Thursday April 16th, 2015
We had a nice dinner last night here at Peace and Plenty and as usual we went to bed early. Around 22:00hrs I could hear lots of yelling and it sounded very much like a battle or fracas! Then I began to hear popping sounds that in my mind at that moment was small caliber hand guns. It didn’t help that I was reading the original Dracula.
Being from the Island I had to go outside and look. By now ML was awake and suggested that clothing might be in order for going out on the balcony. When I opened the door the bright orange ball that had been the George Town ‘Straw Market’ overwhelmed me. The sparks and embers were flowing to the west just away from our hotel. The Straw Market is a showcase for local craftspeople and they sell hand woven baskets and other cool stuff. You could also get the obligatory T-shirts and hats and lots of other stuff. They also sold produce outside the market when it was available.
The interesting part about the market was the resident craftspeople and artists. Ladies of all ages worked in front of you creating the baskets etc. When you watched for a while your initial shock at the price should be mitigated by how much time and workmanship is required to create these items.
Today they will be out of work. They will not have a place to sell their wares. They will rebuild I am sure but it will take Bahamian time. This morning the remains were still smouldering and burning. They were very lucky that they did not lose the Library, the Three turtles hotel and other buildings. About 15 minutes into the fire a tank of water arrived. There was a problem though. Men ran over and took a battery out of one of the police cars to fire up the pump on the trailer. A pitiful amount of water began to flow on the fully engaged market.
About 20 or 25 minutes into the fire a fire truck that I assume came from the airport arrived and doused the already shrinking fire.
This morning the air is heavy with the acrid smell of smoke. The locals walk by and stop to look at the remains of the market, some stop and hug each other. The market was a central part of the community and the loss will be felt by the entire Exuma island.
FRACAS – We spent yesterday doing all the things one does to a boat you are leaving for 6 or 7 months. I am used to winterizing a ship but this is different. We have to prepare here for potential wind and rain. Running rigging was run to the top of the mast with smaller chase lines. Everything was lashed and lashed again. The engine and head plumbing all flushed with fresh water. Our battery banks will be left in the hands of the solar panels charge controller (Made in China) Tabernac.
It is with a heavy heart that I leave my stout ship here at Stocking Island. Her position is 23 31.523N / 75 46.616W