Legacy Sailing
Photo Gallery 73
Beyond Georgetown -- Harbors and Islands of the Central Bahamas
Elizabeth Harbor (Georgetown) is a nice sheltered place to hang out with a couple of hundred cruisers, but there are many of the more interesting spots in the Central Bahamas within a short sail.

Our first escape from Georgetown was to Conception Island about 40 miles away. Conception is a park in the Bahamas Land Park and is completely undeveloped. It offers spectacularly clear waters and beautiful scenery. Unfortunately it also offers an anchorage that is unsafe in west winds so we timed our visit carefully and had to head back to shelter before we had fully enjoyed all Conception had to offer.

We headed back to Conception island with an eye to going from there to Clarencetown on Long Island. Unfortuntely the winds were more southerly than predicted making the passage to Clarencetown more of a slog to windward than we were interested in making. So we headed back to Conception Island and then back to Emerald Bay to wait out the next slug of bad weather in comfort.
We started our return from the Bahamas with a short passage north from Emerald Bay to Cave Cay where we met up with fellow cruisers we've known since Mexico, Houston and Gale aboard Blew Moon.

We went back outside the reef for the short hop north to Black Point where we stayed long enough for Heather to get a haircut and to buy more homemade coconut bread.

Then it was North to Staniel Cay where we anchored close to town near Thunderball Grotto. Thunderball Grotto is a cave through a small island with a high domed roof with holes that admit sunshine to illuminate the interior. It has featured in many movies over the years.

