From the first crackle of the VHF radio in the morning, to the sound of dinghies rocketing past our boat late at night – Georgetown, Bahamas provides constant reminders that this is no ordinary anchorage. It is a place to connect with other cruisers. And, people are keen to meet.
Beyond the anchorage, some cruisers reach out to the Georgetown community itself. There are organized beach clean-ups, and volunteers who read with local school children. This afternoon I saw a cruiser making balloon animals for some local kids.
Compared to the rest of the Exumas, Georgetown feels like a metropolis. The town offers a full range of amenities – a grocery store, fuel, boat supplies, laundry, hair salons, and reputable massage services – just to name a few. A pump-out boat offers boat-side services and can collect your garbage or refill your propane tanks.
Around Georgetown there are about 300 boats in several harbours, most of which are other cruisers. In the center of Georgetown, the dinghy dock is crowded and bustling with activity. Dinghies tie up in multiple layers.
On the Chat n’ Chill beach there are yoga lessons at 9 am, and impromptu volleyball games. Yesterday, my husband, Rick, attended a garage sale called “Treasures from the bilge”. And, today, on the beach, there was a discussion seminar about cruising to Cuba. A small group sat under the shade of some trees on wooden benches bleached by sun. A long, thin flagpole with the Cuban flag highlighted their table.
The Chat n’ Chill Beach is the kind of place where kids can run about on the beach, and swing on a rope swing, or in a hammock. Yesterday, our kids fed a couple of tourist-friendly sting rays.
The atmosphere is a bit like summer camp, without the boxing.
What ties this community together is the VHF radio. Like a rallying call, the cruisers’ net begins at 8 am on the VHF radio channel 72. The cruisers’ net provides weather updates, community announcements, requests for help, and a place to announce new arrivals and departures.
Lasting about 20 minutes, the cruisers’ net provides a window into other people’s worlds. The airwaves are ripe with news about visiting relatives, and boat maintenance issues. Today someone announced that their partner had left suddenly, leaving them single-handed. I understand that this was disappointing. But, the tone was bitter. The awkward tension on the receiving end of this news was priceless.
Following the cruisers’ net, channel 68 is abuzz with activity. Channel 68 is the cruisers’ hailing channel.
Today, someone requested help taking apart their toilet and a few people responded to help. Rick sought help with our VHF and AIS systems. As a result, he met two people who were willing to help out. We had one of those people over to our boat for supper with their family.
A few days ago, our 8-year old son, Paul, made a “general announcement for kids” on the cruisers’ hailing channel, seeking a play date. As a result, he made a new friend, named Aaron, who, like Paul, is also 8 years old. Aaron is a boat kid from Vancouver, Canada. His boat is called “Singing Frog”.
This week, my sister Collette is visiting with her 6 year-old daughter, Emily. With Easter weekend ahead of us, we are stocked up on groceries. We will be heading to the Ragged Islands shortly, and will be without Internet for the duration of our trip. We are excited to be visiting this remote place – as a convoy – with our friends Dave and Nathalie, who are sailing there in their catamaran, Cheval.
Watch this blog for news about the Ragged Islands. We’ll be back in Georgetown, Bahamas in a week. And, will have Internet connectivity.