As much as I enjoyed the George Town Cruising Regatta while it was on, I have to admit that once it was over and the rally to Long Island shifted most of the long-term cruising “stayers” away from Elizabeth Harbor for 10 days, the anchorage took on a very different feel. A much more relaxed one.
The voices that bickered with each other on the Cruisers Net every morning and filled the air waves with warnings (“Please make sure you secure your dinghy to your boat; we’ve had a lot of dinghies wash up on shore”), reprimands (“The boats anchored near the orange buoys need to move; you’re too close to the channel”), and concerns (“The town dumpster is full and I don’t want to pay $2 to drop my trash off at the yacht club…”) went quiet…for the first time in weeks.
Since our arrival, we’d been fascinated with the stream of information each morning on the Cruisers Net — some of it useful, some of it not. For instance, we got lots of great advice on how to fix our dirty fuel tank. But, at the same time, every morning we’d listen to the same voices from the same boats congratulating each other on a job well done on this tournament or that contest, welcoming their niece who’s visiting for a week on Spring Break, or saying good-bye to their aunt who just left because unfortunately she had to get back to the States to file her taxes…though she really wished she could stay longer…because she met so many nice people here and is really sad to say good-bye…
Why would this information be broadcasted over public radio, you might ask? I have no idea. I would say it’s just part of the unique experience of being in George Town. And, mind you, I could choose to turn off my VHF any time I want and ignore the chatter… but then I’d miss out on all the weirdness. And that, too, seems to be part of the George Town experience.
But once the boats in Elizabeth Harbor thinned out and there were fewer “cruising activities” being announced on the net, it turned out there was still plenty to do. We found ourselves meeting up with cruisers walking around town, comparing outboard motors at the dinghy dock (Ryan’s favorite pastime) and hanging out at random bars for the local “Rake and Scrape” music nights.
Which is how we learned about the upcoming “Heritage Festival” in George Town this past weekend…though none of the Bahamians knew exactly when it kicked off on Saturday. “Around 8 or 9,” they said. “I think.”
It turns out Bahamians love a good party as much as the next islander, and to them a good party includes Bahamian beer, rum, food and music. So, at the Heritage Festival, they made sure you got plenty of $2 plates of conch fritters, endless $3 Kalik beers and hip-shaking Bahamian music blasting into the wee hours of the night.
And it wasn’t just a party for adults. Every Bahamian kid in town was running wild Saturday night, climbing on stage, eating BBQ ribs, getting scolded by their moms and dancing up a storm while their parents drank up their Kaliks.
Hell, it was the best party in town…and not just for the Bahamians. We, too, drank our fair share of Kaliks and ate enough ribs to sink a boat. The only difference was that I didn’t hear twenty speeches at 8 a.m. the next morning thanking the George Town Bahamians on the Cruisers Net for the excellent party they threw the night before.
But after that party, I’m sure most Bahamians were still in bed when the Cruisers Net came on.
Or, at least I was.