Thursday, April 16, 2015

Marathon East - AKA Georgetown

Remember when I was so excited about reaching Marathon?  Well, after all these months, we aren't quite as wide eyed as we were back then.  We're more experienced Cruisers.  We don't GET excited... Lies.  We still do.

We left Emerald Bay Marina on a perfect weather window for making the jump to Georgetown.  There are two ways in, the north and the southern route.  Obviously coming from the north, we chose the closer way in.  Considering the number of people who come here each year, I thought it would be an easier entry.

Waves breaking over unseen rocks
There were some nice sized swells following the boat as we turned to starboard and made our approach.  It is pretty shallow and the chart is riddled with even more shallow spots and some coral heads.  We had a route planned out along the lee of the barrier Cays but there was no protection from the swells, so we went further in before we headed down to find an anchorage.  That seemed to work a little better as we watched another boat making their way in via our rejected route as they rocked and rolled wildly.

All by ourselves
We picked our way in successfully and chose a spot off of Volleyball Beach.  This is the most popular beach but only one of several choices.  We figured we would see what this spot near the famous Chat-N-Chill was all about then maybe move to one of the other beaches.

We anchored in about 17 feet of water directly out from the channel that leads to a place called The St. Francis.  There were no other boats anchored near this spot and we were suspicious of this.  There must be some reason it isn't taken.  There are literally hundreds of boats lined up along these beaches.  But we anchored anyway thinking that if the reason becomes evident, we would move.  As it turns out, it must have just been the depth that discourages most Cruisers because it was a great location.

Georgetown is known as a Cruiser Mecca.  Some folks come here year after year and just stay.  There is a morning net on VHF channel 72.  A resident Cruiser named Sue fro S/V Wind Dancer does the net every day, 365 days a year.  She does a marvelous job of imparting vital information and organizing all of us ruffians and GT wouldn't be the same without her.  After the net she sticks around and clues the newcomers in as to how to get water, propane, shopping, pump out (yes, there's a pump out boat in GT) and just about anything else one might need.

Going ashore, we dinghied the 1.2 miles across Elizabeth Harbour which is just gorgeous when the sun is out.  It practically glows a shimmering blue green and invites swimming, but probably not a good idea with all the boats zooming across at all hours.  There is a small bridge over a narrow waterway channel that leads to and from Lake Victoria.  The current rushes through the small passage when the tide is moving and sometimes it's quite a challenge to get our little motor to push us through.

The local grocery, the Exuma Market, provides us with a floating dinghy dock and free water supply.  It is all very orderly with a spot to line dinghies up for the water spigot, and the rest of the docks free for us to use to access the many services offered in town.

There are actually two grocery stores within easy walking distance. We shopped equally at both and then found that more often, the store at the far end of Lake Victoria just past Eddies was likely to have better prices, if not always a better selection.

Eddies is certainly worth mentioning.  It's a local eatery where you can sit and use their free, reasonably fast internet while you enjoy a cold drink or a plate of delicious food.  We ate a burger there, tried the conch fritters (awesome and very cheap) and had the best Fried Grouper Snack (snack is just the entrée and fries - a dinner includes other sides).

You may also find vendors set up on the roadside selling locally grown veggies and fruits.  The Reverend is here most days just down the street from Exuma Market.  He seems to get a lot of business but there are several others selling about the same stuff further up the main street towards the intersection.

The Reverend
They sell mainly potatoes, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, a local fruit called Sapadillo, occasionally some okra and other good stuff like shelled pidgin peas.

There is one other option for provisioning that is an event in itself.  Prime Island Meats, located about three miles north of town, comes three times a week to pick up Cruisers and takes them to their store.

LOTS of choices!
Their prices and selection are super by Bahamas standards.  The cuts of meat are recognizable.  The store is growing and they promised to have a new building open for us by next year.  So for free you get a wild ride to and from the store where you can restock the freezer... AND you get maybe 15 or so new best friends.

Schlepping the laundry back home
Moving right along... to laundry.  There are two options for laundry in GT.  The first is the Corner Laundry which is just off the main street before you get to the intersection.  It's a rough looking place (didn't get any pics) but it is surprisingly well run by Ms. Lee and her sidekick, Robert.  Between them, they are like air traffic control of laundry.  You tell them how many loads you're doing and if the machines are all full, rest assured that the very second one is open, you will be directed to it.  As soon as your loads stop spinning, you will be directed to which dryer, depending upon the size and type of clothing in your load.  You will only need one pass at the dryer and your clothes WILL be dry.  This is almost unheard of in Cruiser-dom.  As long as you have no delicate things (they don't belong on cruising sailboats anyway), you won't mind the fact that you can actually see flames burning high inside the big dryers....  

The other option (we didn't use it) is a place a few miles away with reportedly newer machines and much nicer looking.  They will come get you and bring you back, but (also reportedly) you have to wait a while so your laundry ends up taking all day long.  We like Ms. Lee and Robert so much though, we didn't consider using the other facility. 

Walking OVER the dinghy bridge

Top To Bottom - great hardware/marine store  Sometimes better prices than West Marine

The School

Beautiful old Government Building

The volunteer library
There is a library that is run by volunteers, many of whom are cruisers.  For $3 you can get a membership which entitles you to visit the free book exchange, the lending library and access to cheap books and audio books for $1 or $2.  But you've gotta go early because they are only open in the morning.  They are just down the street from the Exuma Straw Market.  

Another rather famous spot is the Peace & Plenty.  It's a hotel and restaurant with a marvelous view.  Although I guess land based vacationers would find it more so than us Cruisers... we get that view all the time.  

It is a very good place to eat when you're looking for a little more up-scale environment but the prices are still relatively decent.  We had two very good meals there.

