Published: March 24th 2010March 24th 2010
“Winter 2010 - Georgetown and Surrounding Harbors”
Our arrival in Georgetown was delayed somewhat this year due to our month long stay in Ocean Reef Resort. However, life in Georgetown was much the same as the two previous years. Our mornings are usually spent doing boat maintenance, going to town for supplies, laundry, dropping off trash or filling our water tanks. Most afternoons cruisers gather on Volleyball beach to hear the latest cruising gossip, play cards or dominos, and usually take part in a couple of games of “fun volleyball”. Fun volleyball is played with 9 people on each side (3 lines of 3). Therefore it is a low impact sport. A couple of times a week there will be an ARG meeting (Alcohol Research Group) where we have a sunset beach party with drinks, hors d’oeuvres and sometimes a bonfire.
The big event of the winter season is the annual Regatta in early March. This year was the 30th anniversary year. The sailboat racing begins with the annual Rally to Long Island in early February. We helped organize this event the last three years and were in charge of the event this time. The rally began on
February 1st with a race to Thompson Bay LI. This consists of a trip of 33 miles from Georgetown anchorage down the harbor, through a narrow cut between two very scary reefs out into Exuma Sound which is over 3,000 feet deep. Then it is a SE course for about 10 miles, followed by an easterly course of ten miles across the large shallow bank (10-20’ deep), and the a SE leg of 11 miles into Thompson Bay. Unfortunately, this year the wind was moderate 14-18 knots but blowing directly from the direction we needed to go (about 130 degrees). So, we motor-sailed the first 20 miles and then started the race from the middle of the banks and tacked the last 12 miles. Even with these changes some boats finished in the fading twilight. Double-Wide finished 2nd out of 5 cats entered. The winner was Sunburst a bright yellow owner designed and built 36’ cat from Michigan.
The Rally is really an excuse to get to Long Island and then party for three days before racing back. We had bus tours of the island, a luncheon at a local restaurant and the cruiser pot luck at the Long
Island Breeze resort. The pot luck was followed by an awards party where each cruiser needed to donate a prize which was then given out to each of the participants. We also awarded 10 bottles of Rum to the race winners. It was a big success. Then on the fourth morning we had a race back to Georgetown. This time the winds were in our favor and we had a great reaching and running course home in winds of 15-20 knots. In this race Double-Wide crossed the line 3rd behind Sunburst and a Schoning 46 cat. However, we corrected to 1st after our handicap. The night we returned we had a wrap up party at the St Francis grill and watched a slideshow of pictures various racers took during the two races.
This winter has been very different weather wise. Usually, the winter cold fronts do not penetrate as far south as Georgetown. Most winters the easterly trade winds dominate our weather. However, this year we have had a series of strong fronts that have had strong southwest winds preceding them, squalls to 40 knots during the frontal passage, and the stronger northwesterly winds for a day or two
after the frontal passage. This has made anchoring in the broad harbor in Georgetown very challenging. We had to move to more protected places during most of these fronts. Many boats elected to remain out in the main harbor but during each front there were several boats that dragged their anchors. Usually at 04:00 in the morning. We found a spot in a place called Crab Cay that is about 4 miles south of the main harbor. Up until the economy crashed Crab Cay was a multimillion dollar development under construction. However, now it is a closed project with only security guards to make sure no one lands on the private island. They had built some very interesting structures that look like a Polynesian village. The little cove we anchored in during each of these cold fronts was very protected and picturesque.
For one of the strongest cold fronts we moved seven miles north to the Emerald Bay Resort marina which had just been purchased by the Sandals Resort chain. They were offering a deeply discounted rate of $20.00 per night for a slip. The timing was perfect because our friends Barry & Julie from Atlanta were planning a
honeymoon trip to Emerald Bay for a week. They had rented a villa next to the marina along with friends from Italy that also were newlyweds. This allowed us to meet up with them for snorkeling, sailing and some great dinners. Especially, when their Italian friends cooked for us one night.
This has also been a bad year for boating accidents in our area. A 60’Azuimuth power yacht went on a reef on Conception Island and needed a major salvage operation to get it off. A 35’ Beneteau was approaching Rum Cay just after dark with an onshore wind, when his engine failed. The single hander went below to try and make repair and before he knew it the boat drifted on to a reef and was a total loss. Fortunately, people on the shore came out in their dinghy to rescue him. A boat in our “Around the Island Race” was dismasted halfway down the ocean side of the course, again luckily no injuries. Twice this winter, very experienced cruisers had severe hand injuries while trying to pull in their anchors and had to be airlifted back to the States for surgery.
The cruising season wraps up
in early March with the annual Regatta. This has grown from an in harbor, round the bouys race, to a 10 day extravaganza with various events each day. These include a coconut harvest, sand sculpture, volleyball tournament, Texas Hold’em, a talent show and a dance. They now have two sailboat races. One an in harbor race and one an 18 mile race around Stocking Island. We entered several events and did very well. Cameron placed 3rd in the Bocce tournament, 1st in beach golf and we finished 1st and 2nd in the sailboat racing. The crazy part was we were on a sand sculpture team that won 1st place and we know we have no artistic talent. Luckily, our team had a really good design and there were not too many teams entered. So we now have more colorful pennants and more bottles of Rum than we can drink in several years.
One Sunday as we were leaving beach church, a lady asked us if we would be interested in going along for a ride on a high speed tour boat while they shot a commercial for the new Sandals Resort. We quickly volunteered and away we went at
Grand Isles Villas
This is where our friends stayed.
35-40 knots towards Little Exuma and Exuma Sound. It turned out to be a great experience as we got a four hour trip that retails for about $250.000 for free. We stopped at deserted sandy cays, stopped for a swim and spent about two hours zooming between reef while a film crew in a helicopter shot footage for the Sandals website.
Several days after the Regatta, we decided that it was time to move on, so we raised anchor and sailed back to Long Island for a visit before we started our trip North.
There are more photos below