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Last Updated on May 14, 2022 by Amy
After spending the first six weeks of our season in Georgetown (plus a short trip to Conception Island), we knew we had to get going if we wanted to see more of the southern islands. With our friends Kevin and Linda from Counting Stars, we left Georgetown bound for Long Island.
Sailing from Georgetown to Long Island requires taking the Channel Rocks pass out of Georgetown into the Exuma Sound, and, to be honest, we didn’t choose the best day for it. Counting Stars, another FP Helia, was in front of us and we watched as their bow flew out of the water, bashing into the waves to exit the pass. I know we’ve been in worse conditions before, but it was a little surreal to see what our boat actually looked like from another perspective heading out the pass.
Sailing south east left us exposed for a while, but slowly the reefs and sand bars that extend out from Long Island blocked the swell, and finally, we were able to sail in a very protected body of water to Thompson Bay.
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Anchorage: Thompson Bay
We spent 18 days anchored in Thompson Bay, including some very windy days. However, because the wind was out of the east, we were very comfortable. Also, the bay is HUGE. We saw maybe 20 or 30 boats there, but it could easily fit over a hundred.
I preferred to use the small, very protected basin in the northeast corner of the bay, which was very easy to get into and use for dinghy access, though it was far from amenities. It was perfect for a walk or a run though. The more common dinghy landing was a bit further south and was near both the grocery store and the marine store.
Provisioning in Thompson Bay
Saturday mornings was farmer’s market day in Thompson Bay. It was a short walk south of the dock, and I bought bananas, limes, and pomegranates, plus eggs and hot sauce.
Hillside Food Supply was a pretty decent grocery store too. I was able to get some things I couldn’t get in Georgetown (vegan ravioli was a special treat, and I found pita bread to go with the hummus I bought in Georgetown).
A One Day Drive Around Long Island
With Kevin and Linda we rented a car for a day to explore the island. Driving in the Bahamas was so entertaining. Our car was Asian, and spoke to us in whatever language. All Bahamian rental cars had huge signs on them to remind us to drive on the left.
We rented from Fox Auto.
Our first stop was Hamilton Cave, where we rolled up to the meeting spot without a reservation. We got lucky that Leonard, the proprietor and tour guide, was waiting for another group.
The caves have been in the Cartwright family for generations. He told us stories of playing in the caves when he was a kid and about how they used to use them as shelters in hurricanes.
Walking through the caves I was reminded of Journey to the Center of the Earth. Large holes in the ceilings brought down vines, roots, and sunlight, while plants grew up out of the holes.
There was plenty of life inside the caves; Leonard told us there are five species of bats, and we saw three of them, plus various crabs, frogs, and bugs.
Leonard Cartwright | Hamilton’s Cave Tour Cuide | Hamilton’ Cave Tours | Hamilton’s, Long Island
Phone: 242-337-0235 Cell: 242-472-1796 Cell: 242-472-1278
Dean’s Blue Hole
While my guidebook said this was the deepest blue hole in the world, that was actually out of date. Dean’s Blue Hole is the second deepest blue hole in the world, and is the site of many freediving competitions.
When we went, unfortunately, it was windy, cold, and raining. We waited in the car until we got a break in the rain and a little bit of sunshine, but no swimming for us.
The Shrimp Hole
We had heard of a pond with clear water and red shrimp living in it, so, when we saw the sign, we stopped and walked the trail behind the church ruins.
Oh boy, what a mistake! The mosquitoes were SO BAD! We came, we saw, we got eaten, we turned around and high tailed it back to the car.
Ironically, we would see the red shrimp in a much nicer pond with no mosquitos at our next island…
Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort
For lunch, we drove all the way up to the top of the island and stopped at the restaurant in the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort.
There were several boats anchored in Calabash Bay, which is very beautiful. Friends said it gets a bit rolly even in an easterly wind.
Columbus Monument / Lucayan Memorial
Our last stop with the car was at the very tip of the island, a monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus and the Lucayan People, the indigenous Americans that lived here with Columbus arrived.
The monument felt new – the stairs and benches were crisp and unweathered. The view from the monument was absolutely stunning. What I wouldn’t give to be able to paddleboard those creeks and inlets.
Lunch at Tiny’s
Back in Thompson Bay, a lot of people had mentioned Tiny’s Hurricane Hole as the local hang out. We opted to walk over from the basin, but there was a dinghy dock at Tiny’s. It’s all the way across the bay, though, so we didn’t want to have to bash in the dinghy since it was a windy day.
We also watched as other cruisers had to deal with very shallow waters to get in and out.
But the food was good, the company even better (S/Vs Motu and Clarity), and we stayed longer to play cornhole and tetherball.
We had great opportunities to catch up with some friends, both old and new. La Vagabonde was in Thompson Bay, who we hadn’t seen since we saw Riley in the Bay of Islands New Zealand. We saw Cyrille and Catherine on their new (since we met them in Oakland) boat. We also made friends with Galatea (Frank and Mischa), who we went on to spend a lot of time with in the Jumentos. Clarity (Nick and Megan) were there, who we’d met in Mobjack Bay, Virginia, this past year but had communicated with online before. And also new friends on Motu (Susan and Travis).