Little Farmer's Cay

Thu 18 Mar 2010 22:39
23:57.75 N
76:19.45 W

This morning we woke to a very bouncy boat. We looked out into the bay of Black Point and saw all the other boats rolling and rocking as well. A quick decision was made to leave before the WNW winds and waves had more chance to build. We motored east, out of the bay, into the waves, which was unpleasant, but we knew it was temporary. Rose insisted, as she usually does in any passage, that she be in the cockpit with me and Garth. We had her strap into her harness and tether, not knowing how bad it would be. After 15 minutes, we turned north to round the point before heading out to Exuma Sound through Dotham Cut. Garth figured the waves would be less on the Sound, given the west wind. I suggested we tuck into a little idyllic looking creek just south of Dotham Cut to wait a few days until things calmed down. We kept that as a back up plan, if the Sound seemed bad once we got out there. Happily, though, the cut was no problem (we were leaving almost at high tide) and the Sound was very wide rolling swell with hardly any chop. We raised sail and headed SE to Little Farmer's Cay. We had a great sail, about 2 1/2 hours. Trolled a fishing line--nothing caught, but the rubber squid looks like something took a bite out of it. By 11:30 we were at the cut into Farmer's Cay, between Big Farmers Cay and Great Guana Cay. The tide there was rushing out at such a gush it created eddies. We were sailing against the current and making no progress over ground. We dropped the motor and forced the boat through. Once through, we pulled into Big Harbor on Little Farmer's Cay--just a big beach, really. As always, we pulled right up, putting Sea Fever's nose on the beach and jumped down. A quick exploration of town showed a tiny store and a bar/restaurant called Ocean Cabin, owned by a woman named Ernestine, who gave us the words to Little Farmer's Cay song and then she popped a tape in and played the music and sang (urging Isabel & Rose to sing along). There are only about 70 people who live here, all ancestors of the the settlers, who were freed slaves from Exuma . Ernestine's 12 yr old daughter is going to school in Nassau. There are only 10 students in the "All-Age" school here. Her older daughter is graduating from high school in Everglades, FL, and will be going to FSU. Ernestine said most of the children move off the island, get educated, and don't return. There's no development here, so no jobs. She said only the people who absolutely love it here stay. Property is only generational, meaning no one unrelated by birth or marriage can purchase land here. The Little Farmers people are very proud of their cay. They have their own song and their own flag.

The people we talk to are very willing to tell us their stories, but only after an intitial reserve. Back on Black Point, we met a fascinating woman named Betty Roe (we don't really know how her last name is spelled or if it is her last name or a second part to her first name). She lives in a house with an enormous driftwood sculpture garden in the front yard. There is a sign that says "Garden of Eden." We wandered up the path to her house, marveling at the driftwood shapes and then saw her, sitting on her front steps. We had no idea that the true marvel of the garden was hidden from view. The woman seemed reluctant to talk at first, and then showed us all around the back of her house, which was an astonishing enormous fruit tree orchard. Papaya, red mango, tamarind, guava, banana, sapodilly, tomatoes, peppers, all grow out of the knarled limestone rocks and pocked coral in seemingly nonexistent soil. She must have had a dozen papaya trees each with a profusion of green fruits. She has had two recent eye surgeries and hasn't yet recovered-- both surgeries in Fort Lauderdale. We didn't ask her how she got there, or who arranged it, or any questions. We just wished her a speedier recovery. We bought the only ripe fruit she had: a tiny guava.

Many of the woman in Black Point were weaving palm fronds into six-inch wide bands that seemed endless. We asked them what they were making. They create these woven strips and then sell them at the straw market in Nassau, where they are bought and made into baskets and hats and bags and all the other stuff sold to tourists. I wish they made a finished product right there, but, alas, they did not.

Yesterday, we watched the supply ship come into Black Point. All the people turned out to receive boxes of stuff--crates of food, produce, eggs, and who knows what else in boxes. We don't know how often the supply boat comes in, but we later we stopped into Adderly's market (where we had become friendly with Lillie, the shop-owner) and she was restocking shelves with canned goods and boxes of crackers. No ice cream, apparently, came on this boat. We wonder how they get that. We nearly cleaned her out of creamsicles.

Now we'll need to decide if there's anything farther south that we want to see. We're toying with the idea of going all the way to George Town on Great Exuma, about 35 miles south. Between here and there are mostly private cays. Or, we may just turn back soon and pick our way as slowly north as we came south. We did miss many small cays along the way, and there are many we'd like to see again. Plus we have Eleuthera (Spanish Wells) in mind, as a jumping-off point for the Berry Islands. We'll spend the next day or two here, thinking about where we'd like to go, and watching the weather.