George Town, Exuma

Hello everyone,

Well, we have arrived at the destination of most cruisers for the winter months – George Town.

The town is very small, with most services available ( for a cost ). There are grocery stores with everything from hearts of palm to NY strip steaks. The ship comes weekly with fresh vegetables. Between times, the ladies at the straw market sell home-grown peppers and onions, along with hats, t-shirts, baskets etc. There is a small marine store with parts for some projects. The UPS store will arrange for ordering of parts form West Marine. Several bars and restaurants offer their services, even a school bus serving burgers & hot dogs. Mom’s bakery van is parked on the road side and she sells bread, rolls, donuts, and cakes. All of which are served up with a hug and a “God Bless You “!

The harbour or anchorage area is huge – approximately 7 miles long and a mile wide. Boats anchor off of several beaches – Hamburger ( so called because of hamburger stand ), Volleyball , and Sand Dollar. Some boats never move from their spot. We have moved every few days to get more protection or shore-side services, or even to get away from the crowds to an anchorage off by ourselves. On the shore, the cruisers have organized exercises, volleyball games, evening cocktail parties, baseball games, beach walks, and yoga. Sometimes it becomes a little too organized for some people.

Each morning the ‘net gives us the latest news and weather and then ads from local businesses. Then the cruisers news of upcoming events. And then cruisers with problems looking for solutions come on the radio. We all help each other with parts and knowledge.

The trip down here from Staniel was lovely. We anchored off of Little Galliot Cay for one night. Very early in the morning, we heard the anchor noises from boats around us. Everyone was moving – we were anchor-up by 0645 and were the last ones! We headed out of Galliot Cut with the favourable current. The fishing line went in as soon as we entered the cut. A little later, while Murray was on the radio, we had our first bite. The line on the rod goes zzzzing!! And a fish is on. But, by the time he came up on deck, it was gone. It had shook off the hook. But, within a half hour, the rod goes zzing again and Murray fights to reel this one in. It’s a dolphin fish or dorado or mahi-mahi and are they beautiful! He got it to the stern and then tried to gaff it to land it. And it got off the hook!! Boy, was he sad that time. We called another boat that had landed a 48″ one for helpful hints and while he was on the radio, the rod sings out again. This one we landed! It was 36″ long and weighed 8 lbs. They have a blunt head, a small mouth and are bright green on top, yellow below with a yellow tail. Just before the cut into George Town, we caught another dolphin fish, also 36”. Murray was very excited and thrilled to catch two of the wonderful eating fish. He filleted them and I cooked them “blackened” ( fried with cajun spices ). Mmmmmm! We gave away half of one of the fish, as we couldn’t keep all of it in the small freezer.

We had questions about how we catch conch. That is extremely easy, once you spot them. The biggest job is to find the conch. We snorkel and dive and look sometimes for hours before finding one. As they move so slowly, it is simply a matter of picking them up. Then comes the difficult part – getting the meat out of the shell. Murray counts two rows of horns and then punches a hole. He inserts a small tool and severs the muscle that holds the critter in the shell. It should then fall out into his hand. The cleaning is a messy, time-consuming job. And when all is done, you have a piece of meat about palm-sized that is about the consistency of a rubber tire. In order to eat it, you must pound the meat with a hammer until it is tender. It is served in various ways, raw in a salad, fried, or mixed with flour and spices and fried as a fritter. I usually serve it in a creole style – stewed with rice and tomatoes.The nicest shells, we clean and make into conch horns. Murray is very good at making these and has several out on loan to other boats.

Last week, we sailed around the island on one day while Jeff Helsdingen was visiting. During that passage we caught another dolphin fish! So, if the larder gets too low, we will just go for a day sail.

Now, we snorkel, walk, shell, visit other boaters, bake bread, do boat work, blow our conch horns and put in many hours quite happily. When the wind blows and the generator makes power, we watch videos ( ours or borrowed ones ). If the wind doesn’t blow, we read. Most nights we are in bed before nine pm. We wake with the sun usually, but spend the early hours on the various radio nets. Re the question on time – the time here is the same as most of you, EST. But the temperature is wonderful – low 70’s at least. My sweatshirt has yet to be worn this winter. Bathing suits or shorts are the uniform of the day.

We plan to stay in the George Town area for a few months. The area code has changed here and the fax number to contact us should be 242-336-2645. Address the fax to Windswept IV, c/o Exuma Market. They announce the arrival of faxes daily, so we quickly would get an important message.

I hope everyone up north is well and weathering the winter . We hear that an early spring may be expected as the ground hog died ( before or after seeing his shadow?). Stay away from any flu bugs and keep warm.

Love to all Heather
Heather & Murray Rand
aboard Windswept IV
Ham Radio VE3 ZUA