28 March, 2015
There wasn’t really any place to anchor at Great Harbour Cay, so we went in to the dock at Great Harbour Cay Marina. Across the narrow harbor from the marina was a row of 2 story apartment/ condo units, circa. 1960. All had small docks and boats in front, and screened porches overlooking the harbor. The marina had free well water for washdowns, so we took the opportunity to give the Girl a rinse before sips and dinner. Suzanne whipped up some Asian slaw, and Steve grilled the Mahi for some fish tacos. The following morning, we hauled the bikes down for a trip into “town”. We stopped for a look at the grocery store, which had been stocked 2 days before by the weekly boat. Packed into the 20’x20’ area was boxes and crates of whatever came in-pretty slim pickin’s. Not much in the way of fresh produce, lots of pre-prepared canned stuff-Island life. We rode every street in town, taking in the flavor of life on a remote island. The map showed a road heading up to the northernmost point on the island, looked to be around 5 miles, so we decided to cruise out, as it looked like there might be a good view from there. It was hot, hot, hot, and as the power line ended, we knew that we must be getting close. The road just ended in a dense forest of scrub and impassable undergrowth-no view here-#@$%!!. On the way back, we took a side trip out to the ocean, where we had the pleasure of taking a little dip in a crescent-shaped cove with aquamarine water. Don’t know why, but the return trip always seems to be shorter than the one out-maybe it’s because of the “unknown factor” heading into new territory. There, that’s my semi-deep thought for the day. Our next trip was to Great Abaco Island, about 70 miles away, but we figured that we could cut 20 miles off by heading ‘round the north end of Great Harbour, and anchor on the east side before heading to Abaco. Strangely enough, there was a beach bar at a cove that looked promising for said anchoring, so we rode out to take a peek. A few beers, snorkeling, and conch fritters later, we all pronounced the bay suitable for a jumping-off point. That evening, we dug into the King Mackerel, grilled exquisitely by Steve, and served over a salad, with butternut squash by Julia.
Sunday morning we were off by 0900. Passing around the north end, we encountered 2 giant cruise ships, anchored off their private islands. A good time was being had by all, with some passengers onshore for beach activities, while others parasailed and took glass-bottom boat tours. I had wondered where on earth the parasailing boats and glass-bottoms at the harbor were finding any business out here, and now it made abundant sense. We got the hooks down in 8’ of water just off the beach, and ran out to the reef to do some snorkeling. While out there, we passed a Bahamian fisherman who held up the biggest lobster that I’ve ever seen-it must have been 10-12#. Dude! The previous day while at the bar, we noticed that they had WiFi, so Suz and I toodled in to use the facilities, and get caught up on some housekeeping bidness. Rumor had it that their burgers were THE BEST, so we had the ulterior motive of busting out of the fish diet. Internet was as advertised, and after a beer we were just about ready for that “American Creation on Which I Feed”, when our waitress came around with our bill, as they closed at 1600 on Sunday. Dang! We ordered a couple more beers, which she brought us in an ice bucket, told us that she would leave the router on for us, and asked us to turn off the fans when we left. Well, we had the place to ourselves, and hung out for another hour or so, before heading back to the Girl and defrosting some burgs that we had vacuum-sealed and frozen a few months previously.
By 0630, we were anchor up out of Petit Cay anchorage, bound for Schooner Bay on the East (Atlantic) side of Great Abaco. Winds on this mostly cloudy day were from 10-14 knots out of the southwest, which put the 1-3’ seas on our beam. The occasional 5 footers precluded fishing, as we didn’t want to stop if we hooked one up (what a couple of weenies). When we turned the corner and headed North up the coast of Abaco, it was a welcome relief to have the seas on our stern. There was rain all around us, evident on radar, but we never saw any. Steve and Julia of Erben Renewal, 2 miles behind us, got a nice fresh water wash from a passing squall. Schooner Bay is the only harbor on the Atlantic side of Abaco from the south end to the Sea of Abaco. It is a man-made harbor that is part of a rather ambitious development. In 2005, the Schooner Bay project was begun with an initial outlay of $90M, all by a single investor. The harbor was completed, and all utilities were in place for the proposed 400 unit community by 2007. Apparently, the business plan was sound, as the economic downturn of 2008 was survived while the developer built a geothermal plant to provide heat/AC for the community, as well as a hydroponic farm, and a reverse osmosis system to provide fresh water. Currently, 43 single family owned units are built, and another dozen lots have been sold. The vision is for this to become a self-sustaining, walkable, green town, complete with its’ own public works, and retail center. I’d love to come back in 10 years to see how it all pans out. From Schooner Bay, we headed up to Little Harbor, on the south end of the Sea of Abaco. The day was sunny, and we wet a couple of lines. All we caught was a 4’ Barracuda for our troubles. They’re a real pain in the butt, as they’re not edible, they eat your bait, and they’re all teeth and muscle while you’re trying to get them off your hook to throw back. We hit the harbor entrance at high tide, which is the only time that the Fat Girl can squeeze over the bar, and were able to snag a mooring ball outside Pete’s Pub, an Abaco landmark. Pete’s dad, Randolph Johnston, was an art professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, as well as an accomplished sculptor. In the 1950’s, he decided that he had had enough, and moved his family of 4 to this remote location, with the intention of building an artists’ community here. While building a home, the family lived in a natural cave on the bay. For the first few years, he made a living selling affordable (cheap) art which he boated over to tourists on Nassau. He eventually put together a studio, and built a foundry, where he produced his cast bronze sculptures. Today, some of his works reside in the Vatican, as well as other prestigious museums around the world. Deceased in 1992, his son, Pete, carries on the family tradition of casting in bronze, his focus being on marine wildlife rather than the human form, in which Randolph had excelled.
Over the next few days, we bounced from anchorage to anchorage, doing our best to avoid the 14 to 30 knot winds, which changed direction daily. We overnighted in Lynyard Cay, Tilloo Key, and Buckaroon Bay. We snorkeled, swam, and soaked up some rays, while waiting for the winds to abate. We celebrated Suzanne’s 60th with Steve and Julia on board “Alizann” in Buckaroon Bay. S & J brought over a bottle of Veuve and Julia’s specialty Tequila Key Lime Pie (a.k.a. TaKillYa’ Lime Pie), and we feasted on filets which we had brought from Michigan, washed down with a 2009 Ecluse Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m not sure if it was a step up or a step down from her 50th in Paris, but it sure was different. Looks like more wind tomorrow (Sunday), but then it’s supposed to calm down and get warm again.