April 25, 2010
George Town, Exuma, anchored under the monument
Back in George Town, this time for a couple of days rather than the week we were before, this time for the Family Island Regatta rather than the Cruisers Regatta. There are still chaotic numbers of masts when approaching the harbor, still an amazing number of cruising boats (many of whom have not really moved since we were last here).
The scene this time, though, is very Bahamian. Bandwidth in George Town on the internet doesn’t allow for much in terms of pictures, unfortunately, because Jeremy has caught some spectacular scenes with the camera. Picture an entire festival based around old-style work boats and the racing thereof. Boats have come from all over the out islands, from Cat Island and Staniel Cay, from Ragged Island and Long Island, from Mayaguana and Crooked Island. I am sure I have missed many, many spots. These boats, racing in either C, B, or A class, depending on size, are wooden, mostly homebuilt, and sport incredible arrays of canvas. The boom on all boats overhangs the transom by a good 6 feet. Tacking (or even going downwind, sometimes) means the pile of people out on prys (long boards that are on the windward side, to provide “hiking out” areas to level the boats) have to time their scramble inboard, the hoof of the pry across the boat, and the scramble back out on the new windward side. These boats are ballasted – if one goes down, it goes down (and we saw one go down! Jeremy helped with the re”floating” of it, though a serious bilge pump will be needed to get it really floating.) The starts of these races is different as well, as all boats start at anchor, with sails down. The warning gun is a minute before the start, and the trick is timing the anchor lifting with the sail hoisting and the start gun! Jeremy was lucky enough to be able to race on one of the A-class boats, the biggest class of boats racing.
The scene on the water, other than the racing, is incredible as well, as there are hundreds of dinghies and fast motor boats watching the races. These spectator boats, some driven by people who might have had a little too much to drink, race all over the course, following their favorites, throwing huge wakes and sometimes getting in the way of the racers. Going across the harbor during a race is an exercise in vigilance!
Ashore, too, is a special form of chaos. All along the government dock, normally a staid and placid area, shacks selling food and drink and drink and drink have sprouted. You can no longer get from the beach to the dumpster, and earplugs are recommended as you weave along the multiple-speaker boomboxes that line the dock. Regatta Park is filled with booths selling all kinds of stuff, plus 2 large moon bounces for the kids. Kids are swarming, eating candy apples and other sweets, playing hard. Bahamians have come from all over, from Nassau and Long Island and Williamstown (south of GT) and they stay for the week, many of them repeat visitors.
So we are exhausted from our 2 days here, filled with fresh veggies and propane, clean laundry and memories. From here we buck into the wind to head south to the Jumentos for about a week, and then we head north for real.
We hope to be able to post pictures (we have LOTS to share!) before we leave the Exumas. Enjoy spring!