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20 May 2019

Weather Windows, Boredom & Plenty Of Conch Shells | West End, The Bahamas

It's hard to explain weather windows to people who aren't cruisers. And, no I don't mean that kind of "cruiser," I mean the type of people who live on a boat and, you know, cruise around. You can be a short-term cruiser, a long-term cruiser, or something in between.

When you're crossing a potentially dangerous stretch of water, like the Gulf Stream, weather windows are super-duper important. If you don't wait for just the right one, things can go very wrong.

So on our way back to Florida (Scott and I were helping a friend bring his boat back from Marsh Harbour), we dropped the hook in Ginn sur Mer and waited for Mother Nature to give us her blessing.

It's a place we've anchored at before and consists of a series of canals in the midst of an abandoned development. Last time we were there, things were spooky. This time, things were just boring. Everyone wanted to be back in the States. It was just a matter of waiting until the timing was right.


To alleviate the boredom, and to replenish the food and booze supplies, we made a number of excursions into the West End, which is located at the tippy-top of Grand Bahama Island.

The first step in any shore excursion is transportation from your boat to shore. The second step is finding a place to safely land your dinghy. The third step is hoping no one steals it.

WARNING: For those of you who are cruisers and want details on where to land your dinghy and how to find the settlement, read on. For those of you who could care less, skim away to your heart's content.

We set off down one of the canals until we found this spot. It's located after the second bridge, next to a drain pipe. You scramble up the rocks and tie your dinghy up to a tree. Make sure you have a really long painter. (Painter is sailor talk for a rope attached to a dinghy. Why we can't just call it a rope is beyond me.)


There aren't any handy signs pointing the way to the West End. We knew it was "that way," but we weren't exactly sure how to get there. Fortunately, some kids came by while we were scratching our heads and showed us which trail to take through the brush. It's the one to the right of these drain pipes. You'll get to a fork after a minute or two - take the right one. It isn't a long trail.


From there, it was easy-peasey. When you reach the end of the trail, turn left on the road which takes you to the main road. If you look right, you'll see a house. We met the lady who lives there on one of our excursions. I'm not sure how happy she was to see us cutting through the brush, so be warned.

From there, navigation is simple. There are two main roads through the settlement. You're on the western "in-land" road. Turn left, walk a few blocks and the grocery store is in a yellow building. It's a well-stocked store. Everything you need and prices comparable to Marsh Harbour.

Alternatively, turn right, make a left at the white church (you can see it right across the street), and you'll find yourself on the other main road which runs along the water. The liquor store is handily located on the corner.

Okay, back to pretty pictures and stuff which might interest cruisers and non-cruisers alike.

If you follow this blog, you might remember how I posted about our friend catching a fish. We were pretty sure it was a snapper, but what do we know? We're not locals.

When in doubt, ask the locals. That's my philosophy and it applies to just about anything - where's the best place to eat, can you drink beer from open containers, and what kind of fish is this?

We ran into this friendly bunch of folks. They all agreed that it was a mutton snapper. They also all agreed that it was delicious. It's nice to find a group of people who all agree on something.


Fish identification - check! Time to continue wandering.

This guy was hard at work moving stone. I could barely put one foot in front of the other because of the heat. This fellow worked away cheerfully without breaking a sweat.


Have you ever had conch? I'm not a big fan, but Scott loves it, especially in fritter form. Conch is everywhere in the West End with a lot of places offering conch salad.


We didn't stop and get anything to eat, but if we had, the banana coconut pancakes sounded interesting.


When you make a lot of conch salad and conch fritters, you need to do something with the shells. The answer is to put them in giant piles. Have you ever seen so many conch shells in one place?


The conch doesn't come out of its shell on its own. The Bahamians make conch processing look like a breeze. I'm not sure this make-shift shelter is really keeping the sun off of this guy. But maybe the heat doesn't bother him. He is wearing a long sleeved shirt and jeans after all.


More conch processing, this time in a skiff.


It's not just about the conch. There was plenty of fish processing going on too.


This guy wanted his picture taken.


During one of our walks, we stopped and had beer at this picnic table. We found a new Bahamian beer at the liquor store - Eclipse. We've had Kalik and Sands before, but Eclipse was new to us. It was tasty. But then again when is a cold beer not tasty on a hot day?


What do you do with an empty beer can? We hate to throw them into people's trash cans without asking first. On one of our excursions, we happened to finish our beer right outside of the police station. So we walked inside and asked the officer on duty if we could toss them in their garbage. He shrugged, said "sure," and went back to texting on his cell phone. Not sure this would have played out the same way in the States.

Another picture of a fishermen, cause why not?


The Bahamian people are lovely. We met a really nice bus driver near the green and blue building below. He had driven a load of people up from Freeport to visit their sister church in the West End. We talked about fish for a while. Everybody likes to talk about fish.


More conch and more fishermen.


Have you had enough of conch? I have, so I'll leave you with one last scene from the West End.


Have you ever eaten conch? Do you like it?

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11 comments:

  1. Not sure if I've had it or not.
    That is a heck of a lot of shells though! One way to increase the size of your real estate.

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    1. There’s actually a guy in Union Island in the Grenadines (Eastern Caribbean) that did just that. He built a bar on a pile of conch shells, called “Conch Island”. It’s very popular among locals and cruisers. We visited once. :-)

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  2. Love the color of that picnic table!

    I don't know how people do anything in such heat. I'm more used to our FL summer weather than I once was, but still.

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  3. I hear you about watching the weather. We monitor NOAA all the time when we're cruising. Those small craft advisories are there for a reason. Didn't listen to them one time and it was more than awful.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Ellen. ♥

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  4. I had conch years ago. I don't think we ate it in a salad though.

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  5. Have never had conch, and as a vegetarian, i won't, but i understand why people who have it so easily available will eat it a lot.

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  6. I've heard conch are going extinct? Anyway, thanks for sharing this view of the Bahamian people. One day I hope to go visit the Bahamas. Love the brightly colored buildings on the island!

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  7. I love conch fritters, and my husband raved about the conch chowder he had when he was on a business trip to the Keys. (The version I had later in another place in north Florida was only mediocre at best.) But I totally bombed out on trying to cook conch myself. The meat I bought in an Atlanta-area market probably wasn't all that fresh, so it had a peculiar taste and was tough as all get-out. Some things, it's best to leave to the experts...

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  8. I've had conch but I can't remember really loving it or hating it. So, it must have been fine. I can't believe the amount of shells, though. My kids would love those!

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  9. No I don't like conch - it is too chewy. I don't get the attraction. I think it all depends on how you cook it - dip anything in a whole bunch of batter and fry it and anything probably tastes good even if there is a bunch of chewy bits in it.

    It is nice that you can walk to West End from Ginn sur Mer. I think it would have been really really boring otherwise. We waited for a weather window in Bimini once - we don't usually stay at marinas for any length of time but this one was cheap and there was a festival going on when we got there so the wait was not boring in the least.

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  10. Yes, we’ve eaten, caught, and cooked lots of conch. My favorite is Mark’s conch fritters. Not too much of a fan of conch salad, which is very much like ceviche. We used eight of our conch shells (dried and cleaned up, of course) as center pieces at our wedding party in St. Martin. :-)

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