On Sunday, February 21st, we sailed into Elizabeth Harbour and George Town after a beautiful overnight passage from Norman's Cay in the Exumas. Our first day in George Town was a vivid reminder of what we so enjoyed, and also were cautious of, during our several month stay here last year.
Less than an hour after our anchor was set, Nancy was playing flute and Chris was singing in the choir at Beach Church services. We met a family at church with several kids on board close in age to Chris and Josh, and they encouraged us to join them and other cruisers for a vegetarian potluck lunch at Hamburger Beach. After reuniting and visiting with many friends during the social time after church, we sped back to Liberty to prepare an all raw, vegan (no meat/eggs/dairy) dish. While Dave is pretty good in the galley, this is not normal fare on Liberty. Luckily we
We were back on Liberty just long enough to gather our things to head for Volleyball Beach, where more visiting ensued. Dave and Nancy also had time to think about lists of things to do in advance of Dave going back to the USA for business meetings later in the week, but quickly we could appreciate that the sun was dipping close to the horizon and it was time to speed back to Liberty to prepare a dinner so we could make it to Trivial Pursuit at the St. Francis resort by 6 pm! A quick pasta dinner (quick, but really good - sautéed chicken and sun dried tomatoes in a mildly spicy cream sauce), and back in the dinghy, and off we flew to our final engagement of the day. We teamed with Brydyl Ankar, another kid boat (who had invited us to the raw foods potluck), and struggled through Trivial Pursuit questions that seemed directed more to a crowd about 15 years older than we are - which is to say, the average age of the George Town cruising community! Many of the cruisers here are in their late 50s, 60s and even early 70s, but most everyone is extremely fit for their ages. This active lifestyle is really good for our health. By 8 pm Trivial Pursuit was over and dinghies were pulling away from the dock to get folks home by cruiser's bedtime - 9 pm - and Liberty was right in the pack and off to bed. It was a busy, exhausting day, our first in George Town since last April, but it felt good to be back among friends and a community we enjoyed so much last year.
had a head of Savoy cabbage on board, and a few carrots, and a couple of apples, and when chopped and combined with a rice wine sweet/sour dressing (including fennel and celery seeds), we had our dish! At the gathering, one of the organizers spoke for a while about the food industry (and what other than food is put into our food), and it quickly became clear to us that we had joined not only a potluck but an organization with a social cause. Later we learned that we were not the only meat eaters there, but we were certainly in the minority! Each of us was asked to describe the dish we prepared, and after listening to others describe their dishes in detail, Dave wisely noted for the group that the dressing in our dish included some corn syrup - high fructose corn syrup, of course - and this was well received, as several members of the group don't eat that! Our salad was good, and it was completely eaten up as well.
As we noted above, we sailed overnight to make it to George Town early enough Sunday morning to attend Beach Church. Beach Church is a real church, a non-denominational Christian church with a statement of faith, elders and hymnals, that meets on benches and picnic tables under the casuarina trees in the "casuarina cathedral" before an alter that is a board on a large plastic garbage barrel. There is a choir that leads worship music and sings anthems, prayers, and a message prepared and delivered weekly by lay members of the congregation who feel inspired. During the four Sundays we were in George Town Nancy played her flute at every service, and on the last day she played a solo first verse of "Amazing Grace" and a solo anthem, "There in God's Garden". Her flute playing has brought her great renown in the community, and truly is one of her spiritual gifts. Chris jumped right into singing in the choir (as a baritone now - wow!), and again he was asked to organize a children's choir to sing on Grandparents' Day. Josh continues to pass out and collect song books at the beginning and end of the services, and sits high in the causarina tree with other kids as the "tree angels", where he counted the congregation and announced the attendance when prompted by the service leader. There were over 100 people in attendance each service during our stay. Worshiping God in this way and place is truly one of the highlights of our George Town experience.
