Georgetown Farewell

It is dark. We’ve returned from a social gathering of Krogen owners on Changing Course (we are honorary guests, not being Krogen owners). I turn on the LED deck lights and prepare our Steelhead davit to winch our tender back aboard in preparation for an early departure. We move the tender along the starboard side, attach the davit hook and hoist her out of the water. Smooth as silk she rides 12 feet out of the water, 800 pounds dangling at the end of a 10 foot long davit swung out over the side. Just as the tender reaches the top of its trajectory everything stops. The wireless remote controller won’t activate any function. Can’t raise the tender, can’t lower it. A conundrum! My mind is racing. I’m considering all kinds of weird approaches to addressing the problem including using a long line and the anchor windlass to potentially lower it back into the water. We lash the tender to the handrails to buy some time; fortunately the wind and sea are calm. Though the remote’s LEDs are blinking per usual and shows no sign of a dead battery I’m at a loss to explain the malfunction. I run down to the pilothouse with the remote and plug it in. It was fully charged only a week ago and should last much longer but still worth a try. I dig out the manual and it is completely useless; no information on the wireless remote and no emergency procedures of any kind. I recall asking the installer if a spare wouldn’t be wise and his response was he had never seen one fail. I suspect his experience was n=1. I decide to test the remote while plugged in and, miracle of miracles, the davit responded. I unplugged the remote, ran up to the boat deck, and we quickly completed the retrieval of the tender. So, high on the list of “to dos” is to determine what needs to be in place to cope with a similar situation in the future. Most likely a spare remote and matching receiver. Running any distance with a tender hoisted out of the water is not an option.

Waves are breaking on the reef 100 yards to port. Tivoli is working her way north out of Elizabeth Harbor. We follow the Explorer chart deep draft route out of the harbor and soon clear the entrance. Our depth sounders quickly go belly up…too deep to read or over 500 feet. Charts say 1900 or so. It is choppy and seas are out of the east. Broadsides slap us hard from time to time but Tivoli takes it all in stride and soldiers on. The generator is off. The Lugger’s 160 Amp alternator is powering all electronics, refrig, icemaker, and spare freezer and still is able to top up the house bank. We are happy with this aspect of our charging system but, after a couple weeks at anchor, we long for additional charging capacity to reduce generator run times and free up more of our day. We are, at times, obliged to remain aboard while the generator tops up the batteries when we would rather be out. A second charger may be in our future. By lunchtime the wind and seas have settled down and the ride improves considerably. A following current picks up our speed; 8 knots at a lazy 1400 rpm….nice!

Georgetown was an interesting stop. Long known as a “go to” spot among sailors it is easy to see the appeal. Elizabeth Harbor is huge and can accomodate many boats yet is protected from winds in nearly all directions. The town itself is typical; aging buildings, poor roads, litter everywhere, etc. The town does have its charms in spite of the general decay. It surrounds a small lake, Lake Victoria and one enters the lake via a stone channel dug out under a main road. The dinghy dock is in the lake and convenient to the grocery and all else in town. Because of its reputation as a popular cruising destination it does have a couple decent groceries, liquor stores, hardware and generally can provide much of what a cruiser might need. So, the harbor fills up with boats; literally hundreds over the Christmas holidays. What a zoo that must be. Of course, with that many people here there are also loads of organized events in which one can participate. Volleyball on the beach, daily drinks at the Chat and Chill, dominoes, water aerobics, bridge clubs, you name it. Way too organized for us. After 5 days touring the area in our tender and hiking around town we are ready to move on.

A monthly doctor’s appointment is putting a damper on our freedom to cruise. We must find a safe marina to leave the boat and Deanna while I fly back to Fort Lauderdale. While it is easy to fly out of various Bahamian islands in the Exumas the schedule generally leaves much to be desired. Most flights are 2-3 times a week so the logistics often don’t work well. Likewise, finding a decent spot for Tivoli is also a challenge. I could fly out of Staniel Cay but the marina there is small and all boats must evacuate in a west wind. That won’t work. So, after much deliberation, we’ve decided to head back to the Berry Islands for the next flight home; the marina at Great Harbour Cay is very well protected and safe and we have friends there. I flew out of there last month and know the drill. It is a shame to reverse our course and bypass so much but this seems our best course of action. Upon our return we will likely head east to Eleuthera as the time to head north is rapidly approaching. We hope to be in Maine for the summer and need to get there by July 1. The Turks and Caicos will have to wait till next season.

We pass the Exuma Cays one after another, Cave Cay, Big Farmers, Guana and so on, until finally we reach Dotham Cut. We timed our arrival to coincide with high tide and the conditions in the cut are benign. Tides racing out through narrow channels in opposition to incoming waves can create treacherous conditions in these cuts. Even in calm conditions the currents can be squirrelly and toss the boat around. One has to pay attention. We are soon back on Exuma Banks in calm water and turn north for Big Major Spot. We will spend another night here with the pigs.

Temperatures are cool, no bugs, all doors on Tivoli are open as we enjoy dinner in the pilothouse. A spectacular sunset ends a lovely run.


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