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Published: April 4th 2017
The Dinghy Parade
All four dinghies parked on the sand bar in Pipe Cay
It is official! We have left George Town and are slowly making our way north. In a way, it seems surreal that we are finally back on the road (or more aptly, the open waters).
George Town was a wonderful hideaway for the last three months and we are taking many fond memories of the area with us. We had so many opportunities to embrace new experiences and to make many new friends; some who we have now been traveling with for the past week.
Last Wednesday, after some consultation with the weather forecast (although not always accurate), we headed out of the harbour and into the big blue. For several days prior, the winds had been playing it up again, but Monday and Tuesday were calmer and so we anticipated Wednesday to be a good travel day. Well, we soon discovered that, yes, the winds had died down considerably but the waves had not followed suit. They were still tossed up pretty good and our little boat with them (fortunately, no cookies were tossed)!
I had forgotten though, after months of being anchored, how much my body rejects being rocked and rolled (unless it is on a
dance floor!). Fortunately, Lukus seems to easily gain his sea legs and he held the wheel while I spent most of the time laying down.
The bigger seas (and really, they weren’t as big as we have had them before, I am just out of practice…) stayed with us until we reached Galliot Cut, about 35 miles north of George Town. Here, we passed over from the ocean side (east side of the Exumas) to the Great Bahama Bank (the west side of Exumas). As soon as we came through the cut, the water was smooth as glass and clear as a swimming pool.
While the waters throughout the Bahamas are gorgeous, some places are moreso than others. And after months in the slightly murkier waters of George Town (depending where you anchor in the area), I had forgotten how spectacularly vibrant and translucent the waters along the Grand Bahama Bank are. As much of the water on this side of the Exumas is shallower, the ocean bottom affects the colors of the waters so that you can see variant blues and greens for miles. (Side note: as visual navigation down here is just as important as following
Walking the Street of Black Point
John, Deb, Lukus and I walking up the street to DeShamons
charts, I have learned to pay attention to the water color. Light, crystalline blue means a sandy bottom, darker blues reflect rocks or reefs and greenish brown are weeds – brown go aground. There – your navigation lesson for the day)
After another dozen miles or so, we arrived at Black Point on Great Guana Cay where we had arranged to meet with 3 other boats, Alexis, Anneteak and Just Desserts. John and Deb on Alexis had already dropped their hook, and John enthusiastically (he does everything enthusiastically!) beckoned us to come alongside and just raft up to them. Not a common site down here in the Bahamas, but hey, since when do we do anything “common”? Our boat is easily dwarfed by their 72 feet, and when our other boater friends came into the anchorage they thought we had bypassed the anchorage. Nope, we were just playing hide and seek!
That afternoon, we headed into town for a late lunch/early dinner at DeShamon. We had eaten there once before when we had taken the adventure tour with my parents and Marina, and the food had been phenomenal!! Unfortunately, they did not have a large selection as the
Kids on the Dock
Lovely to see so many local kids riding around town at Black Point. Lukus later challenged a couple to a race down the street!
mail/food boat had not come in yet. That is one thing you become accustomed to on these islands; they are heavily reliant on the mailboat for all their supplies. So, no matter what you want, be prepared that they may not have that (or that, or that either) and just make do with what they do have. We were still able to enjoy some cracked conch and grouper fingers, along with some friendly conversation with Simon the bartender.
Black Point is a charming little town, probably one of my favorites so far in the Bahamas. Because there are really no resorts on the island, the only real “tourists” are boaters. Lacking in tourist saturation, the town has maintained a much more local flavour. The main street is lined with delightful, colorful little homes (although a little weathered) nestled amid scrub and “junkyard” treasures interspersed with eclectic gardens of tropical flowers and cacti; while goats bleat in the background and chickens wander across the road (why do chickens cross the road? My deduction after observation: seems the ground on the other side looks better for pecking…).
