Daily Archives: May 24, 2019

Big Majors to Black Point

On Wednesday, January 3, 2019, we motorsailed about six miles from Big Majors to the Black Point anchorage. Many cruisers have decided to skip the Big Majors Spot/Staniel Cay anchorage filled with speeding boats and megayachts for the nearby quieter, friendly settlement at Black Point, located on Great Guana Cay . 

Black Point is perhaps the most cruiser friendly of all of the towns we visit. While we feel safe and welcomed everywhere we go in the Bahamas, other than Nassau, the residents of Black Point seem to go out of their way to attract cruisers to their settlement and make them feel welcome. 

The Black Point residents no doubt noticed that many tour boats stop at Big Majors/Staniel Cay to see the swimming pigs and to snorkel at Thunderball Grotto, plus cruisers stop at the large anchorage. They wondered how they could attract more people to Black Point. Sadly, the massive amount of tour boat visitors has taken its toll in Staniel Cay.  The pigs are getting aggressive and many tourists have been bitten by them. Very few cruisers get out of their dinghies and go to the Pig Beach, but most people on the tour boats go ashore there, feeding the pigs and swimming with them. Thunderball Grotto at Staniel Cay is a fun place to snorkel, but the hoards of tourists who arrive on tour boats have caused the once colorful coral to die, since they step on it, and there are far fewer colorful fish inside the grotto than there were when we first snorkeled at Thunderball nine years ago. There aren’t many affordable restaurants in Staniel Cay, but Black Point recently added a new one so now they have at least four with a short walk between each one located on the main street. The tour boats that visit Big Majors and Staniel Cay now leave that area and go six miles south to bring tourists to Black Point for lunch.

The Emerald Sunset View Restaurant and Bar was built since we visited Black Point two years ago. It is on a piece of land at the southern end of the main street called  Regatta Point. Previously this land was an observation point and during the Black Point Regatta temporary shops were set up there. We heard it has a great brunch. 

Mark and Sailor enjoyed the view of the anchorage from stone benches next to the restaurant.  Scorpios Restaurant and Bar is a favorite of cruisers for Happy Hour. They have great pub food as well. Rum Punch is a popular drink in the Bahamas. Since rum is cheaper here than rest of the ingredients, including pineapple juice and grenadine, the drinks at bars are extremely strong.
Mark peaked through a hole in a large rock in front of Scorpios. I have a feeling when the bar was built, this rock was just too big to move!
DeShamon Restaurant is known for their barbecue and pizza.

Lorraine’s Cafe is a must stop for anyone looking for a typical Bahamian meal. Many of the establishments in Black Point have free wifi. Lorraine has a separate room attached to her cafe with tables and chairs for people who want to use her wifi.

Another draw for cruisers to come to Black Point is Lorraine’s mom’s coconut bread. Next to Lorraine’s Cafe is her mom’s house. To order loaves of bread, cruisers enter her house, go back to her kitchen and tell her how many and what kinds of loaves they want. Coconut bread is available in many of the Bahamian islands we visit, but her special recipe has a delicious swirl of a freshly shredded coconut mixture running through the bread. It makes exceptionally good French Toast. I talked to her for awhile this year while waiting in her kitchen for the bread to finish baking. When I complimented her on the unique coconut bread she bakes she said, “I think I was put on this earth by God to make people happy with my coconut bread.” She has been known to make more bread in the afternoon for the cruisers if she runs out in the morning. I suppose the local residents and tourists who stay nearby also buy her bread but she made it clear to me that she makes it specifically for the cruisers who come to Black Point.

We bought three loaves of coconut bread and two loaves of cinnamon raisin bread, froze four and enjoyed them for a few weeks. Of course we made coconut bread French Toast several times.  (I realize the two pictures below are sideways. I kept editing them to rotate but they seem to want to stay this direction.)

 

Perhaps the most popular place to go in Black Point for cruisers is Rockside Laundromat, run by a busy businesswoman named Ida Patton. It is on a par with a good laundromat one might find in the US. The laundry is always clean and the washers and dryers are in excellent condition. When we were there this time, one dryer stopped working and immediately a workman came to repair it. Even though we have a washer/dryer on the boat, we always bring several loads to Ida’s. Ida also has a small store attached to the laundromat, she gives haircuts, and there are coin operated eight minute hot showers available upstairs. She even has a VHF radio in her store turned on so cruisers can hear calls. Since we were here two years ago she has added several new docks where cruisers can tie up their dinghies while they do their laundry. This allows cruisers to bring their laundry right up to the shore and they only have to climb a few steps to Rockside Laundromat rather than walk several blocks from the free government dock carrying their bags of laundry.

This is one of several new docks by Ida’s laundromat. It can be used for the larger tour boats that come for lunch in town.

This is Ida’s new dinghy dock for her customers.

Ida has a well constructed covered porch where customers can sit outside in the shade while they wait for their laundry to finish.

I suspect almost every cruiser who stops in Black Point does some laundry here. It’s also a good place to meet and  talk to other cruisers. All laundries in the Bahamas are much more expensive than in the US. Most charge $4 a load for the washers and $4 a load for the dryers. While US and Bahamian money are both accepted everywhere, the coins are different so they always have you buy tokens for washers and dryers. 

Ida has a small store connected to her laundry. There is only one grocery store in Black Point and it is rather small so this is not a stop cruisers make to provision. If they stay here for a long period of time they sometimes make a quick trip back to Staniel Cay where there are three very small grocery stores. Ida always has fresh pastries for sale and cold drinks in her cooler as well as shelves stocked with a few marine supplies, souvenirs,  and other items cruisers might need.

Mark and Sailor waited outside the laundry since dogs aren’t allowed inside.

