Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Time to “Chat & Chill” - Georgetown, Great Exuma

We arrived in Georgetown right AFTER the sailing regatta had completed. They have an annual sailing regatta and it is a big deal and draws many people and over 500 cruisers. The day we cruised into the harbor there were still hundreds of sailing boats anchored, but the next day at least 50 boats left and each day thereafter – until our anchorage had only about 50 boats left there. 

No matter…. There were still a good amount of boats there and a strong cruising community. They use VHF channel 68 to communicate to each other, and every morning at 8:00am Herman from s/v “White Wing” goes on VHF channel 72 and reports the news for cruisers. He runs about 45 minutes to an hour and has a specific format he follows every day. He starts with the weather report from Chris Parker and NOAA and goes into boaters needs (emergencies), advertisements of local restaurants and things to do like Yoga or lectures, etc. Then he does a buy-and-sell spot (a boater’s garage sale –if you will.) Next -there’s any request for help fixing things on your boat, and then Herman asks for a “shout out” – a thank you to boaters who have helped other boaters. He wraps it up asking if there is anything else anybody wants to say and then signs off. Then VHF 68 is abuzz with boaters responding to all the needs from Herman’s news. I’ve never seen it this organized in the other anchorages we’d been to. Boaters usually pick a channel to talk to each other – but this is really widespread and most boaters depend on it. And Herman gives pointers – like when and where to take your garbage and how to get a water taxi or a pump-out or a doctor. He also gives safety tips and nice to know things –like –“use a lot of painter on your dinghy when you tie up to the dock and always use your kill switch for safety”. Some cruisers think it is too organized – but I thought it was amazing! I loved hearing the news and the local chatter. It’s like listening in on someone’s telephone conversation. You really get to know what’s going on pretty fast!

So when we got anchored and settled and got our dinghy down and tied to our stern, we did our usual exploring the island. We actually anchored at Stocking Island (so named because of its shape) – Which was a 1 mile dinghy ride to” downtown” (I say that loosely) Georgetown, and a 5 minute ride to Chat & Chill Beach (I say that with great exuberance!) Elizabeth Harbor is large and wide and choppy. It is famous for its wet dinghy rides. A lot of cruisers stand in their dinghy to keep dry. Others wear yellow rain gear to keep dry. We never worried – but some days we did get quite wet! Since I’d read about that before we left Sarasota – I had purchased several “dry bags” – waterproof bags to keep papers or computers in – or paper products you may buy at the store.

We decided that we would send for our U.S. mail – since it had been a month since we had last gotten any mail. We have a new address now – a post box made specifically for cruisers. We had the option of paying a little extra and having the mail scanned so we could decide if we wanted it forwarded or shredded. It’s quite expensive to forward the mail – we paid a simple $5 postage fee and then had it send by DHL – because to have it come regular mail to the Post Office would take 2-3 weeks! (See my previous photo of the Mail Boat!) So we paid some astronomical amount for DHL and Fredericka- at “Top to Bottom” general store – said they deliver every day – it should arrive in 3 days. That was Thursday…..okay….. So I went back to Pet’s Place (a restaurant and Wi-Fi Café – NOT a pet store!) and Richard told them via e-mail to forward the mail to Georgetown. Done.

Then all we had to do was relax and enjoy Georgetown- tour the island and get a few jobs done. We needed to look for the next weather window (3 days of good weather to cruise to the next island) and plan our route to the next stop on our way to Trinidad. I was all good. We headed into the free garbage dumpster for cruisers and ….uh oh…. It was gone. All full. So we took it over to the marina and paid the $2 for them to take it. Then we headed for the Batelco Phone Company. It’s always easy to spot these places because they are usually right next to the cell phone tower.

Now, you may remember from my previous entry – our friend Daisy – at the Staniel Cay BTE store. She was the one who sold us our phone plus phone and data package. She said they didn’t have a SIM card for my iPhone- so we bought a “flip” phone for $85 and some data and voice minutes. But neither of us could get the phone working after we’d returned to the boat – so we gave up and decided to wait for Georgetown (a metropolis compared!). This phone store was more like what we’re used to in the US. Still – it was the pretty blue and yellow color outside – but inside it had two saleswomen and about 15 models of various phones. If you’re wondering where all the Blackberry’s went after iPhones became the bomb – I’ll tell you – They’re all in the Bahamas! And I could have purchased one   $20 dollars more – had we waited. I sure do miss a key pad.

