Time to Chat ‘N’ Chill – Caribbean Beach Bars

Chat ‘N’ Chill, a beachside bar and grill that was started by its colorful owner Kenneth “KB” Bowe, to meet the needs of cruising yachtsmen. It also meets the needs of this salty castaway.

My idea of heaven is pulling up to a white sand beach on a boat, lazily walk shoeless into a rustic beach shack that serves up rum drinks and some simple food. Then take my boat drink to a secluded spot under a coconut palm and just lime. That’s my heaven and that’s Chat N Chill. Life slows down when you’re in the islands, and it damn near stops when you’re at an authentic Caribbean beach bar like this.

Our Day At Chat ‘N’ Chill Beach Bar

After walking around the wonderland that is the Elizabeth Harbor sandbar, Capt. Steve of Off Island Adventures deposited us on the shores of Stocking Island, home of Chat N Chill beach bar. Stocking Island is just across the harbor from Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas.

We were immediately distracted by a large black shape cruising through the shallows. As we literally ran up to it, we found a friendly stingray that was looking for some love. Okay, he was probably looking for scraps of conch from the nearby conch salad stand, but he seemed to enjoy our company as much as we enjoyed his.  Here is a short video of Stan the stingray. I thought he needed a name for the story.

After hanging with Stan we stumbled up the stairs of Chat N Chill and are greeted by the fun loving, charismatic owner, KB.  I quickly ordered a Goombay Smash and everyone else tried a blue concoction called Blue Lightning I believe. I might have Chat N Chillthe name wrong. KB “Chats” us up as he made the drinks and made sure we were having a grand time. “It’s hard to have a bad time with a rum drink in your hand on a tropical island”, I thought to myself. I didn’t want to say it out loud though, and risk the cliche I’m sure he has heard a billion times before. I sip my adult beverage and smile.

We all ordered KB’s famous Conch Burger, except for Kristin, she ordered a chicken sandwich because she was getting conched out.  Yes, we ate conch just about everyday. It’s just something you do when you’re in the Bahamas, plus it’s good stuff. I see a future conch story coming so be ready!

As we waited for our food, we dragged a few colorful beach chairs to the waters edge and took in the beauty that is the Exuma Islands. I went for a little swim in the azure Bahamian water as my fellow travelers chuckled at my sun burnt body. Damn sunscreen must have been broken.

We then downed our lunch and a few more drinks and sadly it was time to catch the ferry back over to Great Exuma. I could have spent the entire day at Chat N Chill and would have worn a smile the entire time.

KB Chat N Chill owner

KB - Owner/Operator of Chat N Chill

Before we left I grabbed KB’s attention and bought a visor and a couple t-shirts. I got the chance to briefly talk to KB one on one, and he told me the abbreviated story of Chat N Chill.  He said it doesn’t matter who you are when you’re at Chat N Chill.  He gets celebrities, rich yacht owners, locals and fishermen… everyone is the same when they step foot on this little plot of sand that he calls home. Well said KB, you’ve created a very special place.

As for this castaway, all I wanted to do was have few drinks, enjoy the scenery and do a little Chattin’ N Chillin’ for as long as time would allow. This time “Island Time” moved way to fast.

I can’t wait to go back.

Cheers,

RumShopRyan

Comments

  1. Ha when I saw the stingray video, my first thought was “does he have an official name?” You beat me to it ;-)

  2. Oh my, despite time moving slower in the Bahamas, things have changed in the 26 years since I was last in the Exumas. Here’s an excerpt from “Last Chance to be a Cowboy” talking about the way it was in the 80s

    Diving with Bill

    A couple of days later, Bill from “No Problem” suggested we go dive on a reef he knew of, in an isolated location about twelve miles away, off of tiny Pigeon Key. He and the Skipper and I sailed down there on our boat and anchored on the lee side of the tiny island. Pulling our dinghy behind us, we swam around the island and out into Exuma Sound, where the reef was located a good thirty to fifty feet below.

