After a few days, we meandered north to the settlement of Simms. Simms is the government center for the northern half of the 80 mile long Long Island. The settlement is tiny and quite poor. There is no dinghy dock/landing and you have to climb up a concrete dock to get to land (more on that later).
There is one restaurant in town that was written up in a guide book we have. So the crews of DreamCatcher and Heart thought why not? After dinghying ashore and walking up the single lane road we came upon the Blue Chip Bar and Restaurant. It appeared to be an older home with a beautiful banyon tree out front. Several men were sitting under the tree playing dominos, drinking and smoking pot. They welcomed us and directed us around to the side of the building to the restaurant part of the building. The other part was sort of a bar.
Mario, we think is the owner, was as surprised to see us as we were him! After he recovered from his surprise at meeting people from "away" he welcomed us inside and seated us at the only table in the restaurant side of the building. There was also a kitchen counter to sit at but a gentleman was sleeping across two stools so we chose the table.
Mario cooked us what he had in his coolers which was fried chicken, fried conch, rice and corn. It was a plentiful meal served family style in old pie plates and chipped serving bowls but it was gooood home cooking. Price for dinner for four with several drinks: $40. Priceless.
The people watching was definitely worth more than the price of admission: the numerous men sort of came alive after we got there, were talking/shouting to us and still smoking their dubes out in the open. We never felt in jeopardy and the crowd was friendly and was full of advice for us.
At the end of the afternoon the tide had gone out and it was difficult to get into the dinghy, especially for short-legged Maryann. So she walked to a nearby sand beach and Don came around the point and retrieved her there. You have to be flexible in this lifestyle.
We left the relative hustle-bustle of Georgetown and headed southeast for Long Island. We had wanted to get there for many years and a promise of uncrowded anchorages, great ocean beaches and genuinely friendly islanders called to us. After a good day of motor sailing we arrived in Thompson's Bay and were the only boat to anchor in this 2 mile wide bay with an inviting white sand bottom.
We thought crossing the Tropic of Cancer would be similar to crossing the Equator----where you toast Neptune and pour your alcohol of choice overboard in a tribute to the Gods and get your ear pierced, or something like that. Something magical should occur. Well, we were not disappointed.
Just as Columbus had, we discovered the beautiful and captivating Long Island.
Our friends, Bruce and Gina on DreamCatcher arrived a few hours after us to the anchorage. Since both boats caught fish on the passage, we decided to share the catch on Heart. Yes, dear readers, you read that right! Don caught a nice size snapper and the 'no fish' curse is officially broken! Yeahhhhhh!
The anchorage was quiet and peaceful. Since we arrived late Saturday everything was closed on Sunday. And then Monday was the national election day. Elections happen once every five years and Bahamians are VERY passionate about their choices. So, by law, restaurants are closed on election day so alcohol does not get in the way of celebrating the results.
We truly enjoyed the peacefulness, the friendly people and the beauty of Long Island.
The crews of DreamCatcher and Heart went to the ocean side beach for a little R & R on election day. After about a mile walk up over the spiny ridge of the island we were rewarded with a spectacular beach and outstanding view. We beach combed and Maryann searched for beach glass and shells to make jewelry. But, no luck in that regard. However, Bruce won the beach comber's prize: he dragged back a partial fuselage to a small plane. Love to know that story.......
Sundowners is a popular way to entertain when cruising. You invite 1 or 2 couples over and each couple brings an appetizer, their own beverage of choice and instead of eating dinner we 'graze' on heavy hor'doevres.
This day we had sundowners on DreamCatcher with Bruce and Gina and Bob and Andrea from Rebekiah. The goodies were eaten, the beverages consumed and at sunset, of course, we blew the conch horn.
The beauty of the 'system' is we all pack our own trash out and are home before total darkness descends and there are only a few dishes to do!! It's definitely more economical than inviting people over for a full dinner too.
Sometimes cruising is not all glamorous. Usually one of those times is figuring out where or how to get the laundry done. Cruisers ears are always attuned to hearing about "a better laundromat."
One day a couple told us about a good laundromat 3 miles outside of town. Since there is only one laundry in Georgetown proper and it is always packed and your clothes come out a little more gray than when you put them in we were all about learning of a new place.
So here is how laundry day went down: we loaded the dinghy with 2 very full collapsible laundry baskets, our soap, empty boat bags to fill up with groceries after the laundry is done and large black plastic garbage bags (to put our clean clothes in later for the wet dinghy ride across the harbor back home).
The dinghy ride to town is about 1.25 nautical miles. In flat seas no problem. In strong southeastern breezes, problem. Very wet ride into the dinghy dock. But we didn't mind because the clothes were already dirty. To get to the dock you have to go under a bridge between 2 buildings. The width of the pass is slightly more than a dinghy's and because of the wind direction it usually has 2-3 foot standing waves in it. So you rev up the outboard and try to surf through into a flat calm lake without taking any boarding waves.
Once tied to the dinghy dock, we unloaded the laundry and walked up to the main road. Now here is the beauty of the plan: we called the Baranki Wash and they agreed to come and get us (and our firends on Bruce and Gina on DreamCatcher too). Of course it was Bahamian time so we arrived at the laundry about an hour later after 2 phone calls.
The laundry was new, clean and the machines worked! 3 for 3! We had never experienced this before in the Bahamas. The proprietoress was very accomodating and she even held the garden hose to fill up the tubs high enough so it would start agitating. It was a great experience, really.
After the laundry was finished all 4 of us walked about 1/4 mile to Cheater's restaurant for a nice lunch with our friends. We walked back to the laundry and a friend of the proprietoress gave us all a ride back to the dinghy dock.
After picking up a few groceries we headed out through the same pass we came in through. And then it started getting really wet and wild! The wind was on our nose and had 2-3 foot waves crashing over our bow. We took a lot of water over the bow and because Maryann stands in front of Don, he was shielded and she was drenched. We were very careful and went very slow but it didn't really help. The clothes, thank god, arrived dry but the groceries and passengers were soaked.
So, first order of business was to wash the salt off anything not sealed (like produce), then wash ourselves and clothing then hang everything out to dry.
Total time from start to finish: 7 hours. And you wonder why we never go out at night!! Whew! Tough day at the office.
One reason Elizabeth Harbor is such a great anchorage is Stocking Island, a long narrow outer island forms a wonderful barrier from the (sometimes) wild Atlantic Ocean. A short dinghy ride and short walk up over a hill brings you to a beautiful, white sand beach that goes for miles. There are few houses here but there is a small resort. Other than that, it's you and mother nature.
The weather was still a little too rough for leaving so we went on a nice beach walk. We thought with all the recent storms we would find a treasure trove of shells and beach glass and other flotsam and jetsom. Boy were we surprised! Not one thing on the beach! Not even seaweed or grass! Like somebody had swept the beach completely clean. I guess that somebody was Mother Nature.