After the relative excitement of the 5Fs, and in order to avoid the mass exodus from Little Farmer’s Cay to Georgetown, Rick and I laid low for a day – refueling at deserted Cave Cay marina, and anchoring between Big Farmer’s and Big Galliot Cays.
We explored a mangrove creek off one of the beaches on Big Farmer’s Cay, and found ourselves in the company of a stingray and a baby shark.
But with fuel tanks full and wine supplies alarmingly low, we began the run down to Georgetown on Monday morning. The weather was cooperative; we exited the Galliot Cut with little fanfare and a few knots of current against us, but were soon in the open Exuma Sound on our way south. Our depth sounder got a break; the depths here are in the 1500 – 2500 foot range, so we don’t even get a reading.
Georgetown is the capital of the Exumas, and also Cruiser Central. At times, there are hundreds of boats anchored in Elizabeth Harbour. Lots of chatter on the radio (VHF 68), dinghies zooming back and forth, yoga on the beach, softball games, volleyball, book clubs, happy hours – you name it. As well, if you need something, Georgetown is the place to get it.
As we neared Georgetown, with a fleet of boats ahead of us and behind us, I balked. We certainly needed stuff, but I didn’t feel like running the gauntlet; Little Farmer’s was action enough for me. Also, I was hankering a little luxury. So, we cut our journey short by 13 miles and pulled into Emerald Bay Marina on the east side of Great Exuma. Here, we’d get floating docks (i.e. no need to climb down 3 feet from the dock to the boat when the tide is low), showers (haven’t had a shower on land this year), free (ahem … included) laundry, WiFi, electricity and water.
Emerald Bay also has a beautiful clubhouse available to all guests. On Mondays, they host a “Happier Hour” (because every hour is happy; 5:30 on Monday is just happier) for marina guests featuring rum punch and appetizers. (True to form, we watched many of the visitors load up on appetizers, and refill drinks several times, living up to the reputation that some cruisers have of being unable to resist “free” anything.)
While I’m a happy, happy girl to be here for a couple of nights, we’ve used Emerald Bay as a base of operations for many chores on our list, which we’ve accomplished with the use of a rental car. So it hasn’t been all play and no work. We made a grocery run in Georgetown, stopped at the BTC (aka Batelco) office to top up our MiFi data plan (the staff there are friendly and efficient – are you sure that’s the phone company?), a liquor store stop, and all of our laundry. On Tuesday, we went to the electric company’s power plant to refill a propane tank (again, super-friendly and efficient), and stopped at a bakery and a butcher shop.
Our work done, and with wheels at our disposal, we went exploring on Little Exuma, connected to Great Exuma by a petite one-lane causeway. The goal was to reach the Tropic of Cancer beach, so named for obvious reason, as well as being legendarily lovely. But in true Bahamian fashion, nothing so basic as a tourist attraction is well-marked (or marked at all). So we rattled and ground across unpaved roads, stressing out the car’s already strained suspension.
A “Beach Access” sign led us to this gem. Lovely, but it wasn’t the beach we were looking for.
On one unpaved road, we found ourselves at an intersection with a truck with a dumpster. We were both lost! But they were able to give us enough info to reach our goal. Really, the pictures tell it all.
A monument marks the Tropic of Cancer, as well as a painted line. I’ve got one foot in the tropics, and one foot in the temperate zone.
Crystal clear water, pinky-white sand — what else do you need?
But it was a bit crowded. There were at least 10 people on this stretch of beach, so we didn’t stay too long.
Since it was lunchtime, we headed to Santana’s Grill Pit, located on the beach in Williams Town.
We’d eaten there before with Skip and Harriet on a past visit, and the food was remarkable. Rick had the lobster, which was sublime; and I had the grouper. While it was deep fried, it was done with a light touch – each morsel of fish was delicate and pearly-white, with the texture of backfin Maryland crab meat. To gild the lily, the fish was covered with sweet caramelized onion, and coupled with peas and rice, coleslaw, and corn.
It’s not healthy, and it’s not preciously pretty, but Santana’s food is to die for.
There was rum punch, too. Which may have kept me from correcting the people around me who pronounced cay the way it’s spelled, and not the proper way (“key”), ordered Kay-lick beer (Kalik is pronounced kuh-lick) and wanted to have conch (as opposed to “konk”).
With our chores done today, we are finally going to get a chance to enjoy the luxury of Emerald Bay. And with some nasty weather in our future, we might just stay a bit longer.