A view from the monument on Stocking Island overlooking Elizabeth Harbour – our neighborhood for the last little stretch…

We’ve been having so much fun since we arrived to the Georgetown area of the Southern Exuma island chain.  Special thank you to the Foxes for leading us here!  Muddy Waters has been anchored in Elizabeth Harbor, just below the monument tower (a beacon marking the high point onStocking Island), which lies east across the harbor from the main settlement of Georgetown.  We’ve recently added a map/chart feature on this website for all to check-out our current location.

But, like the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end, so yes, we will be pulling-up anchor tomorrow and starting our trek north, back through the Exuma chain, to Eleuthera, then the Abacos and finally back towards the good ol’ US of A so we can begin the next leg of our journey on America’s great loop (more about that later).  So, it’s not really the end to a good thing, more like the start of another good thing!  Up the Exuma chain, over to Eleuthera, then up to the Abacos, then across the Gulf Stream to Florida.

It’s been an amazing time for all of us down here in the Georgetown area. Our daily routine has been pretty simple and easy to get used to!  Michael and I wake up early (around 6:00 a.m. – the kids roll-out around 7-ish) to check the systems, put up the American flag (the Bahamas courtesy flag always flies), then check the news and emails on the web.  We found that the earlier the better for the web connection; by 7:30 a.m. it’s all choked up with the rest of the boating community surfing the web, checking weather sites, and downloading emails – reducing the connection speed exponentially!  We’ll likely be without web access for the next week or so as we travel to more remote anchorages.

Anyway, back to our day.  At 7 a.m. we turn on our 16KW generator, start charging our battery bank, and I get my morning cup of tea!  Eight o’clock brings the daily cruisers net announcements on our VHF radio (Channel 72).  Darleen aboard the trawler Rollsdoc (her husband Roger is a retired Rolls Royce mechanical engineer, explaining the name) has been our morning announcer for most the time we’ve been here (she also makes a mean local-conch chowder!); the lead position changes according to who’s at anchor each week it seems.  Each lead announcer is like a master-organizer, handling 50+ announcements on a two-way only radio system.

We always read or listen to the latest Chris Parker weather report (the undisputed, #1, don’t leave home without it, cruiser weather forecasting guru in this part of the world) followed by another 20 or so minutes of the what’s up and happenings around the local cruiser community.  All newly arrived and departing boaters are asked to announce themselves and are welcomed each morning.  All boats (nearly 300 by last count) in the multiple anchorages around these parts tune into this local channel, and it’s entirely volunteer based and self-organized.  When I’m out on the fly bridge doing my morning yoga, it’s been to the crackle and hum of ours and our neighbor’s cruiser net morning show.

Nine a.m. hails the kids’ cruisers net by announcing Kids4Sail, spontaneously organized by our new friend Cathy on the sailing cat Curiosity.  We arrived to this area around the same time as a big group of boaters with kids aboard.  One of the moms made a morning announcement on the Cruiser net for a kids “meet and greet” that afternoon.  Ideas for fun activities and boat names were exchanged and the rest is history…she launched the morning kids show, and everyone has been connected and having a blast each day.

Activities have ranged from parent/kid volleyball matches, tag football, capture the flag, board-games, jewelry making, a knots/ropes course, kids triathlon, bonfires, scavenger hunt, kayak races, Shakespeare reading, geo-caching, beach-combing, a dinghy poker run and just some general chill-out time on the beach.

Mornings are reserved for home-schooling for everyone with kids, so we generally meet-up between 2 and 3 o’clock on Volleyball Beach for afternoon activities.  Nothing like a three-hour P.E. session to make the kids hungry and ready for dinner!  Keenan and Daria have enjoyed these activities and the relative independence they’ve gained, frequently zipping off alone in the dinghy to participate, leaving Michael and me to get around on our two stand-up paddle boards or our inflatable two-person kayak – P.E. for parents!

We’ve also traveled in our dinghy up to ten miles to the south of our current anchorage.  Moriah Cay Harbour is positively spectacular, with water colors that are hard to believe (take a look at the photos in the February album).  We’ve hiked nearly the entire surrounding area by our anchorage, and each new view is more beautiful than the previous one.

For the past 30+ years the cruiser community has organized a fun-filledregatta week – races, music, kids’ activities, bake sales, food, you name it – usually in early March.  This is all a prelude to a more serious sailing regattaorganized here where top sailors from across the Bahamas sail locally-built sloops.  Whether sailor, fan, or photographer – this is the place to see beautifully-built boats and passionate and skilled sailors.

It’s a close knit community down here, with a gracious Bahamian community, and we see the allure and why so many cruisers return year after year.  A little bit of adventure getting here (only a certain type will sail to this relatively remote place – some 300 miles from Miami as the crow flies, which isn’t how anyone gets here of course…) and then a lot of community once you’re here.  Everyone is welcomed and brought into the fold pretty quickly.

New friends and opportunities abound.  Social gatherings crop up all over, and you can’t help but feel comfortable and welcome with the numerous games of volleyball, football, and horseshoes, potlucks dinners, bonfires, technical systems courses, weather seminars, and musical jam sessions that pop up all over the three different beaches in this harbor.

Alas, we’ll have to weigh anchor tomorrow and move north before the cruiser regatta gets underway here.  The truth is that every day here has been like a regatta for us!  So much fun, learning, and adventure.  We’re sorry to leave but excited about what’s still to come.  We arrived not knowing we’d stay for so long, but strong winds (and resulting big seas) in the Exuma Sound would have kept us here for a while anyway…  We now have an excellent weather window to move north, so we’re seizing the opportunity tomorrow.

One of the most special parts of this place is that we’ve made a number of new friends.  We know our wakes will cross again on the water and that we’ll also visit with them on our travels (or host them on their travels our way).  What a special place.