George Town Fever

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Lydia Fell

Mar 14, 2010, 6:27:39 AM3/14/10
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George Town, Exuma - 3/13/10

As I write, it’s 9 am and the sun is out, the wind 15-20 knots out of the SSW, and it’s in the high 70’s.  We’ve got a lot of anchor chain out, holding us safely in the sandy bottom, and if I let the dinghy out on a long enough painter, we could step ashore, such is the drop off from the beach.  Another beautiful day in George Town.

We’ve been here over three weeks now, immersed in the George Town scene in varying degrees; Skip more than I.  There are so many activities here during this 30th Annual George Town Regatta Week (which concludes tonight after a week of concentrated events) that it can wear you out.  Some cruising faithfuls, who have been coming here for 15 years successively and longer, take on positions as Committee Chairpersons, organizing different events which include the Sailboat Race in Elizabeth Harbour, the Sailboat Race around Stocking Island, the Pet Show, the Art Show, the Variety Show, the Bocce, Volleyball, Golf and Softball Tournaments, the miniature boat race for the kids’ handmade boats, and several evening dances to name just a few.  Skip immediately joined the Beach Church choir here, as well as yoga and volleyball, which kept him actually keeping an eye on his watch (quelle horreur!).  I enjoyed yoga in the mornings, but spent my spare time walking a couple of miles of beach most days, and reading … a past-time I cherish immeasurably after a lifetime of no time.

If you haven’t read Life of Pi, I can’t say enough in its praise.  While it’s labeled as a novel, the events in the book were told by the real Pi to the author, and thus the book was born.  I laughed, I cried, I turned pages with my heart in my throat and it fairly swallowed me up in its adventure, rendering me disinterested in sleep, food or social activities until it was finished.  As a sailor, and since it involved a boy who survived 277 days in a life raft, (not to mention with a Bengal Tiger), it was intensely interesting.  As an animal lover who finds zoos depressing, evil places, it was enlightening.  Spiritually, it was simply stunning.  The book sucked me up for three days (I’m a very slow reader, savoring every word, every nuance) and then spat me back out to George Town again, and all the Regatta events filling up the days.

The sight of all the boats that entered the races, with all their flags flying, was a beautiful vision of color.  We entered the Stocking Island race last year when mum was with us, and while we were given an elephant sized handicap for our 40,000 lb. boat, (which was built for safety, livability, storage space, and many other positive things, but speed was absolutely not one of them), we still came in last.  In fact, we redefined the word “last” – we were so last that we sailed back into the harbor after all the winning celebrations were over.  It was practically dark!  So, while it was a lovely day of sailing, and mum enjoyed the experience, it wasn’t necessarily something we felt strongly about repeating, especially with a passage to Long Island in view.

We plan to leave tomorrow morning, along with several other boats, to head further south and east to Thompson Bay on the west shore of Long Island, about a 6 hour sail.  As well as being a great harbor for anchoring and scrubbing your boat bottom (which we desperately need to do – there’s a fair reef growing under there), there are beautiful beaches with great shelling and sea bean opportunities, a blue hole (reputedly the largest in the world) and lots of wild flamingos.

We also hear that there is some wifi there which will be a real treat after dealing with the bandwidth problem here in George Town.  There have been times when it’s impossible to pull email for up to three days at a time, creating a seemingly never-ending clog.   We have one such clog going on now, which causes me to reflect, and lament, on how internet dependent we’ve become.

We have Vonage phones on the boat, which are wifi dependent in order to ring, but will take a voice message with or without a connection.  Of course, it may take several days of trying before successfully downloading those voice mails, and meanwhile, I envision our families getting frustrated that we’re too busy playing on the beach to return their calls when they’re trying to reach us.  It just isn’t so.  In fact, we routinely get up at 5 am just to grab any bandwidth available while we can.  It all boils down to the fact that it’s the Bahamas, mon.  It is what it is.  We’ll see what Thompson Bay offers.

One of the most enjoyable parts of George Town this year was the kids.  Three families, with a combination of 8 children, have been here since before we came and I’ve watched them all (ranging from under 10 to 16 years old) having not only a terrific time together, but wholly participating in whatever is available for their age group.  One family of four children have taken a one year sabbatical to do this trip; the other two families are out for part of a year.  In all cases, the kids are clearly enjoying the experience as much as their parents, and we haven’t heard a cross word among them.  Regardless of their age range, they hang together, respect and help each other, and genuinely enjoy one another’s company.  There is no pecking order, no teasing, no bullying or manipulation.

Every morning on the Cruisers Net (run by, and for the cruisers, and into which we all tune on channel 72 here), the weather, daily events and news items are covered.  Towards the end of the broadcast, there’s a section of the Net during which cruisers make it known to others if there are boat repairs they need help with, along with announcements by other cruisers of parts they have on board that are available for other’s repairs.  It’s the paying-it-forward aspect of cruising that the kids here witness happening every day, and something that they won’t see once they get back to their homes.  It’s such a valuable example for them, and for all of us, and it makes me so wish for Harrison to experience this one day.

(Later) -

The weather here, for all you people that are still stuck in The Matrix, has been atypically cool for this time of year, if that’s any consolation.  The devoted George Town cruisers report that in 15 years, they’ve never seen anything like it.  Chris Parker, our weather guru, blames the El Nino ocean current for the harsh winter this season, and certainly, while we haven’t wanted to do much swimming, we’re grateful that we’re no longer in Marsh Harbour, which is still getting slammed with cold fronts, accompanied always by howling winds.  We had some rain today – only the second since we sailed in here nearly a month ago -  always a welcome fresh water rinse for our boats.  While another cruiser (with very sophisticated satellite weather equipment on board), reported on the progress of the approaching rainstorm over the VHF to all the other cruisers, people were putting on bathing suits, grabbing the soap and scrub brushes, and heading out to their decks.  It was a pleasant relief from the humid, salt air.

And while the weather has been cooler, it has by no means been cold.  Instead of the low 80’s, it’s been in the 70’s for the most part, and that beautiful sun still rises like a phoenix in the east every morning, and collapses in the western sky amid colors too glorious to describe.  I’m so grateful for its warmth, for its brightness (as good as an intravenous supply of Lexapro for me) and for its dependable showing every day, like a child seeking approval.  It surely has mine.

We’ll be pulling up our anchor as soon as we’re up and about in the morning, keeping in touch with the handful of other cruisers headed for the same destination by VHF radio.  We’ve never been to Long Island, and I’m looking forward to it very much.

Take care, be happy, and stay tuned.

Love, Lydia

S/V Flying Pig
Morgan 46 #2
"The only way to live is to have a dream green and growing in your life - anything else is just existing and is a waste of breath."
Ann Davison
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