Written Nov 22, posted Dec 11 when I finally got wifi!
We have arrived. Georgetown is the end of the road for so many people. To go further south takes a certain amount of ambition. They call the islands further south the Out Islands. This is truer than ever this year. Just beyond Georgetown you find the islands which were so hard hit by Joaquin. The hurricane hovered over Rum Cay, Long Island, Crooked Island and the Acklins, for days, destroying many homes and businesses. We met a man today who has property on Rum Cay. Every home lost its roof, the mail boat doesn’t come because there is no dock to tie to, and the vegetation was demolished. He is raising fruit trees here in Georgetown and is imploring anyone heading that way to bring a tree. He hopes to bring sweetness back to his home.
Another reason people don’t go further is because this is such a safe anchorage with endless beauty, community or tranquility (you choose), and activities to keep you entertained for months. We first dropped anchor in Kidd’s Cove, right in the heart of Georgetown.
Taking our dinghy under the bridge into Lake Victoria was amusing. Once tied up in there, you can walk all around town. Groceries, hardware store, straw market, and an ice cream shop caught our attention. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, boutiques, and dive shops as well. A thriving community of sailors who are passing through or staying all winter, charter boat crews entertaining guests, local folks, and vacationers who choose to stay ashore all mingle together in harmony here.
One cruiser organized tutoring at the school in town. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity! The children were eager for the attention, and the teachers were pleased with the positive influence it was having on the children’s ability to read.
Peace and Plenty is probably the oldest and most popular stop in the town of Georgetown and Chat n Chill is the hotspot across the harbor on Stocking Island. A one mile dinghy ride yesterday gave us a chance to check out this new hotspot by ourselves. The season has not really started yet, as most boats are still in Florida or further north in the Bahamas. We hear that the season kicks into high gear sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas and is booming all winter and well into spring. We have arrived early because we are eager to move further south toward the Western Caribbean.
Stocking Island has developed significantly since we were last here in 1988. At that time, there was no electricity or running water on the island; it was just a fun place to play volleyball on the beach and have picnics with other cruisers. Seventeen years ago, Chat n Chill opened and capitalized on the volleyball and picnic idea. Now they have signs “the Chat is free, but you pay for the Chill” No more BYOB. Yesterday was almost deserted, but today, Sunday, was a mob scene! People filled the water taxis and any boat they could find to get here. This is the one day that this beach is bumping. They call it Pig Roast Sunday, but people are here for much more than the food. We played volleyball with about twenty other cruisers for hours, while families frolicked on the swings, teens challenged themselves to the slack lines, flirtatious masses drank cocktails from plastic cups while standing waist deep in water, and everyone mingled with an air of kinship.
So many stories…Older couples returning here to winter on their old floating hulks. They just leave the boats, fly home for the summer, and return for a new season each November. Young couples trying out the boating lifestyle. Many people traveling on huge catamarans, orchestrating their busy schedule of visiting guests. Charter captains entertaining their new cycle of customers. Locals who long to leave to see the US joke with the cruisers and ask for passage off of their island. The community is wonderful and helps each other regularly. One boat got tossed up on the beach in Joaquinn, and every day people helped dig it out.
Finally, on an especially high tide, it floated! Curiously, I didn’t meet a single person who was heading further south. As we were saying our good byes, most folks ended with “See you next week” and will be here for many weeks to come. Sadly, we will not.