We arrive for the 65th Annual National Family Island Regatta. and anchor just off Kidd Cove in Georgetown, Exuma. The harbor is packed with cruising boats. Hundreds are anchored off Monument Beach, Chat ‘N’ Chill, Sand Dollar Beach, Crab Cay and scattered in the middle of Elizabeth Harbor.
Back in the 1950’s, working sailboats in the Bahamas had an uncertain future. At that time a group of yachtsmen came up with the idea of holding a regatta for the Bahamian working sailing craft. One of the early aims of the Regatta was to help preserve the boat building skills once common to all the islands. Since then it’s taken off. Boat builders from all over the Bahamas keep the traditions alive and continue to race their vessels to see who can still build and sail the winning boat.
The mail boats carry race boats from all the Bahamian islands. Cranes lift and splash them. Food and drink tents, a stage for the live music, fashions shows, t-shirts, parades, and all sorts of merriment are set up at Regatta Village for both participants and supporters.
Phill is excited. On the way down, we stopped in Black Point Settlement to check in with Captain Magic and the crew of Legal Weapon. He’s secured his spot again this year for the Regatta. Four days of racing.
About 60 traditional wooden sloops with the best sailors from every major island in the Bahamas are gathering here at Elizabeth Harbor to take part in Series and Cup Races. There are 5 different classes based on a few measurements with Class A being 28 feet long with up to a 60 foot mast. Class B are 21 ft on deck, Class C, D and E are cat rigged and of smaller lengths (17 ft or less). Boats use a pry board for hiking out, and the board is slid from side to side when tacking.