During what was among the worst (but not horrific) of the season’s winter cold fronts, we had plenty of time aboard to get our money’s worth from our Wi-Fi purchase. Two companies, BahamasWiMax and Out Island Internet (OII) offer Wi-Fi around the populated cays and islands of the Abacos. For approx. $100/month you can have access 24/7 as long as you are close enough to one of their twenty sites between Sandy Point and Walkers Cay. That may seem pricey until you compare it to $5 or $10 for a day (or less). Add to that lugging your laptop to shore or having limited data usage.
Monday afternoon we motor-sailed into Marsh Harbor and dropped the hook in the NE section mid-way between the marinas on each shore. Marsh Harbor contains as many marinas as the entire Exuma chain. Several large charter companies including Sunsail and Moorings reside here and catamarans are plentiful. We zoomed in, found an ATM and headed over to Maxwells, the best grocery since leaving FL. Our crappy timing continued; the produce boat wasn’t due in until Tuesday, so we picked up canned Mandarin oranges to hold us over. Oh, we bought plenty of other stuff too. I resisted the quart of fresh buttermilk for $3.49. The sell-by date was 3/8. Um, I’ll wait until next time. Next time came and the shelf contained new arrivals, but the containers that expired 3/8 (was 3/8) were reduced to 99 cents. I took one.
Our friend John on Vulcan was snug at Marsh Harbor Marina. We were happy to re-connect with him and meet his Caracas lady friend, Katty who was visiting. Tuesday was nickel tour day and John our trusty guide, gave us our money’s worth. I was thrilled to find avocados at SaveALot and as we stepped inside I realized it was the market we provisioned at five years ago.
As promised, the holding is very good in the harbor and we enjoyed a 360 degree view of boat traffic. Like the produce ship. No doubt it contained more than produce but come Wednesday, the crowds at Maxwells would be happy once again.
Abaco is noticeably more tourist-y than the Bahamas we’ve seen so far. The proximity to Florida accounts for that. The benefits are the wide variety of shops and services, pretty buildings, a plethora of restaurants in all price ranges and easy sailing in the Sea of Abaco. On the flip side, if you are looking for seclusion and getting away from it all, Abaco doesn’t have that in abundance. Lots of charter boats means- “watch out!” and hey I can say that, having been there ourselves. We see more boat traffic in general; small runabouts rented by villa and cottage dwellers, ferries running from Marsh Harbor to Hope Town, Man-o-War and Great Guana Cay. You know you are close to Florida, has that feel.
For much of our stay the wind was so accommodating that one only had to hoist up any barn door and off you’d go.
Our stay would not be complete without a couple dining out experiences; long overdue for the weary, bored galley slave. Mangoes was our fancy dinner out choice and I guess we got lucky with it being pasta night and well how much can you charge for pasta, “and”. Plenty, let me tell you. The Margaritas were a taste bud treat, but $10! Friday’s lunch at Marsh Harbor Marina’s Jib Room, on the north side of the harbor was every bit as good and suited our budget slightly better.
Marsh Harbor has two bakeries and they are not like what you are used to; however you need to remember where you are; the Bahamas. Breads, doughnuts, not much chocolate and many treats contain- are you ready?- coconut! Starved for baked goods (not mine!), we had no trouble filling a bag..and that was on day one!
Before we left the harbor Friday afternoon, not only had we lugged groceries several times from Maxwells (only an 8 minute walk to the dinghy dock), the propane tank got filled, the bank account emptied (OK- felt that way), the liquor locker replenished and laundry done (while we enjoyed lunch with John at the mostly open air Jib Room). The two washers and dryers are set in an alley-way of sorts behind the shower bldg which is behind the pool. I’ll skip the story of “laundry in town” not, and just say that tending to the laundry while enjoying lunch overlooking the harbor, is not a bad way to go.
Two hours later, motoring for lack of wind, but able to run the water maker, we anchored near Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay a few miles south of Hope Town. Anchor hadn’t been down for 5 mins, when we got the laptop running, connected to the OII nearest to us and opened Skype. Are we crazy? Couldn’t we have waited? Nope- timing is everything. Over in Italy Benj was trying to Skype us and we got it going in time before he signed off- yes! One hour later, we said good-bye and although the video didn’t work it was a free call. We’ve gotten used to Skype but it feels odd talking to your laptop when the video aspect isn’t functional.