We left Big Major and Staniel Cay Friday, Feb 3rd and made our way down to Bitter Guana Cay to get “up close and personal” with some of the local reptiles (check out the video below). They are slightly blind, but love fruit, so you can just toss a piece of fruit at them or put some on the end of a stick (we used watermelon). Five "Iggis" came down the beach to investigate their new visitors, but thankfully only one came within throwing distance. We hadn’t previously considered the issue of whether iguanas could swim, so we didn’t want to bet on using the water as our escape route should they get too “friendly.” Just one coming to visit suited us perfectly.
We continued our journey down to Black Point, a rural island settlement, where we picked up provisions and chatted with some locals at the “grocery” store. The woman who was running the store was born in Black Point, but now lives in Canada. She is home for a few months helping out her parents. It’s amazing how many people we have met in the Bahamas who have been schooled/lived in Canada.
The water is so incredibly clear in this area. You can see the bottom perfectly in 20 feet of water. It is an absolutely gorgeous turquoise colour. Truly an amazing site for west coast Canadians who are used to the deep, dark blue of the Pacific North West!
Saturday, we made our way down to Little Farmer’s Cay, that hosts a sailing regatta and festival every year – the 5 F’s festival (Farmer’s First Friday in February Festival). We could not believe the number of boats that had arrived! There must have been at least 100 vessels moored in the area, by far the majority of which were sailboats. The regatta features small, Bahamian-style sailing skiffs from various “family islands” throughout the Bahamas. Winds were blowing 25kts so we thought best to stay with Panache and watch the races from our aft deck.
The next day we dinghied to the cay. The girls walked along the beach and Lindsay found 2 conch shells. We had lunch at the local hang out – Ty’s. It’s a great little restaurant on the beach with some local cuisine and an excellent view. We even got to meet Ty, who happened to have lived in Ottawa for more than 20 years. He was born on Little Farmer’s but was sent to school in Nassau at the age of 12. This is apparently typical for kids from “down island” (which we understand is the expression used for the islands south of Nassau – also referred to as the “family islands”). Little Farmer’s Cay is a particularly unusual case as it was settled by a woman who was a freed slave. In her will she bequeathed the island to her offspring in perpetuity. As such, any descendant is allowed to build on the island without having to purchase land.
Just a quick note on the Bahamas – the country consists of about 700 islands and cays spread over about 1,000 km from Grand Bahama in the north (right across from Florida) to Mayaguana in the south (near Turks & Caicos). 70% of the Bahamas 300,000 inhabitants live on New Providence island, which includes the capital city of Nassau. Another 20% live on Grand Bahama, where Freeport is located. The remaining 10% are spread across the hundreds of other islands. So most of the country is very sparsely populated or uninhabited.