Sunday, March 30, 2014

George Town - Mecca for Two Months

George Town has been our home anchorage for the last two months, dropping the hook on Feb 2.  It is the southern anchorage of the central Bahamas that has the most resources.  It is also a host to 300+ boats over the winter months and a most organized cruising community.  This includes an annual regatta sponsored by the cruisers in early March with numerous competitive and fun events.  Because most of the cruisers are retired, it is a bit like a sand and sea senior center with daily events including dominoes, scrabble, volleyball, Bocce, etc.  There are also weekly events like Texas Hold ‘Em, trips to town for the weekly Rake ‘n Scrape dance night.  There are about 10% who are younger than retirement age that often have homeschooled children.  It has been a Mecca for them as well with a Kids’ Cruising Net and specific activities just for kids.  All that being said, Horizon has been anchored the furthest from the central event beach the entire time.  We have participated in very few events.  Though I am technically an extrovert, I have not felt a call to attend anything but the ladies’ luncheon.  That was great, though I cringe at being called a “lady”.  It was the place I met the most people and found some with common interest.  A rug hooker from PA, a jewelry maker from DE, a painter from FL.  Women who were anxious to return home, who unanimously wished they had more time with the grandchildren and who dread long passages.  Kinship.  But not friendship.

When the regatta ended, the boats started migrating back north.  I call it the march of the Toy Sailboats.  They troop in and out of the harbor looking small and insignificant until they join the group of soldiers anchored already.

So tomorrow is our weather window to leave the harbor and head south I have been reflecting on friendship and cruising overall.

No matter what adventure I take on in life, I am the common denominator.  Today I score about 11% higher on the extrovert/introvert of Myers Briggs Personality Inventory.  I get some of my energy from other people.  Which has made the cruising life do-able but a bit lonely.

Recently I reposted a perfect meme—friends are not made but recognized.  It takes some time to recognize them.  Can friends be made who are ships passing in the night?  Perhaps if we returned year after year, we would develop friendships.  If we had moved the boat; attended some more things; invited folks over for drinks . . .  the list goes on.

So I leave George Town with a non-politically correct sentiment—a bit of disappointment.  The Mecca did not have all that I expected.  I am surprised to have not made more friend connections.  And also aware that the one or two I have made are heading back to homes in CT and KY, Montreal .  .  I suppose I had unrealistic expectations for both George Town and for us.

On the physical resource side, George Town lacked convenience.  Because the island is so large, the pharmacy and auto supplies/home goods stores need a taxi.  Because of the width of the harbor, going to town meant a long wet dinghy ride or moving the boat to the town side for a grocery run.  It was the first place I bought weevilsJ, does not have a bakery.  Any music/bar possibilities are far away, wifi is spotty at best.  The Abacos will always hold my heart for the small islands with grocery, wifi, music.

The Exumas have the bluest waters and best snorkeling.  Hope to return to see all that we missed and revisit all that I loved. Meanwhile I am making more effort to hold onto existing friendships and family relationships. Determined to get Mike further along in the Caribbean, see some new cultures.  God willing there is continued sat phone and internet ahead/ahoy.

Two Horizons in George Town

We have been in George Town Exumas, Bahamas for almost two months now, partly waiting on a replacement radar dome but mostly just having fun being around such a huge cruising community.  At one point there were over 300 boats in Elizabeth Harbor.

Our prior boat Horizon, the one I had for 25 years, came into the harbor about a month ago and we were able to spend a good bit of time with her owners and got to crawl through the old boat to see what she looked like now :)  I was happy to see her so fit!

About a week ago they headed back towards Staniel Cay and as she sailed past, we got these pictures:

Radar Dome

One of the reasons for staying so long was waiting for a replacement radar dome from Navico.  It was a long and expensive wait but we finally got the new one here and installed on the mast.  In all, it was $785 in shipping, customs, and documentation fees to receive the replacement radome, then send the broken old one back. The replacement radome cost $800 so the final cost was almost double.  Wow!  We could have bought an entire new system for that back in the U.S.

Our plans forward

We leave shortly to continue our southbound trek.  While our original summer goal was Luperon on the north coast of Dominica Republic, we have decided instead on exploring the south coast.  That involves winding our way down the Bahamas chain to Great Inagua, then sailing through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti to Ile a Vache, an island off the southwest coast of Haiti, a trip of about 280 NM.  After we catch our breath, we then sail east to the first port in Dominica Republic and spend a leisurely couple months exploring the south coast.  This route is well described in Frank Virgintino's free Cruising Guide to the Dominica Republic as found on the web site.  We found it intriguing since so few cruising boats seem to take that path yet it appears rich in opportunities to explore the culture and heritage of Dominica Republic. 

We expect that by July we will be heading to Puerto Rico where we can work to fix the oozing leak from our 120 gallon port side water tank.  We hear there are all kinds of boat work facilities near Selinas and hope to find what we need.  We intend to stay close to the well documented hurricane holes around that area during the summer.

Beyond Puerto Rico our plans are wide open but at the moment it looks like after October we might slowly work our way down the island chain to Grenada.  We have lots of time and do not want to miss too much along the way:)


As we keep saying, "one island at a time".  We will keep doing this until it is no longer fun.  That may be a month or it might be years.  We will keep you posted.