Over the last couple of months I’ve had the chance to appreciate the similarities between living on a boat and on a small remote island. Life in either environment requires management of a fairly basic set of resources. Food, water, fuel and supplies/parts are key inputs — and all are in limited supply, expensive, and available irregularly and infrequently.
Like some boats, many islands (including Staniel Cay) have their own reverse-osmosis water plant powered by either electricity (locally generated from diesel fuel) or solar power. Andante does not have a water maker so I lug 10 gallons (80 lbs) of water from shore every few days.
Trash and sewage accumulates and generates bugs and smells on both boat and island if not regularly offloaded, buried, burned, or otherwise dealt with. I did not see any evidence of recycling in the central Exumas but did find myself anchored downwind of the dump on several occasions. Based on the number of derelict cars and machinery strewn about the islands I expect the cost of shipping waste off the island is prohibitive.
Visiting boaters deal with these resource issues as best they can knowing they will eventually relocate to somewhere else where food and supplies are plentiful and water is free and poop disappears down a pipe never to be thought of again. But the islanders have to live with these constraints all the time. The friendly laid-back nature and great patience of the out-island Bahamians seems a perfect coping mechanism for the many things they cannot control.
Some days ago we sailed a few hours south to Little Farmers Cay, a small island with minimal services that has not yet been fully corrupted by tourists and comfort-seeking cruisers. I hesitated to make the trip because this can be a tricky area to approach in a deep-draft boat. In the end I decided to anchor Andante far away and dinghy in to avoid the shallows and strong currents. We found a nice spot in the lee of Great Guana Cay about 1.5 miles north of Little Farmers and just north of Oven Rock.
Oven Rock is a big chunk sitting by itself on the beach of Great Guana Cay. The rock has an almost rectangular hollow in the western face that does make it sort of resemble an oven. Our reason for visiting wasn’t the rock but a very pleasant hike across the island with a stop in a cool cave in the middle. There is a freshwater pool in the cave that is supposed to be swimmable and diveable. I did neither but did enjoy the cool air and the intricate rock formations. The view of Exuma Sound was pretty spectacular from the rocky windward beach.
Then I took dinghy another mile or so south to Little Farmers Cay. First stop was the Farmers Cay Yacht club to look around and take a long walk. The only connection to town from the yacht club requires walking the length of the 3000 ft runway — but the runway is open on three sides to beautiful blue water so it was a very enjoyable walk to nowhere. At the southern end I turned around and walked back, then used dinghy to go a little further south to the cute and quiet government dock that was swarming with sea turtles. No throngs of tourists or visiting cruisers here — yet — which makes the whole place feel more remote than it really is. Which is just fine with me.
Like everything aboard its a work in progress. But its joyful work.
There are endless varieties of rum punch throughout the Caribbean. I’m happy to have sampled quite a few from Ti Punch in Martinique and French Guiana, to the Caipirinha in Brazil, to Pusser’s Painkiller in the BVIs to local mixtures in Barbados, St. Lucia, Trinidad and elsewhere. I suppose rum punch is to the Atlantic what the Mai Tai is to the Pacific. But the best rum punches are anything but syrupy sweet like many of Mai Tais I’ve enjoyed.
Over the last several weeks I’ve worked on developing a rum punch that is not cloyingly sweet, not crazily alcoholic (some recipes add vodka for no reason other than to boost the alcohol content. Eew.) and complex enough that you want to enjoy it slowly and not down it like Gatorade. I think I’ve reached a happy place with a nice balance of sweet, bitter, and spicy notes and just enough kick to take the edge off after a stressful day of relaxing.
Tastes vary. I take zero responsibility for yours. But I suggest the following as a starting point for your own exploration. Here then follows the basic recipe for Andante’s Walking Pace Rum Punch.
Shake all ingredients with some ice. Pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg (optional, but definitely recommended) This makes approximately 2 drinks depending on the size of your glass and the amount of ice involved. The recipe is easy to scale up should you have friends aboard. I don’t, so this serves one.
Note the measurements provided are in cups rather than ounces as is traditional for cocktail recipes. I don’t have a cocktail jigger aboard so I’ve been using a 1/4 cup (2 oz) measuring cup for my experiments. You’ll have to eyeball the 1/8 cup measurements – or just double the recipe and plan to sleep in tomorrow.
Enjoy responsibly. And preferably while afloat somewhere warm…
For the past week or so I’ve been moving almost daily from island to island in the central Exumas. The weather has been nice with consistent easterly trade winds that allow easy north and south sailing. All of this movement has been within a day’s sail of Staniel Cay and Big Majors Spot and I’m starting to think of this area as home. The anchorage is roomy and protected and its easy to get fuel, water and food — so I keep coming back after spending a few days away in quieter, more secluded spots.
I’m not sure what the ‘guanas are bitter about. This place is gorgeous.
Not sure how long I will stay here. For the first time in a while the weather is not pushing me in any particular direction. I may just stay put for a while and enjoy the environment for a while. I’ve found a few little patch reefs that I’d like to explore this afternoon. Will take the camera with me and try to share what I find underwater.