Tom had been stressing about the entry through Conch Cay cut into the shallow and reef-strewn bay between Great Exuma and Stocking Island, location of St Francis Resort Marina, but with the sun overhead, all the reefs and shallows were clear to see and there was no issue.
The bay here is about a mile wide and stretches for many miles between the two islands, with Georgetown being the focus, in season, of a huge cruising community. Hundreds of boats congregate here, anchoring from one side to the other, and many go no further. For this reason it is sometimes nicknamed "Chicken Harbor"!
St Francis Resort, our end destination, is located directly across the bay from Georgetown. It sits on a hill overlooking to the south not one but three idyllic hurricane holes, and to the north an equally idyllic white sand beach.
For Quantum Leap this was a sort of home-coming, because she is a St Francis catamaran, and the St Francis resort is owned by the boatbuilder and his partners. In fact, the resort's original reason for being was to be a base near the US for storing and showing the South African built boats.
As often happens, the original purpose has become more of a sideline, because this resort is very successful in its own right, and only a small percentage of the guests even know about the connection to the boat builder. The success is due not merely to its awesome location, but to the creativity, hospitality and dogged can-do attitude of George and Jillian, the resourceful South African couple that built it and run it.
That Tom and. Bette are part of this family was clear as we pulled up and were welcomed straight onto the dock. In actuality, there is no marina here in the sense of docks and slips. Instead there are moorings placed in the super-protected holes. This is where Quantum Leap will spend hurricane season after Tom and Bette leave at the end of the month.
For now however we were on the dock with the flexibility to come and go, eat and drink at the resort restaurant, and walk the gorgeous beach on the other side.
When we left Calabash Bay to sail here, Don and I still had over a week of our visit to go, and the plan was that we would touch base with George and Jillian and then head back out to explore the Exumas. Since Don and I have never been here in this famous cruising Mecca, we were quite looking forward to it. However we weren't on the dock long when we could see Tom visibly relax...or more accurately relax to a different level...and begin talking about maybe just staying! We realized that we could hardly whine because he and Bette have been moving constantly since they left South Africa in March!
But those first days on the dock were hot! Really hot. and buggy in the mornings and evenings. And Don and I began to think about maybe making an early departure!
Fortunately, the airlines weren't having any of that idea. I say fortunately, because the next two days saw the arrival of thunderstorms and heavy rain! So, (A) it was a darned nice thing to have gotten in before the bad weather, and (B) the storms cooled everything off. So (C), everybody's attitude perked right up.
Probably the real turning point was the morning we four took a long walk down the beach to a sort of pool in the sea protected by a rock cliff where we ended up swimming in the rain, only getting out when the lightning started! That was really special!
But then, just as we were making plans to head back out, Quantum started having some mechanical problems. It seemed like as soon as they addressed one thing, another would crop up. By this time we had all gotten comfortable with out routine right here.
So essentially, for this last week, we have been laid-back resort guests with a special floating waterfront room. We've eaten and drunk about everything on the menu, and we've checked out all the nearby highlights: like the mini-blue hole snorkel cave cave with its swarm of ocean fish that come through a fissure that leads through the island to some opening out to sea or the Chat n Chill Beach hangout on a nearby sandy spit where a cheeky young man makes you fresh conch salad to order! And every day, we walk and swim in the Atlantic! It's been grand.
Thank you, Tom &Bette for having us.