Thursday, March 18, 2010

Barefoot Man Concert, Great Guana Cay

Friday, March 5 - Sunday, March 7, 2010
Welcome to Barefoot Man Weekend! Barefoot Man is the Caribbean's answer to Jimmy Buffet. Having immortalized Nippers Bar in at least three of his songs, Barefoot Man also hosts concerts there during Spring Break in March and the Abacos sailing regatta in July. The signs go up at Nippers inviting you back for Barefoot Man 2-3 months in advance, and people literally plan their Bahamas vacations around the event. (A cruising couple's daughter arrived yesterday for her annual week-long visit. The best part? "She finally made it for Barefoot Man!") We've heard stories of years past when Nippers used to have a palm tree in the middle of the deck. "They had to take it out because college girls used it as a stripper pole during the Barefoot Man concert." Uhhh...yeah. Lest you think Barefoot Man Weekend is all about bikini-clad co-eds soaking in the sun imbibing a few frozen Nippers (that's certainly part of it), it's also a chance for the more "mature" cruising crowd to go a little crazy. Believe it or not, the 40-to-60 crowd was a LOT rowdier than the college kids could ever hope to be. Remember: we cruisers have made happy hours on other boats a daily ritual. We have a lot more practice!

So Barefoot Man Weekend is set up like this...get to Guana Cay by noon on Friday, because the free concert starts at Nippers around 12:30. The concert typically lasts until just before sunset, at which point everyone high-tails it to west-facing Grabbers Sunset Bar ( on Fisher Bay. After enjoying a few gorgeous sunset shots and a couple of frozen Grabbers, most people either a) go to someone's boat for happy hour, b) go back to continue the party at Nippers, or c) pass out. Saturday is typically a recovery day until 5-ish when everyone heads back to watch the sunset at Grabbers. The agenda? Visit with friends, have a couple of Grabbers, and head back to Nippers for the evening concert. Sunday is the traditional day of rest, as long as "rest" includes another party! Barefoot Man finally gets to take a break, but Bahamas-native, Brown Tip, brings his "Rake & Scrape" music to Grabbers from 1pm 'til sunset. Nippers also has their usual Sunday pig roast, so people feeling really adventurous are welcome to do a little bar-hopping.

Ideally, cruisers get to Guana Cay a day or two before the concert to stake out a spot in the anchorage at Fisher Bay. Unfortunately 2010's crazy weather brought high westerly winds, meaning anyone anchored in Fisher Bay would be in for a wild ride. We decided to splurge on a slip at the Orchid Bay Marina and enjoyed the extravagance of leaving our dinghy in the raised position for a change. (Not having to take a cold, wet dinghy ride to a public dock...priceless!) John and Ginger from Be Leaving were on the next dock over, so we all headed up the hill to Nippers where their friend, Ron, was holding a table for us. Brendal brought a boat-load of people over from Green Turtle Cay, which meant we got to see Nicki and her kids, dive master Jack, and of course, Brendal. (Side note: Nippers is actually very kid-friendly, even during Barefoot Man. There are two swimming pools and a gorgeous beach that the kids love, and we all help keep an eye on them.) The frozen Nippers started flowing, and we were soon singing along to Barefoot favorites such as "When They Cut You Off at Nippers", "If You See Kay" (listen as you say it out loud), and "Living Next Door to Alice" (imagine 300 party-goers screaming out the chorus, "Who the F*** is Alice?"). The real charm of the Barefoot Man is that so many of his songs are about the Abacos. Anyone who has spent time here will listen to his songs and recognize the places he sings about: the Fig Tree on Guana Cay (as in "Hang Me at..."), the Conch Inn in Marsh Harbor ("Conched Out at the Conch Inn"), "Hopetown Ferry" (which takes people between Hope Town and Marsh Harbor), and, of course, Nippers Bar. His songs are like a travelogue of the Bahamas, and make us grin even more now that we've spent three months here.

Brendal, Jack, and Nicki headed back to Green Turtle at 4pm, so we wandered back down the hill to Grabbers soon after. There we found Rick and Linda from Sojourner, along with their friends, Vince and Monica. Grabbers was beginning to fill up as people got tired of the Nippers craziness and came in for more low-key fun. We all stuck around for a Grabber or two and then made our way to Be Leaving. John and Ginger had invited us to their boat for an after-Nippers happy hour; tradition says everyone brings an appetizer to share, which can be tricky after spending the day at the concert. Let's just say there were plenty of chips and dips bought at the local grocery that night. We were back on our boat by 10pm and in bed by 10:05. This partying stuff is hard work!

We got up Saturday morning intending to move out of the marina in favor of the free anchorage. The wind was still howling like crazy from the west, so we decided to stay in the marina for another night. (Stacy was soon accused of being a "dock princess".) After an early morning coffee on Be Leaving, we joined Ron, John, and Ginger for breakfast at the Art Cafe & Bakery. We had loved this place the last time we were here, but this time they were a bit overwhelmed by the volume of patrons. They ran out of both ham and sausage by the time we got there, and the resulting bacon omelet didn't quite make the grade. We should've gone for the local fare, as we were told their chicken sous and fish stew were both fantastic. Not feeling particularly energetic, we decided to take advantage of the marina's pool and deck chairs. Being in the lee of the hotel, the pool area was deceptively warm - it got COLD as soon as you stepped into the wind! We eventually made it back to Grabbers for sunset, and made a last-minute decision to attend the Barefoot Man concert at Nippers that night. The Saturday night concert was originally touted as a reservations-required "Dinner and Dancing Under the Stars" event, and initially carried a not-so-cruiser-friendly price tag ($100 a plate was the rumor). At some point Nippers must not have had the expected turnout, because the evening concert soon became a "$10 cover, no-reservations-required" show. We arrived at Nippers soon before the 7pm start time, and were surprised when they waved us in without even collecting the $10 cover. This was getting better all the time! The only downside was that the 20+ knot winds had clocked to the north, meaning if you weren't sitting inside (no luck - it was full) or behind the protective plastic, you got blown out of your shorts. Poor Barefoot Man - his stage was front and center to the blowing winds, and clad in shorts and flip flops, he was barely kept warm by a portable heater he'd brought! We had a fun time at the show, and had quite the people-watching experience as Nippers-infused co-eds danced on the picnic tables.

After a final night at the marina, we moved the boat over to the Fisher Bay anchorage Sunday morning in time for the Brown Tip concert at Grabbers. We stayed at Grabbers until sunset, and finally managed a quiet night on the boat. Monday we'll head to Treasure Cay to try to rest up and do some major boat cleaning before Stacy's mom arrives on Tuesday. Til next time...

P.S. In case you need a glossary:
Nipper (noun): the signature rum drink of Nippers Bar. Its recipe is a secret, but we know it has 5 kinds of rum and a Hawaiian Punch-like fruit juice. Get it frozen (our preference) or on the rocks.
Nipper (verb): the effect brought on by the signature rum drink of Nippers Bar, as in "you've been Nippered"
Grabber (noun): the signature rum drink of Grabbers Bar. This recipe is also a secret, but we think it also has 5 kinds of rum and a grapefruit juice base. We like it better than the Nipper, because the tanginess means you can drink more of them. Get it frozen (our preference) or on the rocks.
Barefoot Man: Check out his website at for info and CDs.
Chicken sous (rhymes with "house"): a chicken broth-based dish containing bone-in chicken pieces, lime juice, hot peppers, potatoes, and allspice berries. Whatever the recipe (and everyone has their own version), this dish is always served in the morning as a cure-all for the night before.

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