When we first started cruising, I quipped that I wanted to find an island with like minded people and escape from the rest of the world. Well, while not deserted, we've found plenty of like-minded people in Georgetown and Stocking island and it seems we're in a perfect place to escape from cold and covid-19.
George Town is located on the island of Great Exuma, near the southern end of the chain. It has a local population of around 2500 people and sort of feels like a small town with lots of villages surrounding it. It's has lots of stores, restaurants that serve amazing food, and even a couple of health clinics! One can get prescriptions filled and as a special treat, have laundry washed, dried and folded! While some groceries, like beer and junk food, are considerably more expensive, other things are not much higher priced than home. They even have a farmer's market every day where fresh veggies can be found! Most stores carry lots of different items. If they don't have what you need on the island, boats arrive on Monday and Wednesday both from Nassau and Florida so it's easy to get anything needed shipped in.
George Town has been a popular destination for both cruisers and vacationers in pre-covid times. There are lots of different anchorages to choose from in Elizabeth Harbour, the body of water between stocking island and Great Exuma. We chose an anchorage off Sand Dollar Beach due to it's proximity to so much and relative protection from the trade winds found so close to the equator. The weather has been delightful since we arrived with high 70s-80s during the day and cooling down at night with a breeze constantly blowing.
Great Exuma is also on the latitude of the Tropic of Cancer, which is the northernmost point where the sun's rays are directly overhead and the northern boundary of what we call the "tropics". The Tropic of Cancer is marked on the island at a beautiful beach of white and and clear blue water. It's definitely a place we want to stay and hang out for awhile!
The cruising community here is exactly that...a community. Every morning at 8 AM there's a Cruiser's Net run by volunteers. The Net is an opportunity to both share and gather information about anything relating to cruising. People can announce organized events, share supplies and boat parts, put in a plug for local business. Church services, yoga classes, kids activities, games, volley ball and AARG meetings (Adult Alcohol Research Group) have all been announced since we've been here. It sort of feels like summer camp!
We found out just how helpful the community is when one of the boats developed engine trouble out in the sound. He called for help and within seconds, people were jumping in their dinghies and heading out to help. Reports are that one of the guys managed to get on the boat and fix a broken impeller, insuring the boat got back into the harbour safely. People freely share their expertise, knowledge and spare parts to fellow boaters in need.
The Chat N Chill, on Stocking Island seems to be a favorite gathering spot for cruisers. There are picnic tables, volleyball courts, a restaurant/bar, and a beautiful beach to hang out on or float off of. There are even pets to borrow! The island has lots of resident cats so anyone coming ashore with a dog has to keep it on a leash. There are also resident rays who love to eat chicken and conch. Robert thinks they like to have their bellies rubbed but I'm not so sure. I just know that they seem to love to rub up against my bottom when I've floating in the water!
We've also found at least one beach gathering spot that was clearly made and added to by cruisers over the years. The Ship Shack and adjoining fire pit and picnic tables make a wonderful place to hang out, work or gather with others. The Moriah Harbour, one of 32 national parks in the Bahamas is close by with lots of different trails to explore, mangrove creeks, caves, snorkeling spots, sand dunes and seagrass beds. It's a beautiful, protected piece of paradise!
I can certainly see why some people spend the entire winter here! One could easily work and live on a boat here with lots of fun places to explore a short day trip away. We plan on hanging out a while longer. We may make some short trips over to Long Island and or Cat Cay and explore different anchorages here. We'll eventually move on but one thing I know for sure, this will always be one of my favorite places on our beautiful planet!