Bahamas – Exumas

The Georgetown Community

Did I actually write in the last article that there is less wind in the Bahamas than in the Eastern Caribbean? What nonsense. I guess we had the lure, in our first two weeks. Since the second day in the Exumas, the wind has fluctuated between strong and gale force and much has changed.

But first things first. An unpleasant swell drove us out of crystal clear Calabash Bay and off Long Island. A last day without wind, but with lots of waves. After 25 nm we briefly looked into the bay of Moriah Cay to find that the rolling in wave crests would make our planned stop very unpleasant.

We went on for another 5 nm and anchored at Sand Dollar Beach on Stocking Island. For the clear turquoise water, white beach and man-sized growth of the shallow island, the coastal designer gets full points. It’s a gorgeous spot and no wonder this is a popular anchorage. Elizabeth and Stocking Islands lie about 2nm north-east of Georgetown and shelter the whole area from the swell that usually comes from the north-east – sadly not always.

What are the Exumas?

The Exumas are a collection of many islands, 365 to be precise, making them almost half of the islands in the Bahamas. Of the total 350,000 Bahamians, 7,000 are Exumians and of these, 2,500 live in the “capital” Georgetown. The word “town” should not be taken too literally. But at least there are two supermarkets and we could finally buy eggs again.


Stockton Island, Exumas

Arrival in the Exumas

With our arrival in the Exumas, everything changed. We entered a different sailing world. A sailing community, like a small American town. Normally there are 250 boats moored off Georgetown in the high season. Now there are 350. Due to Post-Covid and the announced bad weather. That sounds as scary as an overcrowded open-air swimming pool, Saint Anne in Martinique or the Balearic Islands in summer. But it’s not like that. Everyone has and leaves plenty of room, even for the guaranteed 360 degree wind and vessels turns.

The Georgetown sailing community feels like it consists of 90% US-Americans, 8% Canadians and 2% from the rest of the world. Many boats come from the USA as early as November and stay until April/May. Then come back the next year. There’s a Sailorsnet on VHF Channel 72 at 8 am with information and exchanges. If anyone is looking for a shackle, wants to share a taxi to the airport or needs a sail sewn, this is the place. During the day there’s get-together for yoga, music or beach volleyball. The information from the village, sorry from Georgetown, comes on top.

Sailors Community Beachlife

The fact that there are markets in Georgetown is also a pleasant exception for the Bahamas and adds to the appeal. Even if a jar of Nutella costs USD 16.

Conch a favorite Bahamian dish. Underwaterworld, Ray on the beach

With such a large anchor field, it is inevitable that you will meet old acquaintances again. And with the communicative  Americans, you make many new buddies. After a few days we got used to this different sailing life.

Transport in den Exumas, Dinghi oder 5 Leute am Helicopter

Storms in the Bahamas

As beautiful as the many islands of the Bahamas are, they are pizza dough flat. And with that, there is virtually no wind protection for ships. On the fifth night, we were woken at 2.00 am by a violent storm from the south, which shot lashing rain across our deck. None of the weather services had predicted this. We hurriedly dashed across the deck, wet in seconds, to secure cushions and stand-up boards before flying over board. In 35 kn wind (about 70 km/h) our anchor held at 3 m depth and with 30 m chain. It was later reported that the wind was about 47 kn. Around 6.00 am the spook was over and we were dead tired.

In the morning we heard on Sailorsnet that two vessels had been driven aground by the storm. With the help of other sailors, the two were able to get free again with the tide at noon. Just in time to prepare for the upcoming storm that was now forecast for the next night.

This time the storm moved in from the north and was to last the evening and all night. In the afternoon before the storm we had to re-anchor, because a Delta anchor moved to the south cannot withstand a storm from the north. We dropped the anchor to the north, facing the expected storm, and gave 40m of chain at 3m depth.

It turned out to be another unfunny and sleepless night. 35 kn+ winds (later reported 50) not only tug at everything, but they are also noisy. Again and again we saw boats anchoring and it took little imagination to imagine how stressful it was on many boats. There are few things worse than anchoring at night in a storm. We hoped our anchor would withstand the force of the wind.

Windprediction for night 2

Well, it held. The next morning and day we had 25 kn of wind left to remind us of the wild night. After two nights in a row without any meaningful sleep, we were screwed. Unfortunately, the wind then remained consistently too high and constantly shifting. As I write this, we are bouncing up and down a meter at anchor because the current has decided to come from the south-east and there is little shelter for that. We are comforted by the view of the turquoise beach, but it really isn’t nice here at the moment.

Which anchor?

After a storm, the topic of “anchor” comes up again and again. A slipping anchor really spoils the day and even worse the night. And it can cause serious damage on the own vessel and other boats. We have a Delta anchor and are quite happy with it. Rocna is a sailor’s favourite, Mantus has a community as well, but nothing thrilled me yet. But now I have fallen in love with an “Ultra”. This shiny thing gives its owners peace and serenity. On the stormy nights, there was no light on boats with Ultra anchors. Meaning the crew was not on watch because they had trust in their holding. Once it is in the water, the absurdly expensive investment is probably forgotten, because the part anchor is about 3 times as much as usual anchors. But since the Exumas, it’s been on my wish list.

We are now hoping that good Bahamas weather will finally arrive again. In a few days we’ll make the short trip to the meeting point with friends who are coming to visit soon. I hear it’s a good idea to escape grey Europe for a few days in the Bahamas. / Holger Binz

3 thoughts on “Bahamas – Exumas”

  1. Stürmische Zeiten – nicht nur in Schweizer Bankenwelt (UBS übernimmt notgedrungen die CS). Und bei Euch droht von El Nino Ungemach.
    Ruhe bewahren.
    Ganz liebe Grüsse

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