We sailed out of Jefferson Beach Marina just over six months ago and were not quite sure what lay ahead. At this point we still don’t know what lays ahead but have had an amazing journey so far. As I begin to write this post, I am sitting on the bow of the boat sipping an ice cold Kalik, the local Bahamian beer and watching fish jumping all around.
We are anchored off Sand Dollar Beach on Stocking Island near Georgetown in the Bahamas. Approximately 2,000 miles from Detroit, all at about 7 miles per hour.
We spent the morning in Georgetown picking up a few provisions and attempting to solve two issues we currently have. One is that of establishing a more consistent Internet connection and the other, deciding the best course of action to upgrade our dinghy. Neither of which require immediate resolution which is good since everything now takes time.
There are a few options with the Internet and while in town this morning we visited three places to explore options. First, the Bahamian phone company who directed us to one business which wasn’t open when we got there, the third was the local electronics guru who was busy with another customer so we moved on. Instead we went and had lunch during which we decided on a solution that we’ll deal with another day. Maybe.
Our dinghy is totally underpowered which is ok with just the two of us on a calm day when we don’t have too far to go. If the wind is up or we have more passengers we are faced with a long, wet ride where ever we go. Given that we are almost always at anchor, the dinghy is our transportation everywhere: shopping, restaurants, exploring, visiting other boats, picking up visitors, etc. When we bought it we had to tow the dinghy and lift the motor up on the stern rail for storage. With the radar arch, we now have davits and can raise raise the dinghy up with the motor attached so the weight of the motor is no longer such a big factor. So now here we are, in the Bahamas, needing a a better solution and have exlpored various options. One option is to buy a dinghy that is more efficient and hope that our existing motor will make it scoot. Unfortunately, not only is the selection very limited here, the cost is about twice what the same boat would be in the States. We could import exactly the dinghy we would like, but there is shipping, duty, logistics…. On the other hand, we could just get a motor big enough to make our current dinghy go fast and upgrade the dinghy itself later. Motors are more available than dinghies here, so I think that is what we will do. Sure, things are much less expensive and easier in the US, but we were focused on other projects before leaving. So now we just have to suck it up and pay the extra cost on some of the things we failed to address. If we had stayed in the States until everything was ready we would still be in Florida. Mary points out that we just need to recognize and pay the “stupid tax”. It is the cost of learning.
Don’t feel too bad for us though, we don’t spend too much time on these issues. After lunch we split up, Jeff to the liquor store for more rum then to the hairdresser for some seafood. The shop owner’s husband is a fisherman so there’s always a cooler with fresh fish, lobster and conch. Mary went off to Exuma Market which is a very impressive grocery store here in Georgetown that also offers a dinghy dock and free Reverse Osmosis water from a spigot on the dock. A generous perk considering the marina we docked at the other night charged $.40/gallon in addition to the dockage fee. Back at the boat we made some “Dark ‘n Stormys” to sip on while we took advantage of a free Internet connection we found. After that we pulled the anchor and motored over to this anchorage, started up the water maker then jumped in the water for awhile. We plan to dinghy over to another Michigan boat for “sundowners” shortly.
Georgetown is a destination for many cruisers. Currently there are about 120 boats anchored in the general area with as many as 300 expected by March. Many people just pass through enroute north or south while others drop anchor and remain for a few months. There are of course several from the US and Canada but many others from all around the world, we have encountered French, Australian, British, German, Polish and Russian. The social life can be very busy. There is a morning radio net that reports all the activities, volleyball, baseball, yoga on the beach, beach church, book exchange, etc. There are a few bars along the beach and plenty of restaurants nearby. Sometimes the business hours are irregular, the other day Big D’s, a popular bar on the beach, never opened. The next day we asked about it and found they had run out of supplies and had to wait for the next boat from Nassau in order to restock. On any given night it’s possible to be invited to another boat for sunset or have visitors here on Echo. As the sun sets many people blow their conch horns and one man on the bow of his boat plays a few songs on his bagpipe. Given the sunset is just before six, everything settles down early and we often have difficulty staying awake till 9:00 or so.
Our days usually start out with some small projects then we read, jump in the water, snorkel, explore in the dinghy, explore in the kayaks, go to Big D’s for a cold Kalik and a walk on the beach.
We had a shot at stardom recently. Jeff and Brian were off on some mission one day while Katie and Mary were reading in the cockpit. A runabout with 3 guys on board stopped by asking for permission to take pictures. There is a commercial being filmed for the Bahamas Tourism bureau and they were looking for boats in the harbor that might be included in the commercial. They thought Echo was very pretty and seemed intrigued that we were from Detroit. Johnny Depp was going to be in the commercial too. We left the next day so never found out if they would have chosen us.
We have visited a few bakeries and fallen for coconut bread, coconut cakes and coconut tarts. Rum cakes are popular too but we have yet to try one. Some of the things we have been making include Bahamian Johnny Cake and Beer Bread, both very easy quick recipes.
There are tasks that take more effort because of our life style. Ice cubes can be difficult to come by so we try to stay on top of our production. You want to remove frozen cubes from the three trays we have and make new cubes daily. Our routine can quickly get out of sync, you don’t want trays of water sitting in your freezer when heading out for a brisk sail. When invited over for sundowners we don’t want to go empty handed so you have to have some quick, easy snack fixings on hand. Of course, consideration has to be given to items that can make the dinghy journey which can be bouncy and sometimes wet. It is best to go prepared with beverage fixings too, we all face the ice cube issue and may not have too many glasses on hand.
Things we don’t really need – shoes are very seldom worn but of course there are times you find yourself barefoot and wishing you had brought flip flops along. Walking along an nice sandy beach then coming upon a coral section can be hard on the feet. There were many times during the fall when we really needed the warm clothes, comforter, blankets and heater, now we are searching for spaces to store them. Not much use for those things here in the tropics. We also have many books which we occasionally refer to but for the most part just fall off the shelves when we are in rocky seas. We do have two folding mountain bikes which have to this point been useful but may stay in the lockers for long periods of time from here on out.
The list of things we wish we had brought along but did not is not too long, mostly just “nice to have” not necessities. A countertop ice maker would be very nice but too big to store. An inflatable stand up paddle board would be great but again, storage could be a problem. More space on board would be really nice but the reality is that we do have a lot of space and way too much junk.
We recently reviewed our photos since leaving home and are amazed at the many places we have passed through, beautiful sights we’ve seen, great people we’ve met and how much we have learned so far. Of course there is much more to learn as we go new places and experience new situations – this is what makes our journey the right thing for us.
We are looking forward to Sarah and Kristi’s arrival next Friday. The wind is quite strong for the next few days but we hope it settles down midweek so we can do a bit more exploring with them.