful.

Tide pools abound.

Nora wanders the beach and discovers a new trail. It follows the shoreline, crosses the island and leads to a totally isolated tiki hut. So many beaches, so little time!

Cast Aways?

We take a short dinghy ride north and we hike the Monument Hill trail. The monument was originally constructed to guide ships to the salt mining section of the coast. From the summit, the highest point in the area, we have an amazing view. On the beach and defunct salt mining flats below, cruisers memorialize their visit spelling out the name of their boat in rocks.

The trail is mostly white sand and rocks, with tropical vegetation.

Palm frauds start to appear in some sections of the trail.

And in some parts of the trail, you're walking on palm frauds.

We reach the monument, and yup it does have a slight lean to it.

During the annual regatta, cruisers hold a “golf tournament” on the dry hard salt pans and beach below the monument. Those are truly “golf fanatics”!

Looking down from the monument you can see the golfers, and the boat names in the sand.

Big wind coming
Watching the weather reports, predictions are for 25-35mph winds for four days and nights. This amount of sustained high winds calls for some additional preparation. We check our anchor chain and snubber lines to ensure we have enough out for the strength and direction of the winds. While the wind is still calm, we pull the dinghy up and fasten it securely to the foredeck. This also gives us a chance to fill the gas tank, check the motor and prop, and give it a good cleaning. For bad weather our motto is "Prepare for the worse, and hope for the best!"

We are spared the 7' seas from protection of the islands.

But the islands are low, so we do get the wind.

Dinghy is clean, secured down, and covered. Bring on the wind!

We keep a sharp eye on other boats coming into the anchorage to ensure they keep an ample distance. Chatter on the radio mentions a few boats that dragged anchor due to the wind, as well as some dinghies that broke loose.

The days continue as a visual feast of tropical color and texture, sunrises, sunsets, sand, beach and boat. We are treated to constantly changing scenery of life on the water.

Sand and Rocks, ...Rocks and Sand?

Everyday here is fantastic, whether it's sunny, cloudy, or stormy!

Karl finally got out his drone for a photo of Bravo.

More Bahamas to come!


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