I closed the last blog before we left George Town because it was getting to be a bit long. We stayed in George Town for a few more days, though, and have had a couple of memorable occurrences that I need to report. The first was the Dinghy Ride From Hell. As I explained last time, we are anchored near Sand Dollar Beach. We generally like this particular anchorage because it is close to the various beaches and because it is close to “Chat and Chill” the quintessential beach bar. Now don’t get me wrong, the cooks at Chat and Chill have no idea how to cook a hamburger, French fries, grilled fish or BBQ (theoretically their specialty) and quite honestly I would not ask them for a cup of boiled water (in part because I do not think they know how to boil water and in part because bottle of water with ice costs $3.00). The only thing they do know how to do is to get a cold Kalik out of the fridge … that is provided you are willing to stand at the bar for 5 minutes while the bartenders chat with their friends and flirt with other cooks and wait staff. That part is it is classic Bahamian behavior, but I digress.
One of the downsides of anchoring at Sand Dollar is that it is on the other side of the harbor from the settlement at George Town – nearly two miles. Now in the best of times George Town is not a booming metropolis. The Bahamian population is only 2500 and the shopping opportunities are fairly limited, but that is where the grocery store (with all those luscious sardines), the liquor store, the hardware store and the gas station are. To get to the settlement, of course, you have to take your dink through Elizabeth Harbor. The harbor is normally very calm, somewhere between sea state 0 (calm and glassy) and sea state 1 (calm and rippled) as it was when we first arrived. When the wind starts picking up, however, there is a little more action on the water, maybe somewhere between sea state 2 (smooth, wavelets) and sea state 3 (slight wavelets). Now in the grand scheme of things sea state 2 is nothing; in the big boat we wouldn’t even feel it. Sea state 3 is a little bumpier, but even Spot could take it. Unless, that is … unless you are in a dinghy.
We had already made a run to George Town while the Harbor was in sea state 1. After the wind picked up we were smart enough to wait. But the wind continued for several days and we decided we had to give it a shot, we were running out of gas for the dinghy and even more importantly we were running low on half-and-half for our coffee (yes, we really rough it when we anchor out). The trip over really wasn’t too bad, only one or two rogue wavelets made it into the dinghy and neither of us had any more than few splash marks on our clothing. That was because the wind and wave action were behind us, pushing us in our desired direction. After shopping we turned around to head home – that was when we learned that the “wavelets” of sea state 3 can be a bear.
You may recall from our last entry that I have become quite the (self-proclaimed) poet. Although my poem “Black Point”)in the last blog) may not win the Pulitzer, I think you will understand why I believe “The Dinghy Ride from Hell” has a real chance.
The Dinghy Ride from HellElizabeth Harbor was not very kind
But we had to get groceries, especially some wine.
This leads to the story that I, here, will tell,
Of a ride on a dinghy – a ride straight from hell.
As we watched from our boat the wavelets looked small,
We thought we could make it – not e’en a close call.
Though when we embarked and started across,
The sea changed our minds and we learned who was boss.
We bumped and we thumped and we bounced all around.The only good choice was to really slow down
We were moving so slowly I can’t fathom how
The water kept coming right over the bow.
Closer and closer to our boat we drewAs the salt water drenched both captain and crew.
When we finally we reached Traveling Soul
We felt we had been in a large mixing bowl.
The lesson my friends is really quite plain,
We continue to learn it again and againThough you may think you have figured it out,
Mother Nature’s in charge -- of that there’s no doubt.
The day after the above noted dinghy ride, we were due to meet Russ and Lori for lunch across the Harbor at a place called February Point. You can probably understand why we were approaching this particular luncheon with some trepidation. We went back and forth on whether or not we would go, until about 1130, when it was time to move out. In the event, Ann donned her foul weather gear and we took off. The winds had definitely died down and the seas were not nearly as hellacious. Barely a drop of saltwater made it into the dinghy.
The next day we set out for the Marina at Emerald Bay. The marina is owned and operated by Sandals and, as a consequence tends to be pretty high end – both in operation and in price. It has, however, been just over three weeks since we had been to a marina and I wanted to flush our watermaker again, to fully charge the batteries and to let the generator and various electronic systems rest. I must admit, although I know it doesn’t make much sense, I tend to be a bit anthropomorphic with regard to Traveling Soul. Just like people need rest and relaxation once in a while, I think boats and their systems occasionally need time for rest, refit and recuperation.
Although the car was generally in surprisingly good shape,
if you look closely, you can see that the
hubcaps were held on with zip strips.
The first full day we were at the marina, Ann got up very early to work out at their fitness center and to start several loads of wash. Although laundry at the marina is free, unless you get up early it can be nearly impossible to get hold of a washing machine. When you go early – and I mean very early – though, there usually isn’t a problem. In fact, by about 0900 she had completed her task and we were preparing to enjoy the rest of the day.
On Wednesday, again with our friends Russ and Lori, we rented a car from the resort and took a trip south. As we drove from the marina I noticed that there were a couple of medium sized resorts, several small resorts and a number of vacation rentals. What I did not see – and you usually see in the out islands – is any partially finished homes. I am not sure why. Maybe Great Exuma is wealthier than most of the other islands.
