Afternoons on the Beach
05 April 2008 | George Town, Great Exuma
Beth - windblown but warm
The beaches on Stocking Island are spectacular. Jim and I walked along the Ocean Beach on the opposite side from Hamburger (Monument) Beach and then back across much further up. The sand over there is all finely crushed shell and coral - easy to walk on - and the waves were crashing in. Jim and a cute little crab played chicken to see who got the right of way. The crab won after he stuck out his claws and stared him down with his googly eyes! We took a windy (as in curvy) little path back to the harbour side through what seemed to be a dry slough that must get a salt wash now and then, to encounter an entirely different kind of sand. This was velvety soft - like walking on suede below the high water line and icing sugar above that.
From Monument Hill above the beach, the view was glorious as always and we "sat a spell" to gaze out over Elizabeth Harbour. (There is a move afoot to rename the harbour in honour of Rollie Gray but that hasn't happened yet.) These monuments were placed high atop the islands to indicate to passing boats that salt and/or provisions were available there - something the same idea as the inukshuks placed in the Arctic by the Inuit - to indicate a cache of food and supplies. This may also be the reason for the name "Stocking Island". One of the benches near the monument is engraved with a series of hearts waiting for names to be carved in - of couples engaged or married there and the latest entry is March of this year - quite a stunning spot for momentous decision-making!
Many of the boats in our anchorage shifted over to Kidd Cove to reduce the wet dinghy distance to town, or to Hamburger Beach where it is not as bumpy, and a whole parade of them left on Saturday morning. We are still at Volleyball Beach. It's bouncy but not so bad that I've had to have a fit about Jim's "stay put" policy. Fortunately, it calms down nicely during the night, but I must say, I'll be happy to be tucked away out of the wind whenever that happens.
We dropped by Mya 1 on Thursday evening and met George and Catherine. It is always great fun to meet people from Nova Scotia, knowing that we may well see them up the coast this summer. We discovered that George hails from Purcell's Cove, also home of Vince and Diane (Finn McCool) whom we met last August (and caught sight of in Black Point a month ago), and of our friends Pam and Gary (Atlantic Star) who sailed with us in Cape Breton and kindly hosted us for part of our Halifax stop. At the Happy Hour on Hamburger Beach on Friday night, we caught up with Frank (Local Knowledge) last seen in Marsh Harbour. He flies a large Nova Scotia flag along with the Canadian and Bahamas ones, and hails from Digby.
On Friday morning we weathered the trip across to Georgetown to do laundry and see if the computer was fixed. Success on the first item - still waiting on the second. There were lots of machines - $3.per wash and $4. per dryer. I double bagged everything to bring it back because once more we took some waves directly over the side of the dinghy. The water was back on and boats were lined up along the dock to lower the hose and fill their cans. It sure helps to be able to fill them right in the dinghies.
Late on Friday afternoon, we headed back to the beach - it was time for Happy Hour at Hamburger Beach. We're keeping our fingers crossed for a Sunday trip over to Cat Island, and so we were really interested to chat with Carla and Bruce (Deuces Wild) who highly recommended that stop. They've cruised in this area many times and Carla had lots of suggestions for us. Most of the folks we talked with are headed up the Exuma chain or over toward Nassau and on from there to Florida.
I always like to scan the table for interesting nibblies. Some creative person had made delicious little wonton packages served with plum sauce, and I had more than one taste of a spicy black bean dip with tortilla chips - those precious things that are had to come by in many of the markets. The artichoke hearts/mayonnaise/parmesan cheese dip is always good and always seen; a jug filled with bright orange carrot sticks and leafy green celery stalks looked great and tasted crunchy, and I munched on a few celery sticks stuffed with a curry filling and topped with peanuts - something a little different and very tasty. I took a plate of quesadillas and they disappeared in short order.
Saturday is a day for walking again. Jim went to town to pick up one more load of water and his computer while I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and then we dinghied to Sand Dollar beach for a stroll. We met up with Marilyn and Bruce (Reflection) who have been hanging out in that neighbourhood so we had a chance to catch up with them too, and then we spent the rest of the sunny afternoon watching volleyball games at Volleyball beach. Evening found us at St Francis for a light dinner - scrumptious grilled tuna wrap for me and so-so fish sandwich for Jim. I gave him a few bites of mine.
Communication-wise - the internet was down most of Friday but the cell phone is fine at the moment. It also comes and goes but we've had good connections on it lately. We bought a phone in the US (T-Mobile) and put a Bahamas chip in it when we were in Green Turtle Cay. Many of the payphones have card slots to insert a special BTC (Bahamas Telephone Company) card - but it can sometimes be hard to find a phone that works. Cards for both cell phone time and for the payphones are readily available at the grocery stores. Wifi is hit or miss. From here off Stocking Island, some folks use Harbour wifi and some, Gaviota Bay.
April 3rd was my Aunt Ursula's 93rd birthday and it sure was nice to be able to call her and have it sound like she was right next-door. If I have managed to inherit the good genes in women on both sides of my family, I hope I'll have another 20 - 25 years on the water! We are reminded time and time again that there are few age limits in this community. We've met young couples, young families, many 50 and 60-ish folks and a goodly number well into their 70's. Some are still sailing and some have shifted - or always had - motor vessels. It is also interesting to note that we've met quite a few single handers, mostly men; we have run across only two solo women - one in New Brunswick and one in North Carolina.
We never tire of meeting other cruisers and hearing their stories - some have always wanted to take this trip and have finally done it; some have come to both the idea and the journey later in life. An inspiring number figured out early on that they could take time away from "regular" life to cruise from time to time, and some imaginative folks discovered that they could combine the two, starting early and continuing for many years.
While Jim and I cannot imagine just coming straight to George Town to spend the winter at this "playschool for adults", it works for many and good for them! We've had an amusing time chatting with them and listening to them on the VHF radio, as well as meeting those whose traveling is more along the lines of our own.