Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Black Point to Little Farmer's Cay, Exuma, Bahamas

The dinghy dock at the laundromat at Black Point
    One of my fears during our recent return to the Bahamas after a ten year hiatus was that the smaller family island settlements where I'd enjoyed the remote islands and the friendliness of the people would have changed dramatically. I feared that the once sleepy settlements would have become over run with tourism and new construction. In reality, as it seems that history repeats itself, over time not much has changed here in the Exumas. Some modern improvements have made a cruiser's life easier. The addition of a laundromat at Black Point was surprising. Ten years ago one of the ladies in the settlement had a washing machine in her home and took laundry in for a fee. She dried the clothing on a clothesline and it felt rough and somewhat stiff as though it had been washed in salt water. Maybe it was. The new laundromat is clean, has WiFi, a TV, book exchange and is located on the peaceful waterfront in Black Point with the convenience of a dinghy dock! Laundry with a view. This improvement made a couple of hours of chores seem less undesirable and time sped by in a flash.
The laundromat at Black Point 


     Adderley's Friendly Market is the same. The building is small, sparsely stocked and the owner is still  friendly. Free water is available to cruisers from a road side spigot across from the harbor. It was the same spigot as ten years ago. Cruisers lug jerry cans that they fill with the island's RO (reverse osmosis) water daily back to their boats during a stay in the harbor. The best feature and a veritable Black Point institution is Lorraine's mum who hasn't aged a bit over the years who bakes fresh coconut bread daily in her home for $6.00 per loaf when ordered on the VHF radio in the morning. The freshly baked bread is ready for pick up each afternoon and each customer is cordially invited into her home to breathe in the aromas of her friendly, fresh baked hospitality.

View of Exuma Sound from Little Farmer's Cay
    Little Farmer's Cay was a short hop south from Black Point. The Little Farmer's Cay Five F Festival where local Bahamian's from nearby islands race Bahamian sloops during the day and celebrate their heritage with Bahamian food and music well into the evening was scheduled on the weekend and we'd hoped to attend. The local VHF stations were abuzz with news of the upcoming two day event. It seemed that everyone was headed to Little Farmer's. By Thursday morning we'd heard that over 150 boats were in the anchorage in anticipation of the festival's start on Friday. The Five F Festival began in 1986 by the family of Terry Bain and his wife who own and operate the Ocean Cabin on Little Farmer's Cay. Joe was concerned about anchoring space with the large numbers who were already there and with more likely to arrive on Friday. We decided to remain at Black Point and try our luck at spear fishing with a plan to arrive at Little Farmer's on Sunday after the crowds left for other islands.
Joe taking "a look around at Black Point



      SignsI don't enjoy crowds so, I was not disappointed when Joe wanted to wait until the masses dispersed from the Festival. As it turned out, when Simple Life arrived in the harbor the locals were still "recovering" from the festivities and things had quieted down. The settlement was small with a few traditional Bahamian homes clustered near the mail boat dock. Apparently, everyone had left the island. The anchorage was wide open and looked good to us. Our arrival was early enough to allow time to explore the small island and settlement. A few dinghies were on the beach and we figured that was the place to land. A local Bahamian told us that one road led in and out of the settlement and that we couldn't get lost but, he did warn us to look both ways before crossing the landing strip that intersected the island road to town. Fortunately, we heeded his warning since a private plane was taxiing for take off when we were making our approach toward the intersection.

Taking precautions before crossing the runway at Little Farmer's

The Oasis Convenience Store at Little Farmer's

Joe and Terry Bains owner of the Ocean Cabin Restaurant 
     The Exuma guide had recommended a stop at Terry Bain's Ocean Cabin Restaurant & Bar. It described it as a not to be missed establishment. Terry is the charming, local owner of the Ocean Cabin Resort which was originally established by his grandmother. It's a colorfully decorated, well built place overlooking the harbor that serves traditional Bahamian fare along with Terry's famous mixed drinks. Terry graciously posed for photos with Joe and me while we enjoyed this unique family island experience. Next year you can bet that we'll be tucked into the anchorage well before the expected crowds arrive. Everyone said it was an event not to be missed. That's OK because now it seems there is something else to look forward to next year when we return to our new favorite island in the Bahamas.