5.13.2011

Simms Settlement |Long Island | Bahamas

We had just arrived at our first anchorage on Long Island after a full day sail from Conception Island. We had a pleasant crossing but the winds were starting to increase as we arrived at our anchorage just north of Simms at Alligator Creek. We tried to anchor just off the entrance to the government dock at Simms but there was little protection and the holding was poor. We set the anchor in the lee of a high bluff and settled in for some nourishment and a good night’s rest. The next morning we took our dinghy to shore at doctor’s creek to the south of our location but north of Simms. Doctors Creek Mini Mart owned by William Edgecomb and is located about one hundred yards north of doctors creek landing. We purchased a couple of soft drinks and listened to the interesting stories that William had to share. It seems that he had worked in the USA for NASA during the Apollo Space Program. He spoke of the astronauts by first name as though he were a close relative. William also served as an educator in the Bahamas, teaching primary school as well as technical college courses. We enjoyed our visit with him in his modest well stocked mini-mart attached to his house. We met William again later as we left the Blue Bird. He gave us a ride back to doctor’s creek and introduced us to his wife. He and his wife took us out back and showed us the cages where they kept their catch of land crabs. He gave us several crabs that we took back to the boat ant dined on later that evening.

We left the mini-mart and headed north to the Blue Bird Restaurant at the Simms settlement in our quest to find an ice cold Kalik. We walked into the restaurant and we felt as though we had just arrived at Grandpa’s house. As you walk in the door there is a large central table covered with a white lace embroidered table cloth. A chest freezer and an upright refrigerator line one wall that has some memorable photos and posters on it. A ninety degree turn to the right is a long counter with stools from end to end and just beyond is grandpa’s kitchen. Grandpa’s name is Mario Simms; yes the same name as the settlement.



Mario’s ancestors were British loyalists and founded this settlement in the 1700’s. Mario has a warm and welcoming smile and invited us to sit down. We ordered a couple of ice cold Kaliks and began to watch Mario work his magic in the kitchen. Mario moved with grace and precision as he glided from the sink to the stove to the counter and back to the sink. The stove was a large old six burner industrial type gas stove that anyone would be proud to own. There were several pots cooking one thing or another the entire time we were there. There was a pan of fresh fish on one of the counters that he was cleaning and getting ready to fry. The old cast iron skillet on the stove top was sizzling and full with fresh chicken that Mario had cut up himself. The kitchen was warm but still Mario turned the pedestal fan to blow cool air on us rather than him. Mario, you are a saint. The cabinet and sink were just like those you would find in grandpa’s kitchen, complete with a loose handle or mismatched hinge. He orchestrated the entire goings on in this busy little kitchen and waited on customers and never neglected to chat with us or anyone else. He never once seemed out of control or concerned about any of the multiple tasks that he was involved in during our visit. Mario gave us a comprehensive history of this tiny settlement and his experience as a child long before there was a paved road or electricity. The island was recently electrified in the 1990’s. Prior to this the only electricity was provided by private generators powered by fuel that was delivered by the weekly mail boat in 55 gallon drums. Mario spoke of a time when there were many more people on the island and they grew all of their own food and even raked salt from the salt pans on the island. There was no need for currency on the island as the residents bartered with one another for their needs. However, Mario told us that the chicken he was cooking was from the USA as the local population did not care for the wild free range island chickens. I explained that his free range island chickens would bring a premium price in the USA today. Mario lifts the lid off the cast iron skillet and takes out the chicken and places it in a large stainless steel bowl and then covers it with a towel. He reaches into another bowl and flowers more raw chicken before it goes into the skillet, all this time he is watching the rest of the pots and customers to make sure that their needs are met. He does this all with a since of gratification as though he feeding family. All you have to do is show up and ask him what he has and he will prepare dishes family style for groups of four or more at a very reasonable price. A lady walks through the door and orders a dozen pieces of chicken to go for her family dinner that night. Mario simply glides over to the bowl covered with a towel and fills the order. He takes the money for the chicken, returns with change and gives the lady a big grandpa hug. Mario has a face of a well educated, wise, gentleman that reassures you that you are safe and welcome here. We stayed here and admired this man for a few hours and then returned later in the week with another cruising couple. The other couple fell in love with Grandpa’s Kitchen just as you will when you visit the Blue Bird Restaurant in Simms, Long Island, Bahamas.

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