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t/t The Voyage of Snow Goose
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- Snow Goose in the Bahamas -

Part II

We left Farmer's Cay traveling south on the Exuma Sound side of the chain. Our next stop would be Rudder Cut Cay, a private island, that turned out to be quite a surprise! As we approached the channel, I was amazed to see coral heads below the boat, as we were in 75' of water. I had to tap the depth sounder to make sure it hadn't stuck or stopped working. The bottom was as clear to the eye, as if it were 20' deep. Remarkable!

We entered the cut and rounded to the west side of the island, motoring close to the shore there in approximately 20' of water. We approached a cove that was palm lined with a nice sandy beach, and a cave nestled in the side of the rocky cliffs. Beautiful!

This was for sure the prettiest spot we had yet to see in the Bahamas! It is a place that has a perfect tropical setting. It is a private island, with a hurricane hole harbor in its interior. There was reported to be a chain that blocked any entrance. We spent the night anchored there on the west side of the island with only a couple other boats within view, one of which was that of our friends aboard "Wararon". It was truly a breathtaking spot, we know we will never forget.

The next day we decided to explore more of the island by dinghy, and in doing so met other cruisers who had told us more about this place. We came to hear that the island had been abandoned, and that the hurricane hole was open. They encouraged us to explore the island saying there was much to see.

This was good news as there was an approaching front on its way and we needed to move our boats to a more protected spot. We explored the harbor by dinghy and found it to be perfect. Plenty of water and completely protected. There was only one boat anchored in there, that of the people who had told us about this spot, and we quickly returned to our boats and and prepared to move. We anchored inside the harbor in about 11' over a silty bottom. We radioed our friends Luc and Anne aboard "Sunshine Reggae" to come and join us in this wonderful spot. Little did we know that Luc, being a natural comedian, had acquired a bit of a fan club on the VHF and quite a few people were monitoring the conversation. Well, to make a long story short, that night there were about 10 sailboats anchored in this tiny harbor.

We went ashore there and set out to explore. We walked along the paved road that led up a hill to a rather large dome shaped house which had a limosine parked in the front. The car had been ripped apart, windows broken and left abandoned. It looked to have been rather new. There was a swimming pool that was half finished, and an enormous gold fish pond which had a cistern below. The house was set atop a rather large hill and the view from there was incredible! You could see both the Exuma Sound and the banks side of the island. We watched as "Sunshine Reggae" approached, followed by her entourage of fan club members, sailing in the deep blue Exuma Sound.

There were many beaches that we could see, one of which had some great breaking waves. Time to get out the Boogie Board and try some Bahamian surf!

We walked south to the west side of the island. We came upon a lovely coconut grove that we explored for fresh ones to use for desert. We found many, and husked them there with the hatchet we had brought along for just that purpose. There were two great beaches nearby and we came to find this spot to be one of our favorites. Truly tropical!

After exploring we all headed back to the boats. Jocques and I decided to do some spearfishing by the rocky ledges on the east side of the island, which was a short walk from the anchorage. We were lucky enough to get a lobster and a few small fish, which the ladies used to prepare a wonderful creamy seafood dish that we shared together that evening.

As the afternoon set in, we were greeted by the arrival of our friends aboard "Sunshine Reggae". They were followed by about half a dozen other sailboats, most of whom we had met at one time or another. This was a pretty small hurricane hole and with the number of boats there, and an approaching cold front, it seemed to be getting even smaller. It all worked out fine leaving ample room, and the cold front with the forcasted 30 knot winds, lost its strength.

The following day was beautiful, and we went ashore to one of the many beaches on the island. It was spectacular! A crescent shaped white sand beach, breaking waves in crystal clear turquoise water, and the most beautiful limestone cliff that looked like a breaking wave in itself. We had never seen anything like this. We had found a perfect beach!

The island had several cisterns at different locations. All were a result of the water catchment system that was part of this elaborate complex. Outside the two cottages near the inner harbor was a large cistern filled with clear fresh water. Time to fill the boat's water tanks! We loaded our up jerry jugs, and dinghyed them to the boat.

We stayed here for several days, but could have stayed forever! It was what we had always dreamed of and worked so hard for, to be in a wonderful tropical place like this, surrounded by great friends, in a protected harbor, and on a cruiser's schedule. We were truly living the dream!

We had brought a videocamera along on our journey, and it proved to be invaluable. We filmed hours of spectacular footage that has been a source of enjoyment for us and we will cherish forever. We highly recommend taking one along if you plan a cruise of your own. We also took hundreds of slides, which are nice to have also, but the video can bring back the feeling of being there!

Moving south along the island chain would make Stocking Island our next stop. It is located about 30 miles north of Georgetown. We anchored amongst a group of small rocky islands that lye to the north. After doing so we quickly decided to go spearfishing around the numerous coral heads in the area. We found this to be just about the best fishing spot we had found in the Bahamas so far. Lots of fish would surround the heads, and we quickly had our dinner caught. We cleaned the fish on a beach nearby, while a rather good sized Lemon shark prowled the area, waiting for any leftovers I suppose. These sharks can be aggressive, and have been known to attack cruisers who are not careful. After a relaxing time spent at Stocking Island, we hoisted anchor and set out for Georgetown, a sailing mecca.

The sail south to Georgetown was perfect! The wind was offshore and just forward of the beam at about 15/20 knots. Under full sail Snow Goose glided along at well over 6 knots average, with a balanced helm and very little heeling. She was in her element, and loving every minute of it. We were traveling with our small group of cruising friends, and even though we were towing our Dyer dinghy, we still managed to be the fastest boat that day. Yes, we were overtaking the infamous "Sunshine Reggae", a Hunter 34, that prided themselves at being the fastest in the flotilla. Apparently their "light speed" was not enough to overtake "Snow Goose" this day. We reveled in our glory and could finally lay to rest the personal pet name we had for Snow Goose, "a slow boat from China". She had achieved her 15 minutes of fame.

We arrived at the entrance to Elizabeth Harbor, and thanks to an offshore wind, the channel entrance was relatively smooth. Although the sun had gone behind the clouds reducing visability, we were still able to safely navigate the harbor entrance. This entrance to Georgetown can get to be impassable at times, large swells break accross the the channel in strong easterly winds. There is also another entance at the southern end of Stocking Island. Georgetown, lies on the western side of the Elizabeth Harbor and Lee Stocking Island lies to the east. There are numerous anchorages to choose from, but you sometimes must move amongst them with the different wind conditions. We chose to anchor off what is known as "Sand Dollar Beach", towards the southern end off Lee Stocking Isalnd. At this time in Elizabeth Harbor, there were as many as 275 cruising sailboats from all over the world gathered, and there was a lot of excitement in the air!

There are so many sailboats here during the winter months, and especially for "Race Week", that the number of sailors outnumber the citizens. It is a lively social event for all ages. The settlement there offers many of the necessary places to provision such as hardware stores, marine supplies, and banks etc..

Every morning announcements are read over the VHF channel 68. These include world news, weather, various other sailors' messages, as well as adds for the local businesses. Very entertaining and informative to say the least!

You can dinghy in under a small bridge, to a pond that lies behind the main street. The local general store has a dinghy dock and allows you to tie up to it. This was a trip! There must have been one hundred dinghys tied to the small dock there. If your dinghy painter wasn't at least 30+ feet long, there would be no way to tie off. After persistently climbing from one dinghy to the next we finally made it to the dock, secured the tender, and set out to explore the town.

Next - Anchored on the The Tropic of Cancer

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