Plenty of room at the Monument Beach anchorage in Georgetown. Before Christmas, that is.
Mart and Sue from Alizan, another Krogen, stop by
There are as many routes to the Bahamas as there are blogs about them. Some better than others. Here is ours.
Our general starting point was Ft Lauderdale, post boat show, and our general initial destination was Georgetown in the Exumas. We chose to take the ICW down to Miami, stage out of the Venetian Causeway/islands area, and exit Government cut for Bimini as a day hop. We left at first light and dropped anchor that afternoon off the new resort on the NW coast of Bimini. Easy trip, decent anchorage in moderate prevailing easterlies. Next day we left at first light again and crossed the banks to anchor at Bird island. Night three we passed New Providence island to port, entered the banks just north of the reef and cut over to Shroud for the night. Weather was great, seas were flat and we never saw less than 10 feet depth. From there it was a night at Staniel, a night at Great Guana, a hop outside at Galliot and back in at Stocking and we were there. We cleared customs in Georgetown. (shhh!)
To be completely legal we should have cleared in at Bimini. but that would have entailed waiting till the next day and either staying over another day in Bimini, or getting to Bird isl. or some place nearby, after dark. This was our first time to Bimini and after a stop in Bimini on our return i can now add a few notes. First, I would not want to take the big boat into Alice Town unless it was slack tide. The current flies through there. That said, there are a few face docks at some of the marinas and the docks at the Bimini Big Game Club are new. And you can clear in there. I would anchor out and come in by dinghy. Stick around at the bar for shark feeding frenzy in the evening.
The other alternative is to take a slip at Bimini Sands on South Bimini. Stay a day or two. Nice pool. Totally protected although it can get a bit surgey at times. Short walk and short ferry ride to Alice Town to check in.
Or you can just wait to clear in when you get to Georgetown. I cant come up with any interpretation of Bahama entry instructions that would make that legal, but that said, the instructions are a bit vague, “…at the closest customs facility…” and “within 24 hours” shows up, along with, “upon entering Bahamian waters”. Probably within the law to sail directly to Georgetown as long as you dont anchor like we did. We did fly the Q flag and my response if boarded would have been that this was our landfall from the crossing. Again, I am not recommending any of this.
Alternatively, on a previous visit to the Bahamas we made landfall at Mayaguana, coming up from T & C, but anchored a long distance from the town. I called the customs agent in Mayaguana and asked if it would be OK to wait till we got to Georgetown to check in and she said, “No problem, mon” But I doubt she was speaking officially.
Anyway, we got here just fine.
Before Christmas, the Georgetown anchorages are pretty open. We like Monument and Honeymoon Beach anchorages. Excellent holding throughout. But they get pretty crowded as the season progresses. Later in the season we end up in Sand Dollar, although holding is variable here. There are some pretty weedy areas and some areas with a thin layer of sand over coral crust, as well as some long dead coral atols that can wrap an anchor chain. Since we were in and out of the Georgetown area this season, we tried them all.
The harbor has a good mix of transient cruisers and live aboards. Boats that either stop for a few days headed south, come here and stay all season, or stay all year and just get moved out from the hurricane hole storage and back every season. The greenery from their hulls is beginning to attach to the sea bed.