    Captain’s log…

    Our friend Bill, who knew this part of the Bahamas as if they were his own, recounted to us the virtues of a seldom fished reef some 12 miles distant. The wind direction and intensity that day should allow us to make the round trip aboard our boat. We could take along Bill’s inflatable dinghy and hopefully have calm enough conditions to harvest plenty of fish for the party that our gang at Lee Stocking Anchorage was busily planning,
    We had gotten to the reef and were swimming along when I spotted the reef in the crystal clear water some thirty to forty feet below. This was much deeper than R… and I were accustomed to hunting in, but we were lucky to be diving with Bill and eager to learn from him.
    The three of us were swimming in line about 20 feet apart. Bill was in the middle and even though he was handicapped by towing the inflatable behind him was covering ground fast.
    When Bill reached where he wanted to dive he turned the dinghy over to R… to hold and dove down to juke (Bahamian slang for the word spear) big fish that had remained unperceived by R…and me.
    He would speed down to a coral outcropping and peer into a hole. With one hand he would press his spear into the rock thereby stretching the elastic tubing into a cocked position. Then holding the handle and cocked spear in one hand, he would plant his free hand on the rock for balance and continue to swim against the outcropping to steady his motion. He then aimed and let the spear fly into the hole and followed it in disappearing entirely. A moment later he reappeared from the little cave with a ten pound grouper on his spear. The fish had been precisely head shot and pretty much dead to the world never knowing what had hit him.
    As a Captain of my own boat I was beginning to feel a certain embarrassment over my lack of ability when a large hogfish came into view. My competitiveness arose and called me into action.
    Bill recounted the story later over a rum and soda. He had also spotted the fish and was getting a good lungful of air preparing for the kill, but then observing that I was going for it decided to wait and see what would happen.
    My descent was slow; I had to keep clearing my ears by awkwardly holding my nose and blowing. The old rental shop mask, that a guest on one of our day cruises out of Nassau had absconded with by charging it to a non-existing hotel on Paradise Island, was leaking. The water level in the mask was steadily rising towards eye level. I had made it down to the sandy bottom where the fish proved cooperative. Apparently he had never confronted divers before because I easily speared him with a well placed strike.
    All that remained now was to retrieve my prize and get him to the surface. My lungs were screaming for air, my goggles were by this time really filling up with water. Meanwhile my fish staggered drunkenly along ahead of me.
    Thankfully the spear had struck well and I succeeded in getting a hold of it. Carefully re-inserting the butt end of the spear into its wooden handle in order to slide the hog fish up to the other end of the spear to softly wedge it between the handle on one side and the hinged barb I secured the fish.
    With the sea level inside my mask at eye-ball level I was on my way up exhaling small bursts of exhaust in preparedness for gulping in the air that waited above. What a relief it was to pull the mask off of my face and drink in the sweet air.
    The hogfish amazed me by being much bigger than I had any idea he would be. Bill had climbed into the inflatable boat ready to assist in landing the fish and perhaps to safeguard the integrity of his little dinghy from my sharp spear point.
    Bill had taught us to always keep your dinghy close and stressed the importance of getting any speared fish immediately to the surface and out of the water. A few drops of blood or the vibrations of such a victim would serve as an easy dinner alarm to any sharks cruising in the vicinity. Sharks have big ears, though they don’t show!
    I was amazed by the beauty of this hogfish and proud of it. I thought to have sort of passed my audition as a somewhat capable diver. Bill had gotten three fish for every one R…s and mine, but the hogfish was the prize of the day.
    I tried to be nonchalant, while really I was transfixed to this new specimen, his luminous pink scales shimmered and his big perfectly round eyes were the brightest green colour you can imagine. It was if this fish had a bright light deep inside of him emanating an aura, a glow that tragically enough was fading now. I do remember some confusing emotions touching on guilt as I observed the colours of life fading and leaving only his flesh behind.
    We ended an eventful day accented by having to hop-to and reef the mainsail on our return sail through a fast moving afternoon squall (tropids as they call em). By time we got back to the anchorage the weather was fine as we commenced the chore of filleting our catch.
    Successful carnivore that I am, my pride and pleasure in the kill re-doubled when back at harbor the beautiful Japanese girl had inquired which one of us had captured the big Hogfish, her favorite meat in the sea, she claimed, though Dolphin and Spanish Mackerel ranked close behind.

    I had developed the ability to dive with some competency, but 30 feet was the limit of my ability, and my comfort range was really in the fifteen to twenty five foot deep range. My problem was the difficulty I had “clearing my ears”. Consequently, I wound up just being a spectator in this dive. The Skipper had the ability to get considerably deeper than I and Bill was another story entirely. He was a world class diver and could go down fifty feet with ease. I pretty much just hung near the surface, watching and keeping the dinghy from drifting away.
    The Skipper got his first really large fish on that hunt, a huge hogfish and Bill contributed with several good sized groupers. After about an hour we had plenty of fish and headed back to the boat. We sailed back to the Stocking Island anchorage through a rain squall and anchored again as the sun came back out and a rainbow arched across the sky.
    That night we had a fair sized party on the yawl that the English girl was boat sitting on with 12 people. Now this was cruising as people dream of. A great fish dinner, cocktails and good company. Several people had musical instruments and ability, and we partied and sang into the late hours of the night.
    The next morning, we realized that we had missed the fabled dance night at the Peace and Plenty again! Well we were having a pretty good time anyway and would be sure to make the next one! We noticed that quite a few of the revelers of the night before were apparently sleeping in and rising somewhat groggy headed. When everyone finally stirred and was up, someone organized a communal beach clean up for the next day. We didn’t go diving that day as we had plenty of leftovers from the night before.
    The next day we participated in the beach clean up, and then the Skipper got together another day sail of ten people. He dropped me off on the other side of the harbor in Kidd Cove so I could go make another phone call to the States to find out the status of our expected cash transfer. The captain of “Christina” the little 28 foot Nor Sea sloop went ashore with me to buy a bottle of banana rum.
    Well, my phone call didn’t bring me much satisfaction. I would have to try again on the morrow. When I got back to the dock, the captain of “Christina” was highly excited. Apparently, a small plane had crashed on the outer beach of Stocking Island where our anchorage was.
    As soon as the Skipper sailed back in to pick us up, we recounted what we had heard and we sailed post haste back over to Stocking Island to investigate. By the time we got there the story was out. A small plane laden with bales of marijuana crashed on the other side of the small island, and a vacationing London Bobby had actually apprehended the pilot as he ran across the island and stepped right into his path! The Bahamian authorities were already all over the scene and the beach was cordoned off.
    The next day the whole cruising community was crying in their rum over the loss salvage opportunity of great value the previous day. We did go and peruse the scene. Sure enough there was a small plane on the beach with the nose knee deep in the water. “Dick Ears” had gone along with us and everyone was pouring over the plane for whatever would be of some value to them. It was kind of like picking a carcass, “Dick Ears” managed to secure himself a magazine rack to put on his boat. The Skipper and I looked around, but either weren’t in the mood or didn’t see anything that would be of value to us. The sea would claim whatever wasn’t stripped off the plane, but it was all irrelevant to us. For some reason, this event had cast a somber mood on us.

    BTW I was going to just post a link, to that story in the blog section of my website, http://www.LastChancetobeaCowboy.com but thought it might violate blog and website etiquette to do so. Would it have? I’m just getting into this stuff and am trying to learn the right way to go about things and to avoid doing the wrong thing

  3. Roger, thanks for the great book quote. All most a short story there. Cheers.

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