Sunday, April 1, 2018

Chicken Harbor

We are anchored in Elizabeth Harbor off Sand Dollar Beach, near Georgetown (map). It's good to be back here after an absence of three years. We're already aware of two friends' boats here in the harbor, and we'll more than likely run into another few people we know during the course of our stay.

Yesterday morning we weighed anchor a half hour ahead of high tide and headed out to Cave Cut. But as we approached the cut, we saw ahead of us all the hallmarks of a "rage" -- washing-machine conditions in the inlet caused by wind and surf opposing tidal current. We simply misjudged slack, which apparently leads high by considerably more than half an hour. The tidal current was already running out, causing the rage.

Rather than subject ourselves needlessly to these sort of conditions, we turned around before reaching the cut, and proceeded instead back to our fairly comfortable anchorage to wait another day. As a side benefit, conditions on Exuma Sound today were forecast to be better than yesterday anyway. We resolved to take the dinghy out to the cut ahead of the evening high to see if we could learn something about slack timing.

We had a mostly comfortable day at home, albeit a little rolly from the surge coming around Cave Cay. I got some projects done, including starting to disassemble the old generator raw water pump that I replaced back in December and which needs to be rebuilt.

Before dinner we splashed the tender and rode out to the cut, a full two hours before high tide. At that time the tide was still coming in, rather copiously, and the inlet was relatively calm. From the amount of inrushing current we surmised that there was still as much as an hour before the turn. On our way back we stopped at the Krogen, Lili, and chatted briefly with her owner, Betty, and visiting crew, Jill. We had dinner and a nice sunset on the aft deck.

Sunset over the bank from Cave Cay

This morning we weighed anchor promptly at 8:30, two hours before high tide. We made the inlet at 8:45 with nearly two knots against us. There was no rage, but about 4' of swell which we bounced over until we were well offshore. Unfortunately, the forecast two-foot seas were more like three feet on a four-second period, on the port bow, and made for a very uncomfortable, pitching ride.

The cat announced her displeasure and then retreated to her cube for the entire trip. The humans just suffered through it, but we were basically confined to our chairs except for engine room checks. We had Internet signal most of the way so I caught up on email and social media and got most of this blog post pre-loaded.

There are perhaps 250 boats with us here in the harbor, and I expect we'll be here at least a week. This is the end of the line for many cruisers; some by plan, and others because traveling further south and east from here involves a much larger degree of self-reliance than is required to this point. Many well-laid Caribbean cruising plans get shelved here, earning it the nickname "Chicken Harbor."

If you followed along with us three years ago you may recall that the cruising community is well-connected here, with a daily radio net in the morning and an unending schedule of events and activities, from snorkeling to beach volleyball, pig roasts to rake-and-scrape music and dancing. I expect we'll partake in some of those activities as we reconnect with old friends and make some new ones. We'll also take advantage of the most well-stocked stores we will see in quite a while to top up our provisions.

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