If I couldn't claim Mayberry, North Carolina, as my home town, then Blackpoint Settlement in the Exumas would be my next choice, and the parallels are numerous.
Right at the end of the dock is this sign.
Mayberry always boasted of being a 'friendly town', and Blackpoint is certainly that. We were stuck in Staniel Cay for a few days due to weather (gee, what's new?) and we'd heard that Blackpoint (a mere 10 miles south) was a cruiser's dream. Why this was, we didn't know, but since that was our next scheduled stop we decided to see for ourselves what everyone was talking about.
When we sailed into and anchored in the crystal clear swimming pool of Blackpoint Settlement we were both surprised. The water was so clear we felt like we were suspended in mid-air. As soon as we could, we lowered the dinghy motor onto the dinghy and went ashore. Almost all of the cruisers we'd leap frogged with along this journey south were here and it was like a family reunion. Here in Blackpoint you can dispose of your garbage right behind the government dinghy dock (there's a box for you to leave a donation) R/O water? You can fill your jugs just up the street. Wi-Fi? Free at all the local eateries. There's also free Wi-Fi at Rockside Laundromat and I don't think there's a laundromat in the world that can compete with the view from this one. We weren't in Blackpoint but a few minutes than we'd already signed up for an evening buffet at Lorraine's with a bunch of other cruisers. If you give Lorraine enough notice and can promise at least a 10 person attendance (I believe we ended up with over 20 people) for $20.00 each she'll put on a buffet. Since it appears some of us will be parting ways soon, we're planning a farewell buffet in a day or so.
Filling our jugs with R/O water
Lorraine's is one of the local hangouts for cruisers and citizens alike. It's also where you can leave a donation for all the free services that are offered here and you just can't beat that. And like Mayberry it's very relaxed. You won't find anyone playing checkers in front of the courthouse but you will find everyone using their iPhones at Lorraine's or Scorpio's. The first afternoon we walked in with all our electronic stuff in order to reconnect with the real world (which appears to be in a very sorry state) and sat down at a table. Our cruising friends were already there and gave us the lowdown. If no one's around, go get your own drink (beer, soda, or water) out of the cooler from behind the counter and keep track for when it's time to settle up. If you want something to eat let one of Lorraine's daughters or nieces know and they'll take your order. If internet's the only thing you want, fine, help yourself. Considering the whole way down the Exumas where even if we can find it, and have paid $15.00 per day per device for pretty bad internet, this is a dream.
Lorraine's motto is, "I want everyone to feel at home here." And we do.
Lorraine's Mother (she has a name but told us everyone simply calls her Lorraine's Mother) preaches at the church on Sunday and bakes bread in her home everyday. Place your order the day before and and while you wait in her kitchen the next morning she'll wrap it up for you. I've found Bahamian bread to be sweeter than I like (how picky can I get?) but she'll also make French bread if you ask and that's what we used for our cheese sandwiches at lunch, with our left over pressure cooker lasagna at dinner, and for French Toast the next day.
One of our friends is a teacher and she ended up volunteering at the school here for two weeks. The other day they were holding a lunch time hot dog and hamburger fundraiser so the kids can go to Disney World this summer. We got there too late but one of the ladies said, "No problem," and tossed a couple of hot dogs in some hot water for about ten seconds, stuck them in a bun, and then to Hans' horror started slapping every condiment under the sun on them. If you think I'm picky about bread, Hans is even pickier about his hot dogs. Luckily, I like a loaded dog and Hans was able to stop her in time and enjoyed his plain. The kids had been amazed when our friend told them she lived on a boat so after I finished my lunch she invited me to talk to them about how we also live on a boat. This was a small group of first and second graders but what really amazed them was the fact we have a dog on board. One little guy piped up with, "I hate dogs!" which earned him a stern look from Teacher. We've found for the most part that people here fear dogs (of any size) and when I showed the kids a picture of Wilbur on my iPad, another little boy suspiciously asked, "Is that a pit bowl?" (that's how he pronounced it). But when I showed them a video of Wilbur towing us ashore in our dinghy and then a picture of him wearing a baby bonnet, they couldn't get enough. I found myself cornered by a group of energetic kids and everytime the video ended a little finger would dart out and jab the start button again. Wilbur has never swam to shore so many times in his life.
I think I can I think I can
Wilbur, the little pit bull that could
I'm very grateful for the beach that's just a short dinghy ride away, and so as not to torment the citizenry of Blackpoint with our pit bull, we take Wilbur there in hopes of emptying and wearing him out. This way we can then go to town by ourselves without Junior, and be assured of returning to a boat that hasn't been used as an indoor potty patch. Depending on low or high tide it can be an interesting jaunt. At high tide we can dinghy ashore with Wilbur happily towing us the last hundred yards. At low tide we have to anchor way out and walk 'the flats' those last hundred yards and of course Wilbur rejoices in rolling in the heavy cement-like sand that remains. We much prefer high tide, especially in the evening, when we can enjoy happy hour with our friends on Wilbur's Beach (its new official name).
I really hate to leave this place, even after being boarded by the Bahamian Defence Force (their spelling) yesterday during breakfast while I was still in my pajamas. They were just as friendly as Andy and Barney (although I'm pretty sure they have more than one bullet in their guns) and were just doing their job. Wilbur was anxious to dispense some smelly pitty kisses but one of the officers was
afraid allergic to dogs and we had to shut Wilbur down below. The other officer, a fellow pit bull owner, was elected to do the below deck inspection and Wilbur finally got some well deserved behind the ear scratches.
Barney and Andy
The police station
Leaving here is gonna be tough.