Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Family Island Regatta

Every year in April, traditional Bahamain sloops from all the island groups in the Bahamas compete for three days of racing, drinking and dancing in Georgetown Bahamas for the National Family Island Regatta. The sloops are unique as the ballast comes from 5 or so guys "hikin" out on a board on the windward side. On a tack, everyone has to duck and get the board out on the other side. Race conditions were intense all week, with 20-30 knot winds. The Johnson's wore bathing suits for the rough ride across the bay and back to watch the start of the races. Breaking races would drench the dingy and all of us. As one of the few to brave these conditions, we got to see the anchored start and two major crashes. The Cat Island boat was rear ended, sending sailors into the water, breaking the boom and ending their race week. Our friend, Mike, co-owner of Long Island Breeze, has a broken thumb after being cleared off of the board by the boom in a crash at a buoy. Crewing on a race boat looked more dangerous by the hour. Had we arrived one day earlier, the kids could have sailed in the Junior group. After seeing all of the crashes, I was glad we missed it.

On Saturday, two bands performed for the delight of the crowd. The first group were elementary to high school age kids. Unlike our marching bands, the Bahamains do little marching and lots of dancing, gyrating and booty shaking. My favorite quotes included a Bahamain guy behind me to his woman, "now I see what I be missin". Marc stated the PTA would be in an uproar over these moves. The main event was the Royal Bahamas Police Marching Band. Traditional marching band style started their show. However, the drum major had moves I have never seen before, even embarrassing the local woman he pulled out of the crowd. I believe I heard her say, "don't go there!" Another local said to me, "If they could investigate as well as they played, there would be no crime in the Bahamas!" The drum corp precision while tossing their drum sticks and drums was incredible. Who needs cable!

From Georgetown, we motored to the north end of Long Island, Bahamas. Long sandy beaches, salt pond islets and tall white cliffs grace the end of Long Island. Our afternoon dingy adventure included a climb to the Columbus Monument where he ran aground in 1492. The monument was unique in that it said, "to the peaceful, friendly, loving, Lucaya Indians of the Bahamas (many spaces) and to Christopher Columbus." The message was subtle but effective. From there we tried to navigate a shallow inland pond and collect sand dollars and shells. After pulling the dingy through the mangroves, we decided to turn back. On the north end of the the island, the waves have created dingy in caves with natural skylights at the top. Hunger called us back to the boats, but we loved our time on Long Island.

Currently, we are in Conception Island and leaving for Cat Island today. With our fellow kid boats, Miakoda and Taua, we have enjoyed mahi from our fishing successes. The kids (and moms) have been wake boarding and water skiing, beach combing, snorkeling and turtle watching on Conception Island, a land and sea park. Our position is posted on the link in our blog.