Today is the start of the The Family Islands Regatta. it's a very big deal here. Like the Superbowl or the America's Cup.
The harbor has gotten very crowded in the past few days as boats from all over have come to see the races and join in the activities.
I am going to include an except from the 'net so I don't have to type it all in.
But, here are some of the rules. Competing boats must be designed, owned, skippered and crewed by Bahamians. LOA no more than 28 feet. Sail of canvas only. Hulls of wood only. Single wooden mast that may not bend, no bow sprints, spreaders, winches, wind or speed instruments including tell tales.
The race is 3 times around the course from a standing start.
Each boat has PRYS, or wooden planks that extend out on the windward side about 4 feet. The crew climbs out on the PRY to balance the boat. DNF's for not picking up MOB's
It is a sight to see. I'll have pictures to post later.
Except from /www.exumabahamas.org
Each year, for four days only, the best sailors from every major island in the Bahamas converge at Elizabeth Harbour on Exuma Island for the National Family Island Regatta. During these four days, Bahamian sailors arrive prepared to sail their locally-built sloops for the much coveted "Best in the Bahamas" title. The competition is fierce and the atmosphere is alive with excitement as boating enthusiasts the world over descend on this picturesque island in the sun. Since the first race held in April 1954, the National Family Island Regatta has grown in size and popularity. Today, although the race remains the main attraction, visitors are invited to participate in countless onshore activities including fashion shows, beauty pageants, weightlifting competitions, volleyball tournaments, and endless parties. This festival certainly differs from its early days when the boats were smaller and the participants fewer.
It was in April 1954, when about 70 Bahamian schooners, dinghies and sloops assembled in Elizabeth Harbour for a three-day racing event. The first participants in the event were excited to compete and certainly enticed by the reward offered for winning the competition. Unlike the boats you see today competing in the event, the first sailors in 1954 raced in the same boats they used to earn their livelihood. These working vessels were fast, but sailors realized they would stand a better chance of winning the prize money if they had even faster boats. This competitive spirit led many sailors to enter the race with boats crafted for speed in the second year of competition. One of the early aims of the regatta was to help preserve the boat-building skills of the Bahamians, and with the prize money as an allure, Bahamian sailors were motivated to keep up this tradition. Today, the regatta draws top-notch racing boats from virtually every island in the Bahamas, all of which are categorized under one of five classes, A through E. Although the race has changed, the goal remains the same: prove yourself to be the best sailor in the Bahamas.
With so many boats here in George Town and increasing by the day due to the upcoming Island Family Regatta next week, there seems to a very complicated radio procedure here.
Channel 16 as always, is used for distress calls ....and to hail the many taxis or the pump out boat and your odd hotel or two. Once the taxi driver answers you, you switch to channel 14. (Example: taxi 30, taxi 30, taxi 30 this is sailing vessel UNABATED.... UNABATED this is taxi 30 go 14 go 14 roger roger)
Channel 68 is where the action is. At 8 am each morning the Cruiser NET is broadcast. Starting with the ever important weather report from Gary on COOL CHANGE. This is followed by business announcements and community (boating) announcements. Community announcements usually consists of advertising YogaLattes on the beach, or a request for help in solving your latest boat crisis. But, may include asking where the garbage dumpster is in town or how to hail a taxi. Then comes "arrivals" and "sad departures". The NET ends with a "thought for the day". Boaters are then reminded that nothing may be bartered, traded or sold unless the duty has been paid. (Read no used equipment is sold here...... ha ha ha). Any boater requesting help can be reached "after the net on 68"
"After the net" on 68 and continuously on throughout the day until lights out at 2000 hrs (someone actually gets on the radio and says "good night George Town, good night John Boy etc..... The radio chatter sounds like an NFL huddle. Here is how it works.
Once you hail a boat and the other boat answers, you begin the code.
AVITAR AVITAR AVITAR this is UNABATED
UNABATED this is AVITAR
Insert one of many codes here:
UP and UP
DOWN and DOWN
69 and DOWN
72 AND UP
Etc etc etc
Then you say ROGER ROGER "repeat code here"
It took a few days (must be my IT training) to break the code but I think I got it. If you start out on "68 and are requested to go "UP and UP", you then switch to channel "69", if that's busy you go to 70 and so on until you find a clear channel. If requested to "UP TWO" you go to Channel 70 ( 68 + 2) and start from there. But that only works if you hail on 68... after that is gets complicated and one needs to be able to add or subtract whole numbers. Sometimes they fool you and start out on 16..... (darn newbies).
So, if you program your radio to scan a whole lot of channels you can listen in on the endless chatter here all day. Who is going where with who and at what time. Dinner recipes, fixes for the head, requests for an owners manual, what's for dinner, what to bring for cocktails.... Who is going to the airport and calls for help because the bread didn't rise.
The kids however, and there are load of em here (no one goes to school anymore?) have a whole different set of codes.
When I break that code, it should be interesting....
UNABATED clear on ........
I was doing some research for our upcoming trek up the Exumas when Beckie gets here, when I ran across the following from SailBlogs.
For those of you at home who were following our passage from Fajardo last week, you might recall that as we passed Rum Cay we had decided not to got in and anchor in the dark. It was around midnight and the moon was hidden behind the clouds. The decision not to go in was simple. The lights on the chart were either nonexistent or the ones that were there, did not match the chart. It was safer to sail on til dawn.
The following is an example of why you don't go into strange places in the dark or how fast things can happen even in daylight
March 21, 2010:
We arrived in Rum Cay and stayed there for a few days. We were there sitting on Sapphire watching Second Wind, from Quebec, go out of the anchorage, then turn around and come back, then turn and go back out again. As we were watching we said, why is he heading for the reef, then "bang" he was on the reef. (Apparently his engine was heating up and he went below to check on it, with his jib up and no autopilot - dumb)We all went out with dinghies and one whaler and tried to pull him off. It was soon apparent that he was never coming off the reef. His keel was broken and his rudder was off and the boat was filling with water. Mario got all of his valuables off first, with the help of Sapphire, Fine Lion and Night Hawk taking what they could to shore, then he came back for a few more things. At this point he knew there was no hope and told the locals to help themselves - and boy they did. Very sad, but it shows how fast things can happen. Rum Cay has a lot of corals around it and you have to be very careful.
There but for the grace of G-D go I.....