Totally Taken with Turtles

Rolle Cay is quite small and it offers a window view to the southern section of Sand Dollar Beach. Remains of abandoned “resort” perched on either side of the opening

Elizabeth Harbour is huge and contains many anchoring locations, most of them named, such as Monument, Sand Dollar, Honeymoon Beach, Kidd Cove, Red Shanks. Dolphins often come through, as do sharks. Rays hang out in the shallows off Volleyball Beach but it’s the turtles we really love to watch. You might spot them anywhere, but where the water isn’t so deep is your best bet, and for us that spot is behind Rolle Cay (renamed by us to Sisters Beach as s/v Little Sister and m/v Twin Sisters can be found there quite often)

For a day or two I stood on deck (well, not ALL day), camera in hand determined to digitally capture a few acceptable photos. The sun had to be right, the water not too wavy and my slow shutter camera needed to behave. That is, I needed to press the button at precisely the right second. My camera has lots of settings but as you might guess I only use a few. One setting automatically adjusts for the scene and lighting (that’s the gold symbol) the green symbol next to the gold will do a burst of 3 to 5 shots but the quality may not be as good as with the gold setting. For the turtles I mostly used the burst setting.

Turtles are not sociable and the four or five that often swam around hardly ever came close to another one. The water depth ranged from 4ft to 6ft and if not too windy, you could easily see them as they swam, nibbled turtle grass 🙂 or napped.  Every so often- oh maybe every 4mins- you’d have a photo-op when one would surface to breathe. Typically they’d take 2 to 3 breaths, then swim back down, so I had 15-20 seconds to press that button a few times.

I watched, I waited, I had that camera ready if one was close enough. The zoom is very good and I knew I’d be successful with enough patience.  Russ even snapped a picture of me at the bow but do you really want to see my backside? Nah. But hopefully you will appreciate my efforts at turtle photography. 🙂

 

Backside view- they don’t always cooperate you know

Love seeing how they pose so classic turtle-like !

Even better! And when they need to move, they go fast. The smaller turtles are the most skittish and quick!

 

One of 5-6 turtles that hang out by Rolle Cay.  One of the best of, oh, 50 shots

P.S- just as I was working on this post (anchored in what is called the Litter Box) Russ calls out that a turtle was at the stern. Grabbed the camera, found it would not turn on- went dead somehow 😦 and I missed a fabulous shot of one coming up to breathe inches from the steps. Oh well, nice to see one today.

Here’s a few more I forgot to add in:

 

Rolle Cay- low wind day and he came close. Color and tint altered for the effect

 

More tint and color adjustment- for your viewing pleasure

 

TTFN!

 

 

 

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Exumas Zoom Zoom- as usual

Pipe Cay Sunset

Why oh why do we do this fast paced race down the Exuma chain of lovely cays, islets and islands? Method to that madness. One reason is that usually in January and early February the low pressure cold fronts descend upon us at least once a week bringing a day or two of relatively calm conditions, then BAM the wind shifts quickly from SW to N, often at night and upwards of 20kts. If the wind direction out of the SW to W was guaranteed to be very low, you’d just anchor to be protected from the strong North-ish winds and all fine and good. But that’s not how it goes and anchorages with good holding and protection from SW to NE are far and few between in the Exumas; or anywhere in the Bahamas for that matter.

However; if we can make the trip from the Abacos and get south to Elizabeth Harbour, aka George Town, and avoid a clocking cold front, then we have the perfect hidey hole behind Crab Cay, aka Red Shanks.

Here’s how we made the 225 nautical mile trip from Marsh Harbour to Elizabeth Harbour. Lots of prep of course and ideally provision. Russ has started a new technique to defrost our small fridge, using the hair dryer and moving a few things out-of-the-way, covering the food with a pre-chilled towel. Gets the job done faster and the fridge rebounds back to normal temp better.

So then we are ready to stock up, but wait… we are leaving sooner than expected..waaaa no grocery store for us. Oh well.

Performing a quick fridge defrost

Day One trek: 75nm from the MH Marina to the anchorage at Royal Island, Eleuthera. In just under 7 hours we moved along reasonably comfortably in 4 foot swells about 9 seconds apart (in the ocean). Low winds as forecast. We were happy, but the sailboats probably not so much.

