Escaping Chicken Harbor

16 Feb

Stocking Island

Satori and her crew have called George Town, Exuma their home for the last 3 weeks. The area has many names, Elizabeth Harbor, Georgetown, Stocking Island, Chicken Harbor, and by using any of them people generally know what you’re talking about. The last name, “Chicken Harbor” amuses me. It’s called this because George Town is the traditional final southern port of call for most boats that start their journey from Florida or points north. Beyond this relatively safe and well stocked area, the Bahamas get much more remote and the number of places to hide from a strong frontal passage dwindle to only a handful.

Indeed, its easy to see why so many cruiser’s anchors take root in Georgetown. Beyond the sheer number of cruisers that inhabit the beaches and bars, there are several large and well stocked grocery stores, hardware stores and even a lumber yard. Georgetown International Airport can accommodate turbine powered jets so getting in and out of the country is a snap.

Its a strange harbor, at a mile wide there’s a constant migration of boats from one side to the other in search of protection from the chop or proximity to the water and provisions (Exuma Market provides water for free at the dingy dock). Many of the old timers just stay put on one side and wait out the weather.

Speaking of old timers and not old timers, we’ve met a few awesome young people during our stay in Georgetown. Frank and Yu are traveling east towards the USVI in their absolutely gorgeous Hans Christian 41. In my opinion its one of prettiest double-ender heavy cruisers to come out of Taiwan in the 80s. I love the exaggerated moldings and the way the sheer hides part of the cabin trunk. In addition to having an awesome boat, they pretty much did the same refit we did on ours. Their story is unique and inspiring. It includes rebuilding two derelict boats before they purchased “Moitessier” (their current boat). One was wooden while the other steel. They had to make firewood out of the first and the second was filled with water during Hurricane Sandy. To come away not once but twice from seeing something you’ve poured your heart into destroyed and continue on is a real testament to their grit and determination.  As you can imagine, Frank and I got along great and Yu and Rachel hit it off equally as well. It was sad to see them leave and head east but I’m sure we’ll see each other again. Yu keeps a great site where you can read about their journey.

We also had to say good bye to our friends Tom and Darlene a week ago. We traveled the same route more or less in company with them from the Chesapeake all the way to Georgetown. Tom and I met on a Gulfstar 60 delivery up to Long Island, NY a few years ago and became fast friends. Over one too many beers before the start of the 2014 Caribbean 1500 (where we were both crewing once again), we hatched a plan to head south the next fall. They’ve been sailing their Ericson 35 “Jubliee” for 25 years on the Chesapeke and were looking to take her south to find new cruising ground. Rachel described them as “the perfect combination of parent and friend”. Over the last few months, Tom and Darlene were always available to advise us when we had questions about boats, finance, and family. We’ll miss them but have a feeling we’ll be crossing paths again.

So from here we head south to where the Bahamas are still as pristine as the Exumas once were. I’ve heard hog snapper and lobster abound, but places to hide from a blow become less common. We’ve learned a lot. In the last 3 months we’ve weathered many a frontal crossing and navigated the boat through a lot of tight spots. The Bahamas were a fun but sometimes frustrating training ground for us and its finally time to escape the incessant cycle of low pressure systems for the stable trade winds of the lower latitudes.

-LC

Sitting on the boom on the way to Long Island

Sitting on the boom on the way to Long Island

Leaving George Town

Leaving George Town “PEACE”

This article was syndicated from Cruising – Beautiful Crazy Happiness

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