Don’t Worry About Long Island Robbers

May 26, 2023

There was a terrible news article this week about a tourist couple, sleeping in a rental house somewhere on Great Exuma (I'm assuming Georgetown), who were woken by masked gunmen, driven to an ATM, and made to withdraw and turn over some cash. Fortunately, they weren't hurt.

On a couple of earlier posts, I touched on how comically bad our Summer of 2021 Bahamas trip went. But there is so much more horror to relate, that you won't get the joke that I =made when I heard this news story: "I know where that wouldn't have happened. Long Island."

Let's go back.

(Buckle up, this is a long one.)

We were at Great Exuma that Summer just before Fourth of July weekend. Our generator had long since shit the bed. Goodbye, sweet air conditioning. Goodbye working outlets from which we can charge the devices that we need in order to pay the bills. And goodbye to the most efficient way to keep the boat's batteries topped off.
Ghost marina

Our only alternate power source was the boat's main engine. Not ideal, but it kept the batteries up so that we could get around, navigate, and generally function.

Until it didn't.

As engines will do, this one tore up its impeller. I tore the boat apart looking for the spares that I knew I had on board, but I could not find them. I did find a shop in Nassau that had them in stock and who would ship a couple to Georgetown for an extravagant fee.

The next morning Mrs. thekinnyonbenny and V went to the airport to retrieve our parts, while I tried to keep the only head (toilet) on board in semi-working condition. It's pumps' gaskets were only slightly more reliable than the engine impeller.

I believe that someone must have bought my parts an actual ticket on the plane, because the cost was up there. And it had to be paid in cash. This took up the bulk of the cash we had on hand.

I made the repair, and early the next morning, we were on our way to Long Island (the Bahamian one, not the one south of Connecticut.)

It was a couple hour sail, where we had good wind and a little rain, but no real trouble. We headed in toward a marina that was associated with a resort on the Northern part of the island, according to our cruising guide.

It turned out that the marina was a ghost town.

We poked around a bit, and walked up the road a little to see if there was a resort in shouting distance. But there wasn't, and eventually, we piled back into Velvet Elvis and sailed over the shallowest sand we could possibly have floated above. Another hour or two south brought us to a nearly empty ancchorage, with enough depth and plenty of room to swing on the anchor.

Long Island is this long, skinny island with a single primary road that runs from one end to the other. I think it's a tad under 100 miles long, and all of the places to eat and things to see and do are spread up and down the entire length. So renting a car is a necessity.

The island's car rental place was coincidentally right where we came ashore, and in no time, we had reserved a car for the long weekend. The catch is that like everything else on Long Island, it's cash-only.

You can see where this is headed.

On our first full day with the car, we drove to both banks on the island. Both ATMs were out of service. As we drove up and down doing other things, we tried several other ideas -- cash back at the grocery, hardware store, and gas stations was a no. There was a little truck-stop style casino, and you couldn't get cash there either. We drove North to find "the resort", and we found a strange, abandoned resort with cabins from the 70s but where the grass was mowed. No ATM though.

It started to get stressful. You see, we didn't actually have enough cash left to pay for the rental car.

In asking around, we were told that at least one beachside bar and grill took Paypal as payment. It is called Tiny's, and I was disappointed to find that it wasn't run by a 6 foot 4, 320 pound Bahamian that everyone called Tiny. It was a nice little place with a good view. Conversation flowed between tourists and locals alike. Best of all, we didn't have to count pennies because of the Paypal thing.

Mrs. theskinnyonbenny told the host about our predicament and offered a fee for a Paypal cash advance. He declined, so we ordered another drink and resolved ourselves to turn in the car early and head back to Georgetown the next day.

But then as we were leaving, his wife came out, and made the PayPal cash advance happen. I think that she even declined to take a big fee on it (which was nice, because I bet our bar tab was more than our college era monthly rent).
Hanging out at Tiny's

And that, my friends, is why you won't be robbed by gunmen in Long Island who want you to take money out of the ATM and hand it over to them.

It's a good thing that our stay was saved, because there were some absolute highlights of the entire trip, including a couple of things that would have been bucket-list things had I known they existed. This post is getting long, so I'll write up some Long Island highlights for the next.

One more disaster to recount from these days though before I get into a positive place.

Long Island was the only place in the Bahamas that had cell towers but where our hotspot did not work. We got there on the last work day of the month, which meant that Mrs. theskinnyonbenny had urgent accounting to be completed. So we dinghyed ashore with backpack-offices in tow to find a restaurant with wifi.

Meanwhile, our swim platform was down. Also, the motor that brings it up and down was broken -- because of course it was -- so it had a line tied from the swim ladder to a winch so that we could raise and lower it.

When we returned, it was dark, and Mrs. theskinnyonbenny tripped over that out-of-place line. The laptop bag went right into the drink. It was the 2nd Macbook ruined by seawater in just a few weeks. It joined an ipad and a Kindle reader, along with tens of thousands of dollars worth of boat electronics in the circuit board graveyard that was this trip.

Happier tales of Long Island next week!

PS, I wrote about other bits of our star-crossed summer here and here, but there is actually a lot more to tell. I'll get to it eventually. More photos from Long Island are here.