Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Bachelor Cruise I: Man-O-War Cay

I put The Admiral on a plane to Dallas and left that day for Man-O-War Cay, just a few miles across Abaco Sound. As the sign says, there is no place like Man-O-War.

Yes, it has the same glorious sunsets that happen here all over the place.

I found a nice spot to anchor right at the south end of Settlement Harbour where I could watch the comings and goings around the village (aka: settlement).

Man-O-War is unique among the Cays because it has a very active business community, centered on boat building and repair and is not totally dependent on tourism and 2nd home owners like everywhere else in Abaco.  Our friends on Bravo were hauled to replace their broken shaft.  The labor rate is $40/hour as opposed to the $90 or so found in most of the East Coast of the US.

They actively repair and restore older wooden boats like this traditional Bahama sailing dinghy.  They also build modern fiberglass boats, mostly center console outboards.  Since all the yards are owned by Alburies, they are named for the owner's first names.

The cay is virtually (totally?) all white and mostly members of the Albury family for many generations.  Every morning about 4 boatloads of black workers come across from Marsh Harbour at around 7:00 AM and leave by nightfall.  Some of them are highly skilled boat builders and workers.
The Cay is served by two small grocery stores.  The one by the harbor is owned by, of course, an Albury.
Transportation is by gasoline golf carts, some of which are available for rental by the tourists.  Yes, as a former British colony, they drive on the left.

 "Location. Location. Location."  Most of the houses are very well kept and very simple with no decoration.  (This isn't one of them.) It is a very religious community with a number of churches.  BYOB!  No liquor is sold on the cay or served at the two restaurants.
The cay is supplied by an almost daily freight boat and large loads are brought in by barge.  This barge was delivering loads of sand and some heavy equipment.

A little Bahama dinghy sailed through towing a modern fiberglass outboard.  Malolo, a beautiful traditional motor-sailor, was built in MOW in the 50s and was found by her present owners in Maine and restored by them in Nova Scotia.  They returned to MOW for the first time two years ago with great fanfare when we were here and came back this year after more restoration.

Kaye and TJ invited the poor starving bachelor skipper aboard their lovely Alberg 37, Shearwater anchored in the south harbor, for a delicious pork chop dinner.  Sesame brought some fresh-baked brownies.

On the way to the beach at the narrows north of the harbor in the dinghy, I passed through many rays flying around in the beautifully clear water.

 I walked across the narrow isthmus to the ocean side.  At low tide, there is a nice beach on the sound side and I found a few nice shells including a couple of sand dollars.

The coral along the beach had some interesting shapes encased in it.  I am not sure what they are or were, but I'm imagining prehistoric trilobytes or something like that?

During a passage of one of the frequent weather fronts that come through during the winter, one brave soul went out the passage.

Sesame sat happily in Man-O-War for a few days, figuring that every night at anchor saved enough money to buy a rum drink or two ashore.  But then the Captain remembered that he was anchored off a dry town and decided it was time to head out to Hopetown with all the money he had saved.  Stay tuned!

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