Jan. 15, 2020: Big Majors to George Town, Exumas

We were super excited to leave Big Majors just to get moving again.  We didn’t even care that we were on a beat with winds in the low 20 knots all day; the staysail did its job and kept us from pitching too much, and it was a short day anyway.

We decided to anchor just inside of Galliot Cut, which we would be taking the next day to go to George Town.  We anchored just behind Big Galliot Cay with three other boats (which swelled to five by morning), and it was a great anchorage.  I was expecting it to be rolly, but it wasn’t at all.  Sundowners and giggling over the other islands named Little Galliot Cay and Tiny Galliot Cay completed a satisfying day.  This leg was 4.5 hours for 21.4 nm.

The view off the bow of a tiny, untouched beach on Big Galliot Cay.

The trick to going to George Town was in picking a cut to go from the Exumas Banks (west) side of the islands to the Exuma Sound (east) side of the islands, which you must do.  For safety’s sake, it’s also important to avoid the “rages.”  The sea floor drops off rapidly not far from the islands, and ocean swells hit the suddenly shallow banks, piling up and getting huge.  Combine that with wind and tide, force all of that water through a shallow, narrow, rocky cut, and you get the roiling whitewater known as a rage.

The next day we went through Galliot Cut at 7:00 AM.  It was max flood, and at 2500 rpm we were only going about 2.5 knots.  However, because we were fighting the current rather than surfing an ebb tide, we never felt out of control.  Galliot Cut is one of the widest in the Exuma chain and therefore considered less rage-y in the proper conditions, and that’s why the Captain chose it.  It was a wise choice.

Galliot Cut when we arrived the day before.

We had a heavy beat all the way to George Town with 4-5 foot swells compounded by 1-2 foot wind waves in a contrasting direction.  We motorsailed with the genoa and staysail which powered us up enough to stay over 6 knots even in the adverse sea conditions.  Because the window to move was brief, everyone had the same idea; as we sailed south, boats poured out of every cut to join the conga line.

This is not the world’s greatest picture, but there are seven sailboats behind us and one motor yacht.

Most boats anchor across from George Town off of Stocking Island.  The northernmost large anchorage is Monument, which tends to be favored by those spending a longer time, such as the season.   There are a few smaller anchorages, and then the southernmost large anchorage is Sand Dollar Beach.  That is where we chose to anchor because it’s closer to George Town, and we were treating our stay as more of a provisioning opportunity than anything.  While the charts indicate that the holding is variable off of Sand Dollar Beach, we anchored in a white clay that didn’t give our anchor back without a fight.  The trip from Big Galliot Cay to George Town was 7 ¾ hours for 40.8 nm.