5.13.2011

Smith Bay | Cat Island | Bahamas

Smith Bay, Cat Island, Bahamas deserves a bit of special attention as there are some services that can be of great value to cruisers. Smith Bay itself is not a very large bay for anchoring. It is quite small and shallows out very quickly once you leave the channel to the concrete government dock where the mail boat arrives weekly. You could anchor there for storm protection but there is not much swing room. The cruiser anchorages are south at Fernandez Bay and north of the Smith Bay Channel. Both of these anchorages are clearly defined on the Explorer Charts for the Bahamas. We anchored at Fernandez Bay and took our Dinghy to Smiths Bay.
Just to the north of the government dock is The Bahamas Customs and Immigration office where you can extend your visa or get other help as needed. To the south of the Government dock is a Bahamas Department of Agriculture Packing House. This is a great place to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables at very reasonable prices. We were able to get pigeon peas, mangoes, onions, bananas, plantains, coconut, sugar cane, papaya, canned tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, cassava and more. We hauled away several bags of produce and spent less than twenty dollars. The same items would have cost at least double at the grocery. You must get to the packing house before the mail boat arrives and takes the local harvest to Nassau. We were lucky that the previous mail boat brought in a surplus of onions that had been grown on Andros. This government service is wonderful and I hope it continues in the future.
Next stop across the highway from the government dock is a group of small stores that include limited grocery, computer repair, insurance company and a few government offices. The grocery is where we purchased our water in five gallon bottles to top off our water tanks on Mary Rose. We were able to negotiate a very good price as we bought eleven bottles. They all fit in the dinghy and we were able to return the empties in one trip.
A short walk north along the highway will take you to Hallover’s Hotel, Restaurant and Bar. George B. Johnson and his wife Mavis are the owners and will take very good care of you. While we were there George shared his recipe for boiled fish with us. He showed us his garden and gave us some fresh picked Bahamian HOT PEPPERS! In turn, we gave George some Mexican dried Chiltipien Peppers. George was going to try to plant some of the seeds as the climate on Cat Island is quite arid, much like the area where these peppers are grown. We sat and talked with George for one entire afternoon and learned much about the history of this island and listened intently to his lifelong stories about his experiences growing up here. While we were there we met the Island Administrator. He is the top public official on the island and is appointed to his position by the Prime Minister. George was able answer our questions about an ancient Masonic Lodge we found in ruins on the south end of the island.





George was also personal friends with Miss Emily in Authors TownLana purchased some of Miss Emily’s straw work I took on a quart of her famous bush medicine called twenty-one gun salute. Be sure to see Miss Emily if you visit the island as she is a real sweetheart. The Kalik (Bahamian Beer) is very reasonable at Georges Bar and just the perfect temperature for a hot lazy afternoon of local discovery. George was a wealth of knowledge and we enjoyed talking to him and making a new friend. We encourage you to visit George and enjoy his sincere hospitality.

No comments: