George Town and Stocking Island, Great Exuma, the Bahamas

February 12 – 23

We finally made to the infamous “Chicken Harbour.”  You can make it all the way down from Florida to here in short hops, no big passages, and although there are plenty of deserted cays, there is also plenty of marine infrastructure to take care of you if you need it.  But from here on it gets a lot more lonely, and the passages get longer and tougher between the out islands.  Hence, people “chicken out” here, and never go any further.  It’s also known as “grown up summer camp” because there is a giant protected harbor here, with room for 300+ boats, and everything a cruiser good want to have an easy winter season until they go back north to avoid the summer hurricane season.  Evil COVID offered a small silver lining in that, instead of the packed anchorage from prior years that others describe, there are only about 100 boats here this season.

We are keeping busy here.  The first day we went into town to bring in the trash, get dinghy fuel, and have brunch at a lovely hotel over looking the water.  We stopped at the grocery store because we were out of cheese and that is a crisis.  The town is built around Lake Victoria, and it’s really cool when you go in.  The cut to the ocean is only about 4 feet wide, with a low concrete bridge over it.  If you don’t know it is there, you’ll never find it.  Once inside, there is a giant dinghy dock, and no wind or waves.  Great!

We are anchored at Monument Beach, where again, truth in advertising, there is a big monument up on the hill behind the beach.  Of course when traveling, any time we see a high point, we have to hike up and see the view.  It is awesome, and worth getting sweaty.  There are lots of trails through the jungle like foliage.  Another day we took a trail over to the ocean side and had a long beach walk.  Boy are we getting in shape, walking in sand is exhausting!

We found a great reef to snorkel the other day, and I love using our dinghy anchor and rolling off the side of the boat in all our gear like Jacques Cousteau.

Of course, we also had our first dinner in a restaurant to celebrate a romantic Valentines Day.  The chef was wonderfully French, and knew just how to ask us if we liked our meals in a way that suggested there was only one intelligent answer.  Luckily, everything was delicious, so we passed the test!  I made us go early, so I could take a picture on the outdoor patio where we ate with the awesome sunset lighting.  I think I made Jeff look more handsome than usual!There are two other Hylas boats at anchor near us, so the 3 couples had a Hylas rally at the “Chat and Chill,” the main beach bar and cruiser hangout here.  The volley ball court is always in use, and the big tables and benches in the sand under the pine trees made for a delightful evening.  The drinks were good, but I was very sad because they ran out of French fries.   Only in the Bahamas!

Impromptu Hylas meet up at Chat ‘n Chill

We had lots more good times with friends at Stocking Island, including going to Fish Fry village on Friday night.  Dinner at Shirley’s was great, and the locals now how to have a good time.  Lots of music, chatting, and other fun.

Dave and Donna at Shirley’s

I should mention our mail.  We asked our mail service to send out our latest batch Februrary 12th, 3-5 day international Priority Express.  We checked in George Town a week later, and she didn’t laugh at us, but when we said it had been a week, she refused to even make a pretense of looking.  Walking away, Jeff said, well, this isn’t the US, we have to adjust our expectations.  Ha.  Two weeks later, we’ve received some tracking updates.  Our mail has been to Jacksonville, three different stations in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and now it’s in Atlanta.  We’ve asked friends to check for it in a few weeks, but we may never see it again.  Turns out it’s the USA that is the third world country that can’t deliver mail.

A highlight was went another couple came with us to swim with sea turtles at Hooper’s Bay.  It was a long wet dinghy ride (3 miles north of George town), but it was totally worth it.  Donna brought lettuce, and the turtles were like puppies, letting us had feed them.  They would pat you with a flipper to ask for more lettuce.  We think these guys have been a bit domesticated by tourists like us, but this year, tourism is down so much, we were all alone with them for hours, and they seemed super happy to see us.

Finally, it was time to start heading south again, because we still have more than 600 miles of up wind sailing until we get to the wedding in the Dominican Republic.

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