I have a new favorite place on Planet Earth. There are many lovely places, of course, and among my favorites are Rocky Mountain National Park, Corkscrew Swamp, the Loire Valley in France, the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, and others too numerous to name. But the current favorite is a small anchorage in Red Shanks off of Crab Cay in the Exumas, near Georgetown. It is the favorite of many “Old Timers,” folks who come back year after year to the Bahamas and have found its quiet beauty and protection from winter blows an enviable spot. Where we were, it is shallow and trickier to get into than some places, so it doesn’t fill up with boats. There was only one other boat near us when we dropped the hook. It also boasts a small but pristine beach at Moss Cay, and is home of the “Red Shanks Yacht and Tennis Club,” of which we have met several card-carrying members.
We were cordially invited by Fred and Elaine, previously of Clearwater, Fl, to join the Red Shanks club members for drinks and hors d-oeuvres one evening. If you are picturing a posh, private clubhouse with folks our parents’ age chatting about golf or tennis, abolish the idea immediately. The “Club” is a sandy beach which barely fits all the members (a couple dozen with standing room only) furnished with a few broken down chairs and a plank table. There may have been a tiki hut there at one point, but a storm has long since blown it down. Meetings are sporadic and can only be held at low tide and before sunset, when the bugs come out. The people are unpretentious and welcoming and the drinks and snacks simple and unassuming. We were greeted by friendly faces and warm welcomes. (Bringing freshly-baked cookies probably helped.) We sometimes tire of answering the same questions, but once the formalities were put aside, we had great conversations that did not necessarily follow the standard formula.
The Red Shanks Anchorage itself is beautiful—with its crystal-clear cerulean water, rocky cliffs topped with a profusion of greenery and palm fronds, small islands and white-sand crescent beaches. We found a little cove into which we tucked for five nights (our longest stay anywhere since Boot Key Harbor), and where we could swim, kayak, and zip to Moss Cay beach, where the kids and I built an enormous sand castle, played in water that looks like a giant swimming pool, and sat around in the shade of the Australian Pines (Casuarinas) reading books. We were also able to get to town by a back route that made the anchorage convenient as well, and I stopped at the Exuma Markets, one of the best grocery stores I’ve seen since Publix.
In fact, the only drawback to Red Shanks was that Jay couldn’t access high-speed internet, so it isn’t a good place for him to work. We are moving the boat today to try to find a protected spot where he can work, but where we don’t necessarily have to be in the middle of a boat parking lot. In the end, I see that we are hard to please. We want seclusion, paradisiacal beauty, protection from unpleasant weather, pristine water, a nice grocery store, a place to meet friends and high speed internet. In short, we want it all. Instead, we will have to settle for a few of those things at a time. Although we are surrounded by folks living the retired lifestyle, we are still young, ambitious and hard-working, so lounging around and exploring every day doesn’t suit us long-term. Jay funds this expedition and I use the internet to educate the crew, so we must find a spot where we can work at least some of the time! And keeping in touch with friends and family is important, too. Since you are reading this right now, you can assume we have found a spot where we can get connected, and maybe even stay awhile.