Day Two: decision time: One option was to spend a couple of nights in Spanish Wells but doing so would have greatly delayed our George Town arrival, so we braved a sloppy and bouncy trek from Royal Island to Highourne Cay, Exumas. A windy, squally Sunday was forecast so we took a slip for two nights after fueling and catching up with Stevie who remembers us- mostly because he has an uncle who lives in CT.

The marina was empty; a few yachts and sport fish came and went. Saturday night we went up to Xuma for dinner. Only one other couple there. Then we discover that tonight is the big surprise birthday party for the resort’s manager- but so far in advance that he was really and truly surprised. Since so few customers were expected for dinner, the surprise was held tonight and boy they had fun. We were encouraged to join in and the extra wine and beer we received at no charge was a nice touch.

So, what do ya think? Hitch a ride? Nah, too small.

We toured around on loaner bikes the next day, stopping at a few beaches and admiring the spruced up herb garden.

In the shallows past the marina docks

 

Cutting edge and brand new, but hey it’s HOME

Black Point (roughly 55 miles north of George Town) is a mandatory stop and you may know exactly why: Ida’s Rockside Laundry, and a haircut for Russ, spiral filled coconut bread by Lorraine’s Mom and lunch at Lorraine’s Café.

Around the corner is Little Bay where you can walk across to the ocean-facing beach. We’d planned to move there in the big boat but the wind direction would have made for a rolly night, so we went back and forth by dinghy.  I was surprised at the scant quantity of shells and the only reason we picked up any sea glass was that at low tide you can reach in to the low tide sand shelf and grab what the waves bring in.

Ray and friend

 

Black Point Sunset

The trip from Black Point to George Town involves going out a cut into Exuma Sound (which is a Sound and not 100% Atlantic Ocean thanks to Eleuthera which lies east of the Exumas but only part way) and back in Conch Cay Cut at Elizabeth Harbour. Conditions would be OK, but not great. Fishing line in but my hopes alternated between hoping to hook one and hoping not. We were not alone out there by any means nor were we alone in ending up “fish-less.” The window would close tomorrow for boats wishing to get to George Town in reasonably comfortable and safe conditions.

We snagged a spot close to shore right off the Monument, near Cort’s Place. Their center console, aka a walk-around, was gone. Minutes after Russ says, “They can’t miss us”, the boat zooms by- blind to our existence!  Three men all too focused on the “project-of-the-day discussion.  Well, I resorted to shouting over to them and they came by to greet us and tell about the project. Cort’s friend and freshmen year roomie (so they go way back!) Gif, comes to visit for at least a week early in “the season” to exercise his carpentry skills and bask in the warmth that presently doesn’t exist in western upstate New York.

Next morning we took the big boat across the harbor to Kidd Cove, raided Exuma Market and happily noted several store improvements. Then headed to hide out in Red Shanks for several days (ok, it was a week) of big winds. So what else is new? That’s how it goes here in winter.

 Nature applies the red crayon to a scene that 15 mins earlier was only yellow.

Four Aboard in the Abacos

From Saturday Jan 6 through mid-day Sunday Jan 14 Twin Sisters was home and vacation digs for more people than we’ve had aboard for longer than a few hours. And I’m pleased to report that despite the crappy weather that kept us inside way too much, everyone, especially Benj and Lily, rose above the disappointing conditions and made the best of things.

I mean, we folded up the bimini top on Jan 1 and didn’t reopen it until Jan 22!  (think windy and noisy) Except for the three times we were underway, no one hung out on the flybridge. The only time it was used was when Benj and Lily worked at prying coconut meat out of one we’d collected earlier in Hope Town.

Heading into Sea Spray with Benj & Lily the day they arrived. The ferry from MH right on our tail.

On the plus side, windy conditions indicated a comfy marina slip would be a good idea. We chose a place we hadn’t been to before, over on Elbow Cay but not in Hope Town Harbour proper.

The short list of “really want to do” consisted of 1) Hope Town and Lighthouse, 2) Swim at Tahiti Beach and 3) Little Harbor/Pete’s Pub. Took all week but we made them all happen. The weather was stuck in this funky pattern where the forecast the night before was often quite wrong about the next day, so creative thinking and flexibility was key to making the most out of the short spans of “not too rainy”.

