A Whirlwind Trip
06 March 2008 | Little Farmer's Cay (and Georgetown)
Oops - is Blair a corrupting influence? Nope - I'm just trying out experiences I missed when I was younger!
Let me tell you a few facts of cruising life in the Exumas.
1. There are very few banks; the last one we saw was in Spanish Wells, Eleuthera - back on January 29. The next one down the way is in Georgetown, or across the way in Nassau. Most places want cash and when a person can pay with a credit card, there is usually a 5% service charge. When we pay out some high-ticket items (airplanes and cottages) along with the regular stops for beers and lunches with friends, the cash flows quickly out of our pockets.
2. While every little town has its grocery stores - and we have come to love the eccentricities of them - there are some products that we haven't seen for awhile - like tortilla chips and tortilla wraps, interesting cheeses. Other products are pricey in the little stores - fancy crackers, breakfast cereal, wine, beer. Fresh fruit and vegetables are sometimes there and sometimes not. We don't really mind passing up exotic or out of season produce, but we do like crisp carrots and celery and a pepper or two.
3. Marine parts are really hard to come by in the small centres. Things break down anyway.
We were down to our last few dollars; with company coming, we thought it would be nice to restock our snack food larder, and Jim decided he really wanted to replace our starting battery. Blair and Mary (Strathspey) also wanted to make a trip to Georgetown to pick up some parts so we met up in Little Farmers Cay, pooled our dwindling resources and hired Hallen Rolle to take us in his boat (fishing boat - like a Boston Whaler with 150 hp motor) to Barraterre on Great Exuma Cay. From there we rented a couple of cars from Wellington Charles and drove to Emerald Bay (Scotiabank and Bristol wine store) and to Georgetown (Exuma Market for groceries and Top to Bottom for starting battery - and a looky bucket!)
Jim restocked his wallet and I proceeded to spend some of it right away. I purchased wines ranging from $5 to $14 and beer for $32 a case (24 cans). The cheapest wine in Staniel Cay is $15 and most of it is much more; beer is $63 a case. I stocked up on bags of tortilla chips, an armload of cheese and fresh peppers and fruit. I've been making a good little artichoke appetizer and couldn't find any more artichoke hearts. I found them here at $5.80 for a 12 oz jar. Pricey - so I'll use them for special occasions. No wraps anywhere so I'll have to make my own. The last ones tasted right but were very odd shapes!
We raced around town, meeting up with folks who exclaimed "You're here!" and we replied, "Not really!" The "around town" part is literal. Georgetown has a one-way loop around the pond so if you forgot something back a bit - you have to drive around the loop again. I think we did it four times.
We made it back to Barraterre after an hour's drive, bought fuel from the man down the road and returned the car to Wellington. ($70 per car) One other thing cruisers might be interested in is that since we no longer own a car, we have no vehicle insurance, and because the rental is a cash transaction, the insurance that comes with our credit card is no good. You can guess that we drove carefully!
Hallen was waiting for us; we loaded all our boxes and bags and climbed in and around them for the return trip past all the little cays that we would be hard pressed to come close to in the sailboat. We zoomed by Musha Cay, once owned by Oprah (we heard) and now owned by David Copperfield where it costs $2000.00 to stay for a night; past Cave Cay which is being developed into a magnificent resort where it will cost a half a million dollars to stay for a week! We passed Lee Stocking Island where Mary and Blair pointed out their beautiful anchorage and checked out the various cuts to the Sound. We roared over sandbars and in between little private cays, and an hour later we were back in Little Farmer's Cay. Hallen pulled up next to our boats and we unloaded all our new goods before heading ashore to buy fish for dinner from his son, Jeffery.
We had bought triggerfish from him yesterday - brushed them with lemon butter and grilled on our little BBQ - mmmm. After discovering that we had paid Ocean Cabin $20.00 for two nights mooring on a ball that really belonged to Jeffery, Jim got his money back and we walked up the road to Jeffery's house. There we purchased four lane snappers (each one a meal for one person) and some lobster tails (for company dinners) and paid for our mooring. (Ocean Cabin owns 3 moorings next to the shore at the SE end of Little Farmer's Cay, and Jeffery owns the one on the outside)
On our way back we stopped to chat with JR - the local wood carver. His bonefish - all intricately carved scales and looking as if they could swim right out of your hands - were gorgeous. Perhaps when we come back I'll find a small fish that I can afford.
Backtracking just a bit... when we arrived here on Wednesday, we met up with Blair and Mary (Strathspey) and Nancy and Jim (Solitaire) for beers and other vices at Ocean Cabin. Blair had an extra cigar and I decided to try it. There were lots of laughs around as they realized I didn't even know how to light the thing. I took a few puffs and gave it back - good for a picture or two but that's about it.
The folks in Little Farmers fondly remember Joel and Kailin (Achates II) from Nova Scotia who spent a few weeks here earlier. Apparently Joel tuned up every bicycle in town and repaired an engine or two as well. Nancy told us that the cruisers worked with the locals to spiff things up for the 5 F festival (First Friday in February Festival on Little Farmer's Cay) and Jim pointed out a house that belonged to an early settler. He bought the land from the crown and had the excellent idea of making it generation land - which meant that as it was passed down, it required consent of the whole family to develop or change it. Not much chance of it being sold for a pittance to an outsider that way!
We really liked this place and will come back soon.