Spanish Wells to Boat Harbor, Great Abaco Island, The Bahamas
Thursday, April 1, 2004
We were up at 5:45 for departure at 6:15. Today we would head across an open water leg to Great Abaco Island and the northern Bahamas. The evening before one of the other boats had arranged for The “A-1” pilot to lead us through the reef north of Spanish Wells. There were seven boats at $20 per boat. That’s $140 for about 40 minutes of work!
We motor-sailed and sailed as conditions dictated to make reasonable speed. Conditions were not too bad, with 6-8 ft swells in the beginning and shorter, heavy chop once we passed by the lower limits of Great Abaco. We passed through North Bar Channel to enter the Sea of Abaco. Altogether, the 65-mile trip took us nine hours and the boat was covered in salt from the constant spray and waves that boarded the boat. We anchored off Abaco Beach Resort in Boat Harbor. The anchorage was calm and we were beat. We tidied up below, made a drink, and relaxed in the cockpit.
Boat Harbor, Great Abaco Island, The Bahamas
Friday – Monday, April 2 – 5, 2004
For the next four days we stayed anchored in Boat Harbor cove as the winds blew fairly strong from the north and west. We were able to dinghy to Boat Harbor Marina and, for a $10 fee, leave the dinghy and make use of their pool, laundry and showers. If we ate a meal in one of their restaurants they’d refund that day’s fee. It was a pleasant, ten-minute walk to the town of Marsh Harbor.
Bill’s goal, as usual, was to find an early morning coffee shop. He’d heard there was only one, Java, on the island. It was nice, with comfortable furniture, good coffee and beautiful artwork. But it didn’t open until 9:00! On the redeeming side, it served egg, ham & cheese breakfast sandwiches on lovely croissants!
After Sandy’s walk on Friday, Bev & Bob showed us around town. Of course, we had to check out the grocery stores. That’s a big thing when you’re cruising these islands. We shared a pizza for lunch (Sandy had chicken). We also visited some of the other cruisers we knew who were tied up at Harbor View Marina. That evening we went to the great happy hour at Sappas. We returned to the boat at sundown. It was chilly.
On Saturday, Sandy walked with Roger and Elaine (Doc No More), following a long private road around the perimeter of the ocean. The homes were beautiful, with wonderful views of the water. Walked about 3.5 miles and it was hot! Met Bill at Java. After spending most of the day around town we returned to the boat. That evening, Sandy and Bob (Foreclosure) did laundry at the Boat Harbor laundry. It’s not every Saturday night you get to do laundry with someone else’s husband!
On Sunday the wind blew hard all day, so we spent it on the boat. Bill updated materials to post to our web site and Sandy cleaned. We read. Tough day!
Monday was a BIG DAY! Bill had a haircut appointment at 9:30. He did e-mail, posted our web site update and read. After her walk, Sandy had breakfast with Bev at the Conch Inn (Moorings), a body massage and a haircut. We enjoyed a nice dinner at the Boat Harbor Resort Restaurant that evening. Afterwards, we watched the NCAA playoff game where we met Steve & Mary Overt. It turned out to be the latest we’ve been up for a long time, returning to the boat at 11:45. Amazingly, we were wide awake and read until after 1:00! Happily, the anchorage was very calm.
Boat Harbor to Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco Island, The Bahamas
Tuesday, April 6, 2004
This morning we moved the boat around the end of the point and in to Port-of-Call Marina in Marsh Harbor proper. This is a small marina but friendly and very tidy. We would use this stop to clean the salt off the boat and to re-provision. We emptied the water tanks (filled with not-so-good water in Spanish Wells) and refilled with better, Marsh Harbor water. Sandy washed the decks while Bill rebuilt the head once again. Both projects had good results. What a treat to actually wash the salt and dirt off the boat with a HOSE! We normally have to rely on rain, heavy dew or a bucket and a rag.
That evening we attended the Royal Marsh Harbor Yacht Club monthly social at Boat Harbor Marina w/ Bob & Bev and Roger & Elaine. The event featured an open bar and picnic supper for $10 each! Several gals dressed up in Easter finery, including fancy Easter bonnets. They had a hat contest and Sandy ended up modeling a hat for one of the cruisers who had to leave early. She ended up winning first place and took a bottle of good gin. On our way back to the boat we couldn’t resist stopping at Jamie’s for ice cream.
Marsh Harbor to Lynyard Cay, The Bahamas
Wednesday, April 7, 2004
After a much needed grocery excursion to Solomon’s grocery store (the best, by far, that we’ve seen since January 9th), we headed toward Little Harbor, about 20 miles to the south. On our way, we could clearly see where there were several wildfires that have plagued Abaco for the past couple of weeks. We’d been seeing smoke from one fire near the Marsh Harbor airport. For the most part, it had been drifting south of us, but occasionally the boat would smell pretty smoky.
