George Town again…

I awoke in the cockpit on Sunday morning just before 4:30 am when the fridge turned on. Since the pump died and Tim jury-rigged a replacement, it makes a crazy loud noise and vibrates. It was very still and hot in the anchorage when I went to bed Saturday night and decided to sleep in the cockpit and wait for the wind to kick in. The clock in the salon struck 4:30 and the lightening commenced in the distance, just as anticipated.

For the last week we’ve been preparing for a big front to move thru the Bahamas this weekend. The forecast predicted winds of 30 knots and gusting to 40 (roughly 60 km and 80 km respectively) from the north and it was suggested this could be one of the biggest blows of the winter season. Looking at the charts we made the decision to sail two days south to George Town to find the best protection from the wind.

We arrived late on Thursday afternoon and anchored in Kidds Cove close to town. We chose this spot for two reasons. First it’s a very short dinghy ride into town and we needed to top up our water tanks – a job that typically takes a few runs, so being close to town is a time saver. The second reason was we had arrived at low tide and the anchorage we wanted to ride out the blow in would not have enough depth for us to enter. Once inside the anchorage there would be plenty of depth for Grace V’s 5.5 foot draft, but to get inside we needed to wait for high tide. The next high tide would come after dark, so next daylight chance would come Friday at mid-day.

We went into town to get our water and stock up on fresh veggies. The really huge winds were predicted to last roughly 36 hours and after that we were told to expect strong winds for about another 4-5 days… Strong winds don’t make a comfortable or dry dinghy ride so we were prepared to be stuck on the boat for 7 days. Town was hopping and the grocery store was packed. Everyone had the same idea and business was brisk!

At 11:00 we picked up our anchor and motored over to the area known as Red Shanks. We’d never been in the anchorage before, but knew that it was a very protected spot from both wind and waves. We arrived at 12:50 with high tide expected for 1:00 pm – perfect timing!! As soon as we entered it was obvious there was lots of room. We easily found a spot and settled in. Looking around we assessed the perfectness of this spot, nice big hill to the north where the winds were expected from.

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Red Shanks Anchorage

 

Two hours later a dinghy approached and invited us to a dinghy drift at 4 pm. This is a sundowner event where everyone meets in the middle of the harbour and ties all the dinghies together for Happy Hour. It’s a bring your own drinks event and snacks get passed from boat to boat. About 15 boats showed up with at least 4 of them having kids aboard. The kids were like little monkeys climbing from dinghy to dinghy and making polite conversation. I was asked by a eight-year-old how long I’d been sailing and where were we heading! The organizer thought it would be good to meet the neighbours ahead of the forecasted wind event in case assistance was needed during the bad weather.

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Sunset Dinghy Drift

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The next day, Saturday, was a lazy day. We made one last trip to town to download movies from Netflix, check for milk, eggs and yogurt (shelves had been empty the day before) as well as one last water trip. By sunset, the harbour was like glass and the boat was floating quietly in the dark.

The forecast included a line of squalls and possible thunderstorms that would begin about two hours ahead of the front. The fridge turning on in the early hours woke me just in time to watch the first rain storm approach. I knew we had prepared the boat for this blow and so wasn’t worried about what was to come throughout the day, but rather, would there be enough rain to wash the boat? Could I put boat soap on the deck and be assured the rain would rinse it off? Since Tim was still asleep, I let go of the idea and instead read my book until I drifted back asleep.

By 10 am we were seeing winds of 28 knots sustained and gusting 36 knots. The radio was alive with boats calling out wind speed from various anchorages around George Town – Sand Dollar, Monument, Volleyball Beach and Red Shanks. Biggest gusts were in the 44 knots range. One boat in our ‘hood started dragging and neighbouring boats were offering help and extra anchors. They quickly had it under control and were once again anchored safely. A call went out on the radio regarding another boat who had its main sail come loose and flapping in the strong winds, the crew had gone ashore??? It seemed like a strange thing to do in the first few hours of a wind storm when you didn’t know how strong the velocity was going to be or if your anchor was going to hold…

By late afternoon we were looking for something to do. We played three games of Yahtzee, two games of Battleship and 2 games of House Wrecker. We read our books made dinner and re-watched an episode of Sherlock before bed.

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Battleship

 

One day down, only 6 more to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life in the fruit bowl

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Sunday’s forecast: Wind 9 knots, ESE all day with overcast skies, little chance of rain and a high of 33 (that’s 91 for my American friends).

I slept in the salon Saturday night until the mosquitoes started buzzing in my ear at day break, that’s when I moved to the cockpit.  I started out in the aft cabin, but when I woke in the middle of the night and realized how bloody hot it was in there, I had to get out. As I lay in the pre-sunrise twilight under the bimini, I listened for the dolphins arriving.  They’ve been coming by the boat most morning for the last week.  You hear them before you see them as they let out a short explosive “chuff” sound which leads to us jumping to our feet and running up and down the deck looking to see where they went.  They are on the surface for such a short period of time, if you’re not quick they dive and are gone.  Saturday we were lucky as one spend a period of time scratching it’s back on the mooring line of the ball behind us.  Dolphins are a great way to start the morning.

We’ve started to find our routine again, listening to the weather in the mornings and making the day’s plans accordingly.  Is the harbour too choppy to go to town today?  If no, then we better go today and get some chores done as later in the week, we won’t be able to go without getting wet.  While very small, George Town has lots of services to offer.  A choice of laundry mats, liquor stores, grocery stores (2!), gift shopping opportunities, propane on Wednesdays and several bars and restaurants offering music a few times a week.  If you buy a beer or even a bottle of water, you can use the free wifi at Red Boone Cafe, they even have power points for your laptop. This is luxury.

Since we went to town on Saturday and have all the supplies we need for the next 5 or more days, we’ll spend some time today prepping the boat for our next move.  We plan  to leave George Town next weekend and start heading north.  Hurricane season is officially here and we need to be mindful of where we are and where we’re going.  The Chesapeake Bay is the current plan, but we’ll take our time getting there.

Yesterday was our last day on our mooring in the fruit bowl.  It’s called the fruit bowl because of the numerous house boats in the morning field; Tangelo, Mango, Pineapple and Cantaloupe.

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Mooring field off Chat n’ Chill – The fruit bowl is to the left.

We put Grace on a mooring ball here back in March while I went home to work so Tim wouldn’t have to worry about moving the boat if bad weather came.  The moorings are well maintained and located in one of the better protected areas of Elizabeth Harbour.  I’ve been back a week now and have come to love our little neighbourhood.  We won’t be moving far, but it’s time to stop paying rent and get back on the hook.

We hope that by moving out of our protected bay, we might get some more airflow through the boat and then maybe I will be able to sleep in my bed for the whole night.

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Houseboats for rent – fancy a vacation in the fruit bowl?

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Chat n’ Chill Beach