George Town Cruising Regatta
“LIVELY UP! Grab your dinghies and go ashore:
Stocking Island’s Chat & Chill is a thirsty boater’s best friend.“
–Caribbean Travel & Life
“This place is a summer camp for adults.”
–Louise from m/v Marie Antoinette
We have more than just Kalik, ribs and volleyball!
Tired of the rat race, the snow or the cold weather? Take a break and set sail on down to George Town and join the the George Town Cruising Regatta Family. Since 1980, cruising yachtsmen and their families from around the world have been gathering in George Town, Exuma, Bahamas for a multi-day event called the George Town Cruising Regatta, which takes place every year in late February/early March. Initially beginning as a sequence of boat races, the event has evolved to a succession of fun parties, games, contests and boat races. To better illustrate the experience, here are some magazine article excerpts that chronicle some of the highlights…
Excerpted from “Good Morning, George-Town!”, a story from Cruising World Magazine
by Herb McCormick
The dilemma when trying to write a story about the George-Town Cruising Regatta is perplexing: Where do you begin? Where do you end? I mean, all the sailors who’ve managed to extricate themselves from the so-called “real world” and make it all the way to the Bahamas have a great tale to tell. Nowhere was this more evident than at the post-racing regatta awards ceremony at the Chat ‘n’ Chill.
For instance, take Charlie and Lizz on Kaya, a Catana 401, who cleaned up in the multihull division. The “Charlie” who everyone on the beach knew was a laid-back dude having the time of his life. But Charlie Ogletree was also probably the best mariner in the harbor, a four-time Olympic cat sailor who’d earned a silver medal at the Athens Games.
Then there was Marc and Angie on a Manta 42, Side by Side, cruising with their children, Parker and Sabrina. The Johnson family was conspicuous in an unexpected way, for the one thing that seemed to be missing from the regatta: a big posse of cruising youngsters. “There were a whole lot of families who rolled back home after their savings tanked,” Marc said. “We’re on Year Three of a five-year plan, and we can’t see a reason to stop now.”
Then, at the epicenter of the eclectic gathering, was Kenneth Bowe, better known as K.B., the Bahamian-born proprietor of the Chat ‘n’ Chill and owner of the nine acres of unreal beach on which many of the regatta activities take place. “I figured out what the people wanted and what they needed,” he said. “I separated the wants from the needs and started with the needs. From there, the business has gone straight up.”
“Without K.B., there’d be no George-Town,” said Rockin’ Ron, who, now free of his radio, was hosting the awards gig.
The Saturday-night awards ceremony segued into the Rockin’ Ron Dance Party, and before long, lots of cruisers were rollicking on the beach. But I decided to head for town to take in the Bahamian Music and Heritage Festival in “downtown” George-Town, at Regatta Park.
A group of cruisers in a band called Folks on Boats (previously known as “White Folks on Boats,” but since shortened for perhaps obvious political reasons) were playing, led by none other than the volleyball chairmen, Wayne and Isabel from Cassiopeia. They even sang an original tune called “Down and Out in George-Town”:
We packed it up and sailed away,
We’ll go to work another day.
I don’t want to LOOK at my 401(k)!
Just want to drink some rum,
get some sun,
have some fun,
down in George-Town.
Yeah, down in George-Town.
After their set, I was having a beer with the couple when the boisterous local Junkanoo band came rolling through. Suddenly, a guy with a big, green conch shell was beside us, blowing away. He handed it to Wayne, a natural musician, who gave it a hard look, blew a tentative note, realized he had it, and joined in step with the band, Isabel close behind.
The last I saw them, they were dancing away, jiving and swinging, two more fully grown cruising kids off to yet another George-Town sandbox.
Source: Cruising World Magazine
Excerpted from “Back to Nature” ,
a story from Motor Boating Magazine
The crew of Sawdust finds paradise in the spectacular scenery and the friendly cruising community of the Bahamas Out Islands.
Story and Photos by GEORGE SASS, SR.
Surprisingly, the highlight of our Bahamas leg was George Town, the largest settlement of the Exumas, and as far south as our one-year voyage would take us. We had been warned about the hundreds of boats at anchorage and the crowded conditions in town. But this is one, huge harbor that can easily fit 400 to 500 boats. We arrived just after a big regatta in March, when the largest crowds were gone. An estimated 250 boats, mostly sail, remained swinging on their hooks with room to spare.
By lucky chance, we anchored off Stocking Island, just 100 yards from Volleyball Beach and the ultra-casual Chat ’n Chill bar. Here, we had everything we needed—an endless supply of Kalik, the local beer; drinking water (for 60 cents a gallon); a short, scenic walk to a magnificent ocean beach, and a 10-minute dinghy ride to “downtown,” where we could provision at Exuma Market—and help ourselves to its free well water.
But most important, we were in the company of like-minded cruising families, all in awe of this very special spot on earth. We regularly met up with a Canadian man during his sunrise run along the beach who invariably thrust his arms in the air, exclaiming, “George! Stacey! Can you believe this place?”
We soon learned about the well-organized “Cruiser’s Net” on channel 68, where each morning, local businesses made announcements, the latest weather information was given and cruisers could ask each other for help with just about any problem. Besides all the typical questions like “Does anyone have a spare impeller for a Westerbeke eight-kW?,” it seemed that most of us were in e-mail hell out here. But I had found a simple solution. When all else failed, I turned off my laptop and took my dinghy to the Chat ‘n Chill.
Most of the children living aboard in George Town were being home-schooled, like Dimitri, and there was an unwritten law that until all daily assignments were done, no one was allowed off their boat. So, each weekday at around noon, you’d see dozens of dinghies speeding toward the beach like an invasion, full of kids of all ages with energy to burn. There were trees to climb, forts to build, hermit crabs to catch and girls to chase. For the adults, it was time to head into town, where packages from home were collected, the latest shipments of fresh produce picked through, water jugs filled and new acquaintances made.
But this cruising community also blended well into the local Bahamian one. On Saturdays, many of us would take advantage of free bus rides to outlying settlements such as Steventon or Williams Town, where we’d enjoy local festivities such as church-sponsored barbecues and crafts fairs. Americans, Canadians, Bahamians; black and white; young and old, we all enjoyed each other’s company and the incredibly beautiful surroundings.
Topping off each weekend for many of us was an outdoor, non-denominational Sunday service on Volleyball Beach. Attending “Beach Church,” adults sat under the shade of the casuarinas on wooden benches while our kids were perched high in the trees overlooking a makeshift pulpit, all amazingly attentive to The Word. Pinch me. This must be heaven.
After three magnificent weeks there, we reluctantly weighed anchor and began working our way back up the Exumas en route to the Abacos.
Source: Motor Boating Magazine
Cruisers and Friends, we invite you to visit our Facebook Company Page to keep in touch with your friends that you met at Chat ‘N’ Chill.
Click here to visit TheGeorge Town Cruising Regatta Website.