As soon as we learned of our recent week+ forecasted high winds, we left the main harbor to head to one of our protected hidey-holes. With our shallow draft, we also aim to anchor close to shore, not only to reduce the wind’s affects, but so that no one can anchor in front of us!
Our third worst nightmare would be to have someone drag into us in the middle of a windy night (1st would be fire & 2nd would be flooding/sinking). Out in the main harbor, a surprising number of boats have been dragging. Not only is it gusting up to 40 knots, there are 1′ – 2′ waves which result in additional strain yanking at anchors. It is very distressing to listen to the frantic calls & yelling on the VHF radio as it’s happening. Not only can a boat drag down & hit you, their dragging anchor can then catch on your anchor chain, tethering them to your boat and/or pulling your anchor out as well.
including having the best, most expensive anchor (an Ultra) with Italian-made anchor chain (Maggi), we choose our anchorages very carefully. We also use a great anchor app on our iPhone (Anchor!) which will wake the dead if our boat drifts or begins to drag outside of our preset circle.
We learned our lesson early on with a scary incident dragging anchor during the wind shift & gusting of a strong cold front back in 2010 on our sailing catamaran – of course, in the middle of the night! We luckily didn’t hit any boats & settled bouncing against the forgiving mangrove shore. Fortunately Benj was with us & helped us to self-rescue ourselves, surprisingly without even a scratch.
We will often move, even in normal winds, when someone anchors nearly on-top of us. Sometimes you just get a bad feeling about a boat, or more properly, it’s owner. Several weeks ago we moved after a large, older sailboat anchored in front of us – seemingly too-close, immediately taking off in his dinghy. The “too-close” was confirmed when we had trouble picking up our anchor as it was now under the stern of his boat. Ironically, this same boat, we heard, later dragged twice during the high winds, requiring rescuing by other cruisers, especially as now his engine no longer runs!
George Town this year, has had 15 – 25 boats with kids aboard – many more than normal. COVID, family’s change in priorities, concern with conventional schools & social media have likely pushed more families to “get away”. For over 20 years we’ve read fantastic stories of “boat kids” & for the last 10 have encountered them often in-person. Most boat kids become extremely independent, mature, creative, smart & fearless. Not glued to any device, they’ll sit around with adults holding their own with surprisingly thoughtful insights. Most are a year or two ahead of their peers, all while condensing traditional 6-hour school days into done-by-lunchtime half-days so they can play, plan & create on the beach with other boat kids. Throw in real-life science lessons, varied life experiences, exposure to other people & cultures from around the world & learning other languages first-hand result in some pretty amazing kids!
After the winds finally calmed down to a more reasonable 15 knots, we moved back into the main harbor to feast with friends at “Cort’s Place” – a former cruiser friend who loved it in George Town so much, he bought land on Stocking Island & built a house.
It’s been a great winter(?) here, but it will soon be time to depart George Town, slowly beginning our trip back north while enjoying more of the Exumas, before returning to Florida in early April. We caught a bit of a break with Bahamas Immigration due to COVID precautions – when we can’t obtain enough days from Immigration initially when we clear-in, we usually have to apply for an extension, in person, during limited days/hours, not more than 5 days before our expiration & never after. Easy? Not really – as once we leave George Town there are no other Immigration offices in the rest of the Exumas! During the pandemic, they are allowing electronic extensions via e-mail. Not only did we get ours approved within 24 hours, we were able to apply weeks early, giving us more flexibility with our travel plans. So with the next favorable weather window, we’ll be headed off. Who says this is “Chicken Harbour”?