George Town Express
Thinking of doing your own fast passage to paradise? My Rose Point Coastal Explorer program tells me our MarineMax 484 traveled some 300 nautical miles to get from Lauderdale to George Town, via Gun Cay, North West Channel Light, Nassau, and the cut at Norman’s Cay. Obviously, using a different route—entering Exuma Sound through the cut at Big Farmer’s Cay, for example—may change things.
If possible, do your fueling stateside. At press time (May 2013), diesel was $4.40 per gallon at the Bahia Mar in Ft. Lauderdale (it was selling for $6.00 per gallon in George Town at the same time) and we burned approximately 366 gallons on our way south. Making as much speed as weather would permit, we completed the trip in about 38 hours. According to Rose Point, had we made a steady 8 knots (without stopping for an afternoon at Norman’s), we’d have done the trip in roughly the same time. Had we upped the ante to 12 knots, we’d have arrived in about 24 hours.
Officially entering the Bahamas in George Town is typically easy. You’ll find the Customs and Immigration offices on Queen’s Highway. Customs: 242-345-0071 (open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm). Immigration: 242-345-0073 (open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5:30 pm).
To moor or not to moor:
George Town’s harbor is fairly sheltered and you can anchor in a number of places. Exuma Markets on Queen’s Highway, one of the best spots in the Exumas to reprovision, offers a dinghy dock. There’s one on Lake Victoria too.
Emerald Bay Marina offers dockage, free Wi-Fi, a golf course, and a host of other services. Vessels must be at least 40 feet in length to tie up, and prices run $2.25 per foot, per night for boats 40 to 59 feet, $2.75 per foot, per night for boats in the 60 to 99 foot range, and $3.25 per foot, per night for vessels over 100 feet in length. Electricity is $.85 per kilowatt-hour and water is $.40 per gallon. Emerald Bay Marina, 242-336-6100; www.marinaemeraldbay.com
Exuma Docking Service (242-336-2578) has 52 slips for transients. Slips cost $1 per foot, per night, with 30- and 50-amp shore power and diesel available. Word around town is the marina is under new ownership and slated for a renovation, so call ahead.
The Peace & Plenty hotel has clean, comfortable rooms with watery views starting at $155 per night. I heartily recommend even a short stay. Peace & Plenty, 800-525-2210; www.peaceandplenty.com
Charts and Chartbooks:
To travel the Bahamas, I’ve used Explorer Chartbooks for years. And I’d say the best cruising guide for the area is The Exuma Guide: A Cruising Guide to the Exuma Cays by Steven J. Pavlidis. Available at www.amazon.com.
This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.