Georgetown and the Family Islands Regatta, and the end of the fish drought

We stayed on in Georgetown to see the start of the Family Islands Regatta, with our friends, Clark and Michelle on Roam.

We were anchored off our favorite place at Sand Dollar Beach. It is much quieter here in Georgetown now that the Cruisers Regatta is over and the majority of the cruisers have left, back on their way to the US and Canada.

We are seeing more boats coming up from the Caribbean, also on their way to the states. And we are seeing a few boats heading on to the Eastern Caribbean, with plans to stay in Granada, or the ABC islands for hurricane season.

We enjoyed the less crowded atmosphere in GT. The Exuma Market is not nearly as crowded, although cruisers have a tendency to stop and talk where ever they meet, even if in the middle of the narrow aisles in the Exuma Market store.

I found a good source of local rum. Ricardo rum is only $10 at the local grog shop. I picked up a couple more bottles, and was given a couple of cans of orange juice, a small cooler, and a bar towel, as a promotion for Family Regatta. Cool.

I stopped in at Top to Bottom, the local hardware and marine store to pick up some lures and hooks for my fishing.  As I was making my selection a middle age Bahamian guy was picking out fishing weights, talking to himself the entire time. I hazarded a casual glance and he was unnoticing of my presence.

He beat me to the check-out counter, where the young girl was on the phone, chasing a Fed Ex package while she rang up his purchase.

The fisherman was not happy with her lack of attention to his purchase and started giving her a scolding.

“Hey, I don’t have time for your phone talk, mon. Git off the phone, mon and ring me up” the fisherman says.

She ignores him and continues talking to the phone.

“Hey mon, Im a person mon.   I standin right here mon, dont be makin’ phone talk, when a person right here mon” the fisherman protests.

The check-out gal continues to ignore the fisherman. Only to reply with the total she has rung up while on the phone. By now the older woman who manages/owns the store is also at the counter. She says nothing but is observing the fisherman.

The old boy counts out his money, and is short to make his purchase.

This sets off the older gal.”You come in here mon, screaming for help, given us a hard time and you don’t have enough money” she complains.

He starts to take back some of the items, to get the total down to his available funds.

“Shit mon, you come in and cause us all kinds of grief mon, and you don’t have the money”, she says again, as she sucks air through her teeth.

Finally he finishes his purchase and I quietly come up to the counter with my fish hooks and head out of the door. I don’t want any spill-over from the fishermans encounter.

Outside, I stop in the shade, and see the fisherman across the parking lot. He is talking to another man, and they are pouring some rum into a plastic water bottle.

Life in Georgetown, I think to myself.

Georgetown is bustling the day before the races. The Village is full of little stands, mostly bars, and all painted bright colours. There are few open yet, and I dont think we will come ashore when it is packed.

The next day we see the start of the race from afar. The winds have dropped and are slightly SW at only 5-10 knots, so they shorten the race course and it is further away from our anchorage here at Sand Dollar Beach.

Clark and Michelle went over to the start in their dinghy to watch a friend of theirs on one of the boats. Clark got some great shots of that race.

The boats are beautifully painted, bright colours, with huge main sails on a very long boom. They have boards athwart ship, where the crew hike out to offset the heel of the boat. It looks pretty exciting out there.

We left the second day of Regatta along with Roam. They are heading across the southern end of the banks, picking up the current that runs between the north coast of Cuba and the banks, and heading to Key West.

We are heading off more northerly to Cat Island, about 50 miles away. We leave a bit later than Clark and Michele as the trip is only about 7 hours. Clark has 3 days and two nights to go.
We picked up a bit of wind as we departed GT- Conch Cut, but the conditions were very pleasant. I dropped in my lures and we were on the fish.

I got a hit after a few hours, but he did not set the hook, and I reeled in an empty lure.
Another hour or so, and the reel screamed as the line pulled off. Before I could get to it and haul on the rod to set the hook, about of the reel was peeled off the spool.

I went to the cockpit, and Jenny handed me the rod from the boat deck, I started to try to retrieve some line. It was a hard and steady pull. I tightened the drag as much as I dared to arrest the run, but not to break the line.

I started to get some line back. Then another run-rod tip high I listened as the line screamed off the real. It was a shorter run; I began to get some line back. Jenny was now down from the fly bridge and helped to put on the waist harness, so I could secure the butt of the rod. My reel was a bit loose, and it slid off to one side, the eyelets offset from the reel. I was able to get some more leverage now, and began to regain the line.

The fish made another short and deep run, after which I hauled in some more line. The fish was staying deep, and my arms were getting a bit tired. We had stopped the boat and the fish now headed toward the bow, still deep, but now I was worried about getting it cut in the underside of the boat. I steered the line aft and away from the bow, and hopefully away from the running gear.
About 20 minutes later we hauled the fish to the surface. She was a beaut, a nice skipjack tuna, weighing about 30 pounds. (I need to get a scale to weigh these so I can brag more accurately).
I bled the fish and started to filet him. A pretty tired guy, but happy.

We decided to put out the lure again when we were about 10 miles away from Cat Island. And so the productive pink feathers went out. I got another hit in less than 15 minutes. This was undoubtedly a Mahi, as he leaped high into the air.

Another 20 minute battle and we boated a beautiful bull Mahi. Amazing colours, he was almost 4 foot long and must have weighed 30 pounds as well.

Again, I dispatch the fish, quickly fileted him, and take all of the fishing gear out of the water. I am simply too tired to consider another battle.

Cat Island lies ahead and we make the long trip past the southern end of the island, where we drop the hook in 3 metres of water, just off the beach at Rolleezz resort.

It is a very satisfying day, and the end of our fish drought. We cut up and packaged the fillets and we have over 20 meals of fish ahead of us. Pretty late in the season, but we are happy to have some fresh fish again.

We plan to stay at Cat Island, moving along it long coast north in the next 4-5 days. We have not spent a lot of time here, and never got beyond the southern end, the Bight.

Jennys brother Johnny is on a cruise ship which is scheduled to land at Half Moon Cay in a week. We discovered that Half Moon Cay is actually Little San Salvador Island, just off the northern tip of Cat Island.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate and allow us to head over to Half Moon Cay, and we can see Johnny and his wife Nicola.


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