Thursday, March 10, 2011


Emerald Bay, Exumas 23º46.7N | 76º5.11W

"You must go to Emerald Bay Marina."

This is something we heard time and again as we neared Georgetown, from cruisers young and old, rich and poor. The selling points as advertised: $1/foot (really cheap), free wifi, nice showers, shuttle to grocery store, free laundry. It was that last one that finally clinched it for us.

There must be a catch, right? Well, it's not so much a catch as a challenge. The cut to get into the marina is a wispy slice between a rocky beach and a manmade concrete breakwater. The cut faces the deep Exuma Sound, so if the wind isn't right, or worse, is all wrong, well, don't even stop there.

Emerald Bay cut on a VERY CALM day.
We had been plowing through big swells on the sail from Lee Stocking, and as we approached Emerald Bay, I looked through the binoculars to see even bigger swells sweeping over the entrance. We debated for a few minutes whether to leave the mainsail up to traverse the channel. Conventional wisdom says always leave a sail up when passing through a cut, but this one was so narrow and once past, there was little room to turn into the wind to drop the sail. Our choice was to drop the sail and rely on that great Yanmar engine that has served us so well.

Natural perils to the north.
Approaching the marks, we could see the big swells head across the channel from the south and break on the jagged rocks on the north side, so we erred toward the southern side, knowing the swell would push us north. As we passed the first mark we were lifted high up on the first swell, looking down at the mark as we went by it. The next and the next came across our stern, shoving us forward and dragging us to starboard.

Some friends who had arrived the previous day told us they nearly broached in that channel, taking on a lot of water through an open hatch.

Manmade perils to the south.
Chip managed -- quite ably -- to keep us in the channel, and we emerged on the other side in perfectly placid water with very wide eyes. Once we were tied up in the lap of luxury, all was forgotten.

Our last marina was in Nassau, six weeks ago. In the intervening weeks, we have visited remote outposts, always anchored a dinghy ride from shore. Water, trash, provisions, laundry all had to be ferried to the dinghy, from dinghy to boat. Our last proper land shower was in Nassau.

Cara Mia and Jessie Marie, snuggled up at Emerald Bay.
Now we luxuriate in an embarrassment of riches: a supermarket in walking distance, free laundry just down the dock, trash cans and water right beside the boat, shampoo, conditioner, hand cream and sunblock provided in the bathrooms -- private bathrooms with showers!

We have renewed joy in land life's most rudimentary conveniences.

1 comment:

  1. And it all sounds so wonderful! I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying your posts.