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.
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.
Wifi is a first-world problem. But its still a problem.
It has been tough to find a solid internet connection for the past several days. I’m not really complaining but have felt guilty about not posting anything for a while. Sometimes WordPress works over a weak cell connection and sometimes it doesn’t. Regardless, its been blowing like stink for almost a week and today is the first chance I’ve had to get ashore to an establishment with a fair internet connection. I’ll keep it short and let the photos speak for themselves.
Its hard to guess when I’ll have good wifi again so this may be the last post for a while. The plan for the next week or so is to head from Staniel Cay / Big Majors towards the settlement at Black Point a few hours south. Along the way I’m hoping to find some secluded anchorages and do a little snorkeling while the weather is nice.