It was a beautiful day. Although we wanted to get into Little Harbor, the entrance is very shallow and we needed to wait for a high tide to get in. Arriving in the area, we checked out an anchorage near the entrance to Little Harbor but there was an uncomfortable swell running. Instead, we backtracked a couple of miles north to Lynyard Cay and anchored near Pearl.
That evening Bill made chili and we had Pete & Dianne over for dinner. The past few nights have been chilly with low humidity so sleeping was great. There was a bit of swell in this anchorage but not too bad.
Lynyard Cay to Little Harbor, Great Abaco Island, The Bahamas
Thursday, April 8, 2004
It was a beautiful, sunny day. We motored to Little Harbor about 9:00 and picked up a mooring.
Pete Johnston is the main “character” in Little Harbor. His sculptor father first settled this little bit of paradise and set up a studio and foundry. Pete follows the tradition, sculpting, operating the foundry, running his studio and operating Pete’s Pub on the beach. Since a road was built to the area from Marsh Harbor a few years ago, there has been a building spurt of vacation homes around the picturesque harbor. The foundry operates every Thursday. The public is invited to witness the operation and we were right there in the front row. This is a tiny foundry, having a melting pot that only holds about 200 lbs. of molten metal. About seven small molds were poured as we watched. Afterwards we talked to one of the resident artists and to Pete about the lost wax process that they use.
Afterwards, we walked the beach and then Bill retired to the Pub while Sandy continued to comb the sand for treasures. Supper was leftover chili and fresh broccoli.
Little Harbor to Hope Town, Elbow Cay, The Bahamas
Friday, April 9, 2004
We left the mooring about 10:00 for the trip north to Hope Town, site of a picturesque lighthouse. This is another small, protected harbor. In this case, however, it is well developed and hosts a significant tourist business. The harbor is crowded with moorings. However, none were available so we took a slip at the Hope Town Marina and Club Soleil, right in the shadow of the lighthouse. The marina is run by Rudi who purchased the property 28 years ago when there was only a house on the property. There is now a small marina, lots of moorings, a small resort hotel and pool and a restaurant, now closed. Rudy, who has a German sounding accent, says it’s been a fun project.
We took the dinghy around the perimeter of the harbor and then to the Sailing Club’s dinghy dock. We decided to explore the streets and beaches. Most businesses, except for the bar/restaurants, were closed for Good Friday. The town is neat as a pin; full of small shops, rental houses and small resorts. The homes are well maintained, the roads are one-laned cement and beautiful flowers everywhere. Lots of hibiscus blooming! Cars are not permitted, although you see occasional small trucks plying the extremely narrow streets. It reminds us of a small version of Cape May, NJ.
The beaches alternate between sand (at least as pink as Harbor Island’s) and ironstone. Sandy found a few shells in the short time we were there. We walked through the Hope Town Harbor Lodge, the largest and most up-scale resort in town. Returning to the boat, we stopped by to talk to Wayne and Norma (Jura). They mentioned that they planned to see the lighthouse lighting (it still burns a kerosene lamp) at about 7:00 that evening. We decided to join them.
We walked from the marina to the lighthouse, climbed 101 wooden steps to the top and waited for the event. Eventually, the keeper and his sons arrived on the scene. It is a bit of a ritual. First, they removed the curtains that surround the huge Fresnel lens during the daytime. Lighting the light is like lighting a large-scale, old-fashioned, mantel-style Coleman gasoline lantern. The operators actually climb inside the lens. First the burner is preheated using a pan of flaming kerosene. Then the mantel, itself is lighted. The mechanism that rotates the lens is operated by a 600 lb. weight that must first be raised by a hand-crank. The bearing that allows the lens to turn easily is actually a pool of liquid mercury metal on which the lens floats.
Returning to the boat, we completed cooking the meal of Moroccan chicken and fresh broccoli that we’d begun before walking to the lighthouse. Mmmmmmm good!
Hope Town, Elbow Cay, The Bahamas
Saturday, April 10, 2004
We dinghied into the town and had breakfast at Captain Jacks on the harbor. Bill then returned to the boat to work on the log. Sandy took a long walk around the north end of the island and returned by the beach. There were lots of nice homes along the dirt road but the beach was a disappointment because there were very few shells. Afterwards she checked out a few shops and returned to the boat around 3:30. We headed to the marina pool for a swim and to read.
Back at the boat, Sandy prepared a large salad for dinner and we were about to eat when the fishing boat in the next slip returned from a day fishing. The five guys on board (The boat’ and most of the guys were from Texas.) invited us to join them for dinner that they were going to grill by the pool. We contributed our salad and they contributed the steaks, fish, potatoes and corn. Fair trade! Nice southern hospitality!