George Town in general
On our second day in George Town, we went to town to provision, do a couple of weeks worth of laundry, and get a good internet signal. Dave had to finalize his travel arrangements for a short business trip to Las Vegas, as well as order a new hot water tank for Liberty - our old one had finally rusted through and our fresh water was leaking slowly into the bilge. West Marine came through again, and a new tank was on its way to Dave's friend and client, Andy McNeil, so Dave could bring it back from Las Vegas. Because a strong cold front was predicted during Dave's
While Dave was traveling, Nancy and the boys were right at home in George Town. School during most mornings, choir practice some days, playing volleyball, swinging on the big tree swing, rebuilding the fort in the woods, hiking over to the Oceanside beach to ride the surf on skimboards or just to play in the waves, dinghying across the harbour for fresh milk, etc. We went to two beach bonfires to celebrate kids' birthdays, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, and the boys even got to shoot off bottle rockets at one. We start every day by listening to the "net", 45 minutes or so of announcements on a VHF radio channel that includes the all important weather forecast and tides, business advertisements, regatta information, community announcements, and "boater's general", where anyone can report lost items, found items, items (such as spare parts, charts, or information) sought, and even giveaways. The net always closes with a thought for the day, and is followed by 30 minutes of boats hailing each other to make the connection on items lost and found, items sought to be gotten or gotten rid of, and general information. The radio calls continue during the day, as the VHF is our substitute for telephones. As a kid boat, we have twice as many people on board who want to call other people, so "Liberty" gets said on the air a lot - "Side by Side, Side by Side, this is Liberty on 68." We use channel 68 as a hailing channel, then switch to another frequency to have conversations. What's interesting, of course, is that anyone can "follow" just by switching to the same frequency that two boats agree to use, and often information shared in a "private" conversation comes up later, at a party on the beach or a get together, with someone who "followed" your conversation. It's like being on an old party line - remember those?
One of the more interesting community announcements we like to hear is from Dan on Borrowed Horse. When he comes on, the anchorage knows fun is just 8 hours away, because he is the chairman of A.R.G., the Alcohol Research Group, and he is announcing a "research meeting." Research meetings are always held at Queen's Dock on Hamburger Beach, and participants are requested to bring their research material of choice, an appetizer or snack to share, shoes (because of sand burrs) and insect repellent, and well behaved children and pets. "Bad people" are always asked to not attend, but members of A.H.O.Y. (Appetizers,
Hors d'oeuvres and Other Yummies) are encouraged to attend, even if they are not alcohol researchers, in order to support the research work of A.R.G. members. Finally, over-imbibing and other misbehavior is routinely discouraged.
Boat chores continued during our entire three week stay - repairs, shopping for fresh fruits and veggies and milk, hauling fresh reverse osmosis water in 5 gallon jugs by dinghy across the harbour (our watermaker has decided that is too much trouble to take every last bit of salt from the water - it seems to be removing a little less salt from the water we make, leaving it fine for washing dishes and bodies, making coffee and lemonade and other cooking, but not quite as tasty au natural, so we supplement watermaker water with fresh water from shore when it is convenient).
We stayed for just over three more weeks in George Town, and our time there confirmed the love-hate relationship we have with this place. On the love side, there's Beach Church (Nancy played flute all four Sundays we were there, and even played a solo anthem the last day, and Chris sang in the choir while Josh took on official congregation counting duties); lots and lots of cruising friends, old and new; kid boats and kid activities; and our first Cruiser's Regatta. On the other hand, we had to maintain a calendar and pay attention to the time on a daily basis to make it to all of our activities, and there are the cliques and gossip that exist in any community, including a community of 300 boats anchored in paradise.
absence and another right after his return, we moved Liberty on to a mooring ball in "Hole 2", a small hurricane hole right near Volleyball Beach. At just $15 per day it was cheap insurance - even with the wind howling, it was never uncomfortable in the hole. Inertia, plus a steady parade of fronts during the next week, kept us on the ball for over 10 days. Dave traveled to Las Vegas on Wednesday, flying through Nassau and New York City, slipping out of New York just as a huge nor'easter was blowing in. Following two day's of meetings, Dave left Las Vegas on a redeye late Friday night, and even though he missed his connecting flight in New York on Saturday morning, he still lucked out and got the last standby seat on a later flight to Nassau and was home on board Liberty Saturday evening. Monday saw him hard at work replacing our water tank, which proved to be about half full of rust - it's hard to understand how it even made hot water at all.
Aerial view of Volleyball Beach and the anchorage, taken from the top of the mast
Liberty from top of the mast - taken by Dave
Nancy playing a solo anthem, accompanied by Pam from s/v Paragon
Josh is a "Tree Angel" and the official counter
Nancy's flute playing was enjoyed by all
Norm from m/v Carpe Diem leads worship
Hans from s/v Whisper V rings the bell to start the service
Chris organized the Youth Choir for a special service
Nancy, Bill, Don & Doug accompany the choir
Sunset over the entrance to Lake Victoria in George Town
The kids love to swing from the tree
They also like to play volleyball
Chris, Josh, Dylan, Karl, Parker, Ian, Chantelle, Alana, Hailey, Sab & Sabrina
Friends old and new enjoying a beach bonfire
Sabrina swings from the tree, while Josh waits his turn