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Just before we hit George Town, Brian shaved The Beard.

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.

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Nightingale Tune, en Route to George Town. (Thanks Roland and Elizabeth on s/v Bolairo)

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The day after we arrived was Valentine’s Day and I made surprise bagels for Brian. I’d purchased lox in Florida and squirreled it away in the freezer.

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Volleyball Beach, home of the Chat n’ Chill, is the home base for cruiser-organized activities. To learn what’s happening on a given day, one tunes in for The Net on VHF channel 72 at 8:00AM each morning . During our stay we had the opportunity to join beach yoga, regulation volleyball, “fun rum” volleyball, water aerobics, beach church, pig roast, afternoon social, something called alcohol research group, and so much more.

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We were disappointed that New York City’s sign was the only one not placed by a cruiser. Damn you, liberal media elite.

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Cats rule at Volleyball Beach. Four of them came out for yoga one morning, plunked themselves down on participants’ mats during sun salutation, and refused to budge.

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An immodest chillin’ cat, hanging out behind the bar.

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Beach yoga class, led by a fellow cruiser, on Volleyball Beach.

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Bocce on the volleyball court

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Docking dinghies before dinner with our friends from s/v Delancey and s/v Selah

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In the queue for convenient drive-thru water at the dinghy dock in George Town. No lugging required.

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Waiting our turn to refill propane. The truck comes directly to the dock on Wednesday mornings.

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Cruisers piling into the meat mobile – a free lift to the butcher on the outskirts of town.

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Ice cream craving finally satisfied. So what if it’s blue?

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$10 gets you the burger-and-beer special at Redboone Cafe. Damn fine burgers, ice cold Kaliks. Dark photos taken by fellow cruisers are no extra charge.

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I’m smitten with the produce isle at Exhuma Market in George Town. After going seven weeks without seeing so much as a head of lettuce, we found limes, parsley, green onion, dill, and cilantro. I made green goddess dressing base to stow in the freezer for later – just add yogurt and fresh shredded cabbage for the perfect slaw.

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Brian and Pete on the hunt for a hiking trail

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Allison, Deb, Pete, Brian and I, standing in front of a cement structure known as “the monument”. We have no idea what it’s meant to commemorate.

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A tiny slice of the harbor, as seen from the monument. A census revealed that there were 312 boats in the harbor on the day this photo was taken!

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Our futile attempt at hitchhiking to the butcher (don’t panic moms, it’s normal and perfectly safe), led us several miles outside town to Fish Fry, a row of restaurants that fans out along the shore. We were excited to try Shirley’s, a place we’d heard about on The Net, offering delicious fried grouper sandwiches and 2-for-1 deals for cruisers.

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Waiting for our lunch at Shirley’s, looking out at the mountain of spent conch shells.

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First mahi!

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Preparing mahi tartar for an impatient and discerning customer.

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Rigging the whisker pole to sail wing on wing from Rudder Cay to Staniel Cay

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Otto (the auto pilot) manned the helm as we took a selfie on the bow