All along our journey through the Bahamas we have met people who say they just want to get to George Town. It seems this is the Mecca for cruisers and in reading the guide books, the harbor sounded like it was difficult to navigate, busy with traffic day and night, and over crowded with boats. More experienced travelers like Sea Turtle chose to avoid it completely.
But we needed to spend time there. Our dinghy had become increasingly unreliable and was stalling regularly while underway. Ted had done what maintenance he could, but believed it needed parts and skills beyond what we have on board. And I had work waiting for me to do for AMP, requiring access for several hours to strong reliable internet so that I could work online. Plus, of course, we had more strong winds predicted, so needed to tuck in somewhere for a few days. For all these reasons, we had made the short run from the beautiful secluded Glass Cay down to the madness of George Town.
The anchorages we inched past were certainly crowded, but these were the more popular destinations and we found as we moved slowly to the south of Stocking Island, there was more room. We saw L’Adagio anchored well out, and Starlet who had pulled in just ahead of us. We had good room around us and it was better than I’d feared. L’Adagio called by in their dinghy on the way to the airport to pick up friends arriving from Denmark. Dave from Snow White, an N50, dinghy over to welcome us in. There was also an N55 Cathexis anchored close by.
We launched our dinghy and spluttered over to Lake Victoria, or “the pond” as it is known locally. The town was busy and it was very hot. We found someone who could look at the dinghy motor the next day. We sat at the marina waiting for fuel for the dinghy, but the entire town had suffered a power cut and the pumps weren’t working – after waiting 45 minutes we gave up.
The winds came up overnight and changed direction as predicted. We had swung around and decided to move when we saw Snow White moving to the marina early morning. We then had to take an uncomfortable ride across to the village to get the dinghy serviced. I had packed up my work gear in a waterproof cooler bag, and was finally able to set up at a café and type up board minutes of a meeting held a week ago in Auckland. It was surreal to hear those familiar voices as though nothing had changed, yet here I was listening to them speak and writing up the meeting at a table outside under the palm trees.
It was good and bad news on the dinghy. He found the problem, but didn’t have the parts. It wasn’t as bad as we had feared, but it does mean we must stay in George Town for several more days until parts arrive, hopefully from Nassau. We worked out that the money I made from doing my work for AMP won’t even cover the cost of fixing the outboard!
After buying a few groceries we staggered back across a very choppy harbor to our boat. Shortly afterwards, we were visited by Tina and Gary from Cathexis who invited us to join them for happy hour on the beach the next night. They even offered to collect us in their dinghy!
The wind was still strong throughout the evening, but by the next morning had started to abate.
George Town is probably unique in the world. Every year, it is invaded by over a thousand boats that stay from a few days to several months or longer. The entire town is focused on this cruising population. There are activities every day and local businesses offer every kind of service that might be needed. They have their own channel which broadcasts events and updates each morning, and then acts as a ship to ship channel for chatter. The “cruiser net” starts with any urgent announcements, runs through items such as weather, local business promotions, activities of the day, buy/sell/trade items, arrivals and departures and general information.
It struck me while I was listening to opportunities to join water aerobics, volleyball, dominoes, beach yoga, AA meetings, painting groups, sewing circle etc. etc. that we had unwittingly entered a floating retirement village. People spending so much time each year here have created a community of activities and events catering for this population of snowbirds, international cruisers, and those who perhaps cruised here at some point and just never left.
As it turns out the big event for George Town is Regatta week. We had no intension of staying around long enough to see the foolishness of Regatta week. But as it turns out (another story) we are indeed here for regatta.
We did not participate in any of the events, the poker run, the beach volleyball, nor the softball. But we did virtue of our anchorage at the southern end of Sand Dollar beach get to see the in harbor race, and the next day the around the Island race, and took some pretty nice photos.
After a month here, and a number of long hikes, and some snorkeling, we are waiting out some bad weather again.
We have dozens of boats around us, and we are buttoned down with 15-20 knots of wind, predicted to get to 30-40 today. But the wind directly in East-NE and so we have good shelter.
The next weather window, which seems to be in another week, we will move out of here. We both have grown tired of George Town, but at least the outboard is fixed and we are now able to get out of GT.
All of our Nordhavn friends are gone. Starlet is in Panama, on the way through the canal. L’Adagio is back at Staniel Cay to drop Monica off at the airport, Sea Turtle is in Nassau. And we are still here.