This was Lily’s first Bahamas adventure and her most time spent aboard by far, so our (Russ, I and Benj) focus was on making sure she had a good time and got a flavor of the Abacos- like lunch at Firefly !

 

Our view from Sea Spray Marina. After the rain, the sky makes pretty

The marina is aptly named, because easterly wind causes the spray to blow over the narrow land; soon Twins was covered in salty sea spray!

We snagged a ride to Hope Town village in the marina’s courtesy “car”- a 4-seater golf cart in good weather, or a mini van in unpleasant weather- like today. Lunch at Captain Jack’s- laid back with a harbour view and everyone agreed the meal was very good.

Lily received the grand village tour including a stop at Vernon’s (known for his breads and pies) and I picked up a container of Om Grown’s sunflower shoots to make a dish I’ve copied from Om Grown that I call Hope Town Pasta.

Atlantic Ocean view from Hope Town

One morning a two-hour window opened up with low winds and hopefully no rain- so off they went to swim at Tahiti Beach.

The kids head off to swim, snorkel and walk by Tahiti Beach around the corner from Sea Spray

Mid-week we braved the wind and bid farewell to Sea Spray with a plan: if we could get a mooring in the harbour we’d snag that and spend two nights. If none available we’d anchor outside the harbour and dinghy to the lighthouse docks. Hopefully one or both manatees would be hanging around the marina for a lighthouse and manatee “check off the list”.

The harbour mooring goddess smiled upon us and our hopeful guests, and presented us with a choice of two moorings; we chose a double green which we knew belongs to Lucky Strike. Truman has well-maintained moorings, second only to Captain Ron’s in our opinion. A two-day stay in Hope Town was guaranteed as was a lighthouse visit.

Benj & Lily played so many games of cribbage I lost count. Other inside activities involved meal prep, snacks (these two eat more than we old folk), happy hour appetizers and of course “your beverage of choice”. Lily liked to hear what Russ and I were having and often chose based on that, with a Barcelo Blazer a regular (ok maybe twice) request. Licor 43 (a Spanish liqueur so Barcelo might be short for Barcelona), tequila and a dash of chocolate bitters.

Cribbage never interferes with happy hour! Today our esteemed guests chose martini cocktails, those garlic stuffed olives coming in handy for Benj’s dirty martini

Apres rain rainbow.  Time is 20 mins before sunset.

Friday found us underway toward Marsh Habour and the same slip at the marina we’d left on Saturday. Tying up and casting off is always easier with our son to help. Lily was the perfect guest in that regard and knew to stay out-of-the-way (observing with a smile and chuckle no doubt)  as we handled lines and fenders. 🙂

They biked into town and returned with coconut bread and DONUTS from Da Best Yet Bakery. Saturday we enacted the plan that would enable us to get to Pete’s Pub in Little Harbour and more! If not by sea, then by land! Benj dropped Russ off at the dinghy dock across the harbour. We’d booked a rental car from USave Auto rental which is at the airport but also operates a second location a stone’s throw from the dinghy dock.

First stop was the bakery for more donuts 🙂 then Maxwell’s. After unloading back on Twins, we headed south down the Great Abaco Highway with Google as our guide. Stop #1- Pete’s Pub for lunch and see the sights.

Upper deck of Pete’s pub

Our son is not known for owning material items in excess (only food perhaps!) and I always (still do) had to encourage him to replace worn out items- ones he’d re-stitched or repaired many times. So when he arrived, a new pair of sunglasses was a hot topic and Benj made a point of showing me, saying he knew I’d be surprised and pleased that he bought new ones. I immediately pulled out my latest pair (because I need 3), recently acquired in St Augustine and we had a great laugh. Identical except that Benj’s temple pieces were longer than mine.

Matchy shades! Where does Benj get his good taste?

Next stop, Cherokee Sound settlement.

Cherokee Sound: sits a few miles south of Little Harbour and lays claim to the longest dock in the Bahamas thanks to the very shallow waters surrounding the tiny settlement. Most cruisers never go there by boat but in our nifty rental car it was easy. I’ll take the easy route and quote from the Destination Abaco booklet to give you the scoop about Cherokee Sound.

