- Katharine Hesmer
DAY 37 | January 19, 2022
Updated: Feb 5, 2022
George Town, Great Exuma Cay, Exuma, Bahamas
George Town is the capital and largest town in the Exuma Cays, and is located on the island of Great Exuma. The deep water of Elizabeth Harbor, where we're currently anchored, makes George Town an extremely popular stop for sailors and cruisers going north or south. We stopped here in 2019, and since that time we've heard they've dramatically improved their grocery store, so we made it our plan to get there soon after they opened this morning to restock our fridge and pantry.
Ron and Skeet had read in a cruisers' guide that George Town has a daily briefing for boaters on VHF Channel 72 at 8:00, so we tuned in on our way to the market. What an incredibly helpful tool, especially for newbies like ourselves!
I learned from reaching out to Clarity on Instagram that these "cruiser networks" are fairly common in larger anchorages. I had no idea, and I think it's such a wonderful service. The Morning Report, as they call it, begins with basic information such as that day's date, weather forecast, and what to expect for tides and wind. They make it a point to tell you how to get emergency help should you need it, and move on to community announcements from local businesses and from the boaters themselves. Some of the community announcements we heard today included a yoga class being offered this morning at a popular nearby beach bar called Chat N' Chill, easily reached by dinghy, as well as an open volleyball game later today, and even a doggie play date this afternoon at 4:00. They literally offer something for everyone, including a "Kids' Corner" where kids can get on the radio and announce that they're getting together for a play date at a certain time and location. It's really cool that they have this supportive community here, and you can literally reach out and ask for ANYTHING you need. They trade and/or give away items people no longer need, reach out for advice about engines or other mechanical issues, and make it clear that their priorities are kindness and consideration for others. They ask who is new to the anchorage and welcome them, offering to be a resource after that morning's announcements are over should they have any questions or concerns, and also ask if anyone is leaving, where they're going, and wish them safe travels. It's truly impressive. If you're interested, they have a Facebook Group you can follow called "George Town Exuma Sailors and Cruisers".
On the way across Elizabeth Harbor to Exuma Markets in George Town. I can't stop photographing this WATER!!! Someone said it looks like that impossibly blue cotton candy.
KORKZcrew is anchored just off of Stocking Island, home to Chat n' Chill, Peace n' Plenty, the Kahari Resort, and spectacular beaches, all of which are across Elizabeth Harbor from George Town proper. So it's a bit of a dinghy ride to get to the Exuma Market, but not a bad one if the water and winds are calm. The tricky part can be the one-way bridge you have to go underneath on your way into town, as it can get pretty dicey depending on what the tide and weather are doing.
This is such a smart service. Just beyond the dinghy dock in George Town, on your way to the Exuma Market, you can bring your trash and leave it in the back of L&L Disposal's truck, and slip the corresponding payment through a slot in the truck's window.
Loaded up (or down? 🤔 ) with groceries. It's a trick to load up the dinghy and still find space for your feet! Every market we've visited in the Bahamas requires that you bring your own bags to cut down on plastic and waste — an easy and smart measure to take. They will sell you a reusable bag if you don't happen to have one.
Going in to town this morning to provision was uneventful, but when we returned a few hours later to explore with Skeet and Steve, the conditions had changed completely. We approached the dinghy dock without any trouble, but when we looked from the land side of the bridge before walking around town, we realized our return trip to KORKZcrew might be a little bit like riding a mechanical bull, not that I would know what that's like, especially since I've never ridden one. 🤷♀️
Entering George Town. You can see dinghies on the other side of the bridge waiting for us to come through.
Standing on the bridge watching other dinghies brave the waves and return to their boats
George Town has narrow streets and some beautiful views of the harbor. It was fun to find a popular local spot with the same name as our good buddy Julian. I wonder if Julian knows he's got a killer daquiri shop right here in the Exumas!
Popped into a cute local gift shop for a tshirt, and after walking through the local straw market, we made our way back to the dinghy.
