Monday, January 26, 2015

A Berry Warm Welcome

Great Harbour Cay, The Berry Islands
January 7-20, 2015

We could sail far and wide to find a more welcoming place than Great Harbour Cay [“key”] in the Berry Islands. Everyone is so friendly. Almost every driver waves, and if you’re walking, you’ll probably be offered a ride. Strangers stop us and ask if we’re enjoying our time on the island. They beam when we tell them we love it there, that it’s beautiful and the people are so nice. We’ve heard stories of other cruisers who were drawn in and spent much more time than planned at Great Harbour Cay.

A short walk across the island from the marina leads to a gorgeous long crescent of powder sand beach. You could walk all day and only see a few other people. We unfolded our bikes and toured from the north end of the island—where we could see Disney cruise ships, parasailers, and jet skiiers at a private island—to the south, where we walked out on sand bars exposed by low tide for hundreds of feet. We biked to several other beaches, including Bardot Beach (yes, named for Bridget, one of the beautiful people who, along with Frank Sinatra and Jack Nicklaus, owned vacation homes on the island in the 60s and 70s).
Mangroves near the village
Low tide sand bars at south end of cay
Driftwood at Lovers Beach
Bardot Beach taken from the dinghy
One of the island’s charms is its community of Bahamians. We enjoy talking to local, native people, getting to know them, seeing how they live. In the winter months, part-time residents add to the population and suddenly it’s high season.

Staying longer than last year allowed us to participate in several activities. The Beach Club outdoor restaurant had reopened on that long crescent beach. A tiny gallery on the premises, called the Art Shack, offered a craft class where we transformed coconuts into painted fish (ours turned out pretty cute). Proceeds from the class and art sales will provide computer equipment for the local school. At the grand opening of the Art Shack a few days later, we got acquainted with more residents. Third and fourth graders sang for us and displayed coconut fish they’d made (theirs were cuter).
The Beach Club
Craft class with Art Shack in background
Our coconut fish are very compatible
Kids's choir at grand opening
Each Friday night, we mingled with cruisers and residents at a “chill and grill” at the marina. Several evenings, Keith and I played a game called petanque (the French version of bocce) with locals and cruisers.
Marilyn and I at the "chill and grill"

On the last Sunday, we caught a ride in the church van to St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church in the village. Formality and exuberance, liturgy from The Book of Common Prayer and piano-pounding hymns combined to form a purely Bahamian experience. The Spirit was definitely moving! The parishioners gave us an open-armed welcome: big hugs from almost everyone during “sharing the peace” time. The two hours (!) passed quickly. Raising our voices and our hearts in worship with a group of others, we felt God’s presence in a different way than we do when we worship by ourselves in the cathedral of creation most Sundays. Either way, He’s there.
St. Bartholomew's Anglican Church
Finally, it was time to leave. With a forecast for a few days of settled weather, we planned to anchor by a few cays on our way to Nassau. The Berry Islands have fast become one of our favorite places in The Bahamas, and we look forward to a return visit next year.
Sign by the airport. Okay, then!

1 comment:

  1. It seems that you met the best people on Ghc. How fortunate!! Marilyn is one of many of my most wonderful friends on this very special island!!