I am the biggest whiner when it’s time to leave a happy anchorage, especially one that offers crystal clear, still waters and fantastic scuba diving. Leaving Conception Island ordinarily would have had me pouting, but we had the best reason for departing – our friend, Ashley, chose to celebrate her 30th birthday with us on Pura Vida,
and was arriving in Georgetown in only a couple of days. The trip from Conception Island to Georgetown was almost uneventful. We were just a few dozen miles from the entrance to Georgetown’s Elizabeth Harbor when another reminder of the perils of the sea surfaced. In beautiful weather, perfect winds, and calm seas, we almost ran into the remnants of a fishing boat, barely visible above the ocean surface.
Cruisers fear running into all kinds of things: lost cargo containers, sleeping whales, logs, other boats, etc. Even a plastic bag is reason for worry as it can get sucked into your engine through the seawater intake. This was our closest call so far and, luckily, it was in the middle of a sunny day so we could avoid it.
Ashley’s visit was too short – only three and a half days, but we packed a lot of fun into that time. She arrived on her birthday to a ship dressed in her honor,
and the celebratory cocktails started flowing. We made sure she had time to relax, but in between those moments we enjoyed lots of snorkeling, a birthday bonfire with friends from s/v Sea Ya and s/v Last Tango, a fun-filled splash in a very active bubbly pool,
and a long, arduous hike up to the beacon at Monument Beach. Lucky for all of us old folks (Ashley not included) we discovered a much shorter path back down.
Too soon, it was time to say goodbye to our dear friend, but we look forward to next time when her visit will last a bit longer.
Other guests would be arriving soon, so we took advantage of the days in between to stock up on boat parts, and make a couple of simple repairs. Things break down left and right, and resupplying replacement parts can be a bit of a challenge. We were happy to find a real hardware store in Georgetown that had all the o-rings, gaskets, adhesives, and fishing tackle we were out of. We even splurged and bought respectable foulies.
Now, perhaps, dinghy rides in rough seas will not result in us soaking in saltwater from head to toe. Our work was completed with plenty of time to spare before our friends’ arrival, so we followed the recommendation of Phillip & Teresa and Jesse & Stacey to go 30 miles north and check out Lee Stocking Island. On our 19th wedding anniversary we upped anchor, and had a perfect sail the whole way. We even caught two Mahi-Mahi, resulting in 15 pounds of fillets! Who needs diamonds or silver? Nineteen is the “fish” anniversary, right?
We dropped the hook at Lee Stocking, just outside of what appeared to be some kind of resort, complete with little screened-porch bungalows, two-story condos, and a scuba shack.
Land exploration revealed what was, in fact, an abandoned marine research facility. This place was once bustling with activity, but is now an eerie ghost town. We were able to explore every unlocked building – barracks, laboratories, offices, airfield facilities, maintenance shops, homes – full of furniture; machinery; lab equipment; files; tools; food and drink, all left as-is when the students and scientists evacuated.
Apparently, the Perry Institute for Marine Science lost its government funding years ago, and the residents just walked away, leaving lots of supplies that have since been scavenged.
We enjoyed exploring the “ruins” and diving for conch, but before long it was again time to head out. Friends, Michele and Lisa, were due to arrive in a couple of days, so back to Georgetown it was.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (look it up, kids) we, again, snorkeled, hiked, soaked in the bubbly pool, and enjoyed a lot of catching up over cocktails. Doing the same-old-things never gets boring when you’re doing them with great friends.
The highlight of the week, and what made it much different from the other weeks we’d spent in Georgetown, was the National Family Island Regatta.
Boats and sailors come from all over the country to compete, and the town was packed with Bahamians and cruisers enjoying the races, festivities, and all of the delicious food.
Another break from monotony came in the form of a car and guesthouse. Michele and Lisa had rented both, and allowed us to reap the benefits of being chauffeured all over the island. Michele has mad driving-on-the-wrong-side of-the-road-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-car skills.
After our land tour, we were treated to a night on land in their guesthouse, complete with a real shower, and washer/dryer. It also boasted a spectacular view of the harbor from high atop a hill. It was quite a treat!
After saying goodbye to our friends, it was time to say goodbye to Georgetown, once and for all. A frontal system moved in, bringing high winds and stormy weather, but when it passed there was nothing keeping us from our next adventure – the remote cays of the Jumentos and Ragged Islands.
We raised anchor at dawn on a beautiful calm day. This time, there was no whining.