Tuesday, May 6, 2014

More Than Just Fish Stories Are Told on Great Abaco Island

Great Abaco Island in the northeast corner of the Bahamas is a must-visit place for anyone interested in bone fishing, chilling out, and seeing cool West Indian birds.  It also seems to be a place where self-proclaimed Jimmy Buffett "experts" find out that they really aren't.

One thing I have learned since moving to Florida is that everyone south of Indianapolis claims to have met Jimmy Buffett at least twice and everyone south of Chattanooga has had Jimmy out on their boat seemingly every time its keel hits the water.  

Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas is most definitely a Jimmy Buffett sort of place to be.  Boating and sailing are two of the biggest attractions and bonefishing on the "Marls" west of the island are a close third in importance.  The sun bakes here and tourists waste away here and usually the most strenuous thing you can do on Great Abaco is hold yourself up at the bar after two too many Kalik beers.

The Conch Inn Hotel and Marina with its famous Conch Crawl Restaurant and Conch Out bar was right across the street from the Lofty Fig where I stayed for a week my last time on Great Abaco.  Jimmy Buffett admonishes all of his disciples to eat seafood “only when you can see the ocean” and at the Conch Crawl Restaurant that is easily accomplished because most of the place is built on stilts out over the water. You’d have to be blind to miss the ocean here.  Their menu included blackened grouper and the Conch Out Bar had lots of ice-cold Kalik Beer so I was a happy camper.

The Conch Inn and Marina in Marsh Harbour is one of the best places on the island to do absolutely nothing.

As I ate my dinner and absorbed a bottle of Kalik, I couldn’t help but hear an obnoxious 30-something American sitting at the bar trying to impress three stunning 20- something South Florida beach blondes (can’t blame a guy for trying).  His line of bullshit was all about Jimmy Buffett so I listened intently.  Much of what he said was wrong.

“When I met Jimmy the last week of April, 1992, he was sailing from the West Palm Beach to St. Maarten. He sailed right into this dock, got out and bought us all a beer.”

I knew this was a bald faced lie because I met Jimmy backstage at his concert in Fort Lauderdale during the last week of April 1992. He had just come back from bone fishing in the Ragged Islands.  He was no where near Abaco or a sailboat that week. I listened more closely.  The blowhard continued to lay it on.

He professed to be an authority on Buffett and was laying the bullshit on thick to these three absolute babes who were obviously Parrotheads.  He sealed his fate, however, when he pronounced to his covey that “Margaritaville was Jimmy’s first top 10 hit.” I knew then I had to take action. 

Finishing my meal I paid the tab and then slowly walked back past the blowhard.  When I was even with him I stopped.

“Sounds like you really know your Jimmy Buffett music,” I started.  “Do you sing his songs when you play your guitar?”

He said that he did.

I then said, “Do you know where Jimmy was standing when he heard that he first made the top 10, and what was that song?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” he boasted. “He was in Key West and the song was Margaritaville. I just told these girls that before you showed up.”

“Well, partner,” I said, “you’re dead wrong.  Jimmy was in a music store in London, England, when he first heard that Come Monday was his first song to hit the top 10.”


I then asked “What language is Jimmy singing in when he does the chorus in “One Particular Harbour?”

“Oh, that’s easy. He’s singing in Spanish.”

“Wrong. He’s singing in Tahitian.”


“Jimmy owns a ranch in south Georgia that he uses for what purpose?”

“He goes there fishing.”

“No. He owns it for quail hunting.”

By now he’s starting to sweat a little because he can tell the beach blondes realize he’s full of Cheney.  I then put him out of his misery.

“Okay,” I said. “Here’s your last question. – What is the name of the dolphin in the song “Jolly Mon Sing”? 

He said “That’s easy. I sing that song all the time. The dolphin’s name is…” He stammered and stuttered a bit and finally said “I don’t know.”  The first truthful thing he’d said all night.

“The dolphin’s name is Albion.  You would only know that if you were actually a Parrothead.  We know the answers to the questions I just asked you.  I personally think you’re full of shit and so do these three women.”

I expected to get hit in the mouth but instead when he realized that he’d lost all face, he stood up from his chair and bolted for the exit. As I did one of the three hot south Florida blondes he was trying to impress chimed in saying "That guy Alex is such a pompous ass.  We were getting so sick of him, and then you came along and put him in his place. It was perfect timing.”

What would have actually been perfect timing would have been meeting those three about 30 years earlier.