Imagine this…..A daffodil yellow, white-shuttered house with a huge wrap-around verandah overlooking turquoise Exuma Sound dotted with a few small cays. A flower-filled tropical garden in the back with a fish pond reflecting back the purple blooming water-lilies. A pure white orchid sprouts epiphytically from a tree branch as if arranged there to welcome guests. Every one of the three bedrooms opens up onto the wide verandah as does the comfortable open plan living/dining area. The front steps of the house disappear into a soft white sand path which, in a few steps, takes you passed lounge chairs, kayak and a hammock suspended from palm trees onto a long, pristine sand beach. The gentle, repetitive breaking of waves on the sound lulls you to sleep at night or serenades your lazy afternoon siestas….
The house faces east, so if the prevailing winds are really blowing, the white-capped sea becomes less inviting for swimming, snorkeling or kayaking. But the weather is balmy and the sun always shines – almost always. So these days provide an opportunity for exploring the rest of the island, provisioning in George Town (which is an entertaining experience as long as you keep a good sense of humour), eating out or attending one of the local “rake and scrape” evenings at a beach bar or restaurant. Rake and scrape is lively local island music accompanied by goombay drumming, saws, maracas washboards/washtub bass and/or other such percussion instruments.
And in case anyone suffers signs of withdrawal after a day’s absence from mod-cons, those are provided too. Satellite TV, telephone, wifi, washer and dryer, three bathrooms and an outside shower for washing off the sea salt and sand after a swim.
Our friends Paul and Mary from Calgary rented this beach house, called Sea Garden, on Great Exuma for two weeks over Christmas and New Year. It is on Tar Bay, the “ocean” side of the island, about midway between Emerald Bay, where we were staying for Christmas, and George Town where we subsequently moved to anchor in the cruisers city near Stocking Island. They spent Christmas there with their two sons, Kevin and Michael, both young adults, and later Paul’s sister Carol and her 11 year-old son Tyler came for a visit. And of course they invited us to join them on several occasions. We spent Boxing Day there, after dropping our friend Alison off at the airport in the morning for her flight back to Windsor, Ontario.
A day in the life at Sea Garden: Get up when you wake up, eat breakfast….lounge on the padded chairs on the balcony with your coffee, reading or checking email until you muster enough energy for a swim in the sea or a walk along the beach looking for shells, sea glass or sea-beans. Carol and Tyler found a lovely heart bean along the beach – these beans which drift from Africa and other places and are carried up onto beaches in tufts of Sargasso weed, are sought-after by beach-combing cruisers, and are sometimes made into jewelry. Check out these beautiful, unique pieces made by our friends’ daughter.
Once limbered up, you can take a kayak out, or walk along the beach far enough to snorkel on reefs at the end. Make sand castles. Snooze in the hammock. Go back to your book on the verandah. Lunch. Swim. Lounge in the sun. Rinse. Repeat. Dinner. Repeat. Pretty nice!
We spent a relaxing day at the Beach House on Boxing Day and another after New Year’s Day. Paul and Mary have cruised with us enough to know what sailor’s really need/want. They invited us to bring laundry, take a bath, use their wifi, and charge up our computers, VHF radio etc., all of which we did on our second visit to the Beach House. I even gave Steve a haircut (my first time ever) there! In between our chores we swam, kayaked and enjoyed ourselves.
They all came over to Tai Chi on New Year’s Eve. After lunch on board we hiked up through palm groves and along the hill-crest to the monument, where we enjoyed the great view of both the ocean and Elizabeth Harbour – the settlement of George Town and the cruisers city huddled below in the lee of Stocking Island. We hung out for a while afterwards at the beach bar, the more active among us playing beach volleyball, before returning to the boat for dinner and then back to the beach for a bonfire with other cruisers. They took water taxi back to George Town shortly after “cruisers’ midnight”. We were tucked up in our bunks under the starry, starry night sky shortly thereafter, and welcomed in the New Year with snores rather than cheers.
Our advice is this. Invite YOUR friends to rent a beach house near your favourite cruising ground! It works out really well. Now that their two weeks is up and their family has left to fly home, Paul and Mary have joined us for a cruise to Long Island, downgrading their quarters to the close confinement of our aft cabin with two small side lockers for their possessions. To give them credit where it’s due, besides being adventurous, resourceful and generous, they are adaptable and flexible!
View our photo journal for the Beach House.