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Published: January 11th 2017
Our New Friend
Had a ball with this little girl on the beach at Chat N' Chill!!
Well, we have been in George Town for almost a week, and the scenery from our boat
is as picturesque as you might imagine…and from our boat
has been mostly where we have viewed it.
Unfortunately, a couple days after we arrived, so did a major “cold” front (the “cold” part is all relative, but I was wearing a jacket yesterday!!) from the N/NE. Since Sunday, we have had winds from 25 – 35 knots with gusts of 45. And while the waves have not been too bad, we haven’t dared leave the boat as many boats “drag anchor” during blows such as this. So, we have been on “lock down”. But who can complain when, even as the wind whips by, you can sit with the door wide open in 80F+ temps, looking out at a white sand beach, palm trees, crystal clear blue water all while in your underwear? (Always the bonus of being “stuck” on the boat – no proper attire required!)
We did have an opportunity on Friday and Saturday to venture out before the winds hit us. Like most of the boats here, we have anchored across the Elizabeth Harbour from George Town proper, close
to Stocking Island. Here is it much more protected from the N/NE winds predicted for the week. In preparation for the upcoming gales, we ventured in our dinghy across the harbour to go into George Town to get some provisions.
The town itself is wrapped around Lake Victoria (not much of a “lake” in our standards, just a wee puddle) which you enter through a narrow
(literally, “room for only one dinghy at a time” narrow) channel under a low stone bridge. As soon as you enter the lake, there is a free
dinghy dock to the left with a free
water station, all provided by Exuma Markets, the local grocery store (free is a rare thing for boaters – especially in the Bahamas!). After docking our dinghy, we took a short walk around part of town.
George Town is much more rustic than most resort towns; it has a raw, lived-in aura that is endearing and charming. No fancy boutiques or large chain stores (ok, we did see an RBC and a ScotiaBank…go figure), but simple concrete, stone and wooden buildings housing “mama and papa” run businesses. The air is charged with an eclectic energy of vacationers
buzzing around busily, mingled with locals languidly dallying along the road, calling out greetings.
While we wanted to explore more, we decided to leave ourselves some surprises for later. My parents and my daughter, Marina, arrive this Sunday, so we thought it more exciting to discover things all together. After scoring some Bohemian rum at the local liquor store (we are not rum drinkers, but when in Rome…), we headed to Exuma Markets to pick up some fresh produce and meat. It is a good thing we were able to get most of what we needed. We have since heard that the “food boat” which delivers groceries to the island once a week has been canceled due to the winds, and the market’s shelves are pretty picked over now.
Later in the day, we headed over to Sand Dollar Beach, close to where we are anchored, for short visit. Exploring close to the beach, I found a cave and spotted a couple trails, but we decided to leave it for another day to explore. The rest of our afternoon was spent working on the boat.
I have probably said it before, but simplified living on a boat
is not so simple! There always seems something that needs to be done on the boat, and everything takes much longer if you include scavenging and hunting for parts and supplies! But our philosophy is it is better to try stay on top of things rather than deal with a rust bucket later!
Well, after opening up one of the bilges and the chain locker hatch, we discovered a nice amount of stagnant salt water pooled up…and salt water is the last thing you want sitting around in a steel boat (hey, there just isn’t room for anything more on this boat!). So, after pumping out the water, washing it down with fresh and drying it, we headed out again in our dinghy to scavenge some drift wood to reconfigure parts of our chain locker (that is where all the rode(rope) and chain from our anchor goes when the anchor is up). Good thing Lukus is always “well-prepared” and we have a saw (or several) on board as we had to cut the wood to create a platform in the locker for the tub that holds the rope (check out the pic). For several hours, our boat looked like
a wood shop, sawdust and tools scattered everywhere – hey, it’s where we sleep, eat, work, play, relax…all in an itty bitty 39 feet!
On Saturday, in anticipation of the upcoming buckle-down, we headed back over to Sand Dollar Beach for a bit of “hard ground” time. I decided to explore the trails we had seen the day before, while Lukus relaxed on the beach. I thought myself quite brave and adventurous to go off on these trails solo…until I almost stepped on a snake! Fortunately, he was just a wee little guy, and after a few deep breaths, I had my heart beat back under control and I asked him to just move on. He obliged, while I had a little giggle at my expense over my reaction. The walk was worth it though, one trail took me to the top of a hill with an expansive view of the harbour as well as the ocean westward. The other winding, cozy trail led to a beach on the west side of the island where lazy swells rolled in and crashed against a rock wall.
