I entered the New Year still in George Town, Exuma and loving every minute, while the UK enters a new and indefinite full lockdown. I am waiting for three items to be delivered to me, and then I will begin the passage island hopping to Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
The feature photograph at the top of the post is the entrance into George Town at sunset.
Today I’m celebrating a year in paradise! I arrived in Bimini on 19 January 2020 blissfully unaware that I would remain in the Bahamas during a global virus pandemic and the hurricane season! I shall raise a glass of rum punch on Chat ‘n Chill beach to celebrate…cheers!
It’s already February and except for some strong winds right now I’m ready to leave George Town….and very sadly, Captain Sir Tom Moore died.
This is the first time I have included a photograph of the local supermarket in a post. This is because Exuma Market continues to offer a first class service to the George Town cruising community, and in particular offered a delivery service while we were locked down on our boats during the coronavirus restrictions in 2020.
On Friday 5th February I finally left George Town after almost eleven months, and began island hopping to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Although the weather forecasts have been woefully inaccurate I have managed to sail some of the time via Staniel Cay and Norman’s Cay to Nassau, where I will stay for two nights before heading further west…but the boat is not as fast as it should be because the bottom is not properly clean.
My plan was thwarted because I found a small leak on the raw water pump, and small leaks never become smaller. So I removed the pump and Albert’s Marine did an overnight repair and all was well when I replaced the pump. I finally left Nassau Harbour Club marina before 8am and motored out of Nassau Harbour. When I first arrived in Nassau in February 2020 there six cruise ships in situ, and when I left in February 2021 there were none…over 50% of the Bahamas economy is driven by tourism and two thirds of Bahamian jobs are linked to tourism. The effects of the global coronavirus pandemic will be felt for many years to come in many small tourist driven nations.
The extra day in Nassau allowed me to make more early morning run along Montagu Beach and watch the sunrise with the locals as they swam in the sea and exercised on the sand.
I sailed in good conditions all day from Nassau and until just past midnight, and dropped anchor on the Great Bahama Bank. Although the conditions were very uncomfortable I slept through until sunrise and lifted anchor in readiness for another great day of sailing towards Gun Cay and Bimini. In the final hour I motored carefully across very shallow water and around low water I went aground. Miraculously after only about ten minutes I lifted off the sand and made my way to the anchorage on the southern coast of South Bimini. Although this anchorage offers a fantastic exit to cross the Gulf Stream, it is very uncomfortable. But again I was able to sleep and be up and away before 7am to cross the Gulf Stream to Fort Lauderdale in fabulous weather…warm sunshine, 15kts of SW wind as I headed NW in slight sea conditions with extra help from the current. The Hydrovane struggled to maintain a good course, which I can only think was the the effect of the Gulf Stream. So I took advantage of the electric power generated from the solar panels and wind generator to use the autopilot. I regularly hit 7kts Speed Over Ground and reached Port Everglades inlet to Fort Lauderdale with my US courtesy flag and Q (for quarantine) flag flying. Hello Florida!