Ron had an exit strategy up his sleeve for leaving George Town in choppier conditions than we'd encountered this morning, and that strategy prioritized avoiding spinal cord injury (😜) by waiting for a larger boat to go first so they'd cut through the waves. Little did we know it, but we'd arbitrarily chosen a genuinely kind human to follow back through Elizabeth Harbor. He looked back at our dinghy and realized what we were doing, and motioned to us with his arms asking which direction we needed to go in order to return to KORKZcrew. So cute — he went in a direction that was the opposite of where he actually needed to go just to make our ride more tolerable.
For lunch, we decided to head to Chat N' Chill, and as we approached the bar, a woman asked me if I was from Durham after seeing my "Pie Hole" shirt, which was formerly a restaurant in Durham that went out of business, much to my dismay. The woman and her husband are actually from Raleigh, so it was wild that the very first people we met here are from my original home town.
I had read somewhere online that Chat N' Chill features an amazing conch salad if they happen to have fresh conch available. Apparently I hit the jackpot as the bartender (where you place your food order) said they'd had a huge catch just the day before. And this is no ordinary conch salad, which I would soon learn. You take your receipt out to a wooden stand by the water and show it to the chef, who then begins this INCREDIBLE process of literally taking fresh conch straight from the water, proceeds to masterfully cut it out of its shell as if it was no big deal, and returns to his stand to combine it with chopped sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes, and what seemed like a gallon of fresh-squeezed lime and orange juices. It was a TREAT to watch, but an even bigger treat to taste. I couldn't get over the fact that he does this multiple times per day, for every single person who orders a conch salad, makes it look so easy, AND still has all 10 fingers intact. Unbelievable.
Discarded conch shells on the beach
We stumbled across another really nice couple today at Chat N' Chill who were staying at the Sandals Resort and getting ready to fly back home to Oklahoma. I can't remember how we struck up a conversation with them, but we learned that they're getting ready to do the RV version of what we’re doing right now. The husband has sold RV's for decades and knows them inside and out, so it was fascinating to compare notes with them about living in a small space, having items that are multi-purpose, and managing things like water, fuel, laundry, and trash. We've got two cute friends who are doing an RV tour of the US as we speak, and it was fun to think about them as we were chatting (and chilling 😜🙄 sorry...) with this couple.
Oh, and the best news this afternoon was that the nice man who had helped us back to KORKZcrew this morning through the chop happened to show up at Chat N' Chill with his wife, so we were able to at LEAST buy them both a beer, and thank them for their kindness in person.
For a family who hasn't eaten out much on this trip, today was a gift from restaurant HEAVEN as we made a plan to eat at Kahari's restaurant for dinner. HAPPY DAY. I think we even brushed our hair but I was so excited I might have even skipped that part. But Skeet did us proud by wearing a shirt tonight that has become like the Christmas fruitcake that keeps getting passed around. Which doesn't sound like something to be proud of, but let me explain. Years ago, on one of our charter trips with the Reddins, Ron needed a collared shirt to go to a restaurant that required them, and at a store with a very limited selection, he found this gem complete with a gigantic graphic on the back and the word "ED" on the front in classy sparkly red sequins. It has since been crowned The ED Shirt, and has been worn by every male on these charter trips: From Ron, to George, to both of his sons George Jr. and Will. It is a rite of passage, and the honor was bestowed upon Skeet by the Reddins shortly before we left on this trip. I tried and TRIED to dredge up more of my ED shirt pics, but this was the best I could do. Maybe it's better that way, but it is most certainly the gift that keeps on giving. I wonder if the Kahari Resort's restaurant thought so, too? 🤔😂
Skeet in the ED shirt, 2022
Skeet and Will in the ED shirt, 2012
George in the ED shirt, 2014. Apparently one of the rituals we failed to uphold is the necessity of unbuttoning a minimum of 3 or 4 buttons. We'll get it right next time, which just means Ron has to take me to dinner again. Works for ME! 😈