April 23 – 26, 2014
George Town, Bahamas
Once a year George Town has a Regatta. Well, that’s not entirely true, there’s also a “Cruiser’s Regatta” in March organized by, you guessed it, cruisers, but the George Town Regatta at the end of April is the place to be if you live in the Exumas. Regatta by definition means boat race and that’s just what these beauties did!
The closer we got to Regatta, the more we started hearing about it. Kim and Scott had been trying to convince us to stay for Regatta for weeks and we just wouldn’t commit. Dang pushy buddy boaters! When we visited Long Island, we met Emil who was big time excited about the race. He was working on his boat, Rupert’s Legend (who placed 3rd overall in the A Class races), which was built by his grandfather, Rupert Knowles, who’s kinda’ a legend himself. Anyway, chatting with Emil and having someone to root for sealed the deal for us and we decided to stay in George Town for the races.
It was very cool to watch the Regatta Shacks get built, the boats come to the island by ferry, and the population of George Town triple! On Friday and Saturday, people were dropped off by ferries from all over the Exuma Islands to cheer for their boat (and party!). It was definitely a carnival-type atmosphere with a moon bounce for the kids, cotton candy stands and lots of places to buy drinks and food. George Town proper has a whole park dedicated to the Regatta, appropriately named Regatta Park, that has stands for watching to races too. You can also walk over to Regatta Point to sit on the wall and watch from there, it was a little closer to the finish line. We watched from Regatta Point, Regatta Park, our cockpit, Anthyllide’s cockpit (because the race committee always seemed to drop one of the buoys near their boat), up Anthylide’s mast (Scott let me climb up to take pics!), and we watched from our dinghy. See, the race committee allows boats to chase behind the race boats for support or, in our case, pictures! It was pretty treacherous, but pretty dang exhilarating. It’s fun to do stuff here that America would NEVER allow like carry beer around in the street, climb dangerous rocks that overlook the ocean, drive on the wrong side of the road, and buzz through the middle of the country’s biggest sailboat race :)
The boats were broken up in classes based on size, D being the littlest, A being the largest. A Class boats were about 28 ft long and had a giant, beautiful mainsail (mast length of about 60 ft.!) and a jib. The little guys only had a main. JR had a really cool experience the week before regatta helping a C Class boat that had taken on water. He was watching them practice from our cockpit then noticed their mainsail hit the water. Those sails are so big that it’s pretty much over once a sail gets soaked. The boat tipped, took on lots of water, and by the time JR dinked over to them, the boat was on the bottom of Elizabeth Harbor! He got to help them essentially take the boat apart, unload the lead in the keel, and tow the boat to shore. They were up and practicing again by sunset!
It seemed that our Long Island friends were taking the whole thing home by day three, but during the last race, they made a bad move and rammed another boat that had right of way. They were set back pretty far and (I believe) penalized, and it cost them first place. The races were beautiful to watch but a little hard to follow because it was organized in a very laid back Bahamian style :) We’ll have to tell you about that next time we see you.
Some blogging friends that I have been following for a year or so also showed up in George Town for the races. Matt and Jessica of MJ Sailing came on down to G-Town to get a taste of Regatta life and to visit Anthyllide who they had met and played with last year on the east coast. The six of us took to the town to check out the nightlife on Friday and Saturday and were not disappointed.
The park was filled with beautiful Bahamians and the later it got, the younger the crowd got as well. It was great people watching, great comradery, lots of people to talk to, and lots to see. Kim and I also got to meet the Prime Minister of the Bahamas! He was there (being a politician, I’m sure :) and that’s all it took for Kim to walk right on up to him and chat. I told you that girl will talk to anyone! The Minister of Tourism kindly snapped our picture and we carried on with our night.
Because we are cheap cruisers, we feasted on 3 for $5 Bush Crack (a beer also known as the “kickin’ chicken”) and 6 for $1 “fritters” which we assumed were conch fritters but after a few we decided they were just fritters :) Saturday night we watched the insanely long awards ceremony, celebrated bitter-sweetly with our Long Island crew, and then took to the stage for some live music. Oh! And it was Scott’s birthday!
The closing act was none other than Stileet, Bahamas very own pop icon, Rake and Scrape style. Jake and I met Stileet, way back before my mom and Flavia came, at Peace and Plenty because he was headlining the Bahamian Music Festival. Nice guy, lots of energy, very interesting performance, and the ladies love him. I bet you can see why :) Yummy :)
By about 1 am, Jake and I were spent so we left our buddies at Regatta Park and headed home. It was such a festive and exciting time to be in George Town, I’m really glad we decided to stay :) Thanks pushy buddy boaters!
Sunday was clean-up day and although everything in town is closed on Sundays, JR and I thought it would be nice to check out the after math of the Regatta site. It was quite different from the night before with lots of evidence of a party. The boats were already being loaded and taken away, and just like that, it was over. We found one vendor that was shutting down but still had beer, so we bought our last Kaliks from George Town and said our farewells. Good night George Town, good night <3