December 28, 2009.
Yesterday morning we were up and in the dinghy to say our goodbyes and drop off some books to several boats in the anchorage. Sapphire and Fine Lion will be heading down the west side of Great Exuma to the Jumentos while Solitaire will be following our route through Great Exuma and Long Island in a week or so.
We got back to the boat, raised the dink and sailed off the hook at 1000 hours. We had a pleasant close reach at better than 5 knots for close to 20 miles. We finally had to drop sail to motor the last 2 miles into the anchorage at Galliot Cut. We dropped the hook in 12 feet of crystal clear water.
This morning we were up and after listening to Chris Parkers weather forecast at 0630 we headed out for Georgetown. We were on a falling tide so we were sucked out into Exuma Sound at better than 8 knots. The wind was out of the north northwest at about 8 knots so we sailed slowly towards our destination.
It was a lovely day of sailing along at 4 knots with a large northerly swell running under us from behind. It was actually quite lovely in spite of the fact that we were constantly watching the swells bashing onto the windward shore of every cay as we headed south.
The swells we were riding were huge but of no consequence to us out in deep water. I couldn’t help but wonder what type of conditions awaited us at the Conch Cay Cut which is the entrance to Elizabeth Harbor, the waters of Georgetown.
When we arrived at the entrance to the harbor we were dismayed to find that the swell was wreaking havoc across the channel. You have to head in through a gap in the reef and then turn hard to port with the breakers on one side and a submerged reef on the other for a half mile before turning onto a more comfortable course.
We arrived at the end of a rising tide.
Combine that high tide with a huge swell and the waves were just blasting across the reef unencumbered. Where we should have been safe behind the reef we found ourselves with our beam to a very rolly sea. It was only 10 minutes but it was like 10 minutes getting beaten with a baseball bat rather than 10 minutes having your feet rubbed. Huge difference.
We thought that it sucked for us until we heard the news in the harbor. It seemed that yesterday morning 3 local guys headed out for some fishing and on their way back in through the reef their small boat flipped resulting in the loss of 2 lives. Then, today a dinghy flipped, although all aboard were saved. Just after we came in another sailboat had to be led through the breakers to safety.
It was such a beautiful day of light air sailing it was hard to believe just how rough the water was at the entrance to the harbor. We even had to use the newly modified (repaired) Boat Pole of Speed™. I don’t remember if I wrote that I broke the Boat Pole of Speed when I got caught with it up, in to much wind. I repaired it by duct taping our old boat hook to it, to stiffen it up. Once again it worked like a charm.
Today was a day of light air. Tomorrow actually looks better for sailing the route we traversed today but by tomorrow the swell will be really fearsome. We had debated whether to go today or wait for the day with better sailing potential. I’m not really sure why we went today but thank God we did…….We ended up with a pleasant days sail and feel fortunate to have gotten into the anchorage as easily as we did.