The people of Black Point are just as charming. There is a beautiful
Conch shells for sale
We ended up buying a conch shell from a cute little girl who was selling them on the street in Black POint
ambiance of relaxed camaraderie among the groups of locals gathered here and there chit chatting or working together, as children crisscross the pavement on bikes. The local police officer calls out greetings as he rides up the street, stopping to help an elderly man with a chore, or to give a resident a ride. We even watched as he stopped at the school yard and spent a good hour playing basketball with a group of children, in the stifling heat, while still in his full uniform (I am guessing the crime rate is pretty low on this sparsely populated island).
On Thursday, after a leisurely day of catching up with some friends on the phone (miss you Ceyda! And so great to talk to you, my “son”, Jeff!), and swimming, Lukus and I headed into town for a walk before meeting up with our boating “buddies” for happy hour at the local bar. Scorpio’s of Black Point hosts a happy hour for the boating community every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 4pm, which notoriously continues on for more than just an “hour” (I am beginning to realize down here that happy “hour” is an ambiguous term)!
boater has since deemed that afternoon/evening, one of the “best experiences she has ever had in the Bahamas”…and she has been doing this for years! After a couple glasses of rum punch (aptly named as the level of alcohol in those drinks packs a punch…lol), we were soon coaxed into dance mode (ok, so for those who know me, I admit, I did the coaxing!). What started as a handful of girls on the dance floor quickly turned into an all out dance party with Lukus busting out his moves and pulling the other guys in to join the girls. By the end of the afternoon, dancing was taking place behind
and even on
the bar (I won’t divulge who was dancing where…)
We did leave at a respectable hour, before dark, to get back to the boats. But not before Lukus challenged some local children in races up and down the street. And not without an order of Scorpio’s amazing Caribbean wings to go!
The next morning, after a late start, we pulled anchor (along with Alexis) and headed a short 8 or 9 miles to Big Majors Spot, just north of Staniel Cay, and home of
the swimming pigs! As some of you may recall, this is the location of the infamous “pig biting” (see my blog post in January). I assure you, I did not go into shore to tempt a repeat incident. As cute as some of those pigs are, the perpetrator of my butt bite was still causing havoc (I saw him bite another girl on the behind!), so I was happy to just watch them from the boat or paddleboard, a safe distance from the beach.
After settling in, we took a short dinghy ride around the island with John and Deb, and then stopped into the Staniel Cay Yacht Club for a light snack and drink. In contrast to Black Point, Staniel Cay is much more of a “resort” area and has a more Americanized feel to it, but the club is full of “tropical vacation” energy.
Our other “boat buddies”, Anne and Brad on Anneteak and Kate and Frank on Just Desserts arrived on Saturday, anchoring close by. The following morning, all four couples headed out for a dinghy tour about 4 miles north to Pipe Creek. This is a picturesque area that is the quintessence of a
Sand Bar Stroll
Anne from Anneteak walking the sand bar at Pipe Creek
tropical paradise scene. Circled by little islands and some deeper channels, sand bars rise up to the water’s surface. At low tide, you can walk on these sand bars out in the middle of seemingly nowhere, making it appear as if you are walking on water. Such a beautiful spot to wile away a couple hours.
Looking at the weather again, Lukus and I had decided that Tuesday was a good day to be moving on. There is a “front’ moving in, and with the shifts in wind directions, we wanted to find an anchorage with good protection. John and Deb (Alexis) had made the decision to move north as well, and so yesterday, we had one final farewell get together with Anneteak and Just Desserts. We began with an early dinner at the Yacht Club and then moved the festivities to Alexis for a couple final cocktails. The hard part of making friends while boating is eventually having to part ways, even if only temporarily. The great part is that the friends you make while boating are lifetime friends. No matter where life’s travels takes you, chances are you will meet up again somewhere, sometime.
we have departed another idyllic paradise anchorage and are heading north once again. Initial plans were to stop at Norman’s Cay for the night…but as the winds are right and the seas are fairly calm, we have just made a turn to the NW and are headed straight for the Nassau area. We have a couple days before the wind directions switch, and so we will find a place to tuck in and “weather” it out.
Stay tuned for further updates on our adventures north! Abigail out.
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