18/03/2008/11:18 am, Big Galliot Cay
We changed our minds. The plan was to move around the corner, wait out the wind overnight and maybe another day, then head out the cut and go to Lee Stocking. But the wind wasn't bad at all on Sunday evening so we stayed put on our mooring at Little Farmers. It picked up about 4am on Monday morning, and by that time we decided to go down to Galliot instead of just around to the west side of Little Farmers.
We dinghied to the beach right beside the mooring and walked into town for one last visit and a couple of errands before heading out. I needed a couple of items for the larder and we had not yet visited the "supermarket". To envision this, you must, first of all, get the automatic "supermarket picture" right out of your mind. The room was about 20 by 30 ft with 2 rows of shelving. These shelves were neatly but sparsely occupied by cans and bottles - pineapple and grapefruit juice (no other kinds), the usual canned goods and cleaning supplies. The only produce I saw was onions. In one corner, a big cooler contained a couple of dozen eggs, 4 small containers of yogurt - all lukewarm. A gorgeous little girl played peekaboo from her playpen in one corner and a handsome young boy (Gr. Primary) offered to help me find whatever I needed. We bought onions and a bottle of catsup and asked about limes. The young mother took our $3.00 and told us to go to next door for the limes.
At the next door (same building) I asked through the screen about limes and we were invited to come in. It became clear that the two women offer complementary supplies, because this tiny space (8 x 10 maybe!) held a fridge jammed with produce - a crisper drawer filled with limes and another with tomatoes, shelves of lettuce, cabbage, cheese, milk, eggs. The shelves around the room held rice, peas, tomato paste, etc. (One can ALWAYS buy rice and pigeon peas, tomato paste and onions - the key ingredients in peas 'n rice - and of course fish is ALWAYS available so there is no question of going hungry here.) I also spotted a box of snickers bars so I snapped up a few of those along with my eggs, limes, tomatoes and a head of romaine lettuce. (Those bags of three romaine hearts keep really well.) A note about eggs: I always opened the box to check for broken ones back home - and found them surprisingly often - and I do the same here. There is almost always a cracked egg or two, and often a mix of brown and white in the same carton. Now, instead of putting the box back, I just swap eggs from one carton to another. I should have asked where they come from since there are so many chickens running around the yards - none of them appear to be fertilized eggs, and the yolk colour isn't particularly bright like yard eggs would be so I suspect these haven't just been picked up around the neighbourhood.
On the other hand, those chickens might well end up in the freezer or on the dinner table. At some place now forgotten, we were told that when a household needs a chicken for the pot, someone just goes out and grabs one. We also heard that the big black boar at Big Majors Spot ended up at the dinner after Rollie Gray's funeral. (He was on the beach the first time we visited but was never seen again!)
As we left the stores, exchanging hellos with the schoolboys in their neat uniforms (long pants, sparkling white shirts and blue ties) we noticed our friend Denzel crouched on the beach washing something. He waved us over and we discovered the "somethings" were sapodillas - known around here as dillies. He gave us a few, telling us that in a few days they would be soft and sweet like honey.
Jeffrey Rolle went by on his bike and we told him we'd come by his house for some fish before leaving, but the next stop as we walked up the hill was JR's house. JR Tinker is the local carver of some renown - he has won several competitions for his carving and was just back from the Bahamian Cultural Festival in Georgetown. He had a good show there but still had a few carvings on the shelves in his tiny shop. We bought a peel owl - the little Bahamian burrowing owl and as he carved his initials into the bottom, he told us a bit about his life. He owns a nice little property on the hill with fruit trees all around, has a bunch of children and grandchildren scattered over many islands and even Canada, and although there was no woman currently about the place, he mentioned that he has had quite a number of sweethearts! JR has been carving all his life - on his little stool just by his backdoor, surrounded by trees and birds and the sound of the waves. (I surely do wish I had taken my camera ashore!)
Waving goodbye to JR as he headed back to his couch to recover from the busy week, we walked further up the hill to Jeffrey's house and told him that we had $11.00 left in our pockets and would take whatever fish we could get for that. He disappeared for a bit while we chatted with Nick and came back with a bag of snappers - some Gray and some Lane. I asked them how to prepare boil fish, and got specific instructions on frying the fish - get the oil almost smokin' - then cook onions, potatoes in a little water, adding lemon juice, thyme and the fish.