My first conch burger!
Anything you need can be found here.  Propane can be obtained one of three ways.  There is a boat that comes out daily which will take your trash, pump out your holding tank and take your propane tank for refill.  You can also take your tank to shore to one of two other places, but we opted for the door to door service.
Volleyball Beach and the Chat & Chill

Looking out at the anchorage from the beach
Some kind of meeting and a volleyball game getting geared up
Our convenient location just off of Volleyball beach gave us easy access to all the goings on there.  Although we aren't very much "joiners" preferring smaller more intimate group activities, there are lots of things to do.  Cruisers organize volleyball (thus the name of this beach), basket making classes, beading and other art forms, card and domino games, water aerobics and yoga, just to name a few.  During the high season months of November through February, we hear the place is just a non-stop entertainment center. 

The Chat & Chill provides the meeting place for much of it.

We had a small WWS meet-up at the C&C.  There are ALWAYS others from the group in just about any anchorage we've been to with LOTS of us here at G-Town.

The Chat & Chill is a beach bar.  They serve a limited menu and the service is very slow.  But then... what ELSE have we got to do, right?  The food isn't great and it's all rather pricey for what you're getting... shoot, the owner isn't even very nice.  He makes no secret of the fact that he's here to make money.  Lots of it.  And so he must, because the place is always jumpin'.

You can't blame a guy for being honest.  He provides a kookie beachy place for Cruisers and landlubbers alike to come and meet one another for some fun times.  I guess paying $12 for a drink is OK now and then when you're anchoring out indefinitely and getting water... all for free

Every weekend there is a pig roast at the C&C.  It costs $22 for a small plate of food, but it's pretty good.  We splurged because it was Easter weekend and I told Bruce I wasn't cooking...

Bruce got ribs for $19 and we survived on my pig plate while we waited for EVER for his food to come.  Luckily the daiquiri kept me entertained.  
We strolled around and enjoyed the happy voices of the boat kids while they made colored eggs... and rock... and conch shells...

Easter Conch
Shady places to get out of the sun.

Conch Shack where you can get conch salad

You can also get conch scraps...

To feed to the rays that come begging to the beach

I know, not a smart move... but he was COOL!
Holidays "out here" are never normal.  With no children to color eggs with, Bruce and I settled for a solitary walk on a beautiful beach.  

The unlovely Sea Cucumber
I love sea creatures.  There was prime snorkeling very close to our boat.  One day when the winds were down, we dinghied just over to the wall between us and the next beach.  We saw lots of critters in a very short time,  that I've never seen before...

This little guy got chased off by the purple fish
HUGE sea star
Sea Hare  Really, it's a Sea Hare
Aggressive little purple dude...
WWS and that one hairy dude!
OMG we just had the most awesome time doing it all!  We had another meet-up with WWS, a DIFFERENT group this time.  We were in GT for so long that a lot more of us came and left.  We met up with husbands invited, at Flip Flop beach, which is way north past Monument...

Such a happy bunch!
There is a pristine beach and if you walk up a bit, there is a very nice little tiki hut maintained by Cruisers where you can sit and gather.

Our Cruiser Living Room...
Our friends from White Pepper came and went while we were in G-Town.  We spent several days hanging out with them, but one of the most memorable was our day at the beach.
We hiked over the island to the Atlantic Side
Almost there...
We enjoyed a nice picnic and an afternoon with a view.

We enjoyed one of the many Cruiser's Happy Hours over on neighboring Sand Dollar Beach.  We took the dinghy and had no trouble finding it...

There were dozens of people there, some with kids.  One couple from Canada had a very nice son who passed their offerings around... chips, crackers and skittles!  He had bought the snacks and prepared them.  His mom let him go and play with the other kids as soon as his serving dish was empty.  What a great life this is for kids!

You can ALWAYS tell where the party is!
We left at just about sundown. 

The anchorage at night has hundreds of anchor lights.  It's very beautiful.
Flip Flop Beach

Taking a break from the social scene, we returned alone to Flip Flop beach.  It really is stunning and to have it all to ourselves was surreal.

Bruce fooled around exploring the tiki hut while I lazed on the beach.

Working on my Cruiser Tan

This is as good a place as any to wash our hair!  Before long, several other boats came and burst our bubble, but it was nice while it lasted.
Georgetown is an easy place to have visitors.  There is an airport with international flights in and out every day.  We had our friends Chuck and Teresa come for a few days.  Sadly they had to go back to the real world.  We enjoyed their visit though and can't wait for them to return.  If you want to come see us, just let us know and if we're near an airport, we will work it out.
Chuck and Teressa at The St. Francis
Sadly, due to their short stay and the high winds we had, we didn't get to take them sailing.  We did some walking on the beach and a little bit of snorkeling... and a whole lot of eating and drinking!

Regatta Point Anchorage
We DID finally move the boat while they were here.  We moved it over closer to Kid's Cove, which is where the town is, so that we could get them to shore without getting them wet.  It would also make it more easy for us to top off our tanks with water and fuel, and pack in those last few groceries.

With the departure of our guests, our time at G-Town was at it's end.  We moved the boat once more to the southernmost part of Sand Dollar Beach.

It was so pretty there we wished that we had moved in sooner... but it was a good place to do a little pre-departure bottom cleaning.

Suddenly... the weather said GO!  It was time to leave.  We would head out in the morning via the southern route headed for Long Island.

We had been in Georgetown for a month.  While we had a lot of fun and didn't do EVERYthing that there is to do... I'm not sure we would enjoy sitting still for very much longer.  But we will be back... to Marathon East!


  1. Lot os great info here for my trip...thanks

  2. Richard this is a good one for your route. There is free water and you can provision pretty easily getting just about anything you might need. There are also repairmen around to help with mechanical stuff. The Cruiser community is strong here and you can get help with lots of stuff Cruiser Style.