In 2004, when we last attempted to make the jump from Cave Cay to Georgetown, the winds refused to cooperate, always blowing hard out of the southeast at 20 to 25 knots or so. This time though, Neptune favored us with a forecast for the morning of April 10th with light easterly winds, 10 to15 knots, and we decided to head out early the next morning to arrive at the harbor entrance with the sun high over our heads for the best possible visibility. Without exception, every cruising guide talks of the horrors of entering Georgetown, first passing between the outer reefs, then making a sharp turn to port to miss a reef dead ahead, then jogging all over the harbor to avoid shallow spots. I could see that in a raging sea, entering the harbor would be well nigh impossible with waves breaking and waiting to throw you onto those coral outcroppings if you failed in your navigation, but with good visibility, the entrance is straightforward and unimposing. Don’t let it scare you; just do your research ahead of time. Certainly, once you have entered the harbor the first time, each successive entrance will be quite simple in anything but a raging sea, one with a strong onshore wind, especially when opposing an outgoing tide. This same caution applies to entering any pass of this nature.
Joy was a happy camper on this run down to Georgetown with the boat humming along at nearly 8 knots all the way. Seas were flat, the wind was perfect, and we had risen with the birds to catch the early morning flat calm. Then the slowly increasing winds reached about 15 knots just forward of the beam by the time we reached the harbor’s entrance at 11:15, and with winds from the southeast, the reefs were breaking just enough to be easily seen, the entrance was fairly flat. We sailed almost all the way up to the anchorages off Stocking Island on the east side of the harbor.
We chose a spot to anchor that was well protected from the prevailing easterly winds, knowing that we had just beat an approaching cold front, and it seemed that most of the other cruisers had the same general idea. We could see a smattering of other boats here and there, but for the most part, everyone chose the east side of the giant roadstead. Even though protected, we found we still had a significant roll when wind opposed the currents, and for the first week or so, winds were fairly steady in the 20 to 30+ range, east to northeast. As we were still somewhat early in the year, cold fronts regularly marched through, about 2 a week, and with those fronts came winds that many days kept us confined to the east side of the harbor.