From Staniel Cay we made a short hop to Cambridge Cay which is near the southern end of the Exumas Land and Sea Park. Before and after several windy days of a frontal passage we enjoyed the very nice snorkling in the immediate area.
Conception Island - Glorious Water
Legacy and a few other boats float in the amazingly clear, blue water of Conception Island. The grrlz can be seen glaring at us as we head off in THEIR dinghy!
The interior of Conception Island is filled with a large mangrove swamp which has a connection to the sea that is navigable by dinghy. This lone tree caught our eye as we wound our way up through the mangroves in the interior of Conception Island.
Bwana Chris stands in the dinghy to guide us through the shallower spots of the mangrove river.
The water in the shallow mangrove river was incredibly clear, allowing us to see the plants, sand formations, and fish on the bottom. Clear water and mangroves are not things that we previously thought went together! This water was 2-3 feet deep.
Okay, so you'll have to take my word for it that some of the dark blobs seen faintly beneath the surface here are turtles rushing about to avoid us. the small ones in particular were lightning fast underwater...who knew?
This composition of vegetation and sand caught our eyes.
From our high point, we looked out over the wandering mangrove river. Mangroves in the Bahamas are quite different from the tall, arching mangroves in Mexico and Central America.
Spiky shadows on the untracked sand of Conception Island.
From the mangrove river, we climbed up to a high point to look at this lovely beach, which is around the point from the anchorage. And, yes, the water really is that color!
On our second trip to Conception a mega yacht anchored outside the reef and the crew spent the afternoon ashore setting up tents and tiki torches for an evening dinner ashore. After dark the torches on the beach were lit and the guests ferried ashore for dinner among the sand and bugs!
Return to Emerald Bay
Our valentine's lunch at the restaurant in the resort adjacent to Emerald Bay.
We caught a ride to Big D's Conch Spot for lunch with our friends from Blessed Spirit. Big D came by the marina and toted us in the back of his pickup to the restaurant about 2 1/2 miles away.
Big D's was light and airy and located right on the beach but comfortably behind the reef. It was decorated in the usual bright Bahamian colors. (The food was good too.)  
North to Cave Cay
Chris on watch in the cockpit as we sail along the Exumas chain from Emerald Bay to Cave Cay.
The fishing in the Bahamas is supposed to be very good, but we have put in a lot of hours with only one Dorado and then this toothy barracuda caught on the way to Cave Cay.
Black Point, Exumas
Part way between the government dock and western promontory (Black Point) is a smaller point known as Regatta Point. There is a nice pavilion and lookout spots for use during the Bahamian sloop regatta held at Black Point. This is the view East into the anchorage off of town.
On the shore of the sound a modest walk from Black Point is the beach known to the folks from Moondance as "Bailey's Beach." It is a favorite trip for Skip, Harriet and Bailey so Chris, Kira and Minnow joined them one day.
Bailey's Beach wasn't great for the grrlz as the water is full of hard ledges and rocks, but of course that did not stop the grrlz from taking full advantage of the water.
Kira and Minnow with the bumper on Bailey's Beach.
On the walk back from Bailey's Beach we had a nice view of the anchorage at Black Point.
One of the attractive wooden Bahamian racing sloops resting on the beach at Black Point.
This Bahamian racing sloop was under construction in a side yard in the middle of Black Point.
A detail shot of the sloop under construction. Note the use of naturally curved branches to form part of the prow.
Many of the communities of the Exumas are pretty close together. In this view from Black Point one can clearly see Staniel Cay with its many houses and BATELCO tower.  
Staniel Cay and the Thunderball Grotto
Looking across the shallow banks to Staniel Cay from our anchorage by the Thunderball Grotto.
The entry to the small bit of deep water in which anchored at Staniel Cay was entered through the narrow passage between two of the three islets near Thunerball Grotto.
In Staniel Cay, groceries are found at the blue store and the pink store. This sign directs passersby up the hill to the blue store.
The blue store and the pink store are adjacent to each other, run by two brothers. The blue store is in a building behind the family house. The proprietor walked off his porch and behind the counter as we approached.
Next door, at street level is the sign for the Pink Pearl Super Market, aka the pink store.
The (bright....) pink store is also in a separate building next to the house. The proprietress is the daughter of the original owner, one of the two brothers.
At a gathering spot near the public beach, locals were having a fundraiser for the local library.
Lunch and dinner were for sale beneath the tents to support library operations. We had delicious conch chowder along with a large square of warm bread. Other options included chicken souse and ribs.
This spectacular tree was outside the Happy People Marina, Bar, and Grill. Note the brightly colored fence posts in the foreground.
Also near the marina was the ubiquitous Caribbean domino table.
The purple of this art gallery and restaurant contrasted with the other yellow, pink, and blue buildings in the community.
The Thunderball Grotto has several entrances. A few, like this one are just below the surface at low tide. Others like the one in the background are open at all but the highest tides.
Snorklers and fish swim together into the western entrance to the Grotto.
Heather floats inside the Grotto and looks up towards the holes in the roof of the cavern.
Looking at the dripstone and holes in the cavern roof within the Thunderball Grotto.
Because so many snorklers feed the fish when they visit, they get right in your face when you hop into the water.
The outside of the islet hollowed out by the Grotto is covered with lovely corals waving in the current.  
Cambridge Cay
Arriving at Cambridge Cay we picked up one of the wonderful moorings available throughout the Exuma Land and Sea Park. Legacy bobs quietly on her mooring as seen from the beach.
The beach closest to the mooring field was very shallow a long way out. Chris and Minnow play with the bumper in the shallows.
Before the winds came we headed out to the reef known as the Sea Aquarium. Dinghy moorings like this are provided at many of the nearby diving sites.
Hopping in to the water one is immediately surrounded by Sergeant Majors hoping for a handout.
Chris particularly liked the purple fan corals that were abundant at the Sea Aquarium.
Many types of corals were represented at the Sea Aquarium including these lovely funnel shaped structures.
While we sat out a windy period at Cambridge Cay we walked across to the eastern shore and climbed on the highlands at the north end of the island. We enjoyed watching the heavy surf crash against the shore and especially this large rock.
Looking back along the ridge from one of the high points.
The northern end of Cambridge Cay has some impressive drop offs.
Heather comes along one of the trails leading to the northern end of Cambridge Cay.
Chris and the grrlz stop for a break along the cliffs.
Looking back west from the promontory you can see the boats in the mooring field and the low islets and reefs that protect them from weather to the east. The surf breaks against the eastern side of Cambridge Cay below.
Kira and Minnow give dad the hairy eyeball in the cockpit one night.
Rocky Dundas is a small islet near Cambridge Cay that has several caves it is possible to enter at low tide. The vertical walls of the island are broken by horizontal cracks right at the waterline. This is the entrance to the largest of the caves.
The day we were at Rocky Dundas there was still a moderate swell running which meant that there was lots of wave action in the caves making it more or less impossible to hold a camera still while bobbing madly about. One of the other snorklers clambered out the water on a ledge at the back of the cave.
Looking back out the entrance of the big cave towards the dinghies tied to moorings in front of the cave.
A nice example of elkhorn coral we encountered swimming along the cliff face to the second sea cave at Rocky Dundas.
A shaft of sunlight illuminates the interior of the second cave at Rocky Dundas. We didn't enter this one because it was much smaller and we watched several swells nearly close off the entrance and crash wildly about inside.
A brief dinghy ride across the cut from Rocky Dundas we stopped at Tom's Elkhorn Reef for a second dive. In addition to elkhorn we saw several other types of corals as well.
Heather floats along next to some elkhorn coral. Elkhorn coral is fairly rare so we felt lucky to see as much as we did.
More elkhorn coral. Unfortunately the windy weather and large swells over the proceeding days had stirred up the water so it was not as clear as we've often seen it in the Bahamas.
Dan and Mariann from Midori joined us snorkling at Rocky Dundas and Tom's Elkhorn Reef.
Updated 3/20/2011