We prepared to leave Little Farmer’s Cay shortly after sunrise. As we aren’t really on any schedule, we hadn’t started this early in a while, but we wanted to continue north along the Exumas to Black Point with plenty of time to find a good spot to anchor and visit town early afternoon.
Our friends on SV Sea Shifter were headed that way too, so we challenged them to a “fastest top speed” while enroute – slowest makes their choice of sundowners for everyone in Black Point anchorage. Of course, no pic, didn’t happen. They were anchored a bit south of us, so we were able to watch them go by us and noticed they had the second reef in the main. The winds were 17-18kts from the east, and we only put in the first reef at 20kts, so we felt confident we had the prize in the bag. It turns out that yes, we were much faster the whole way making 7.5-8kts for the duration. I managed to take a picture of 8.2 and Christa saw 8.4 at one point. I even took a picture of the throttles in reverse to prove we were’t cheating with the engines on. No matter, I got hustled by a fire fighter, and it was my own fault for not being precise. The problem was that I didn’t specify it must be a “sustained speed” and not a peak achieved from a surfing down a big wave for example. Sea Shifter said they were 6.5-7kts most of the way, but hit 8.9 on the front side of a wave and captured it on video…<sigh> Christa made Painkillers for everyone that night, so everybody wins.
The anchorage at Black Point is very large, shallow, really well protected (except from the west) and as a result, very crowded most of the time. At low tide, the east end of the bay dries out several hundred feet from shore. There is only about 3 feet of tide here on most days, so the sandy sea bed has almost no slope to be able to dry out that far.
The main pier, called “The Government Dock” in most communities, was quite large, well maintained and an obvious focal point of the community. As soon as you step on to the main street, a well-placed sign provides all the information you need to find what you are looking for. That’s not entirely true. After these signs point you in the right direction, either left or right, you’re now on your own and it’s usually a bit of an adventure trying to actually find these places. We went ashore to do our initial recce of the area, as we were going to spent 2-3 days there and had plenty of time for whatever it was that we found.
The eastern shore is typical of the Exuma Sound, very rugged and windy. There was a blow hole that had potential to be interesting but I think we were there at too high a tide as there wasn’t really that much drama to it. We tried to get a selfie at just the right time and were’t too successful at that either.
Interesting find in the sea grape bush, perhaps the village quad bike at one time? I didn’t know Yamahas came in that colour but I think the sun has been baking that finish a long time.
Some interesting power grid infrastructure, with ropes suspending the power lines to the pole along the main road.
There were a few small stores in town, which tended to offer more than one type of business. One was a grocer/golf cart rental. Another was a grocery/restaurant/ice cream/pizza parlour. You had to go to different ones for different items as well. We went to one place for limes and lemons, and another place for tomatoes and bananas.
We were anchored at one of the better locations towards the back of the anchorage on the south side just off the local regatta site, I think actually called Regatta Point. We didn’t take a picture of the main building and dock, but they have nice views, a sheltered bay and lots of nurse sharks and stingrays that hang around. Normally the regatta sites sit idle most of the time, and only are utilized during a week or so of the frenzied activity surrounding the community’s annual regatta. We learned that someone here has decided to lease the facility and convert it into a restaurant-bar to take advantage of those thirsty sailors that anchor their catamarans just off shore…
One of the restaurants that gets good reviews from tourists and sailors alike is Lorraines Café, located right on main street with most of the other businesses. We stuck our head in on the way by to take a look while we were still on our recce and it already had 10-12 cruisers early in the afternoon, a good sign. After we finished our walk we went back for a late lunch. Yes…we did order conch fritters. They are a bit of a cliché here, but it does give you a chance to see what each place does to make them unique. These ones, known as “Lorraine’s World Famous” were actually some of the better ones we tried. Very little conch actually in them, but the batter was surprisingly tasty. Service was very slow, but you come to expect that in The Bahamas. Lorraine’s was a large facility compared to most places we’ve been in, with several large screen TVs (showing American programming), and a substantial outdoor seating area. We were happy to be out of the sun and in a/c.