“In the early 1780s, Cherokee Sound was founded by Colonel Thomas Brown along with American Loyalists from the Carolinas. …the settlement was given the name Cherokee Sound by the Colonel because he was once one of England’s liaisons with the Cherokee Indians. Although Cherokee Sound has been described as the most geographically isolated settlement on Great Abaco Island, the Loyalists were attracted to the availability of fresh water and the protected harbour that it provided on the southeast coast of Abaco. There is also a long barrier reef accentuated by cays that protect the northern side of the island.”

That may have been acceptable “back in the day” but the water was often (think “not at high tide”) too shallow for larger vessels. And residents had to cross a shallow bay in a small boat in order to reach the mainland. Prior to 1990 the 15 mile road to Marsh Harbour was gravel before being paved. By 1997 a new road with an over-water bridge was built and paved which allowed residents to drive to the Great Abaco Highway.

Cherokee’s economy was driven mostly by wrecking, fishing and farming in the 1800s. The local Methodist church was built in 1827 and in 1988 the community erected a monument dedicated to the Cherokee fishermen and their smacks (fishing vessels).  Because the fishing voyages would often take six to ten weeks, the men had many opportunities to visit various islands and cays throughout the Bahamas; thereby giving them a vast area to explore and find shells to bring home to their sweethearts and families. As a result of such an extensive shell collection, a tiny “Gifts From The Sea” museum recently opened up free to the public. It’s locked but you only have to call the number on the sign and one of the settlement’s 160 residents will come and open the doors for you.

We didn’t have time for the shell museum but we did see the tiny yellow building as we drove through the settlement’s one main road.

Cherokee- the dock has been shortened by hurricanes but is being repaired piece by piece

 

The long view of things in Cherokee

 

Father- son moment in Cherokee. Notice the lower level sitting area for a leg dangle in at higher tide

Much further south sat our next and final stop of the day, Sawmill Sink Blue Hole. First we had to backtrack to the Great Abaco Highway and then drive, oh at least another 10-12 miles south. Just to be clear, “paved road” doesn’t mean quite the same as in the States; 40mph is a safe speed. Plus, the car did NOT have a spare tire and per the contract we were responsible for all costs should we incur a flat. No way do we want that adventure today!

The blue hole had to be located on Google maps so we could find our way there. If you recall from the Marsh Harbour post, the roads were begun by Owens-Illinois who created primary and secondary logging roads. We had to be able to find the turnoff onto the correct logging road, then drive west until we’d come to what we hoped was the obvious spot to park near the blue hole. Thanks to Google we did not get lost!

Benj and Lily brought swimming gear in case conditions permitted, but the afternoon got cloudy and the blue hole didn’t look as inviting as they’d hoped.

The parking spot is just that, a slightly wider tiny section of logging road with an obvious path leading to the blue hole.

The road looks like this heading back to the Great Abaco Highway

Sawmill Sink Blue Hole which has given up many artifacts since its discovery- check it out on Nat’l Geographic

 

Looking across the Sawmill Sink Blue Hole- bird on roots near bottom- possible Bahama Mockingbird

Benj and Lily claim they saw (up close) a hummingbird, and well Ok I trust they did, but we didn’t see much in the way of colorful flowers. Russ saw a few like the below.

Sea star flower. Credit to photographer Russ.

Piece of old light railway used by logging company

 

Railway related ruins

As usual, the drive back didn’t seem as long as the going and in this case it was shorter; just a long haul back up the Highway. Was a fun day exploring places we’ve only been by boat and others we would never get to except by car. The day’s weirdest happening I will leave out, but if Russ or I remember, we’ll be sure to tell the bizarre tale in person.

Sunday was departure day and we all enjoyed a leisurely morning as the flight wasn’t until almost 2pm. Did we take them in the rental car? No, that timing didn’t work out. But it’s more fun to hail a taxi!  You get on VHF channel (06 I think) and you say something like, “taxi pickup needed from Jib Room to airport.” Keep it short. Immediately a taxi will respond with “taxi 16, five mins away.”  Then you acknowledge that taxi number and get to the pickup spot if you aren’t there already.  Writing about it doesn’t give you the real flavor though as the locals speak fast, with an accent and in the case of taxis, more than one may try to get the ride. If number 16 says 10 mins, but another chimes in with 5 mins, you can acknowledge the one you want. If you have a favorite taxi number you can just hail “taxi 123” on the VHF.  Different here, yes, but it works well.

