Saturday we were up early to listen to the cruisers net at 8 am…. The usual stuff – water aerobics, yoga, Mexican train dominos, poker, volley ball – but did include some useful info like where to get petrol, diesel, water, propane, laundry, rubbish disposal, provisions etc…. Cruisers further down the island chain call this anchorage here in the Exumas “Chicken Island” as many cruisers that get here often settle in and never leave…… We do find it funny how people leave home to travel and end up recreating social networks in tropical places though – here there is even one cruiser who counts the number of boats in the anchorage regularly – apparently it has risen from 171 to over 200 this weekend – interesting eh????
Having had breakfast and got dink down from his davits we headed across the one mile channel – getting soaked along the way – to find the entrance into Lake Victoria which sits in the middle of Georgetown, the capital of the Exuma islands. The bridge is small and narrow and water runs through it quite rapidly according to the state of the tide – but we negotiated it easily and found the best dinghy dock we had seen for a long while.
Dink secured we wandered town and located everything we needed… and enjoyed seeing other dinghies coming through the entrance from the top of the bridge.
Had a bite to eat in the café while picking up the internet, went shopping in the well-stocked supermarket, and returned to Morphie. Oh yes, and we found out that the National Family Island Regatta starts on Tuesday so we have decided to stay here for a while and enjoy that – so we’ve ordered our replacement credit cards to be delivered here… We’ll have to see how that one works out!
Later in the afternoon we headed over to the Chat ‘N’ Chill beach bar for a few hours – met a few people – and just generally chilled out. We then headed back to Morphie for an early night and to watch the sun going down….
Sunday morning and we did a few boat jobs before heading out to explore by dink – admiring the little coves and beaches that are tucked in along the shoreline of Stocking Island. Oh and the beautiful colour of the water as well….
Later on we headed back to the Chat ‘N’ Chill for their hog roast – not sure about all the different side dishes, I mean who has mac and cheese and coleslaw with pork, gravy, carrots and crackling???? But it was tasty anyway….
Now completely full up we headed into the water to cool down and went bobbing – again chatted to a few people – and were amazed by those that turned up in seaplanes and helicopters just to have lunch and leave again! Seriously…… You could tell those staying in swanky resorts by the boats they arrived in and the designer costumes, bags and sunglasses – great people watching here!!! And if you are wondering what I’m standing next to – it is a signpost to all those places people call home…. All too soon the sun was fading and it was time to go back to Morphie for another night.
Monday morning as we were having breakfast in the cockpit, we watched some large ships come through loaded up with the Bahamian sloops that are going to take part in the regatta. According to one of the local captains – to keep these regattas alive – the Government pay for the shipping of the boats between islands.
We did the long (wet) run ashore again later in the morning and enjoyed watching some of the local sloops that were out in Elizabeth Harbour practising. They have huge sail areas and planks to sit out on to balance the boats – no winches just a few pulleys… Apparently they have different classes and handicaps according to the sail material but otherwise they are pretty much matched boats….
Wandering around town we watched the ships unload the sloops and the locals building up the local bars and eateries along the government dock. We also wanted to go to the straw market but – unfortunately – this had burnt to the ground only days earlier. Very sad but Sandals have stepped in and were erecting a marquee for the local traders to use instead….. Glad to see that the local community are supported by large businesses…..
We had a couple of beers in one of these temporary bars and ended up chatting with one of the racers who, by occupation, is a bonefish guide in Andros – which is something I had done in a previous life…The fly fishing in Andros not the guiding LOL. What a small world! Had a great chat with him – found out his boat number and name – and we now have someone to support in the races… O’Neill on a red boat, number 9, called Heath Cliff. Always more fun when you have some to cheer on! We really liked the beer prices too.
After a while we headed back to Morphie for a quiet night on board – and all the boats are facing different ways as the sun goes down because of the lack of wind… The forecast is for no wind for the rest of the week either – so looks like it is going to be a slow regatta.
Tuesday morning and it was hot hot hot – with no clouds nor a breath of wind. We made the run into town to pick up beer supplies and fill up our jerry cans of petrol and diesel….. The temperature rose to 110 degrees while we were out and by the time we got back to Morphie we were both completely wiped out – so abandoned all thoughts of doing anything else and just rested up for the rest of the day. There were some boats out there practising as well as some races which children and cruisers were participating in…. I think Richard would have quite liked to have a go – definitely not for me, I would have ended up falling off one of those planks into the drink at the first tack!
Wednesday morning and it is grey and a bit drizzly – although there is a puff of wind ready for the first competitive races of The National Family Regatta. This started in 1954 in an attempt to ensure that boat building skills were not lost to the islands as the demand for sail-driven working vessels reduced – and developed from there. It s now one of the oldest regattas in the Bahamas… The races are going to be coming quite close to us in the anchorage so we took up our positions on the coach roof and watched them go by….chased and sometimes impeded by cruisers following the race by dinghy. Really???? It was an amazing sight….and interesting to see that they start the races with their sails down….hoisting them is all done once the gun has gone off. We loved watching the racing and got quite excited at times when they got so close to each other and we could imagine the shouting of ‘starboard’ and ‘water’ at the mark……
Later on we headed into town to watch the last race of the day – spotting a casualty from the earlier racing – and sat on the Government dock along with all the locals and waited….and waited….. We chatted to a few people – met up with O’Neill again as they weren’t in this Class A race – and enjoyed the sight of the stingray swimming through the water coming to see what was going on!
After the race was over we went back to the little bar we had found and had a couple. The music was blaring from the huge sound systems and there were a few drunks around – but very few people and quite disappointing. We thought it would be party central…and we were the only white faces too… Clearly it potentially ends up that way because we spotted that the bars were selling condoms and there was a huge police presence……
In the end we gave up, collected a takeout of chicken and headed back to Morphie. We had thought about going to the Rock ‘N’ Roll night at the Chat ‘N’ Chill but they were playing everything but so we decided not to go out again….
This morning – and the sun returned – and we’ve just watched the first race of the day….but now it is raining….. Later on we are planning a beach afternoon if the weather improves – there is supposed to be a party in town tonight but we’re not sure whether we are going to bother to attend yet on the back of yesterday’s lacklustre event.
Oh yes the tracking system says our replacement cards have reached Nassau….. Still not convinced they are going to reach us here though!!
Bye for now