When I returned, a young family had joined Lukus on the beach; a
couple with three young children from the boat Dessert First. We ended up having a lovely visit; learning about each other’s story. That is one of the things I love most about meeting other “boaters”, hearing their stories. This couple had decided they wanted to live “outside the box”, and so they rented out their house, sold all their other belongings, bought a boat and moved the whole family onto it…all without ever really having sailed before (albiet they did take a few lessons first). They are from Texas but ended up buying a boat in Eastern Canada and hence, sailed from there down to the Bahamas. They have no real plans of where they are going or how long they will be gone, just setting out to see some of the world. Some think we are pretty adventurous and risk-taking, but relatively, what we are doing is just a baby step!
After our beach romp, we headed over to a popular meeting spot on Stocking Island, Chat n’ Chill, for a couple drinks and dinner. We enjoyed a couple of $13 margaritas (choke…Bahamas is not super cheap) and a great fish dinner. And then we got stuck in
While we were waiting for dinner, a little 6 year old girl (who, we found out later, was a daughter of the owner) decided she liked the looks of Lukus, and quickly befriended him (surprising, as he is looking a little “wild” these days – lol). She had quite the imagination and we spent the next hour+ trying to “escape” a hole someone had dug in the sand; it just wouldn’t let us out! With the sun setting, and our meal secure in our belly, we finally outsmarted the hole and had to say goodbye to our new friend to get back to the boat.
We both enjoy spending time with young souls and Lukus particularly misses his niece and nephew, Rachel and Jax. Since Lukus was never blessed with his own children, and mine is all “growed up”, we both cherish the times we get to spend with kids. This little girl certainly brightened up our afternoon, filling it with joy and laughter, and we have promised to go back and see her again.
Since Sunday, we have only ventured out twice (yesterday) for a short time, once to make a delivery and once
for a little “happy hour” on the beach.
The first day of the “big blow”, a boat named Tandemeer came into the harbour – brave souls! They are with an organization called International Rescue Group (www.internationalrescuegroup.org
) and are carrying a large load of equipment and relief supplies to orphanages and clinics in Ile-a-Vache, Haiti. This is optimally one place we felt very drawn to, and had hoped to get there on this trip to establish some relationships and get a better understanding of their needs. We would really like to somehow become involved in relief efforts there in the future.
Unfortunately, with this being our first voyage, we are still figuring out all this timing thing, especially with weather, and so we will probably not make it there this time. However, we had brought along a stock of donations from some of our friends in Canada that we had hoped to share with Haitians in need, and so we saw this as an chance to still do that. We contacted Tandemeer and they happily accepted the supplies (Cathy and Carolyn, thanks for your help with these supplies, they were greatly appreciated!). We also got some great information from
them about opportunities to get involved in the future.
Our second outing took us back to Sand Dollar Beach where some of the boat community were having a little “happy hour” get together. We decided to put some clothes on and get out to finally meet some new people. Amazing how here, thousands of miles from home, there are still connections. We met one couple who are good friends with friends of ours who live down the channel from us in Port Dover! We also met another younger couple, Bonnie and Jim, who sold everything they own, bought a boat and are sailing ‘til the money runs out.
This little gathering also provided a bit more background on the area. Unbeknownst to us, George Town is sometimes referred to as the “chicken hole” – a place where a lot of people hole up to avoid the bigger water beyond. But truly, it is like a little oasis and we can see why many people sail directly here to spend the whole season. It is a beautiful place to settle in and enjoy the surrounding areas while basking in an involved boating/local community. The 8am broadcast on the radio
announces the days’ events which include everything from the propane trucks’ arrival to beach volleyball, poker games, dinghy raft-ups, live music and happy hours, and the radio buzzes all day long with chatter between boats sharing advice, planning get togethers and helping each other out. Especially during the big blow, we were pleasantly surprised to hear people monitoring each other’s boats, offering help, and generally just keeping an eye out for each other; friend, stranger, or soon-to-be-friend.
Most of the rest of our time has been spent holed up on the boat working, reading, playing cards and watching movies…oh, and eating (good thing I have taken up trying to do a little bit of a work out each day). But even with a strong squall kicking up a tantrum as I finish this post, the water is still clear, the view still brilliantly scenic, and we are still in our underwear!! Life is good.
P.S. I know this is a longer post again, but it’s with you in mind Tom!!
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