And then we were all alone… to put Twins back to the state of two aboard, deflate air mattress, move Engel freezer back down, clothes back on the rod above the bed, etc. Keeping busy was good as we adjusted and of course began checking the weather to see when we might be able to head out of the Abacos and down to the Exumas.

 

Marsh Harbour

Fancy Defence Force vessel in Marsh Harbour

Although a fair number of cruisers anchor in the protected harbour that’s ringed by marinas, restaurants and private docks, it’s the free anchoring, easy access to provisions and a myriad supplies that’s the draw, not the scenery. Marsh is the country’s third largest city- behind Nassau and Freeport I’m guessing. Marsh Harbour also boasts the only street light in the Abacos.

The city was founded by American Loyalists in 1784; growing from an initial population of a few hundred to more than 7,000 residents today. The infrastructure is more substantial than any other place we’ve visited in the Bahamas (with the exception of Nassau on New Providence) and Maxwell’s Supermarket definitely feels like a stateside grocery, albeit closer to a Piggly Wiggly than a Wegman’s!

Timeline:

  • 1565: French colony established and paired with a sister colony in St. Augustine
  • 1947: Bahamas Airways Ltd introduced the first scheduled flights between Abaco and Nassau
  • 1957: Marsh Harbour Int’l Airport opened- the prior year Marsh obtained Port of Entry status by Bahamas Customs
  • 1959: Abaco road network began by Owens-Illinois covered 1,600 miles including secondary logging roads. Two licensed autos on Abaco this year.
  • 1968: Owens-Illinois completed pulpwood operation began in 1948. They provided the area’s first medical doctor in ’48.
  • 1973: Independence from Great Britain on July 10. Not all Bahamians wanted this to occur.
  • 1993: The Abaconian newspaper began as a 12-page monthly.

Ok- now on to our Sea of Abaco wanderings. Remarkably settled weather held out thru the end of December so we made the most of it. A trip down to Little Harbour is a must and there we performed the final act of identifying ourselves as Florida residents; removing our CT dinghy numbers and replacing them with FL registration numbers. Once again, thanks to BoatNumberPlate it was easy, even the removal.

Don’t worry, we made time to beachcomb and enjoy lunch at Pete’s. The foundry had just finished up a commissioned piece that we admired as Pete and his chief foundry guy polished it up outside the Gallery/Gift Shop.

Little Harbour with new reflective FL dinghy numbers.

One of our last out and about stops before needing to hide out at Marsh Harbour Marina for the approaching cold front (and guest preparations) was near Snake Cay. The holding is very iffy near there so we anchored a bit further  away and our trusty Ultra dug in well.

I watched as three dolphins headed our way, perhaps drawn in by the hum of the watermaker.

Dolphin visitors easily seen in clear water off Cormorant Cay .

The opening next to Snake Cay that leads you into a mangrove-lined lagoon is narrow and when the current is full force you notice! Luckily we entered about an hour past low. Higher tide is needed if you want to meander south from the lagoon area.

Ray in lagoon behind Snake Cay

 

Snake Cay lagoon has a varied bottom with lots of shallows and is very deep near entrance. Swift current creates sand steps that you can see on calm days.

So we next headed into Marsh Harbour Dec 31 to the marina that would be home until Lily and Benj arrived on Jan 6. As we approached the wide and marked entrance into the harbour, we noticed the below scene off to our right in the middle of the Sea of Abaco. The start of a race? A New Year’s Eve tradition? No way Jose!

Most but not all of BucketLust cats- drone photo shoot?

We got closer and boats were still coming out of the harbour, so could read the flag that said BUCKETLUST. Googled that and it’s basically an organization where twenty-somethings charter catamarans in exotic places and ski at top resorts. The cats hold 8- 10 young people and the ratio HAS to be 50/50 male/female. The charter captains are local charter captains that the lead organizer of each boat has to hire. The lead also has to fill the boat with that 50/50 ratio. And then they all descend upon the chosen location and boy I’m not sure I want to know after that!

