We had such a good time in George Town. And it was totally unexpected.
For many cruisers sailing the Bahamas (mostly snowbird retirees), George Town is the final destination. Lacking desire to push on toward the Caribbean, these folks settle here for the winter and form a community cemented by daily group activities and annual special events. It’s sort of like summer camp on boats, for the AARP set. We were pretty sure it wasn’t going to be our bag.
Sailing into George Town harbor for the first time, we were completely overwhelmed. After cruising for seven weeks in relative seclusion, suddenly there were boats everywhere. Hundreds and hundreds of them, anchored in every available nook and cranny of Stocking Island and George Town. Our first evening at anchor, Nightingale Tune’s light atop the mast looked like one of many stars in a floating galaxy.
We quickly discovered that the VHF radio is a vital instrument for enjoying George Town. It’s used to disseminate information about goings on, and is used as a telephone for calling other boats (not private – anyone can listen in). Cruisers tune in for The Net (a moderated radio session where all are invited to make announcements for fellow listeners) at 8AM, seven days a week. We used this incredibly helpful forum to plan our days (yoga at 9, propane truck at 10:30, social at 2!), sell a boat part we didn’t need, and learn about the book trading program at the town library. Genius in its simplicity, The Net loops everyone into the community, and as transients, it helped us feel less like strangers in a strange land.
During the new arrivals portion of The Net, we discovered that another couple from New York, Deb and Pete on s/v Delancey, had arrived. I’d spotted their boat way back in St. Augustine, and had been stalking their blog since, hoping our paths would cross. Later that day, Brian noticed two people who “looked like New Yorkers” in the produce isle of Exhuma Market. Sure enough, it was the Delancey crew. One happy hour later, we learned that we’d both lived in the same Manhattan neighborhood (their boat is named after one of my favorite streets in the Lower East Side) and we’d been living at marinas just two miles apart in Jersey City.
Bo and Allison of Selah arrived the following day, and together, the six of us formed a posse for exploring, hiking around, playing games, pushing through Allison’s daily workouts, and enjoying lots of good food and booze together on our boats.
After a totally fun week, the wind changed and we saw our opportunity to start sailing back north. With heavy hearts, we said goodbye (for now!) to our friends, who will remain in George Town a little longer. Deb and Pete are receiving guests, while Allison and Bo are preparing to leave Selah for a month and fly back to the US. It’s impossible to say when we’ll meet again for sure, but it’s been fantastic forging some meaningful friendships, and we look forward to seeing all those guys again.
In the meantime, we’re excited that Eric and Thea, our good friends from Brooklyn, have decided to fly to Staniel Cay next week and spend four days with us aboard. Brian and I enjoyed two amazing days sailing back up the Exhuma chain en route to receive them. On the first day we (finally) broke our depressing no-fish streak when Brian snagged a mahi off the sound. The next morning, we woke to calm seas and perfect conditions for sailing wing-on-wing using our new whisker pole. Anchored in Staniel Cay, we had a surprise reunion with Stacey and Jessie on s/v Smitty. The last time we saw them, we were on the hard in Deltaville, VA. This time the surroundings were so much nicer, and we had a great time catching up as we waited out the latest cold front in our usual hiding spot.