Friday, February 11, 2011

Emerald Bay Marina, Great Exuma

Sunday 6 February – Friday 11 February

We leave Farmers Cay Sunday morning around 9:30 heading out the cut to the Sound. All morning boats have been heading out, many heading back north to Black Point & Staniel Cay and many like us heading south, it has been a while since we have seen this many boats out moving in the water. We have been hearing for some time that George Town long known as the cruising Mecca for sailors / boaters has been out of fuel. The owner of Exuma Fuel died and his family is fighting over the company that is also in bankruptcy, so they do NOT know when they will get fuel there again. This is a major concern to boaters going south as the next fueling spot will be in DR. George Town is also the last major re-provisioning place until the DR. So everyone has been telling us to stop at Emerald Bay 10 miles north of George Town, they have fuel and a great grocery store also. It is a marina, no room to anchor but they have “non-service' docks (no power or cable TV) for only a $1 a foot. This INCLUDES very nice showers where they provide pump jars of shampoo, conditioner, soap, shaving gel, body lotion, sun screen, hair dryers etc. etc.. The $1 a foot also includes FREE laundry, 4 washer & dryers, free Wi-Fi, complimentary shuttle to the grocery store, cruisers lounge with TV & pool tables. The list goes on and on so this is where we are heading, pulling into the MARKED channel about 2:30, stop at the fuel dock then over to our slip (floating docks). There are several other boats we know already here and a few more coming in. Get our welcome packet and run down of the facilities from the harbourmaster, rinse the salt off the boat, and it is time for HH. They are having a Super Bowl party in the lounge but we & 2 other couples decide to go over to the Pallappa Restaurant & Bar at the neighboring Grand Isle Resort. Back to marina for nice long showers, stopping in to say hi to the group watching the game before heading back to the boat. Monday morning is maintenance day, changing the oil & filters on motor & generator. After lunch head over to check out the grocery store, pick up a few things. We have requested our mail to be sent here so we will be here at least 2 more days so will do major re-provisioning right before we leave. Monday night group of us gather in the cruisers lounge for HH. Comparing tentative schedules, some south some north so we can stay in touch as much as you can in the cruising world. Tuesday morning we defrost the freezer, then visit with Anne & Terry for a while before they pull out to head to George Town. Boats are starting to come in so we lend a hand with several tying up, next thing we know its 2. So we have lunch then go over to the dive shop to talk to them about a dive on Thursday we heard about from another boat. While signing up they inform Steve who has been diving for over 30 years that his PADI card is only good for up to 40'. This is the first time he has ever had anyone question this and they are very worried about liability since the dive shop is run by the Sandals Resort. They were going to do a 2 tank dive one to 100' to see a wreck and one to 35' to see the sharks. So they said we could pay ½ and just do the shark dive. Head over to the beach for a walk along the beach and a swim. Stop by the grocery store for a few ingredients for the nights dinner and to see what new things they got in with the days delivery. A day can make a BIG difference in selections here in the Islands. As they have already unpacked several things we looked for the day before, and are still unloading. Back to the boat and to showers in the big shower rooms. The marina is filling up fast !!!! A lot more boats have come in during the day. Wednesday the morning passes before we know it, at 2 we go over to the dive shop for a 30 minute refresher course in the pool, Steve remembered everything I needed a little reminder on how to manually inflate my BC. One of the boats had been collecting $ and organizing a ice cream social for 3 so we go to that and visit for a while having a little ice cream to cool us off. Back to the boat for dinner then stopped by the lounge where a few boaters brought their instruments up to hang around & play. Friday we are up early to go for our dive, get there at 7:45 for 8 am departure but two guys were late so we left at 8:30. A 90 minute ride over to Long Island, they do the deep wreck dive first while Steve & I and another diver hang on the boat talking with the 2 crew on board. They have provided fruit & pastries so we don't mind the short wait. Next we go to “shark reef”, and a few sharks (Black Tip Sharks) are circling the boat as we anchor. They instruct us to go straight down, kneeling and gathering on the sand bottom. Well I need more weights to get down, so I yell to the dive master & he gets one & puts it in my BC. I always have trouble equalizing, so I have to descend very slow, sometimes coming back up a little before continuing down. With having to stop for the extra weight and now descending slowly, everyone is waiting at the bottom for me to get down. I was so worried about trying to equalize, the sharks swimming around did not even bother me. With a little help from the dive master I join the others and have finally gotten my ears equalized. We swim around a reef seeing all kinds of fish and coral, then back up under the boat where they have lowered 2 bars along each side of the boat. So we have 6 divers on each side hanging on to these horizontal bars as the sharks circle all around us and the boat. They stay at least 3'- 6' (feet) away but are giving us an unbelievable show. Now if we were out swimming or snorkeling and came across a dozen sharks circling us I would most likely die from fright. BUT Black Tip sharks are not very aggressive and divers go out there several times a week so unless you wiggled your fingers or toes in front of them it was really pretty safe. Once we were all back on board they threw some food over and the sharks came up to eat so got a few pictures, since we could not dive to 40' with our camera. No fighting amongst the sharks for food, even some little fish came up to eat and the sharks did not even bother them. They serve lunch, sandwiches, water, soft drinks, still pastries left. They even give you a choice of a glass of white wine or champagne to toast a great day & dive(s). Back to the boat around 3:30 to find no mail delivery. Steve calls them up since it shows the package still in Nassau, but they say it is here in Exuma and should be delivered by 5. By 6 still no mail and the office is closing up, hopefully tomorrow. Friday throw in another load of laundry (it's free), Steve calls Fed X and gets the local delivery guy's phone # (yes they gave us his #) to call him to find out where our package is. We have been leaving messages all morning on his voice mail so HOPEFULLY we will get the mail in time to head out to George Town this afternoon.

link to pictures;

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