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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Georgetown, crusiers country club.

If you cruise this area, you see a few other boats at each anchorage. You hear that there are a thousand or so boats in the area, and wonder where they all are. Then you go to Georgetown, Great Exuma.

The area was clearly settled by a bunch of people keen to ingratiate themselves with the British crown. Georgetown, in Elizabeth Harbour, has a useful protected sea-pond called Lake Victoria.

Elizabeth Harbour is actually a mile wide by eight or nine miles long, bounded on the east and west by islands and sheltered by coral reefs and islets at each end. This means that the whole area is well protected whatever the wind and sea does. It's a superb natural harbour, the sort that naval captains dream of. And yachties. On the west side, the town has grown to provide most of the services we all need - good supermaket, hardware, internet cafe, banks and a few good places to eat. It's smallish and very friendly. You take your dinghy into Lake Victoria by going under a low and narrow bridge covering a cut in the barrier limestone, and then the little lake inside has a few good dinghy docks, totally protected. The dock for the supermarket even offers free water, a fabulous thing in these islands especially when it has been made by desalination and is as pure as it comes. The line for the tap is sometimes six dinghies long and a nice social gathering point.

On the other side of the harbour is the playground. There were over three hundred and fifty boats anchored up and down the length of the barrier island, off beaches with names like Hamburger Beach, Sanddollar Beach and Volleyball Beach. You may guess where we anchored.

Many boats are here for months, if not permanently. Retired Americans and Canadians, not quite ready for a gated community in Florida, migrate south each autumn to this gateless community in the sun. Some leave their boats here and fly home, others sail back, but the place has a core of folks who spend months here with nothing to do and so many of them have found the ultimate thing to do, which is to organise things to do for themselves and others. Every day at 8am the radio bursts into life with a lively 'cruisers net' giving weather, local business info and the activities for the day. The regulars take turns to run the net for a week, some sounding more like the local FM radio station - This is WZPSX broadcasting to you from beautiful Georgetown - and it's go-go-go. Pilates on Volleyball beach at 8am, dog walkers gather at Monument to let the pooches poo and pootle, boules at 10am (there were fifty people playing boules one morning) and much, much more.

We took the kids and our volleyball to Volleyball Beach and had a great time. We were instantly welcomed into the fraternity - "that's the casual players net, come over this way where we play 'regulation' games" - and we fell into a routine of doing necessary stuff in town in the morning, then onto the beach for daily volleyball games and a beer before dinner. There was so much more we could have seen and done during our week in town but the kids made friends, did a lot of playing on the beach and we just kicked back and enjoyed playing volleyball again.

I think the compressed, high activity, country club style atmosphere would tire for us pretty soon, still being in our move on and see stuff mode, but we can see how it attracts so many people to Georgetown. As another sailing family, especially with the travelling we've done in the past year, we were welcomed and accepted into the community and got the feeling that anyone would have done anything to help out if we needed things.

We made new friends, met up with people we'd chatted to earlier in our Bahamaian travels, and even met some wonderful people we'd last seen in Cuttyhunk, Mass., sadly they arrived the evening before we left so we didn't get a chance to have more than a brief chat but Georgetown is certainly the crossroads at which all cruisers meet in the end. There are worse places to get stuck for a while.

Conscious of the lack of photos recently. Hard to find wifi, but one day we'll catch up, sorry.

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