5 April, 2015
Good Saturday morning from sunny Guana Cay. Our trip to Hopetown was not a direct one, as the Sea of Abaco is very shallow (from 1’-20’ at low tide), and we had to travel on a course where there was enough water to cover The Girls’ knees. Even though we called about a mooring ball and were told that none were available, we thought we’d head in to see what the scoop was. As we glided into the harbor at low tide, we brushed the bottom in the MIDDLE of the channel. Well, the field was tight, boats bow to stern in a really tight space, with definitely no room to anchor. Thought we’d call on the VHF one more time for a ball, even though we saw no empty ones. As it happened, the Hopetown Marina (pontoon) had pulled next to us on our quarter, and guided us to the only empty ball in the harbor-Yea! When we called Julia & Steve, whom we had left in the anchorage that morning, they told us that they had run up here in their dinghy earlier, and had snagged an empty ball and were on their way with the big boat. We spent the next couple days exploring Hopetown. First on the agenda was a trip to the BaTelCo office on Tuesday morning (the only day of the week that they were open) to get our IPad and and S&J’s telephone SIM card issues ironed out. The lady couldn’t have been nicer-at the end of the day we found that even though the folks at North Bimini had sold us the cards, they neglected to tell us that they had to be activated on an already functioning phone to be operational (short version). S&J’s phone was too old, and locked, and couldn’t be used. Enter Suzanne (the one who gives me static about my collection of spare parts). She had 2 phones that we weren’t using, so activated their card and gave them a phone-simple, huh? A sojourn to the 2 markets revealed that the trend of very little produce available would continue here at Hopetown. The 4 of us biked all over the island which had some beautiful homes and many gorgeous views of the Atlantic. The obligatory stop at Papa Nasty’s for barbeque was well worth the ride. Papa’s fare, cooked on a small outdoor smoker and served out of the side of a broken-down travel trailer (ala local carnivals) included pulled pork, smoked brisket, ribs, duck legs,burgers, fries, baked beans, and etc. I had a brisket “sundae”, consisting of alternating layers of slaw, baked beans, and beef, all served in a 16oz. Styrofoam cup, Suzanne did the same with her pulled pork-Yum. Evening sips and apps were provided by J&S aboard “Erben Renewal”, and consisted of killer “Painkillers”, venison sausage, fancy cheese, wasabi almonds, and…….Well, you get the picture.
After 3 nights on the ball, Suz and I took our leave while S & J had decided to stay for the week. Our next stop was Man O’ War Cay, but first we would head out into the Atlantic past the reef, and wet a line or two. Our first hookup, on a skirted Ballyhoo, was a billfish which promptly bent my heavy rod nearly double before snapping my 60 pound test line and running off with my rig. Didn’t even have time to pull the rod outta the holder. We never saw the second fish, but it was Something Really Big that bent over Jeff and Susies loaner rod, taking my favorite cedar plug and 50 yds. of line with it. All the while, baitfish (we think they were Jacks) about 8-12” long were jumping out of the water for a half mile around us. The third time was the charm, yielding a 23” Blackfin Tuna. The filets gave us a good meal on the grill, and the little bits (due to my inept butchering skills) were chopped up to make some awesome tuna burgers. After an hour and a half of fishing, we were out of frozen Ballyhoo, so we headed in to anchor off M.O.W. Cay. Our dinghy ride in confirmed our suspicions that “town” would be like many others in the Abacos-a main drag wide enough for 2 golf carts (the main mode of transportation here) to pass, encircling the harbor, with very little else in the way of amenities. M.O.W. Cay is the home of the Albury family, boatbuilders here for over a century. They now build center console fiberglass craft, ranging from 20-27’ or so-we’ve seen them all over The Sea of Abaco. Their sail shop also makes purses, bags, and duffels, which are sold widely in the islands. The cart/kayak rental joint also had frozen Ballyhoo, so we replenished our bait supply before heading back to the Girl.
The next morning, after listening to the Cruisers Net, we headed over to Guana Cay, about 8 miles distant. Cruisers Net. There lots of them in different cruising destinations. What is it? A loosely organized, cooperative effort by cruising boaters to promote information sharing for the common good. Held at a predetermined time each day, over the VHF radio, you might have the weather and sea conditions, safety information, spots by local businesses, public information, open mic for requests for expertise, or maybe spare parts, items for sale, i.e. creating a sense of community among cruisers. Guana Cay was one of our favorite stops so far. The anchorage was pretty, with crystal clear 12’ deep water. The “town” wasn’t much to cheer about, but the infamous Nipper’s Bar was. Not so much the bar, but the location, location, location. Perched high upon the dunes on the Atlantic side, the view was beyond description, and the beach was walkable for a couple of miles. All al fresco, the place was multi levels with a couple of small swimming pools incorporated into the fun. First day we were there, the music was all Motown-sweet for this Detroit-born boy. I have to say we spent more time than we should have over the three days that we were at G.C. This morning, we finished up our current visit with beer and rum drinks while we watched the annual Easter egg hunt, wherein around 900 plastic eggs stuffed with coupons for everything from T shirts and baseball caps to gift certificates and cash money were hunted by children aged from 3 to 73. The little kids hunted in the sand, while the big kids had to swim out to the reef, where the eggs had been sunk earlier in the morning. What a hoot, and such a great vibe from sooooo many happy people. It was hard to tear ourselves away, but by 1300 it was time to head back to The Girl, as we had to up anchor and roll over to Marsh Harbor, clean the boat, and await the arrival of our buddies, Dick and Jan, who will be flying in tomorrow (Monday) to spend some time with us.
Guessin’ I won’t be writin’ for a week or so, ‘cause we’ll have comp’ny, so see you in a bit.
Adios, and vaya con dios.