We have finally broken away from the comforts of Emerald Bay Marina. I thought the Mirador may have grown roots, but no, we were able to back out. One guy suggested that I should seek employment there. We've traveled 8 miles south, to a protected body of water called Elizabeth Harbor. Stocking Island frames the bay from the east and Great Exuma is to the west. The water in the Harbor is an amazing bright clear turquoise color. The islands rise out of the water 60 feet, maybe more, they are lush with green foliage, and surrounded by beautiful white beaches. The sand is so soft that your feet sink 6 inches with each step. On the east side (ocean side) of Stocking Island the waters are strewn with reefs that can be seen from the hill top. The impact of the combined scenery is simply awe-striking.
|Not a rough passage|
|Elizabeth Harbor, Great Exuma in the distance.|
|Eva & Hadrian found a hot tub.|
|Ocean side beach on Stocking Island.|
It is amazing to see so many North Americans gathered for pleasure so far from their homes. Most of the population is in their 60's and the numbers diminish along with the age. There are 4 named beaches in the Harbor, and a diversity of activities that are organized by the cruisers to suit everyone's tastes. There is an alcohol research group, volleyball & softball teams, a solar panel & battery charging seminar, yoga on the beach, home schooling meetings, etc. In the mornings, at 8:00 am there is an amateur broadcast called the "cruisers net" on the VHF radio, it is surprisingly professional. It seems that all that have something to say are poised, and ready to speak on queue. It took me a while to wake up at 8:00 am and catch a broadcast, but quite interesting once I did.
|The legendary Chat-n-Chill.|
|The spoils of the Alcohol Research Group, and my Mom thinks I have a vice?|
|Marie posing on Stocking Island.|
The best description of this gathering is an "Adult Summer Camp". There are personalities from A to Z. There are people that are eager to have rules implemented, and there are out-of-date hippies that want no rules, but in the end they know that it is everyone's best interest to "mesh", and they do.
There is this place, a bar/restaurant called "Chat-n-Chill" that is a hub of activity. We are making friends by the hour. Yes, after you finally secure your spot in the crowded anchorage, people put away the "angry eyes", and put on their "friendly eyes", it's as if you are now family. Us newbies have to get used to the protocol, but the repeat offenders do a good job of showing us the lay of the land.
|Highway signage Exumas style.|
|Eva feeding stingrays in Elizabeth Harbor. Yes, these are wild.|
Across the harbor is George Town. Everyone goes over to this town once maybe twice a week to buy food and supplies (alcohol). Exumas Market is the main grocery store. It is probably twice the size of a typical Seven Eleven". When you first arrive you really don't think much of it, it's nothing compared to a U.S. grocery store, but as supplies dwindle you learn to appreciate this, the "flagship" of Bahamian stores. Also in town are a bank, a beauty salon, a hardware store, a gas station, and 2 liquor stores because one was just not enough.
There are roughly 40 kids out here, all being home schooled. Its great to compare experiences, and frustrations with the other parents, it seems we are not doing as horribly as we thought. All the kids are suspect of "ADD". It actually takes a while for the kids to realize that they can't complain their way out of school, they have to do the work. All the kids work hard to finish the day's lessons so they can go out and play. We are together all the time. We are so close as a family, it is a rare blessing in our time.
There is such a diversity of activities to do here, and we are forming bonds with other cruising families. I know that it will be hard to leave this wonderful place.