Tuesday, 28 April 2015


Since my last post we have sailed north to Nassau again to get new US Visas. We've been out to Conception Island and we've had the Bahamas Family Island Regatta here in Georgetown.
All tracks from vessels over 7' 2"

Before I write further on these events, I would like to attempt to dispel a myth we keep hearing. "Boats with deep draft cannot sail in the Bahamas." We have had several yachties tell us that they skipped the Bahamas after seeing how shallow it all is. That is very sad because the Bahamas is an excellent sailboat destination. There is usually good sailing wind combined with calm protected waters on the banks. The water is exceptionally clear and the sand banks are vast flat sand. We draw 7'2" and we have sailed across the banks from Bimini, along inside Eleuthera &  all down the west side of Exumas. We have been back and forth over the Yellow Banks to Nassau. We have not had any depth issues and apart from several cuts we would not attempt because they are quite obviously too shallow we don't feel at all constrained.
Lovely Conception Island.

Conception Island is about 40nm East of George Town. It's a nice day sail and the anchorage is spectacular. The whole island is a National Park. Both in the water and out. There is a turtle hatchery a short dingy ride south of the anchorage which takes you inland through a maze of creeks and flats teeming with young turtles. There is some snorkeling off the cliff near the old steel works from a wreck on the way to the creek. Often the swell makes this site a bit tricky but it's worth a look if at all possible. We searched other locations for snorkeling sites but were disappointed to find almost everything is dead. Never mind the water is clear and warm and the setting is spectacular. Our beach BBQ was great fun marred only by the ferocious sand flies. Once they went to bed we had a pleasant night ashore with Ausie Tactical Directions, and Kiwi cruisers Wyuna and an American Boat. Elan 

Bahamian Family Island Regatta. Look at the length of that boom!

Our trip to Nassau, after returning from Conception, to get new US B1 / B2 Visas, was a very pleasant run north with a stop in Staniel Cay to catch up with Walter on Marnie, a boat we met crossing the South Indian Ocean in 2012. We had some fun nights aboard each other's boats during time together in George Town. 

Nassau arrival on a Monday for Visa Photos and paperwork a routine blood test for David and a bit of provisioning on Tuesday, then Embassy all Wednesday morning with a departure on Wednesday afternoon. Another brief stop in Nassau. Beating south was slower than running north but we were back in George Town by the following Sunday. 8 days all up.

This week the Bahamian Family Island Regatta was held in George Town. These spectacular local boats were traditional fishing vessels in days gone by. The craft of building and skill of sailing these boats has been preserved by the running of several regattas around the country every year. The boats arrive on local shipping or are towed in by larger boats, some coming in from several hundred miles away. 

The crews on the larger boats are big. Up to 16 people, depending upon the wind strength. The photos will give you an idea of the skill required to handle these vessels. The massive sail area and very low boom requires a lot of agility. Sometimes crew fall off! It is a requirement now days though that all boats finish with a full compliment of crew. 

The cruisers, along with the local spectator fleet, race about in dinghies and small boats following the race. It gets pretty frenetic but the whole thing is conducted with plenty if friendly banter and it would seem the racing, whilst competitive, is still very friendly.
Yesterday a dolphin arrived beside the boat and myself and a couple of other cruisers swam with it for 15 minuets. It was very interactive, swimming just out of reach and making small squeaking noises. Very fun. 

David as usual has plenty of projects but recent ones have included helping Tony on Tactical Directions with a mast and sail car issue and Tony kindly bought over his dive gear and helped David clean the hull. So what goes round comes round is working well here. Tony's mast issue is just awaiting a part and our hill is clean ready for departure.
Our Passports, with nice new 5 year Visas, arrived in George Town on Friday so now we will top up the fuel and wait for a weather window to head north on. Back to the US. Circuitously probably. 

You will find all the Bahamas photos at:
Taipans Bahamas Album.
Taipans track for Comer Channel. We needed 300mm... 1 ft of tide to get clearance over the shallows but it was easy.