Well we got on line with all our receipts and our phone and box – ready for action. I’m afraid we arrived at the store on a Friday and 4:30pm and closing time was 5 pm. They were so nice there. The one girl giggled to the other girl when they read our charge receipt. It was like they had experienced previous dealings with Miss Daisy. They said the SIM card could have been cut to fit my iPhone – had Daisy known…….Anyway they completely reconfigured the flip phone and had it running with email and internet in 10 minutes! Yeah! I bought some extra phone time and we left – happy customers once again. These people at the BTE Store recommended J & K Electronics for Cap to get a dongle for his computer with a SIM card to get internet via the cell tower. Down we went to the "Computer Shack" run by Julius and Krystal. They were very nice and very knowledgeable and it didn't take long to get that done and up loaded.

Next we went into the Exuma Market to buy some fresh vegetables. The prices of everything in the Bahamas – food included – are astronomical. Just think of Beeronomy. You work out the price of beer in Florida- or wherever you live – then compare how many beers it takes to by – a lamp – or a dress – then do the same math with the price of a Bahamian beer and do the math. That’s the exchange rate – and it usually works out to about 2-3 times (or more) the cost of something in the USA. But that didn’t stop us spending $50 dollars for goodies – including a refill on Bryers Ice Cream! Cha-Ching!

Off to the dinghy –and back to the boat and time for a sundowner. Georgetown was the one island we seemed to eat out at a lot. We wanted to use the internet to connect with family and pay bills – and in order to do that we felt we should spend a decent amount of money patronizing the place – (you know -shop local) We had Snapper and Bahamian peas & rice, shrimp and salad, grouper fingers and even cheeseburgers and the Sunday Hog roast with cinnamon carrots, macaroni & cheese and garlic cole slaw (Bahamian staples!) at the Chat & Chill Beach Bar and Grill. Add to that tons of Kalik beer and now you have a mind’s eye picture of what we did there for the week!

The Chat & Chill is the local cruiser hangout. They have volleyball courts and teams to sign up for and they have the little Conch Shack – where they make fresh Conch Salad right there for you.  The sail boaters use the picnic tables to sew and repair their sails. Of course, Cap was at home in the bar – the closest thing to a pub that he’d seen in the Bahamas.

We were sitting at the bar and I said to Cap: “Doesn’t that guy look familiar? Is he someone from Bird Key, Fl?” and Cap quickly blurted out that it was Maury Povich. I was more amazed at Cap’s memory than the fact that a talk show host was next to us! Maury was very nice and asked us a lot about our cruising life. Of course that’s what he does and that’s what he’s good at – so it came easy for him – a non boater – to get the details on our adventure. He introduced us to all the people sitting with him – his wife Connie Chung and his children and some friends. It was fun and made us feel somewhat like celebs ourselves!

So after a few drinks and a great meal we dinghied back to “Partners” and vegged for a while, and then Cap decided to turn on the generator and…….WHOA!!!! Generator not working!  So here we go – lifting up all the floorboards and diving into the depths of our boat to check out the problem. There was black oil dripping from a hose and there was diesel dripping from somewhere we didn’t know. The suspect hose – when examined – showed a big hole in it where it had rested on a generator part and gradually worn through. The hose looked quite specialized and not something you could replace with new tubing. Uh Oh….. Well to make a very long story short – after getting on the cruiser net next morning to ask if anyone knew anything about our Gennie- we met a wonderful cruiser –Walter – from “M/V Summer of ‘42” who offered to come over and take a look. You see that’s what we do – help each other in times of stress and need – then get together for drinks and SG&T’s (Sundowner Gin & Tonics!) and enjoy the good parts.

Except the whole generator mess even stumped Walter. Nevertheless, I was happy that Cap had another “repair oriented” person aboard to consult with – I’m no good at that and apparently ask “stupid questions” that only seem to frustrate Cap more! Walter was suggesting glue, and Cap decided duct tape could work for the hose. After many, many stabs at repair, filter changes, duct taping, adjusting, and attempting to start her up numerous times – Cap somehow got her going!

Yeah! But it did sort of spoil the fun – because we knew it was a temporary fix and we would have to have a new part either flown in or made special – so now we wanted to get to the Dominican Republic – where they have more parts than Georgetown. We’d called and hunted at every possible place with no luck in finding the needed parts. So it was decided – we’re leaving – right after the mail comes tomorrow.

But tomorrow came and no mail – and the next day- and finally we started getting a little testy and pushing Frederika to call and find out the problem – Oh! The guy who picks up the mail from the local airport missed one bag in the corner! And – Voila! “You’ve got Mail!” So we had a breakfast at the local café and went through our month and a half of collected mail, and then zoomed back to our boat -pulled anchor and headed for the DR.

Repairing Sails at the Beach
Swimming in crystal clear water
Conch Shack at Chat & Chill

1 comment:

  1. What an adventure! Can't wait for the next posting!!
    Love the pic of you ,Venie, reaching up to all the signs pointing to various destinations. You guys look so happy!Hope the generator can be fixed correctly!
    Stay safe....and keep us all posted....Love always, Robyn