Jun 30, 201309:05 AM
Swing Set: Cruising Full Time
Junkanoo In Georgetown
Living on the boat is like living anywhere else, but doing the mundane things like laundry, taking out the garbage and grocery shopping presents challenges, and sometimes we find unexpected pleasures. For instance, the other day, we took a bag of laundry across Elizabeth Harbour in the dinghy to the Exuma Yacht Club, where we thought they had laundry facilities, but found out from Clavon, the harbormaster, that they do not. But he directed us to the local laundromat just down the road, so we walked the short distance to it.
The laundromat is not in the best part of town, but upon walking in, we met Lee and another attendant there who gave us the skinny on getting our laundry done. Lee explained which machines to use and how much it cost. No payment is made until you're done with washing and drying, so tokens are not required. Other patrons were coming and going, the place seemed more like a community center. We'd have probably been entertained just sitting there and watching people, but it was open air, and hot, so we went for a walk to see what was around that part of town, leaving our belongings in the safety of Lee with confidence. She said, "No problem."
We found a nice Canadian Bank just down the street in a newer-type strip mall that had a manicured lawn and nice shade trees surrounding the small paved parking lot in front. There were some insurance companies and a lawyer's office there, too. The BTC office is in a nice building next door. A little further down the road is Eddie's Edgewater Restaurant, which overlooks small Lake Victoria (not scenic by any means) and we found another small grocery store, too, where we bought a couple of things.
We wound up spending most of the morning doing two loads of laundry, with the dinghy ride each way and all. We also stopped by the dinghy dock behind Exuma Markets to fill up our two four-gallon jerry jugs with water. The watermaker has been running mostly non-stop during the day, so those eight gallons help out.
Elizabeth Harbor is big, and we're anchored across on the other side of the town, and with the wind being up like it has been, our dinghy rides have been wet ones. We've learned to ride down the coast of Stocking Island in the protection of the land and then point the dinghy at an angle towards Georgetown and run with the wind and waves to minimize the rough ride. But one thing that cannot be avoided is the entry/exit from Lake Victoria, and when the wind is from the east, which it normally is, we cannot escape getting wet when we exit the lake.
We went to Peace and Plenty on Thursday evening, where they hold a barbecue each week. Peace and Plenty is the oldest hotel in the Exumas, and it's showing its age some, but anyone who's anyone that comes to Georgetown can most likely be seen there.
We got a seat at the outside bar and immediately met Doc, the 71-year-old bartender, who has worked there since he was in his 20s. I told him I was gonna keep an eye on him, and he told me the same. We then saw Bill and Jensie, the couple we met at the Chat n Chill earlier in the week. We got the feeling that Jensie may have been admonished by her boyfriend Bill for being so forward with us on the day we met. I really don't blame him. How would she know that we are axe murderers?
We also had the extreme pleasure of meeting a fella named Jim. He was sitting next to us, and we could see that he knew his way around the Peace and Plenty. He was tight with Doc, we could tell, and some other patrons gathered around seemed to know him, too. Jim got around to asking which boat we were on, and when he learned that we were on a Sea Ray, our conversation took off. Jim has a 54-foot Sea Ray express cruiser that he brings down on a regular basis, but currently the boat was at his house in Stewart, Fla.
I could tell that Jim was Navy, and he confirmed that when I asked him. He revealed to us that he was 78 years old and had joined the Navy in 1953, two years before I was born. He was also one of the first Navy Seals, an accomplishment for which I started referring to him as "sir." We had a fine time talking to him and learning some more ins and outs about Georgetown, and points east of the Exumas.
Rosie and I each had cheeseburgers for dinner. For $10 each, the burgers were gigantic, piled high with lettuce and tomatoes and thick slices of Bahamian cheddar cheese. The plate also came with a pile of cole slaw and a thick slice of macaroni and cheese. Outside of peas and rice, macaroni and cheese is a staple here in the Bahamas. It's served casserole style. Cheese is in abundance here, and so are noodles. This is not your Kraft macaroni and cheese.
When we got done eating, we were stuffed, and Rosie only ate half of her burger. We packed up the rest of the burger and said goodbye to a few of the people we've been meeting this week who showed up for the barbecue. The Thursday night shindig at the Peace and Plenty was one of the best values we've found. I didn't even mention the two for $5 Sands beers.
We went to the bank on Friday and ran into Sarah, the manager of Exuma Beach Resort. We told her that we'd probably pop into Latitudes on Friday night, but she said to come another night because there was going to be a Junkanoo in the town square on Friday night and we shouldn't miss it. We could always come to Latitudes, she said.
Back on the boat we just rested up during the afternoon. I've been battling an ear infection, so have been staying out of the water, so an afternoon of reading on the couch was a good way to rest up for Junkanoo. But then the rain came. Boy, did it rain! As it got later, we decided to scratch the night out and have dinner on the boat. Of course, by the time we finished dinner, the sky cleared up. Never fails. But by this time, we were in no mood to venture out. We popped a movie in the DVD player. Nothing like gaining some introspective insights on our fellow human beings by watching "Natural Born Killers" with Woody Harrelson.
