Georgetown, Adult Daycare
01 May 2021
It's the “sticky harbor.” Georgetown is one of the largest settlements in the southern Bahamas. Cruisers intending to sail to the Caribbean often use Georgetown as a provisioning and jump off point. Unfortunately, it is the most social spot for cruising in the Bahamas.
“Oh, just another sundowner on the beach with friends and we will leave tomorrow.” All of this detracts from the girding of loins required to sail the “thorny path” to the Caribbean. From Bahamas to the Caribbean can be a tough, upwind slog, especially for boats that don't sail to weather very well. Those loins remain un-girded and boats tend to stay in Georgetown until they are hard aground on the pile of coffee grounds surrounding their keel.
In 2016 we were “stuck” in Georgetown for about six weeks with a vacation to Long Island in between. Steve and Carla were flying to meet us, we had to be here for their arrival and departure. But we had a great time. There were 300 boats in the anchorage in 2016. We were told it is usually closer to 500 but the weather was pretty tough that year and some boats just went back to the US.
The Georgetown Regatta was a big part of our stay here. This ten day event consisted of three sailboat races (we won) and a wide variety of fun events. They had a cruise ship style talent contest, conch horn blowing contest, coconut dinghy gathering, dinghy poker run, volleyball tournament, softball games against local team, bake sale, treasures of the bilge sale, and lots of food and drink at Chat 'n Chill beach. But most of all, there was a pet show. Sophie won “oldest participant!” They don't just give that prize to any old dog.
The organizers of Regatta really put on a professional style event and it was great fun. They raised money for local charities in the process of entertaining about a thousand cruisers. But there is always social fun in Georgetown. Every morning there is a cruiser's net on channel 72. It is easy to meet other cruisers here, a big plus. Even outside of the regatta craziness, there are cruisers gatherings every day. The Wednesday ARG (alcohol research group) is especially well attended. That's why we call Georgetown “adult daycare.”
Unfortunately, 2021 is quite different. This year we are a bit late in the season, boats are already heading back to the US for hurricane season. There are only about 60 boats here. We have still had fun meeting new friends and old. Leahona, Willy and Mark, friends from the Caribbean saw on FB we were coming here. We had fun hanging out with them and catching up. It had been five years since we last saw them in Dominica.
Covid and the Bahamas are to blame. Great that the Bahamas is open to cruisers (with extensive Covid testing) but bad that they increased cruising fees from $300 to $600. They still issue a 90 day cruising permit for $300. Guess what? Many cruisers now leave after 90 days.
We spotted another sister ship, First 42s7. We had just a brief conversation with the young owners. They loved their boat but hurricane Michael didn't. Their boat barely survived the hurricane in Panama City. The insurance company paid for a superb paint job to repair the dock damage. They hadn't even painted a name on her yet. We hope to see them again somewhere.
We will be sailing to Conception Island tomorrow. We have enjoyed our time in Georgetown but after a week, we are itching to go sailing again.