Georgetown is famous (infamous?) for the community of cruisers that has blossomed here in Elizabeth Harbour over the years. Some people come back year after year, some people plan to stop over for a few days and end up spending a few weeks, and some people just leave their boats here and fly in. There are all sorts of activities going daily: potlucks, vegetarian potlucks, fun volleyball, competitive volleyball, volleyball instructional clinics, bocce, softball, exercise walks, yoga, SSB radio instructional luncheons, conch horn lessons, sushi lessons, cruising talks, weekly beach church, and programs from the tourist office about Bahamian life. (And that’s just now during the slow times, at the end of February they hold the “Cruisers Regatta” which has all these activities times 10!) Many people rightfully joke that Georgetown is like summer camp for cruisers.
But in addition to the activities, Georgetown offers some great amenities. There is a very well stocked grocery, Exuma Markets, which also provides a large dinghy dock for the cruisers that includes a spigot with free RO water. (Water runs 30 cents or more a gallon down here, so that’s a very big deal.) You can get a propane bottle filled, there are hardware stores, liquor stores, and restaurants. Georgetown is also close to some very cool cruising grounds, in a day you can sail to Long Island, Conception Island, the Jumentos, or up the Exuma chain – depending on which way the wind is blowing. Lastly, it is relatively easy to fly in or out of Georgetown, add up all these reasons, and this is why we’ll be in the area for the next month.
But the community isn’t all just about the afternoon arts and crafts. Every morning there is a VHF Cruisers’ Net where they discuss all the activities listed above, but they also provide a time for cruisers to contact the other boats in the harbor. People call in if they need a spare part, advice on a technical issue, or a helping hand with a big task.
A couple of days ago I helped a young guy out with a dinghy ride back from Georgetown to Sand Dollar Beach. The shroud on his MacGregor 26 had parted and he had hitched a ride into town earlier to find the necessary hardware. Now he needed a ride back so he could install the new stay. After dropping him off at his boat, he beached the MacGregor and some other cruisers and I gave him a hand lowering the mast and rigging the new stay. It was near happy hour on the beach, so of course there was plenty of help from the folks that had gathered to watch the sunset. The job was successfully completed and the small crowd pushed him off the beach and he anchored before dark.
Yesterday while Sabrina was doing laundry I was dinghying back to JV with a load of full water jugs when I noticed a loose dinghy behind the sailboat next to us. I looked to the sailboat to see a boy frantically waving at me, and his dad ready to do a swan dive off the deck to try to catch the dink as it rapidly floated away. I waved back and sped over to take the dinghy in tow. Unfortunately the reason it was floating away was because the tow eye had come loose, and there wasn’t a painter tied to the dinghy. I had to quickly rig a temporary tow line from what I had on board as we drifted downwind in 20 knot winds through the Kidd Cove anchorage. I made it back with the dinghy in tow and the father thanked me profusely, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Both of these times I had fun lending a helping hand, I met some cool people and also ran into some folks that we’d met last season. Personally I’d rather provide some assistance and get to know new folks rather than go to a potluck and try to make friends.
When I picked up Sabrina from doing laundry, I filled her in on my day and the people I’d met while filling water jugs in town and towing the dinghy. Later today Sabrina flies home for 10 days and my friend Stretch flies in for a week. I joked that by the time she gets back, I’ll be so entrenched in Georgetown I’ll be the morning anchor on the Cruiser’s Net!