They picked a bad week this time; very windy much of the week. The itinerary looked good, lots of fun stops but not sure all were possible with the week’s lousy weather.

BucketLust charter cats head off for a week of frolic in the Abacos

Our slip at the marina is closer to shore due our draft so we had extra wind and wave protection, but there’s one direction that really blows the waves into the fairways and yep we had some of that.

Someone’s sail on the dock across is trying to go sailing!

 

Became very wavy in MHM fairways with west-ish winds. Note the wave splashing at the stern of the sailboat

In between the wind and rain we cleaned inside and out, loaded up with as many provisions as we could, prepped the spare berth by removing contents to new and unusual places, and baked, baked and baked!

Arrival day’s forecast was so-so, but worse was the next day’s and you know we don’t like to be out in 20kts+ ! Not doing that with guests either, so plans were finalized (after much and lengthy consideration) to get to Sea Spray Marina on Elbow Cay Saturday afternoon. Hopefully the trip would be tolerable and the worst one we’d have to make all week. Excited to see Benj and Lily?  You bet!!

 

 

Hope Town on Elbow Cay

After the rain… We get one of these shots every year

What’s not to love about Hope Town? Pretty sure I’ve told you it all before, but I did take pictures because we spent Christmas on a mooring in the harbor. First though, the background info and timeline. Aren’t you surprised at the recent-ness of non-generator electricity and homes with phones?

Timeline:

  • 1697-1718 Piracy in Hope Town. Real high seas pirates, not the land sort!
  • 1783-85 Loyalists arrive. Wyannie Malone and three of children among the first settlers. The museum bears her name (check out the Ebb Tide gift shop attached to museum)
  • 1700s: Wrecking at its peak. (thinking Hope Town should be the sister city to Key West)
  • 1864: The lighthouse was built to save lives
  • 1900: Hope Town was home port for at least 200 vessels
  • 1933: A major hurricane decimated Hope Town leaving only three homes undamaged
  • 1960s: The vacation home era begins
  • 1974: Electricity arrives!

Head east from Marsh Harbour and there lies the well-known settlement of Hope Town, located on Elbow Cay so named for the bent arm look. The ferry from Marsh Harbour gets you and tons of workers there in 20 minutes. Elbow Cay is, at least from what we’ve seen, populated by vacationers and non- Bahamians, far more so than by native Bahamians (apprx 260 native residents). Roots go back to Lucayan, Indian, Spanish Slave Raider, pirate, British and Loyalists!

It’s a quaint, New England style village with colorful homes (mostly rentals), many with ocean views. Hope Town boasts a two-mile long walk-able beach. Where I found my first sea bean, although you don’t find many on that beach at all.

The harbour more recently seems to be the home for two manatees, which I’ve named Mabel and Manny.

Mabel greets us as we get tied up to the mooring. She heard the sound of fresh water dripping into the water as Russ rinsed off the steps

They tend to hang out at Lighthouse Marina, the very small marina near the harbour’s entrance. The marina sells fuel and water, the ferry drops off and picks up workers, one can use the washers and dryers for that fun laundry task and amuse yourself by watching the manatees.

The good life!

 

Not a remora- but what? This underside view was a surprise. Have seen remoras on nurse sharks- but not sure what this creature is.

 

On our way to dinner at Harbours Edge on Christmas Eve

 

Hope Town harbor- we are to the left “under the lighthouse. Harbours Edge restaurant on right

When the winds are light we head out of the harbour to run our watermaker and enjoy places like Tahiti Beach which is on Elbow Cay a few miles south of Hope Town Harbour.

Tahiti Beach- not much beach exposed at high tide

If you missed the posts about Man-O-War and Green Turtle… just go back a post or two to see their history and timelines. Next up after Hope Town is Marsh Harbour.

Man-O-War Cay

Green Turtle sits at the upper left corner. Man-O-War on the right edge, above Marsh Harbour

Just three and half miles north-east of Marsh Harbour lies the tranquil settlement of Man-O-War; tranquil no doubt thanks to being “dry”. The Dock ’n Dine Restaurant only recently began offering beer and wine with meals, and that’s it for booze on this small cay. MOW stretches two and a half miles and contains 350 residents.

