Livin’ in G-Town

Life here in George Town is not like being at home.  While there are stores for most everything you may need, they are certainly different.  Exuma Market is actually very good just about everything you need.  Some things are actually a bargain, but most prices are eye opening.  When you consider that there is a 45% import tax on most products, you begin to realize the prices are going to be higher.


Not a Super Stop & Shop, more like an old IGA market, but the best in town.

The Ace hardware type store here is Top II Bottom (Top to Bottom), going in here is like being in a 5 pound bag with 10 pounds of you know what!  They may have what you want but it will cost you.  Oh I’ve been there many times, I can’t avoid a hardware store.


Top II Bottom and everything in between.

All our shopping and other services are accessed by entering Lake Victoria through a small cut through the coral that all the islands are built upon.   This was an inland lake until someone decided to open it to Elizabeth Harbor, then voila, the cruisers had a safe place to come ashore.  The dock is maintained by the cruisers by money raised by the Cruising Regatta Committee.  More on the Cruising Regatta in a later post.


The access to Lake Victoria, looking back out to Kidds Cove and Elizabeth Harbor.


The water hose at the dinghy dock, usually a very busy place.

Inside is a dinghy dock and at the dock is a water spigot that provides RO (Reverse Osmosis) water to the cruisers at no charge since the cost is absorbed by Exuma Market.  This is a godsend as water in most of the Bahamas costs between 40 and 60 cents per gallon.  Needless to say this is a busy spot most of the time.


The dinghy dock in Lake Victoria.


Loaner bikes at the top of the dinghy dock.

Most all supplies are brought onto the island by small coastal ships.  They come and go 24 hours a day carrying everything from passengers to cars/trucks and containers.  Seeing one arrive means there may be fresh veggies or staples like cookies available at Exuma Market.  Supply ships are a good thing.


The Emerald Express


The Cape Express off loading containers.

Next door to Exuma Market is Bikini Bottoms,  a popular meeting place for lunch and a cold Kalik, conch burgers, conch fritters, burgers or chicken sandwiches.  All are very good.  I’ve tried them all, with a cold Kalik to wash them down.


Our friend Dan had his 60th birthday while here in Georgetown, it was special because his daughter Jackie was here visiting.  You may remember, Dan and Linda sailed here in their MacGreggor 26.  I baked a cake for his birthday, and brought it ashore for the jam session at Big D’s.  There was an empty pan about 10 minutes later.



Dan, Linda & me.

Well today, Tuesday, was a special day, Ginnie returned from Connecticut, leaving snow and cold to arrive in warmth and sunshine.  She promptly set herself up on deck to work on the tan she lost while in the cold and nasty north.  Visiting with Sarah, Devon and Reese was well worth braving the cold and snow.   She will be returning in April to be with Sarah when her grandson is born.

The winds were still blowing when Ginnie came back to Georgetown so we decided to get back to the boat by water taxi.  The water taxi is run by Elvis , no kidding that’s his name.  He is also the harbor master here.  This yellow boat never seems to stop.  He is forever taking people from Georgetown to all the beach bars on Stocking Island and to the boats as well.  One time there must have been 20 people on board.  I counted six life jackets, oh well this is the Bahamas.  Cold beers were available for $3.00 though, so who cares about life jackets.


Tonight we went ashore to Big D’s, here on Hamburger Beach for the Wednesday Jam session.  A great group of cruisers that gather and play till the wee hours, which is around 10 PM for us older more seasoned sailors .  The special on the menu was ribs that had been cooking since noon.  They were falling off the bone as we were picking them up.  Having dinner barefoot in the sand, listening to great rock and roll with friends made here and in other ports was the best.  We need to do this at home this summer.   Every Wednesday Big D’s has a bon fire on the beach, I can’t even imagine trying to do this at home without permits that are almost impossible to get.  Most of the time the winds are blowing 15 or 20 knots!  No problems so far.


Big D’s getting ready for a Wednesday jam session.



Tonight we are trying to decide whether we will stay here in George Town for the Cruisers Regatta or start moving north through the Exumas to Eleuthera and up to the Abacos.  It’s estimated that there could be as many as 300 to 400 boats here for the regatta.  But there is a good weather window starting tomorrow through the weekend for passages north…winds will be moderate, 10 to 15 knots from the east to south east…we’ll see how we feel after talking to more people about the regatta tomorrow.

We’re told that there are 315 days of sunshine here in the southern Bahamas each year, well yesterday wasn’t one of them, as least in the morning, but what an incredible rainbow that lasted a good 10 minutes.



This photo taken with a 10 mm wide angle lens, makes the rainbow look small.

Ginnie Leaves the Bahamasfor a Very Special Birthday

Monday February 4, 2013

Today there are people teaching us how to make conch horns from the local conch shells.  We were told to find a good conch shell, soak it in a solution of salt water and bleach for two days then bring it to the beach to make a horn. These horns are traditionally blown at sunset, just as the top of the sun dips below the horizon.  With 40 or 50 horns blowing in the anchorage it’s  a beautiful sound.  We were told that the Coast Guard will actually accept a conch horn as a required sound device as it can be heard for miles.


Mike & Dee making their conch horn.


My first sunset with my conch horn.

Wednesday February  6, 2013

Today Ginnie  & I hiked up to the monument above the beach and had a great view of the anchorages here on Stocking Island.


Looking out to the south from the monument.



The Monument and Monument Beach from Firecracker.

Thursday February 7, 2013

All the boats we have been waiting for have arrived in George Town except for Rob & Laurie aboard Moonshadow.   Dan & Linda arrived yesterday aboard their MacGreggor 26 Spice.  We met them in Bimini and they are hearty cruisers.  After the passage from Bimini they said that they are definitely in the market for a larger boat.