Mark needs a haircut but after losing it all a year ago during his chemotherapy treatments he’s thrilled about his new curly long hair so he refuses to cut it. He promises not to have a man bun or ponytail. 

This is Rockside Laundromat from the street side. The laundry and store are on the lower level and there are showers on the second floor.The area is always neat and clean, as is the rest of Black Point.

Ida also rents beach cottages and golf carts. A sports game shop is located next to her laundromat.  She is a true entrepreneur and is a very busy lady with all of her businesses.
The first thing you notice when coming ashore at Black Point are the very friendly local residents, in particular the children. We think they must be told to greet all visitors, because that is exactly what they do.
The first time we came here, in 2010,  I volunteered to help in a classroom at the Black Point All Age School.  I visited one primary class and read a book to the students. The children were extremely well behaved and respectful, standing to greet me when I entered the room and listening politely to me. The next time we visited Black Point I asked about volunteering again but so many other cruisers had been volunteering in the school they were a bit overwhelmed so I didn’t have another chance to visit the classrooms. Many cruisers bring school supplies to Black Point and drop them off at the school when they pass through. There are schools on most of the other islands, but there is something about the people of Black Point that makes cruisers want to return the kindness. The first picture below was taken on a Sunday and it appears either a teacher or the principal was there working.

We attended a church service in Black Point along with several other cruisers a few years ago. At the end of the service the pastor thanked the cruisers for coming to Black Point, saying how much everyone appreciated them visiting, and asked all of us to stand. The congregation and pastor applauded.
Farther down the main street there is a sign in a yard that reads “Garden of Eden.” Willie Rolle gives tours of his driftwood garden. He travels to various nearby islands to find interesting looking driftwood and rocks, places them in his yard and explains what he “sees” in them, including animals, sea creatures, a ballerina and George Washington. It takes a bit of imagination but they truly do resemble what he describes. He also has a fruit and vegetable garden.  He doesn’t charge for his tour, but of course everyone probably gives him a tip, as we did.
Adderley’s Grocery Store is small but has fresh produce, canned goods, and other basic necessities that can be purchased if you arrive on the day the mailboat comes to Black Point . A few days later most of the fresh food is gone. Sometimes no one is in the store so you have to call a phone number and the owner usually quickly appears. I love the sign about credit cards located at the checkout counter. The day we were there, I tried to purchase a few items several times and no one answered the phone or arrived at the store. The door was open but no one was inside. I later found out that Ida was watching the store for Lawrence Adderley whose wife was very sick and he had flown to Nassau to be with her. Ida was also watching her laundromat and had to attend to something at one of her vacation rentals. which is why I never did get to purchase anything at Adderleys that day.

Next to Adderleys Friendly Store is a house with a Justice of the Peace office which is also run by Lawrence Adderley.
Many of the islands in the Bahamas charge for taking cruisers’ garbage then burning it in their dumps. In Georgetown it costs $2 for a small bag and $3 for a large bag. A few years ago in Staniel Cay it cost $6 to leave a bag of garbage and we heard it is now $10 a bag, although it is possible to walk down a road to the city dump and leave your garbage bags there for free. Someone told us that in Compass Cay, which is a private island with a marina near Staniel Cay, garbage costs $20 to dispose of, which is probably priced that high to discourage anyone from bringing their garbage there. In Spanish Wells you can put your garbage in large cans located on any street for free, even in front of someone’s house. In Black Point there is a large garbage container next to the government dock. Cruisers are asked to leave a donation after leaving their garbage bags..

After leaving a dinghy at the government dock and turning north on the main street, it is a 15 minute walk to a sandy beach on the Exuma Sound. We usually turn south and walk towards the town of Black Point.

Near the government dock is a spigot where you can get free reverse osmosis (RO) water. It’s not as convenient as the one in Georgetown which is located on the dinghy dock at the Exuma Market where you can fill your water jugs while they are in your dinghy, but if you are willing to bring your jugs a short walk from the Black Point government dock you can have some fresh potable water to bring back to your boat.

Sailor enjoyed watching a few sharks near our dinghy. A local fisherman was cleaning fish on the government dock, which always attracts sharks.
A well known boat builder who has won many races in the local regattas sailing his boat Smashie lives in Black Point.  A few years ago Mark was invited into his house and saw shelves full of trophies from the racing regattas he won. His house is on the main street and we have always enjoyed looking at the current boat he was building. Sadly, we heard he died this year.

There are a number of government offices in the Black Point settlement. I don’t think you would want to spend a day in the city jail which is next to the police office. The first picture below is the Black Point jail. We have heard that on the small “family islands,” if someone commits a serious crime they are sent to jail in Nassau and are not allowed to return to their island. This is perhaps one of the contributing factors to the high crime rate in Nassau. Behind the jail you can see a tall cell phone tower. Wherever there is a cell phone tower in the Bahamas, a Batelco (Bahamas Telephone Company) office will be located next to it, which is the yellow building in the background. Since Black Point is a very small settlement, the office is only open a few days a week.
All government offices in the Bahamas are color coded. These are several others we passed on the main street.
One reason we stop at Staniel Cay is to go to their fuel dock to top off our tanks. Black Point is building a fuel dock and hopefully it will be available when we return to Black Point next year. Just another way the residents of Black Point are working to help the cruisers. 

Along the main street we passed a house that is partially built. This is common on many of the islands. Someone starts building a house, runs out of money, stops, and continues building when they get more money. 

The anchorage at Black Point is huge, which usually makes it easy to leave a nice distance between each boat. Big Majors also has a large anchorage, but it is often filled with mega yachts, large powerboats and people zipping through the anchorage on Seadoos or even water skiing behind a fast boat. Black Point is much calmer and thus preferred by owners of sailboats and smaller powerboats. We only stayed at Black Point one night and left early the next morning to sail south and anchor near an inlet to the Exuma Sound.