One of the other businesses with (surprisingly) one of the best views and infrastructure was the local laundromat. Note that spelling is quite fluid in these parts which is quaint, until you’re trying to find information on a specific location that shares the same name with 7 other places, and they are all spelled 3 different ways. (OK, rant off). The laundra/laundromat has a great dinghy dock facing the best part of the anchorage, a good number of clean washer and dryers, a small convenience store with hardware items, a book exchange, a café, and you can even order hamburgers & hot dogs.
SV Sea Shifter had some friends coming into the anchorage so we all headed to a place called Scorpio’s (right across from Lorraine’s) for an impromptu happy hour. We had stopped-in earlier, and bartender “Zhivago” said that even though the official happy hour was the day before, if we show up with 10 or more, he’ll make things happen. We told him we would see what we could do, and when we returned at 1600ish, there were easily 30 people at the bar already with no effort on our part whatsoever. Zhivago called in extra help, and put the rum punch and beer on sale. Christa had to pace herself as the “rum punch” was really mostly rum with a splash of juice for “colour.”
One of the best little secrets of the community is a lady known as “Lorraine’s Mom.” Her real name is Pierreman and she bakes fresh bread in her home just behind Lorraine’s Café. Her specialty is the famous coconut bread. We had never heard of coconut bread, but for cruisers in The Bahamas it’s a real treat. Basically its white bread with shredded coconut mixed with a few spices, baked into the centre. The spices and coconut flavor permeate the loaf, making a delicious snack. We learned of her when we asked one of the store owners where we could find fresh bread. He said just go to that little house over there and ask for “Lorraine’s Mom.” Christa went and knocked on the door and we were immediately invited in.
The bake shop was her home kitchen and the smells were mouth-watering. She had been baking since early that morning and had several loaves waiting on the counter. When Christa asked about her coconut bread she offered us generous samples. As we tried to pay for the samples, she cut a huge section of the loaf for us to take along with the loaf of white bread we were buying.
The Government Dock can get busy…and a bit crowded when this large vessel comes in. We had seen similar “mail boats” coming into communities, but never right next to the dinghy dock in such shallow water. We were advised to move our dinghies from where we placed them based on the tide (normally you don’t want the dinghy pinned underneath the dock by rising water), because of the massive wash of water that will result from that big boat backing out of it’s current position. I wanted to witness/video this chaos, but we got “side-tracked” at Scorpio’s.
Everyone has a relaxed attitude here. This was Bessie the goat and she was owned by a friendly lady as a way to keep her lawn trimmed.
As this is a popular spot, you see a fair number of interesting boats. This one is a Chris White designed Atlantic 47 Mastfoil (I think). A very cool boat.
We had seen this guy earlier in our travels. Its an Outremer (a 45 maybe) and the highlights are actually bright orange, although I wasn’t smart enough to get a better angle from the sun.
And who should park right next to us, but the infamous Bumfuzzle in their very nice, new (to them) Grand Banks 42. If you haven’t heard of them, their adventures archives are quite a read. Years ago, they took a half-day sailing course, quit their jobs to buy a boat and sail around the world. We read a couple of their books when we were first interested in cruising life.
This freaky looking critter showed up early on night when we were looking for what kind sea life would be attracted to our hull lights. At first we thought it was a small shark, but eventually we could tell it was a remora from the unusual 4 fin arrangement, kind of like the head of a missile, and then we spotted the unique spiny forehead sucker thingy. They’re known as scavengers, and it was gobbling up our mouldy bread as fast as we could throw it. Even though it was approx 3’ long, I didn’t think having them around would impact our swimming or snorkeling until I read that they will instinctively try and attach themselves to divers! Nope!
The Royal Bahamian Defence Force (RBDF) anchored just on the outer edge of the anchorage with one of their newer Damen Stan 3007 patrol vessels. This picture was actually taken with my iPhone looking through one side of our binoculars in the twilight. The puny lens on the iPhone 6s couldn’t zoom in far enough, and our Steiner Binoculars let in an amazing amount of light, even after sun down. It’s a pretty cool shot. They stayed anchored nearby for two nights. Glad they’re out there keeping us safe.