After the rain Friday night, the winds died down and the harbor was table top smooth on Saturday morning. After a scrumptious breakfast of bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, washed down with three cups of coffee, we grabbed Holly and went for an extended dinghy ride. Zipping along in early morning over the clear water was exhilarating. We found a local boatyard if we ever need a haul out, and we also scoped out a couple of hurricane holes. This whole area is full of little nooks and crannies to tuck into if we had to.
Our last stop was to be a quick one at the Exuma Market, to get water and walk next door to get a couple cases of Kalik, which they had in cans, a rare commodity, and for only $40 per case.
As we were filling up our jerry jugs, a fella motored in with his dinghy and asked me where the Customs Office was. As I was giving him directions, his Yamaha outboard quit and he couldn't get it started. Kim, as we soon learned, had just arrived from the BVI on his 40-foot Nordhavn trawler and had to check in with the authorities. He rowed the short distance to the dinghy dock and tied up. I left Rosie and Holly to watch the boat while I walked over to the liquor store, and I made a mental note to make sure Kim got his motor started before we left to return to Swing Set.
Kim and I both returned about the same time, and I was amazed at how quick he was able to check in. He said he couldn't check in at the Customs Office; he had to travel to the airport to do it. That's kind of a pain, but it was Saturday. To make matters worse, the Yamaha wouldn't start. Kim yanked on the pull starter (without cussing, a major marvel as far as I'm concerned) without success. I'd offered to tow him back to his boat where he had some resources to address the motor, or at least take his bigger boat into the yacht club while he went to the airport.
We towed Kim back out to Kidd's Cove and met his traveling companions, Brian and Ky. While there, I suggested that the motor may have been flooded, and by opening the throttle all the way, but not pumping it, the motor may start. Brian did the honors, and sure enough the motor started. But it didn't stay running for long. There were options, but Kim had a policeman waiting to take him to the airport, and Customs wanted all three men present to check in, so I suggested towing him back to Lake Victoria to leave the dinghy at Minn's, a boat repair and rental facility there.
So, back we went to Lake Victoria. I told them to call us on the VHF if they needed anything later, and they invited us to cocktails on their boat at 5 p.m. We made no promises, but Kim wanted to repay us for the towing job, and I admitted a desire to check out his boat, having always been a fan of trawlers like the Nordhavn 40. We did give a "maybe." No repayment was needed. It's that karma thing.
The winds shifted around on us on Saturday afternoon and started blowing in from the south, which put us on the windward side of the harbor. Swells were rolling in to the point of being uncomfortable, so I decided to move over to a spot just out from Peace and Plenty of the South side of Elizabeth Harbour. We found a calm anchorage, and no sooner did we get settled in than we got a call on the radio from Kim.
They were able to get the Yamaha fixed up in short order at Minn's while they were at the airport. Kim said the motor just needed to have the carburetor cleaned out. He asked what our plans were, and I told him about the Junkanoo that was going on for the whole weekend. He suggested cocktails on his boat Tropical Explorer at 5, and then we could all take our dinghies over to the Junkanoo after. Sounded like a plan.
We had a good time during an hour or so on Tropical Explorer. Ky (not sure of the spelling, sounds like "tie") is a very fit 95 years old, and an accomplished sailor. Outside of the Navy Seal, Jim, these fellas were the most interesting guys we've met so far on our travels.
We finally went over to the Junkanoo, where the residents of Georgetown were beginning their Independence Day celebration. The Bahamas are having their 40th anniversary of independence from England. Kim and his travel companions were on a schedule and had plans for an early morning departure, so they left Rosie and I to fend for ourselves when they returned to Kim's boat. We stayed to watch the festivities.
There was a small paraded of sorts, which was comprised of the smallest little kids pounding on drums made from 30 gallon oil barrels that were nearly bigger than them, and they were accompanied by some others keeping the beat with homemade cowbells. I have to admit that it was pretty entertaining. We stayed long enough for the bands to start, after several rousing speeches about the future of the Bahamas. There was beer and food, and the later it got, the more people showed up. The police were in full force, but no one checked bags or belongings, and there was no "gate" anyone had to enter to attend the event.
We left at a reasonable hour, but the music kept on into the night. We could hear it from the boat anchored just a short distance away. The Bahamians party LATE.
We had quite a lightening show last night, but no rain came. The sky was overcast this morning, and the winds shifted again. Before breakfast, we pulled up anchor and moved back over to our spot just off of Hamburger Beach. I could see Tropical Explorer making way out of the harbor, so I called Kim on the VHF and we told each other goodbye and wished them all a safe trip back to Fort Lauderdale, where Kim lives.
We're not sure of our plans for the week. I've plotted a course to Long Island, and I'd like to at least run down the 80 or so miles of the west coast of that island just east of here, but we have some more things to do here in Georgetown, we think, and there's some questionable weather coming in on Wednesday and Thursday. We might stay here in the comfort of Elizabeth Harbour for a few more days.
We need to call A&B Marina in Key West on Monday, to see about getting a slip there this fall after our Bahamas adventure. We intend on staying in Key West for a month or two, but it all hinges on getting a slip in Key West Bight. It's a popular time of the year in Key West at the end of October and the beginning of November, but commuting in from a marina or anchorage on Stock Island is not something we want to do, or intend to do.
Like everything else, we shall see.