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Old 21-03-2009, 14:31   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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Georgetown Passage Day 3 – January 5 and 8, and beyond – Part I Cruising is….

Georgetown Passage Day 3 – January 5 and 8, and beyond – Part I Cruising is….

My abject apologies for this delayed transmission. The stories about Georgetown are true – one can get stuck here – and are the only excuse I can offer as to why I didn’t update our passage in a timely fashion. Forgive me Father, I have sinned; it’s been nearly 70 days since my last confession…

When we left you, we were in Norman’s Cay, aground in the lovely sand in which we found so much sustenance in the form of Conch. Well, I can’t really say whether you knew about that - for reasons that will follow –so I’ll back up.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay on Norman’s, and were held there for a few days waiting for a weather window. While we waited, on the Sunday prior to our (first) departure, we took advantage of the opportunity to check out the sunken plane in more detail. Of course, everything of any value had been stripped from her, but in the many years it’s been there, coral has grown in many places on the fuselage, and a few on the wings and engine nacelles. This supported a lovely colony of tropical fish, which, in the 4-8 feet of water, were easy to snorkel and dive to enjoy.

Later that same day, we took the dinghy to the shallows at the north end of the anchorage, and as the tide fell, were able to walk extensively, checking out the “passage” to the pond north of us, which in the highest water would have supported only a dinghy. Going through the passage, it was like a scene out of a movie. Absolute solitude, and just beyond the cut-through in the limestone, there was a deep (well, in comparison to the rest of the “deep” water at low tide) lagoon. Brilliant deep blue, it reminded me of the Brooke Shields movie, Blue Lagoon. It probably wasn’t either big enough, or, perhaps, deep enough, to set Flying Pig into with a crane and have her still afloat at low tide, but it was enough to transfix us in appreciation. The color of the water in the Bahamas, in addition to its being crystal clear, continues to thrill us with its beauty.

Walking through the cut we came to more isolation, with beaches in every direction as far as you could see, and not a soul or boat in sight. The limestone formations here are out of a science fiction movie – fantastic shapes caused by weathering and waves, with lots of extremely sharp points and pits – and endlessly interesting as we noted the changes in color, texture, and the curious (for a guy who spent a lot of time in Maine as a kid, finding lots of life in the rocks) lack of any marine animals aboard. I’d have expected crabs, at least, but nothing was to be seen. We’ve also been grateful at the lack of insects, annoying or otherwise, other than our first visit to the beach at Allens Cay at sunset, where we were beset by noseeums.

On the way back to our dinghy, which must have been a half-mile away, we looked in the now-dry shallows for conch tracks. We saw many, but they were adolescents, so, where they were dry, we heaved them into deeper water. However, we also found quite a few of what we later were told by a vendor here in Georgetown were queen conchs. No spikes, and more along the lines of a helmet in shape with a very flat top end (where the spikes would be on an “eating” conch), with a flat bottom, opening to serrations in a line, rather than the flare of the “eating” conch, they were stunning in their color. We’d found one huge example, about a foot long, in Allens Cay, photographing him before returning him to the ocean bottom. The ones we found were more on the order of 3-6” in length. Here in Georgetown, that same vendor was getting $20 for the smallest of them, and the one we found and photographed would have easily fetched $100.

However, these aren’t eating conch, and the way this vendor gets her shells to sell is to set them in the bushes in her yard to let the ants and other foragers clean the shell. In the meantime, the animal first dies a lingering death, and then is eaten, slowly. Eventually it’s presentable for cleaning and polishing. However, to my mind, that’s a waste of food or torture, depending on how you look at it. None the less, they sure are beautiful :{))

We dragged the dinghy, wading through the ankle-deep water, back to where we could fire up without dragging the bottom with the engine, and, relying on our weather guru, Chris Parker, made ready to leave the following day. Norman’s Cay’s cut is rather tricky, with a deep channel surrounded, depending on where you were, by sand or coral heads. As is our custom, we reviewed our electronic charts, our paper charts, the trusty Explorer chart book pages, and our chartplotter’s best opinions as to where to go.

Much of the navigation in the Bahamas is done with an ancient package, Eyeball 1.0, and this was no exception. Except that on the day we went, Monday January 5, by the time we got ready to go, it was 3:30 and the light was somewhat in our eyes. As you saw in our last log, we nearly immediately found ourselves soft aground in the sand to the north of the channel.

Yes, we know that we’ll be castigated in some parts for the ignominy of going aground. However, cruising is, sometimes, finding yourself stuck for a while. I’m forever entertained by the stories Nigel Calder has told in some of his seminars about the innumerable times he’s been aground in his endless travels. (For those reading who aren’t familiar with him, Nigel is an extremely well thought of author and speaker, writing cruising guides and books on all matter of things nautical, as well as speaking on many topics at locations all over the world…) Reading other noteworthies such as the Dashews, Lin and Larry Pardey and Dave and Jaja Martin’s adventures has similar instances of finding themselves waiting for a tide, so I never feel belittled at another adventure. It’s been said that if you’ve not been aground, you’ve not been around :{))

Our first departure had been after the high tide, so we settled further onto our soft sandy bed, but we’d eaten enough time and gained enough way back toward whence we’d come that we had only a small bit of heel as the tide continued to fall that night. Our running the engine had pumped lots of amps into our somewhat depleted batteries, so we took advantage of that to equalize our battery bank, utilizing the Honda genset we occasionally employ.

You’ll recall from the earlier “Revolting” log that we had new batteries and a new charging system installed in Flying Pig, but we’d never quite succeeded in fully charging the batteries, as indicated by a positive cumulative AmpHours reading on our Trimetric – the knower and teller of all things battery-condition-wise aboard Flying Pig. Despite a couple of runs at it, we still didn’t have a positive cumulative reading, but we had a “Full” indication for quite a while, so we had to be content with that.

Well, having missed our weather window, we had to be content with enjoying the lovely settings of Norman’s Cay again – ah, well, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!

As you saw in our last, we also explored another deserted beach and climbed the wild dunes, looking over as we got to the top on a veritable jungle below us. Again, the feeling of total isolation, which, as it has in several instances on our trip(s) in the Bahamas, encouraged us to work on our overall tans (no, not the farmer’s jeans!). Thus, we’re brown as berries, as the saying goes, and sunscreen hasn’t blemished our bodies for quite some time. Despite the clear skies and high sun, we never burn, and the welcome breezes keep us comfortable.

We rested comfortably on our new mooring spot in the deep water we’d plotted out by transferring detailed readings from a good paper chart, and were confident of our route out. That didn’t stop us from using that reliable Eyeball 1.0 as we inched our way out on Thursday. We’d followed up with Chris Parker, and later, several folks would solicitously ask us how we’d fared in our grounding, my having fessed up to Chris on Tuesday (supposedly having arrived in Georgetown by then) during my update on the coming weather – most folks aren’t subscribers, but listen to the forecasts and glean helpful information on their own upcoming travels by listening to those requesting routing advice. Anyway, Chris said that it should be very wonderful, if a bit downwind on Thursday evening – in fact, a better passage than was forecast for Monday. Just as always, every problem arrives with a gift in its hands, as seen on one of my signature line quotes...

As this is getting a bit long, again, I’ll end here and pick up with our actual passage and later adventures in the next post.


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