After sailing south from Black Point, we were entering the southern Exumas, with our southernmost stop being George Town on Great Exuma. A short sail on the bank, less than ten miles, led us to Little Farmers Cay, our staging point for our trip to George Town. With a total population of about 50 residents, Little Farmers Cay was the smallest settlement we visited.
There are several anchoring options here, including both the east and west sides of the island. We chose to anchor just east of the yacht club, just off the channel between Little Farmers Cay and Great Guana Cay. This turned out to be quite an interesting place to anchor: the holding was excellent (Troy was in heaven); the anchor disappeared in the soft sand. The current however, was incredibly strong due to the proximity to Farmers Cut. Every six hours, the boat did complete 180-degree swings as the tides changed. The current determined which way the boat pointed, not the wind. There were times that, although we had 70 feet of chain out, the anchor lay beside or even near the stern of the boat…a little unsettling, but after a few tide changes, we knew we were good to go. Troy and I visited Ty’s Sunset Bar and Grill and enjoyed a few Kaliks on the west side of the island.
One evening, we went to the yacht club for drinks with Lyle and Sheryl from SV Bacchus, who we met at Black Point. We enjoyed time with friends and talking to the yacht club’s owner, Mr. Roosevelt Nixon, a member of the original settling family. His stories and friendliness made us feel right at home. He told us that nearly everyone on the island is related, part of the original family or in-laws.
The next day, as we waited for Farmers Cut to calm for our exit onto the Exuma Sound, we made a dinghy trip north to hike to a large cave with saltwater pools. The trail was interestingly marked with a hard hat and rocks…I started to second guess my flipflop choice…were hardhats a hint??
After about twenty minutes, we arrived at the cave’s entrance. We made it…without hardhats! The cave was much larger than I expected and as soon as we lowered inside, carefully avoiding loose rocks, we felt the temperature drop…still humid as can be, but cooler. The wind noise diminished, and it was eerily quiet…except for the flapping of bats…lots of bats! They mostly stayed in their inverted position at the roof of the cave, only flying by every so often. We climbed the rocks and explored the cave, peering as far as we could into the saltwater pools. We’ve heard that divers can dive the pools and swim underground quite a ways…not for us, we stayed topside.
A night later, the trickiness of the current in the anchorage posed a problem for another boat. Before sunset, there were two other boats nearby us, forming a lopsided triangle…enough space to turn with the currents. Another boat arrived and decided to drop anchor right in the middle of our nice, well-spaced triangle. We instantly became concerned: when slack tide (the short time in between tides) comes, the boats become confused and turn unpredictably. This new boat was too close for comfort; we dinghied over to let them know about the current and that their proximity to other boats may cause a problem. We kept an eye out luckily and when slack tide came, the new boat began moving in the direction of one of the other boats. With the owners nowhere in sight, Troy called out to the couple, who were below deck. They scrambled to the deck and moved their boat before colliding with our neighbor. Had Troy not called out, they would’ve hit, ruining the day for everyone.
Sunday, the weather was right for our long haul to George Town. The winds slowed and the cut was calm (as calm as a cut can be, anyway); we exited onto the Exuma Sound during an ebb tide without issue. We motored south to George Town, the winds were virtually nonexistent so our 40-mile trip was hot! Dark clouds loomed, but luckily stayed away and we weren’t faced with a squall.
We arrived in George Town after a seven-hour trip, dropping anchor at Monument Point, the first of many anchorages in Elizabeth Harbor. The most popular anchorage is in front of Chat n’ Chill, but we prefer a spot less crowded. We would definitely be spending time at Chat n’ Chill, but we didn’t mind a short dinghy ride to save us from the crowded anchorage. George Town is situated on the western side of Elizabeth Harbor, with Stocking Island acting as a barrier island and the spot for most of the anchorages on the east side.
We were pumped to be in George Town. It is the spot in the Exumas that most cruisers aim to reach before heading back north. It is also a full-service stop complete with two grocery stores, marine stores, laundromat, the customs and immigration office, airport, a wide assortment of restaurants, hotels/resorts, etc. Some cruisers stay for months or even the entire season; we met a couple who had been there since December! Most come and go after a few weeks or maybe a month; we stayed for a week and a half. We made plenty of trips to Chat n’ Chill, the hangout spot for cruisers (day and night), to hang out with friends, play games, eat, drink, and even play some volleyball.
We made it to George Town just after the annual regatta (and passed a ship carrying racing boats out the day we arrived). Around this time, many cruisers have already begun their journey back, we passed another wave of cruising boats headed north on our trip down. Even then, there were possibly 200 or more boats across the various anchorages. We recognized many boats that we’ve crossed paths with during our trip south in the Exumas.
I think we brought the rain with us to George Town…we had days and days of rain and clouds. It made dinghy trips across the harbor to George Town very, very wet and bumpy. If it was calm and sunny, the dinghy trip took about 10 minutes but add wind, rain, and heavy jerry cans of water and it became longer…luckily we remembered our rain jackets, usually.
Speaking of water…George Town is very cruiser friendly. Exuma Market (the main grocery store) offers a free dinghy dock inside of Lake Victoria (a protected lake for small boats, accessible through a narrow bridge) and free water to cruisers. We were able to fill our jerry cans from the dinghy without lugging them to and from a spigot! Along with refilling water, we also reprovisioned at the grocery stores, picked up a few marine supplies, refilled our propane, and had our tourist visas extended. We almost always ran into familiar faces during our trips in town…the dinghy dock was always a conversation spot!
Troy and I hiked to the top of monument beach on Stocking Island and had awesome 360-degree views. Standing atop, we were able to see the peaceful and calm waters of Elizabeth Harbor and the intense waves and surf of the sound side…quite a difference; I’m thankful Salty Tails rested in the tranquil waters of the harbor. We strolled along the beach; Troy even waited patiently as I dug in the sand for sea glass.
We took Ginnie with us on one of our hikes; we tired before she did! She was ready to play in the sand and surf and even found a coconut to serve as her ball…she’s not picky.
After making one final provisioning run, we were ready to say goodbye to George Town. In the morning, we would retrace our path back to Little Farmers Cay and begin our journey north through the Exumas.