02 April 2011 | George Town Exuma
Gail Bermel/Partly Cloudy/77/Winds Light
Sorry for the delay since our last entry. We moved on to Big Majors. That is a protected anchorage for higher wind from the east. It is a dinghy ride into Staniel Cay, another one of our favorite places (where the James Bond movie Thunderball was filmed). The first day, we went into town for some groceries (The mail boat had just come) and deposited our trash. Then back to the boat. We expected to make several trips to town, but the wind was on the nose of the dinghy and we would have gotten drenched, so we didn’t go anymore. That means we had no internet or other way of communicating. We were certainly not at a loss for interesting days, though. There were several beaches at Big Major, one is known as the “pig beach.” You heard right. There are a lot of big, fat pigs that are used to boaters feeding them. Because of that, they swim out to any dinghy that gets near. They can swim pretty fast in water much deeper than their feet touching the bottom. Their snouts are really long. They remind me of an alligator when it swims, there seems to be a gap between the eyes and the nose that you can’t see above the water, same with these pigs. They are aggressive also. Last year, one tried to climb into the dinghy and snapped at Keesi. In addition to “visiting” the pigs, we can sit in the cockpit of our boat and watch other small boats (dinghies) go to the beach. We can tell when they don’t know what to expect, especially the ones that go all the way to the beach and realize the big, ugly pigs are coming out of the bushes and suddenly outpopulate the people there. We see them running back to their dinghies trying to get off the beach in a hurry.
There is another sweet beach there called the “dog beach.” It is the safer one for taking Keesi to the “ladies room.” It is unique, in that, it has large enough trees in the sand area that provide shade. It also has table, chairs and a stone fire pit. We had a birthday party there for one of the cruisers. We built a fire at sunset, and sat around and sang for a few hours. The almost-full moon provided light to get back to our boats.
We stayed there as long as we did because high winds were forecasted. The day they were their highest, we played cards and dominos with friends on another boat. We enjoyed that, too. So we were not the least bit lacking for anything because we didn’t “go to town.” It was a lovely several days. We were there at the time of the history-making full moon due to its closeness to the earth. Sometimes no activity is the most memorable. Every day at sunset, the boaters blow their conchs (like you see in tropical-setting movies). When the conchs are silent, a boater we are traveling with plays taps on his trumpet. It is so profound, I can’t describe it any further in words. Almost every night, we sit in the cockpit, watch the moon rise, look out over a sea of masthead lights mingled with the stars, listening to easy music. Rarely are there bugs of any kind.
After the winds subsided, we scooted down the road a few miles to a settlement called Black Point. A lot of the boats we started out with in Marathon were crossing paths again the first day we got there. We had a dinner-party at the local restaurant, Lorraine’s. Let me try to describe this restaurant. None of the plastic cloths on the tables matched each other. (For you older Memphis readers, it reminded me of the original “bull frog corner” in Horn Lake.) When you came in, you were given a little 3x3 piece of paper; you wrote your boat name on it and it laid on the counter with all the others. You helped yourself to beer, wine and soft drinks and marked it on your “ticket.” Lorraine set up a buffet for us instead of ordering from the menu. It was the best Bahamian food we had eaten in our four years cruising here. It had cracked conch, breaded grouper, barbeque ribs, braised chicken, deep fried lobster tail, some other pork, potato salad, mac & cheese, peas & rice (served with everything in the Bahamas) and cole slaw. It was all delicious. Oh, I almost forgot, large fried shrimp as an appetizer.