Ginnie left this morning to go home for Reese’s second birthday, she’ll be back on the 18th, leaving Oliver and me to fend for ourselves, it’s just 8:00 PM  and I miss her already.

Saturday February 9, 2013

After a few days of calm winds we are expecting the wind to increase this evening and calm down again by Wednesday.  Then on Saturday another cold front and yes, you guessed it, more wind.  Cold fronts are not cold, just windy.  This morning another cruiser noticed a water spout forming in a squall to our east, he notified everyone on channel 68 and I was able to get a photo.  The water spout never made it down to the water, but it was cool to see.


Ginnie sent me a photo of Reese with her new Exmuas t-shirt and Bimini straw purse with her name sewn in.


Happy 2nd birthday Reese!



Windy in Georgetown

Arriving in George Town on Tuesday the 22nd prior to the building winds was a great idea since now it’s Monday the 28th and the winds are still blowing with a forecast to be 20 to 25 knots today.  Winds will be a little less tomorrow then maybe letting up some more on Wednesday.  We are ready for some calmer winds.  These winds have stopped most boats from getting to their destinations.  There have been very few boats arriving here in George Town.  We are waiting for Pandora, Moonshadow, Spice, Patty D, Wildest Dream, Second Option, Dark Star and other boats we met at the Melbourne Gam to arrive.  At this morning’s VHF Net they said that there were 200 boats already here.  This is going to be a busy place.

As mentioned before we are anchored in the lee of these strong winds on the west side of Stocking Island, just off Monument Beach.  Just south of us is Volleyball Beach, the epicenter of all activities for cruisers staying in George Town.  There are volleyball courts, benches and tables for almost any activity.  You can find a game of dominoes, checkers, chess, bridge, poker, basket weaving and on and on.


This may not be a LEARN board meeting but the concentration is nearly the same.  Ginnie getting ready to win yet another game of dominoes with Mike & Dee.

Every Sunday morning there is a non-denominational service at Beach Church, This is the first time we’ve been to church barefoot.  The benches are in the sand, under the Casuarina trees on the beach.


A Beach Church bench


Beach Church on the sand, under the Casuarina trees

After Beach Church a local historian Cordell Thompson, MSc, the Director of the Pompey Center, shared his thoughts about the history and development of the Bahamas.  His Center specializes in “Studies in Traditional Medicine, Arts and the Unsolved Mysteries.” What a great story teller he was and we’ll get to see him again next Sunday.


Ginnie started weaving yesterday with the basket ladies.  We hike up the trails looking for just the right silver palm fronds to use in the basket making and then find the basket ladies.   Ginnie weaves and Ted talks to the husbands about boat projects, and the cute Argentine girl in the thong bikini.  All the guys seemed to notice her.   OK, who would have thought that Ginnie would be weaving baskets and Ted would be looking at beautiful girls in thongs?  I wonder if a basket weaving magnet school would work down here?

Located right on the beach is Chat n’ Chill, a beach bar/restaurant that never seems to not have a line to get cold beers.  Kalik and Sands are the local Bahamian beers, and they are quite good on a hot day.  On Wednesdays and Sundays they have a pig roast on the beach.  Oh well I guess we’ll have to stay here a little longer.


The famous Chat n’ Chill


Chat n’ Chill mileage markers to almost any where in the world.

Just at sunset we heard that Camelot, another Saga 43 was entering the harbor.  Keith and Rose have been coming to George Town for many years and are very well known here.  They announced their arrival on the VHF radio and the response from boats already here was overwhelming.  Usually at sunset there are a few cruisers that blow their conch shells.  We welcomed Keith and Rose with our air horn and that started a cacophony of conch shells throughout the harbor.  I guess I’ve got to get a conch shell and learn to blow it.

On Wednesday the 30th there was a jam session on Hamburger Beach at Big D’s.  A bunch of cruisers gathered and the music was fantastic, the drinks and food were good and I think the music got better the longer we stayed.

Last Thursday the wind finally died down, the water was calm and glassy smooth.  You know what they say, the calm before the storm.  Last night it blew up to 30 knots and the boats were rocking and rolling.  One boat appeared to drag it’s anchor, not bad actually, one of about 200 in the harbor.

While here we leave our VHF radio on, channel 68 is the local hailing channel.  It’s kind of like being on a old fashioned party line.  Once you contact the boat you want to talk to you pick another channel and both move to that new channel, but so can anyone else, be careful of what we say!  If we wanted to call Joe on Gemini for example we would say “Gemini, Firecracker”, Joe would answer “Firecracker, Gemini go to 06”, we would then change channels and have our conversation.  Hearing all the other boat names can be fun.  Some unusual boat names that are called are:  Between the Sheets, Breaking Wind, Cellar Door, Really Important, Local Knowledge, Moose Tracks, Lost Marbles, Borrowed Horse, Hello Texas, Bozo Zinc, Poco Loco and Sam the Skull.  OK so maybe they think Firecracker is an unusual name too.  We met a retired electrician from Edgartown, MA, whose boat is Live Wire and the dinghy is Short Circuit.  A beautiful steel trawler Eleohn is anchored next to us, Chip and his daughter Elena and son John are cruising the Bahamas this winter.

Last night, Friday, we were invited by Selden and Jackie to see some slides of the Abacos on board their boat Friendship, the Abacos are quite different from the Exumas and we’re looking forward to stopping there in the spring on our way back to the States.

Some people feel that spending the winter in the Bahamas is living in paradise, and it is, but for cruisers living on their boats there is always something to repair.  There are times we define cruising as  “Working on Boats in Exotic Places”.

Yesterdays boat count here in George Town is now up to 228 boats.


Dinghies on Volleyball beach in front of Chat n’ Chill