The salt marker showing ships
where to anchor for their load of salt.
On our way south we saw three things of interest. One was the salt ponds and the salt marker. In the Old Days, Little Exuma, like many of the out islands, had salt ponds. They would get the water in the various ponds, dam it up, wait for the water to evaporate, then load the salt in barrels for transport to Nassau. That we all knew and we had all seen before salt ponds before. What we did not know was that in Little Exuma they had to put up a large marker (30-ish feet) at the top of a hill marking the salt ponds. The marker was so the ships coming in from the ocean side of the island would know where to anchor. I also learned that the salt these ships carried was very valuable, so much so that they would occasionally send Royal Navy ships to escort them and that they mounted a cannon near the marker to protect the salt from the Spanish and from pirates. Interesting, No?
The next thing we saw was Santanna’s. Santanna’s is one of those bar and grills in the Bahamas that has achieved near legendary status. While making the move “Pirates of the Caribbean” Johnnie Depp not only ate at Santanna’s, but apparently raved about it. Russ and Lori had been coming to George Town for at least six years and have always wanted to eat at Santanna’s but had never made it this far south. Well the four of us finally made it. The grouper I had, and the lightly breaded lobster Ann had were certainly good, but I don’t know if I willing to call it the second best restaurant on Great Exuma as Trip advisor does (besides, it is on Little Exuma). Would I go back again? Absolutely, especially if someone else were pays the bill. It was about $70 for the two of us – for lunch.
The line marking the Tropic of Cancer at (surprisingly enough)
Tropic of Cancer Beach
Finally, the real reason we rented the car was to see the ruins on Little Exuma. As most of you probably know the modern history of the Bahamas began in about 1783 when the American colonists who had supported Britain in the Revolutionary War found themselves in a difficult situation – their fellow countrymen wanted them tarred and feathered, dead or out of the country. Most chose the latter. Many of these former Loyalists were given land grants in the Bahamas by the Crown. A certain Baron Rolle was one of those loyalists. He moved with his family and his slaves to Little Exuma and established a plantation to grow cotton. Well, anyone who has been to any of the out islands of the Bahamas knows that you are not going to grow much. Rolle’s enterprise failed and he left Little Exuma, but not after freeing his slaves, many of whom took Rolle as their surname – hence the number of Rolles throughout the Exumas today. Anyway, a set of ruins, purportedly from this era, exists on a hill on Little Exuma.
|Ann, after one of our many walks to the edges of the marina.|
In this blog I have very seldom said anything negative about the Bahamas, the Bahamian people or the Bahamian government. That isn’t because I have nothing negative to say, it is just that I am a visitor and generally keep those opinions to myself. But there comes a point when even I can’t keep my mouth closed. The Bahamas practically depends on tourism for its existence as a nation. You would think that if they had a set of ruins, to which they refer as a “Bahamian Heritage Site,” that they might put just a little effort into taking care of it. Okay, maybe the Bahamian government doesn’t need to put up a sign explaining the importance of these particular ruins, maybe they don’t have to point out that parts of the house are not original – like the cistern with modern rebar, or the garage with a couple of wrecks inside, maybe they don’t even want to mow the grounds or maintain the property, but you would think they might want to haul away the 1960’s-era toilet and bathtub which are in the middle of the house. Apparently the Ministry of Tourism is spending its time and budget on the swimming pigs of Staniel Cay. I just can’t decide whether the government of the Bahamas is terribly inept of horribly corrupt.
Okay, now that I have vented, let me turn it over to Ann.
Ann is falling behind in her duties and can’t write this time. Send her an e-mail and encourage her to write next time.
Traveling Soul … Oops. Wait a minute
Wait! Wait! I will do my part..
OK...there has been a lot going on in the States that I will not bore or burden you with right now. I have been distracted by those events, I will admit.
I do want you to know that I did enjoy my time in Georgetown very much, well...the dinghy ride not so much.
Lori, on the first day at anchor, showed me a path across Stocking Island to get to the Atlantic side of the island. The path is used so much that you can walk it in your bare feet, at the end of the path you have the most beautiful beach to walk. Miles of white sand beaches with very little plastic on it. Michael and I tried to walk the beach at least once a day, it is good to get off the boat and enjoy your surrounding as much as you can.
Our time together with Russ and Lori on Twin Sisters is always great. It is a blessing to find fellow cruisers that you can spend a lot of time with, relax and do some island exploring with. Thank you Russ and Lori for sharing some time with us.
Russ and Lori also introduced us to one of their friends, Erin and Chris on their boat Barefeet. They were anchored next to us in the Sand Dollar anchorage. They are real adventurers, on there first boat, a 43 foot sailing PDQ catamaran, they started their journey from Boston and it took them five years to circumnavigate the world. I went over one morning to just talk to Erin and ask questions. We also had them over for dinner They have a wed site if you want to read about their trip
Also I need to update you on our little Spot, she is going to be fine but right now she is not a well little feline. Keep her in your thoughts and send her good vibes. We love and miss her more than we can express. Dave and Joan continue to love and care for her, such a gift to have friends and family in our life that we can count on for unconditional love and support.
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