Thursday, March 24, 2011

Staniel Cay to Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas March 2011

March 24, 2011
Being flexible is the name of the game!  Three weeks at Staniel Cay was not on our itinerary, but that’s okay.  We chilled out, met lots of great boaters & explored the area via dink and foot, waiting for weather and a potential buddy boat or two to travel further south with.

Moving a bit further south to Black Point Settlement, we anchored for a couple of days before heading out of Dotham Cut at 8:00 am to Georgetown, a straight shot offshore and uneventful. 
Black Sound Grocery Store

Black Sound looking over from anchorage to Atlantic over the trees

More of the beautiful waters in the Exumas

We fueled up on Tuesday, March 22 at Sampson Cay after being told that Sampson moved more fuel than did Staniel Cay.  Their prices seemed to be the same each time I checked.  Heart Attack:   We paid $5.61 a gallon for diesel.  And I screamed at their quote the week or so before of $4.88.  Live and learn.  These increases seem greater than what we hear is happening in the States.  I hope the rumors of cheap fuel further south in the DR, perhaps Puerto Rico and further down the island chain, closer to Venezuela pan out, recouping our budget.

Discussion Point:  Why is it important to obtain fuel from a marina that sells lots of fuel versus obtaining from a marina that only sells a little from time to time?

Discussion Point:  We purchased 300 gallons of fuel.  What did we have to pay for the fuel?  How much MORE did we end up paying than if we had fueled up the week before at $4.88 a gallon?

March 25, 2011

We always say what a small world this is and I am never ceased to be amazed at how true that is.  Shortly after we dropped the hook at Sand Dollar Beach on the Stocking Island side of Georgetown, we were greeted by the couple on a DeFever 49 pilothouse, just behind us.  Frank & Sal, aboard Fine Romance, were excited to see us and had been looking for us for several months, knowing we had to arrive in Georgetown one of these days.

Amazing - Frank had responded to a query I sent out over one of the boating websites asking a few questions regarding travel to the Caribbean.  I ultimately spent about an hour on the phone with him gathering all kinds of insights from him as they’d done the trip down to Martinique and back.  He was helpful then and very helpful again, coming on board and reviewing charts, anchorages and destinations with us.  I can’t believe we actually dropped our anchor right in front of his boat as Georgetown has several places to anchor and is a very large harbor area!

Tiny bridge one dinks thru to get to 'Lake' Victoria & grocery store & restaurants

Church seen from 'Lake' Victoria Georgetown
Andy & I spent the day wandering about Georgetown, walking around Lake Victoria.  We are impressed with the number of activities boaters sponsor -- including bridge groups, yoga, ‘cocktail parties’ on the beach, a Cruisers Net on VHF 68 every day that provides weather and a list of the day’s To Do’s, etc.  It is certainly an AARP active community during the winter months,  and one I’d enjoy spending a month or so in when we return this way.

Tonight, we plan to listen in on VHF at 8:15 PM to a ‘lecture’ on the night’s constellations above our heads given by a retired Navy world travelled navigator.  I’m looking forward to sitting on our bow, radio in hand and getting some of these stars straight in my head!

We'll depart Georgetown in the early morning, marking the beginning of our 'real' trip, cruising southward where not a lot of boaters venture.  We are finally really ON OUR WAY!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pulling out of our anchorage off Stocking Island at 7:00 am, Andy admitted to me he did not sleep well - anxiety over our long blue water passage today kept him awake every hour on the hour he said.  When one reads the waterway guides on the various inlets and routes, one could think the rocks and reefs jump out to grab you, just like some sea monster from below.  Then, when actually make some of these passages and in or out of an inlet, sweaty palms and all, we always say - “that wasn’t bad at all”.  It’s probably the lawyers again, making the guidebooks full of BUYER BEWARE language.

At any rate, we were a bit apprehensive going out of Georgetown as the sun, just coming up,  was in our eyes and we could not read the water.  The book said it is ‘important that you are right on top with your eyeball navigation’.  Not happening for us!  The problem is that one needs the sun behind you coming INTO our destination at the end of the day -  all those reefs again.  Obviously, there are only a certain number of daylight hours.  We are limited by the number of hours  it takes to get to our destination without getting caught in the waning light as we come into a place we have never been before.  We are trying to avoid any night cruising as we make our way across some pretty long distances between here & Puerto Rico.   Checking and re-checking our waypoints, we carefully stayed on the GPS routing and had no problems at all getting out into the Atlantic.

Discussion:  What is a waypoint?  Why are they important?

Andy’s real anxiety stemmed from reading “The Gentlemen’s Guide to Passages South” by Bruce Van Sant.  This is THE handbook for Caribbean cruising, but focused on sailors who need the wind in order to make the passages from Florida to Venezuela.  I’ve now read the book twice, highlighting and underlining it on every page.  I stay confused, feel like I’m standing on my head underside down, trying to figure out what Van Sant is saying AND I have some experience sailing.  His chapters are well focused on the weather, the winds and the tides and how to best use all three to get where you are going.  I keep trying to understand how to make his book relevant to us, a cruiser with two 300 HP diesel engines that can push thru wind and waves.

Van Sant’s book usually tells the boater to depart at night and to arrive the next morning, or to sail for two days before turning into an anchorage, etc. -- things we do not want to do!  We’ve finally decided that we can use his general knowledge regarding the winds and currents and his descriptions of anchorages all along the route to our advantage.  We will ignore a lot of everything else, but in doing so - our anxiety can increase.....what if we ignore the one critical point we should have accounted for?  Ah, well.  We are cautious, watch the weather and its patterns and always have a Plan B in our heads and on our charts should something go wrong.   Humm, worry, worry!

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