The Loyalists, who moved from the U.S. during the War of Independence, founded this settlement of hard-working and dedicated boat builders. MOW, once the boat-building capital of the Bahamas, is still known for the craftsmanship that is kept alive by many of its residents. You can stop by Edwin’s Boatyard where there’s always interesting activity.

Many of the original clapboard houses still stand and the narrow streets are just wide enough for walkers and golf carts. Arrive via Albury’s Ferry or your own vessel; no airstrip here.

As with other cays and settlements in the Abacos, we’ve visited MOW several times over our six trips to the Bahamas. If you’d like photos of these places just use the Search feature. (guess I didn’t take any this visit or the prior!)

Timeline:

  • 1798: Man-O-War Cay settled and used for farming
  • 1876: First kerosene lamp
  • 1860s: Boat building started, and with it, sail making
  • 1921: Man-O-War school built
  • 1974: Electricity ran from the mainland using underwater cables- watch where you anchor!
  • 1987: Phones installed in private homes

During the settled spell which lasted more than two weeks, we anchored off Man-O-War. I think that’s where Russ first took apart the watermaker- actually the reversing valve in the Clark pump for those who want the details. The reversing valve is what makes a Spectra watermaker twice as efficient.

But no worries, we dinghied in to the dinghy dock at Man-O-War marina to enjoy lunch at Dock ‘n Dine where Ricardo says, “Please keep enjoying.” I love it. And we will!

 

 

 

Green Turtle Cay

For many cruisers who cross to the Bahamas from Florida and don’t stop to clear customs & immigration at West End (Grand Bahama) or Bimini or even the more eastern Spanish Cay, Green Turtle is the popular place to clear in if headed to the Abacos.

Just a short ferry ride from the mainland (Great Abaco Island), Green Turtle is one of the earliest settlements in Abaco. With pirate, African, and Loyalist roots, and with ties to its sister city Key West, Green Turtle was once the largest settlement in Abaco. A dwindling population of approximately 500 residents doesn’t stop the cay from hosting many celebrations throughout the year.

Timeline:

  • 1718: Pirate Charles Vane (see Black Sails on Netflix) fled Nassau and hid out on GTC
  • 1828: Migration to Key West began (not sure why, but they sure chose well)
  • 1899: Sisal production was the most important industry (and very labor intensive)
  • 1948: Bahamas Airways began service using seaplanes
  • 1954: electricity arrives!
  • 1977: Green Turtle Cay named the Sister City of Key West

We’ve stopped here many times before on our way into the Abacos or out. Always a welcoming stop, with several well stocked grocery stores, eateries, historic sites and beaches; not to mention the well-known Green Turtle Club and Bluff House.

Recent visits have been at Donny’s Marina in Black Sound (yes, as opposed to White Sound), where Donny offers moorings and dockage.

We arrived (as is usual for us) ahead of a cold front, because that’s often when conditions are mild. Russ went ashore to the pink rectangular gov’t building to clear customs but the official had left early so, well, it’s the Bahamas mon.

Friday, the next day, he tried again. Paperwork complete ahead of time. The customs official was usually stationed at the Treasure Cay airport so not only wasn’t he familiar with boat clearing in, but the building got locked by mistake so those checking in had to sit on the porch, in the wind, papers blowing about. Russ even had to tell the man how much we owed- boy $50 would be a perfect amount- but we paid the $150 for our boat size.

The front arrived that afternoon with a vengeance. Feel it, see it, hear it.

Line to us and one to sailboat rafted to another at the dock, to keep us off the dock a bit.

The large sail cat on the dock opposite us had a line tied to a dock cleat- bad idea.

Russ braves wind and rain to secure bow line of boat that broke off a dock cleat

I am always happy to be the warm and dry photographer!

Donny comes out to assist and claim his dock cleat- held in right hand

Wind and rain let up eventually and we walked through town, purchased our annual Bahamian calendar then walked the beach.

Pretty blue sky the day after- or maybe two.

When we depart it’s on to… well that depends on the weather!