Once back at the bouncing boat, we pulled up the dinghy, stowed everything that was loose and headed out for Big Galliot Cay.
Because of our draft we couldn't make a straight run for it, so we ran pretty much the four sides of a rectangle - out to deep enough water and then back in again with a view of the boats back at Little Farmers all the time until we tucked in around the southern corner of Big Farmer's Cay. This anchorage was quieter - not as many waves and no other boats - and we set the anchor firmly in about 7 feet of water.
We took a swim from the little beach on the west side of the cay (oddly enough, Big Galliot is much smaller than Little Galliot) and walked along the path across to the east side where we could watch the whitecaps on the Sound. I was disappointed to find that there was practically no wrack on the far side - prime searching grounds for seabeans, but we clambered across the sharp coral ledges to stretch out our legs. Dinner was ...Snapper! Accompanied by rice, bottled beets and coleslaw.
16/03/2008/3:26 pm, Little Farmers Cay
I'll add pictures later. I keep getting timed out when I try to put them in - connection a little slow!
16/03/2008/3:20 pm, Little Farmers Cay
The day started with a novel sight - even before breakfast. As I put the kettle on for coffee, I heard a motor and looked out to see a huge boat nosed up to the rock just up the shoreline from us. It was carrying fuel and because there is no dock big enough for such boats here, it went right up to the bank, let down a ramp and the trucks rolled off. Our neighbours said it came right in between the anchored boats - must have given them quite a start!
We had arranged with Ernestina at Ocean Cabin to try a Bahamian breakfast at 9 this morning, so off we went, mouths watering. The restaurant was all locked up when we got there, but we sat on the deck, letting ourselves fall into the rhythm of a Bahamian Sunday morning; roosters crowing, birds chirping, sun hot overhead already, water shimmering in the harbour, and the occasional person saying hello as he went by. Soon enough, Ernestina appeared, opened up her kitchen and went to work. The result was delicious and unusual - for us.
She made stewed fish - which was nothing like I have ever eaten for breakfast - or at any other time for that matter. It consisted of pieces of fried fish - grouper for me, snapper for Jim - served with onions and potatoes in a spicy gravy, and with Johnny cake as a side. I've seen recipes for boil fish (fish, potatoes, onions cooked together in broth) but this one was new to us. It was a "stick to your ribs" breakfast - meant to fill the stomachs of fishermen before they went out to start their day. The Johnny cake was different from what I make too - made with flour and not cornmeal. To top off the meal, we drank several cups of really good coffee.
Ernestine said the Americans generally won't try this, so we were pleased to be adventurous. I'm not sure we are adventurous enough to try the next thing she suggested - sheep's tongue, but she said it's delicious and that we wouldn't even know what we were eating. Maybe....
Lori, Dana and Nancy (Solitaire) arrived as we were finishing so we all sat around and chatted with Terry and Ernestine for another hour or two. We were the beneficiaries of their warm hospitality as well as their food. One thing we were disappointed to learn about was that the (Canadian) boat that had taken up the mooring next to us had left without paying. We were even more disappointed to learn that some cruisers do this on a regular basis. These moorings cost $10.00 per night - not a huge price. There is ample room to anchor if one does not wish to pay. We heard of people doing the same thing in the Park - where the moorings are put in to protect the coral from destruction by anchors, and the fees help to maintain the Park. It baffles me why some cruisers think it is OK to secure a mooring and not pay for it - kind of sounds like "stealing" a mooring to me. I know I grumbled about moorings back up north, but that was when harbours were filled with them and we were given no choice. This situation is different. There are many choices of anchorages and moorings, and installing moorings for the security and comfort of cruisers is one way the Bahamians earn their income. Every $10.00 not paid is money taken out of their pockets.
Jim replaced the seal in our head and it pumps much better now; we did some routine cleaning and had a swim to break the heat (32 C and very little breeze).
After a trip to the Yacht Club on the northern tip of the cay - where there is Internet - we'll shift our position around to the west side of the Cay where we think we'll be less rolly tonight and tomorrow as the anticipated wind clocks around.
We'll probably move to Lee Stocking Island on Tuesday, and then on to Emerald Bay on Great Exuma Cay a few days after that. We don't expect to have internet connections again till then.