|The Current Methodist Church|
The Current is a settlement that is on the part of the island south of Spanish Wells.(about which more later, after this introductory digression.) It is a lovely, clean village and the homes are very nice, painted in a variety of bright colors. It has two churches, a General Store, a library, a Community Center and a post office. It also has a lovely park with a playground for children. The settlement made a superb recovery after being inundated with a wall of water and 200+ mph winds during Hurricane Andrew. . This old community is cited as one of the Bahamas' most appealing, with brightly painted and colorfully planted cottages. While there are many vacation homes of outsiders, unlike some of the other spots we’ve visited, it is primarily inhabited by natives who trace their heritage back to England.
Let’s see….When last I finished writing, we had arrived in Marsh Harbour and had gone to bed after our second offshore adventure. (November 12th)Crew member Tim left to go home to SC L and Dave was able to stay on until the following TuesdayJ. We were looking forward to a visit with his honey Lisa Marie, but because of flights, that did not happen.
We did do a bit of exploring. In a search for the local bakery, we went for a rather long walk through Marsh Harbor, and saw the numerous hardware stores, cell phone stores, gas stations and little shops. We stopped at the Tourist Bureau and met a wonderful lady named Melinda. She gave us lots of information about the Abacos and told us that there was free Wi-Fi there during working hours if we wanted to bring the laptop. (That didn’t happen because it was a long journey to get there.) We learned about the ferries that were available to get to the other islands and where to find certain things that we needed. A visit to the BaTelCo let us know that my phone would not work there, for some reason, which we already knew, and that we could buy a phone card and/or a Bahamian pay as-you-go cell phone for use here and in the USA. Had to think about that. We walked all over, trying to follow the artistic version of a map of the town. It was a bit misleading in terms of distances. It had been raining off and on, and, not being used to the traffic driving on the other side of the road, we got drenched when a young man went by in a car and hit a pot hole full of dirty water. What a shock! He was also shocked and had a very contrite expression on his face. Then we were walking to find the grocery store (Maxwell’s) and Steph slipped into a hole full of dirty water and fell down. (the wet limestone soil is very slippery.) He hopped right up and was only slightly bloodied. As we entered the parking lot of Maxwell’s, several blocks away, a woman drove up and asked if he was okay, as she had seen him fall. He assured her that he was fine. Maxwell’s is like being in Shop Rite, or Wegman’s or any other large supermarket in the USA. We did some shopping and stocked up on the Oreo’s, canned meats, milk, eggs, etc. Aside from Marsh Harbor’s single functioning traffic light, Maxwell’s is the current place to see, as it just reopened after a devastating fire. It is bigger and better than the old store, and is the largest employer in town.
Back at the Conch Inn Marina we partied on Last Tango, Patty and Gary Root’s boat. That night there were 14 people in their cockpit! Sandpiper, Eva Marie, Maribelle and others were represented.
Next morning, I borrowed a Verizon phone that WAS working from Sue ( a crew member from another fleet boat), and called the Global Support number. They told me that my phone was too old and didn’t have the Quad something capability and therefore would only work in parts of the Bahamas, like Nassau. We went back to the phone company and got a pay-as-you-go cell phone for emergency use.
We did boat projects, like figuring out that the autopilot compass had also failed, and had another get together with other Caribbean 1500 folks that night. Since the price of a ferry ride to go to Hope Town was $20 each we figured that for less than $60 we could sail there in Bentaña, spend the night at a mooring and spend more time there. We departed Sunday, had a lovely motor sail and entered Hope Town harbor at high tide as the entry like many in the islands is narrow and shallow. We deployed the dingy,* motored in to one of the many dingy docks and walked around a pretty town with many lovely cottages painted in bright colors. Visitors and guidebooks compare it to Nantucket. Like most of these long skinny outer barrier islands there is a quite side and an ocean side, (think Fire Island.) Trees and plants were labeled and there were many nice shops, which were closed because it was Sunday. We decided to stop by the Hope Town Harbour Lodge for some beach side liquid refreshments. Steph and Dave had Goombay Smashes and I stuck with a normal Rum and Coke, since I did not want to get smashed!
|Mary enjoying the sun in Hope Town|
|Stars and Stripes x 2|
|Steph and Dave in Hope Town|
|Waves crashing on the Atlantic side|
|See the waves breaking on the reefs|
|Hope Town (Elbow Cay) Light House|
|Dave and Judy atop the lighthouse|
|See the Ensign!|
|Inside the lighthouse -- See Judy in the center?|
|Partying with friends in Marsh Harbour|
|Laundry day has a whole new meaning .....|
|Maxwells supermarket in Marsh Harbour|
|We saw more rainbows in Marsh Harbour than I have seen in years!|
As we were sitting there, we watched the Atlantic waves crashing into and exploding on the shore. The ocean had been in a “RAGE” since Thursday afternoon and had the biggest waves and roughest water in 20 years. No one was coming into or going out of the Abacos by boat. We also saw a military like helicopter fly by and head south. When we got back to the boat, we signed up for a week’s worth of internet services (which were intermittent at best). Steph went onto the Carib1500 site to see how the boats going to Tortola were doing and he read that one boat, Rule 62, had diverted to the Bahamas, tried to enter one of the passes near where we were and hit a reef and one crew member was missing. It was a terrible shock for us. When you travel in a group like that, you become a family and even though we did not know the people involved, we felt a tremendous sense of loss.
On Monday, 11/15, we visited the very picturesque Hope Town Light house and climbed to the top. WHAT A VIEW! For all you Ensigneers out there, the marina at the light house had an Ensign in the storage area. The light at Elbow Cay, as the light is properly called, is a red and white striped affair with 101 steps spiraling up to one of the last hand cranked, kerosene lit marine aids in the western hemisphere. Its five highly polished Fresnel bulls’-eyes deliver five bright flashes followed by a less bright interval, to identify it to vessels at sea in the dark. It is visible seventeen miles away, and even further from the deck of a large ship. After a chat with the folks at the Light House/Marina gift shop about the lost boat, we headed back to our boat and dropped the mooring to head back to anchor at Marsh Harbor as Dave had to be at the airport about 11 am on Tuesday.
Tuesday morning we dingyed in to the Conch Inn Marina where Dave was sure to find a taxi to the airport. After dropping him off and getting sort of directions from a taxi driver, we hopped in the dingy again and went to Union Jack Dock (one of several public dingy landings), unloaded our shore cart and I went to the Laundromat to do lots of laundry while Steph did some more food shopping. We then motored out to Bentaña for a return to life in an empty nest. We all know how much we like company, and in this case, Dave and Tim were invaluable in bringing us this far. As crew, they were more intimate and more valuable than family, but it’s always good to get your space back. This meant moving all the stuff in the converted dinette into the vee-berth, Tim’s space. The platform made of the dining table and a couple of 2X4’s became a real eating place again, once the center post was restored, and the cushions and 2X4’s taken up. Since we have more stuff than places to stow it, we run in to blivits regularly and keep moving things from one place to another. For those of you who know boats, you totally understand the having to move two things to get to anything you want on the boat!
In the Abacos, each morning at 0815 is the “Cruisers’ Net” on VHF radio. It is very entertaining and a wealth of information. They always give the weather forecast, the conditions of the cuts (through the reefs) to enter the Sea of Abaco from the Atlantic or vice versa and lots of invitations from the local businesses as well as community activities. They also have an emergency email program where cruisers can be reached and given emergency email via the net and all new cruisers are welcomed and those departing say good bye. It is also a place to get contacts to help you resolve problems or answer questions about other cruising destinations.Photos and more updates will follow when we get to Nassau later in the week.