08 March 2016
We arrived on Long Island (The Bahamas) on March 2 and spent the first couple of days in Salt Pond doing chores, errands, and necessities. We got haircuts from Marcie (who also has an insurance agency and whose daughter is getting a Master’s Degree from Brown University), outboard fuel and a new generator starting battery from Long Island Petroleum, groceries from the Hillside Market (the best stocked little store we have encountered anywhere in The Bahamas), and hitchhiked, yes, hitchhiked (it is very safe on these little islands) about 20 miles to do our laundry. Long Island was badly hit by Hurricane Juaquin, so many of the local businesses (such as Long Island Breeze where we used to do laundry right in the harbor) have closed and not reopened. The excursion for clothes washing was a hoot.
On the route south, we were picked up by an elderly couple who were going to the clinic to pick up some medicine for him. She did the driving and all the talking. It seems they were from Long Island originally and worked here, raising a family and carrying on with their lives. She was a school teacher and chatted about the old days. They dropped us off about 3 miles north of the Laundromat and, within 5 minutes, we were picked up by a young woman en route to work. She dropped us at the Laundromat and headed off. (We learned later that she is a waitress at a restaurant in Clarence Town on the SE coast of Long Island and she served lunch to our friends Candi and Peter, from First Draft IV, with whom we had had dinner the previous evening up in Calabash Bay (that was a 25 mile $100.00 cab ride!—but the only way we could rendezvous). During their lunch, the conversation turned to boating and the waitress said she had just given a ride to a couple with their laundry. A bit of triangulation, and it was discovered that we were it.) On the way back, we had our first ride drop us off at Max’s Conch Stand, where Van had a delicious parmesan encrusted grilled hog fish and Lauren had grouper fingers and cole slaw, also delicious and cooked to perfection. Van chatted with Max about his storm damage and, like many others, he confirmed that the government really offered no disaster assistance, and certainly not for business damage.
Our second ride was from Mr. Harding, one of the “old line” families on the islands. He was raised on Long Island, but went to Nassau to find work. He ended up with a small chain of grocery stores there. He since has retired, selling the business, but retaining the buildings. His female companion and “right hand” was from Peru. Again, we learned more of the island lore.
On Saturday, March 5, we assisted with other cruisers in the continued effort to clean up after the storm damage. We, along with others, had school supplies, which we donated to the four elementary and two high schools on Long Island, but we wanted to provide some physical help, especially after having heard of the work the cruising community has been doing all over the island. During the course of the day, we restacked building materials that had been dropped in the yard of a man whose house was almost destroyed by the hurricane. (He had been trying for 4 ½ months to get assistance from the authorities, but it was a couple of the cruisers who located tractor trailer loads of materials – that had been shipped to the Island right after the storm but never unloaded – and organized their delivery the following day.) The man was so happy to think that his home would be rebuilt (it needed 3 ½ new walls and a new roof!), and was to be done by the cruisers. Folks took to calling the boaters the “cruiser angels” and it felt good to be able to play a tiny part in the effort.
Finally, we had to head further north and so sailed to Calabash Bay on the north end of Long Island to use it to jump across to Cat Island, where we desperately needed to take on water. (The reverse osmosis plant on Long Island was knocked out by the hurricane and locals are having trouble getting water for their homes. Nonetheless, Louise Fox, the grandmother of Samantha at the tourist office, gave us 20 gallons of water to tide us over. She would not accept anything in return, but we did give her a jar of homemade raspberry jam when we saw her at church on Sunday.)