The next day, I had an experience I hadn’t had before. Let me explain first, these islands are very much removed from goods manufactured or imported in larger areas, except for fresh vegs and crafted items. So, the “mail barge” comes in to the inhabited islands once a week. We have seen them many times while we are on the boat. On this day, we went to town about noon to rent a golf cart to go visit a castle and other places. As we left the dinghy dock and walked up to the town, I noticed many people walking down the street in their nice work clothes. I thought, I guess people take a walk during the noon hour for good health. We proceeded to Adderley’s to rent a golf cart. They only had one, so half went on to the castle, and the driver would come back for the rest of us. I sat down on a shady stone to wait for my turn. Then I realized the people that I had seen walking for their health, were going to meet the “mail boat.” (It had arrived shortly after we went to shore.) I started seeing people come back, one lady carrying a big box on her head, another pushing baby stroller with goods in it, a truck with a new refrigerator, another truck with a bed in it and what looked like 10 cases of Kalik beer (local beer). It reminded me of the “Wells Fargo wagon in the Music Man.” Many times, we have waited until the grocery stores stock their shelves after the boat comes in, but I had never seen the townspeople meeting the boat.
After another day, we moved to Cave Cay for one night to station ourselves for the trip outside to George Town. (Travelling from island to island on the Bahama bank, west side of the Exumas doesn’t have to be as precise weather wise as “going outside” on the sound side exposed to the ocean.) We were the only three boats at Cave Cay. We had drinks and appetizers on Nightingale (another boat). After sunset and before moonrise, we dinghied back to our boat. It was the blackest night that I remember under anchor anywhere. The stars looked like they were barely above the top of the mast. It was a totally calm night.
The next morning, we went out the cut to George Town at slack tide. We had a lovely easy motor sail for about 6 hours. Yes, Frank got him another Mahi Mahi (his favorite place to troll). Later that evening, we had Mahi Mahi and pot luck. It was good and fresh.
Now we are in George Town having a good time. We are right off the beach. We went to town as tour guide to the two other boats we are travelling with. They have never been here before. We went to the straw market, food market, library, boutiques and lunch at our favorite Peace & Plenty. The next day, we dinghied over to an area called Fish Fry. It is a series of colorful little shacks that serve food; where the locals eat. We were given a tip to eat at Haley’s. There was a big “picnic” table out back where we ate (there is no room inside). Grouper was fresh, so everyone had grouper. It came with three sides. Some had grouper fingers, Frank had curried grouper, Patty had grouper in garlic sauce. They were all good, but it was the consensus of the group that the grouper fingers (no pun intended. Yes, Mikey groupers have fingers.) were the best, by far, that anyone had ever eaten, for two reasons, the pieces were meaty white fish cooked just right and the batter was light and spiced nicely. I always order Bahamian mac & cheese when it is on the menu. (It is very different from the US.) The cook came out as we were finishing and asked if we needed anything else. I said that I would like a little more mac & cheese. I expected to be brought another order and $2-$3 added to my bill. Instead, she comes back with a full-sized dinner plate with two orders of mac & cheese and the rest of the plate full of grouper fingers. She said she brought extra in case anyone else wanted more or wanted to try it if they didn’t order it. Never seen the likes of it. It was NOT an ‘all you can eat’ menu. It was a lot of food, the best we had ever eaten in the Bahamas. There were no prices on the board when we ordered. She came back out to tell us how much we owe. Each couple owed her $24. Yes, you heard right $12 a dinner. (Oh, I left something out. One couple ordered a coconut duff with spoons for all to taste. She said the dessert was on the house. We just paid $8 for a guava duff the week before somewhere else and weren’t impressed, but this coconut one was delicious.) This was an experience that will not soon be forgotten. I’m sure we will be dinghying two miles over there again before we leave.
Speaking of leaving, the other boats are talking about staying in George Town longer than they initially planned because there is so much to do. If you have read my blogs in the past, you know there are lots of activities, volleyball, cards, dominos, Texas hold ‘em twice a week ($5 buy-in) and more. They love shelling. This isn’t the best place for big shells, but there are lots of beaches with some beautiful shells. We dinghied to a cut south of sand dollar beach. At low tide, you can walk out and snorkel for shells. We found several sea buns and two nice helmet conchs and various other shells.
The waves are kicking up a little, so I won’t venture far from the boat today until Texas Hold ‘em tonight. I’ve got a good book and plenty to do. Until next time, wish you are were here. We know you’d love it.