Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, Bahamas 

24th February - 9th March 2006

As soon as we had picked our way through Elizabeth Harbour at Georgetown, party central for several hundred North American cruising boats each winter, our fun began.   We hadn't even dropped our hook on Sand Dollar Beach and were still pondering which would be the best spot, when we spotted a power boat approaching at high speed.   Focused as we were on anchoring we merely wondered who the crazy people were, flying through the anchorage at such velocity.    Soon enough when the shouting and waving began, we realised it was our welcoming committee, Chris and Vivian from Second Chance and Larry and Debby from Golightly.

Once we had settled into our spot, Chris and Vivian were back in the jet boat to whisk us off on our first crazy adventure.   We were off in the pitch dark to a local restaurant a couple of miles up the island, which was located in a shallow bay.   When we returned after our tasty Bahamian dinner, it dawned on us that the bay may in fact be a tad too shallow, as the jet boat kept running aground when we tried to find the channel out.   Finally Phil and Vivian bravely volunteered to hitch up their trousers and wade into the water, towing the jet boat back to deeper water!   

Life wasn't  just one long party and realising there were three whole days in which to cram for the Radio Ham License exams being held in Georgetown, Christine decided to set to work and study the books which had been purchased the previous year.   A combination of factors quickly led to a change of plans, however.   Firstly, as on previous attempts to study the books, by half way through the first chapter a sudden attack of narcolepsy was threatening.   This was startlingly disrupted when, during and attempt by Phil to understand why all of a sudden our GPS was refusing to give our position to our charting software on the PC, there was a loud popping noise and the PC seemed to expire, leading to widespread panic aboard.

Depending as we did on the PC for many aspects of our lives, from communication by e-mail and internet phone and as a back-up navigation method, there were several minutes of despair.  We then began to realise that, although a potentially expensive disaster had occurred, as luck would have it, after many months of debating our finances, in Miami we'd splashed out on a new laptop computer on which we'd already installed most of our software and photographs, so all was not lost.  Our first priority was to get our Windows 2000 software working properly on the XP version on our new PC, which took only about three fun days of trauma.   The most challenging aspect was retrieval of our AOL e-mail history, which despite extensive support from assorted experts in India, stubbornly refused to upload.   Finally after Christine had spent a very pleasant day on the live help line, Phil decided to play around with the software himself and suddenly the history re-appeared!

Flush with success and back in communications with the rest of the World, Phil's next challenge was to take a look inside the old PC to investigate the fault, a typical attitude aboard a cruising boat where in most circumstances all necessary repairs have to be carried out by the crew.   The casing of the PC was dismantled, the internal workings scrutinised and it was concluded that the area of the power supply inlet was damaged and would require specialist repair.  It was decided to reassemble everything and leave the repair until we returned to the USA later in the year.   Once the machine was back together and no pieces were left over, merely out of curiosity, Phil pressed the power button and unbelievably the PC sprang back into life, working perfectly except that neither would the battery charge, nor would the power transformer power the PC.   A cunning method was devised by which to charge the battery outside of the PC and the ailing PC was functional again for emergencies until it could be properly repaired.      

There were many distractions in Georgetown to pull us back from the brink of despair.   Realising it was the first of March, we made an announcement on the daily cruisers'  VHF radio net, wishing everybody a happy St. David's day (Patron Saint of Wales).    By 10 am Linda and Steve from Brass Dragon, who we'd met in Green Cove Springs in Florida and Chris and Vivian had all arrived aboard Anju to help us celebrate.  ' We'll celebrate anybody's holidays!' said the two Americans, the Irishman, the Canadian and the Englishwoman!


St. David's Day

Golightly's Race Crew enjoy the Eileen Quinn Concerts and flip-flop design competition.

Pet Parade Winner

The annual Cruiser's Regatta had begun with its many components, ranging from serious yacht racing (well maybe not very serious) to a talent show, flip flop design competition, sand sculpture competition, opening night disco on the beach (have you ever tried dancing in ankle deep sand?), a concert by cruiser-cum-songwriter Eileen Quinn and even a pets' fancy dress parade.  We did our best to participate in most of the silliness before focusing on the serious job of racing in Larry and Debbie's boat Golightly around Stocking Island.

Like most serious race crews, our training began in earnest half an hour before we were due to cross the start line and in that half hour we performed more tacks and gybes that in the race itself, which involved only a couple of each and probably more than most cruisers make in a year of travels!    By the time we crossed the start line we were an excellently coordinated racing machine and would have been on top form if we weren't already exhausted by all the effort!



Golightly neck and neck with Pot Pie

We started the race well up the field of competitors in our class and morale was high despite being quickly overtaken by several of the multi-hull class boats who had started ten minutes later.

We blew our chance at winning with a bad tactical tacking decision as we rounded the south tip of the island but still kept up our spirits with our efforts at the fishing competition and enjoying the refreshments prepared by our skipper Larry.

At the end of the race we came in a respectable fifth in our class but our only success at fishing was two barracuda, which being inedible in the Bahamas due to the risk of Ciguatera poisoning, were ineligible and therefore humanely released.   An entertaining moment during our fishing attempts came when a fishing reel and several hundred feet of line were also humanely released and had to be hurriedly recovered during an unscheduled "reel overboard" drill.

The deck crew focus on the opposition.

Debbie the navigator hard at work.

The Golightly race crew had now developed a taste for competition, resulting in many long and rowdy card games, late into the night.

During one of our many visits to the Internet Cafe with our unscheduled PC project, who should be bump into but our old Irish friend Dan, from the boat Cowheel, who was looking a little forlorn.    It turned out that, as a result of poor approach instructions from a marina in the Exumas, one of his boat's two propellers had got bent in a collision with a submerged rock and he was debating whether it could be repaired without hauling out the boat.    Phil volunteered to take a look at it with him and after gathering up their diving gear, they dived below the boat to take a closer look.  Christine and Carmel were then despatched all around Georgetown with a large hammer to ask anyone they met, including assorted local mechanics and construction workers if they had an even larger hammer we could borrow, which drew a few strange looks to say the least.  Despite them returning with a large sledgehammer which was almost larger than them and needing both of them to carry it, the guys decided that the repair couldn't be carried out in the water.  The weary workers retired to the Peace and Plenty Restaurant for a delicious consolation dinner.

We'd received exciting and short-notice news that Phil's sister Rae was coming to visit and the next few days were spent frantically trying to make space amongst the assorted junk aboard Anju for an extra person to have room to live!

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