Sunday, March 21, 2010

More winter weather in Abaco

Once the in-laws were gone and we waited out a few more weather fronts in our slip at Marsh Harbour Marina (with electricity, cable TV, water, showers, laundry, etc), we decided to do the "circuit" again, which The Admiral had missed while she was in Dallas.

We started with a short trip across to Man-O-War and anchored in Eastern Harbour away from the Settlement.  The supply boat came through one day and ran a slalom through the anchored and moored boats.

A Digression
We discovered that MANY of the boaters who spent the winter in Abaco left their boats here or in Florida for the summers and wondered why we didn't do the same and thus avoid the long round-trip up and down the coast in the fall and spring.  The answer, of course, is $$$$$$!  Also, we would definitely NOT want to be without our boat in New England during the summers and cannot afford two boats as many of the cruisers have.  But we did some dreaming for a while, particularly in Man-O-War with its boatyards and many moorings.

Sarracinia (sp?) is owned by a Canadian couple but has been kept in Abaco for the last few years.  They have paid the duties and registered her here.  She could be bought for the mid 20s US.  She is beautiful and well equipped but is "composite construction" (fiberglass and wood) and has a 6-foot draft which is pretty deep for the Bahamas.
This little Pacific Seacraft "Flicka" could be had for around $20,000.  The Flicka is a wonderful "cult boat" with lots of room for her length overall and is virtually bullet-proof.  She is also "duty paid." But 20 feet is still a trifle small for most of us.

This Pearson Triton is a "project boat" and could probably be had for next-to-nothing.  The engine and sails are both shot. A cursory inspection revealed that it's even possible that she has been underwater.  We did not even call about her since we were not ready for that kind of effort and expense.
A friend in Maryland has put his lovingly and expertly restored Fales Navigator 32 on the market.  If she could be had for a decent price, she would go to the top of our list as the perfect boat for Abaco or Florida for the winters.
Or -- if we win the lottery, this neat aluminum trawler which has been maintained in Man-O-War and is listed for $50,000.
While it is still in the back of our minds, at our age there are a lot of things we could do with that kind of money and it is probably not a great idea to have two boats and all their expenses -- UNLESS WE WIN THE LOTTERY!
End of Digression

So we acted like tourists at the various craft shops and gift shops.  This mermaid on the outside wall of one of them struck our eye. This guy has collected all kinds of local shells and various flotsam and jetsam and sells them in his tiny crowded shop and on a table outside.

Albury's Sail Shop is now full of "bag ladies" who make many different kinds of fabric bags and purses on their rusting sewing machines.  They are nice but pretty expensive and the shop is FULL of them.  We wonder where they are sold, because there is certainly not enough tourist traffic in Man-O-War to take care of the huge volume they put out.

The cemeteries are "decorated" with plastic flowers.  (Note the new grave with ship's wheels.) I suspect that this is because the only water on the cays is rain water (caught in cisterns at every house) and reverse-osmosis water (which is expensive).  There is very little rain, so the fresh water is too precious to waste on those who can no longer appreciate it and plastic flowers don't need water!  One "advantage" of putting your cemeteries in the sand dunes at the edge of the ocean is that they are cleaned out periodically by hurricanes and you can just start over. (Natural "recycling" at its finest?)  They will often put up a single marker with the names of those whose graves "cannot be found."

But a "modern" solution is being developed.  This worker is using rock-cutting tools to cut two graves deep into the coral and rock so that they will not wash away in the next hurricane.  If they keep doing this, much of their prime real estate will be taken up by the residences of their "dearly departeds" as it is in many towns in New England (and elsewhere, I suppose).

The Captain took a long walk out toward "The Narrows" one day and thought he had taken a wrong turn and wound up in England!  Just across the path, however, were the beautiful colors of the ocean off Abaco.
Conch ("Konk") is a major local seafood which is used in all kinds of gustatory delights, from chowders to conchburgers to cracked conch to conch salad and many others.  Their shells are used everywhere for decoration and landscaping.
Partway out the narrowing peninsula on the north end of the cay is a house called Bonnie Dune (all of the houses have names which are used as "call signs" for communication over the marine VHF radio they all have, in the same way the boats use their names).  This house was owned by good family friends from Connecticut for many years.  On the side of the peninsula which is on the protected harbor, there is a dock and a "snore shack" (usually a simple square bunkhouse for guests -- hence the name). [The house is in the trees to the right of the dock  and snore shack in the picture.]

 Across the lane (wide enough for a single golf cart) is a path leading up to the main house which I think as about 900 square feet.  The view of the ocean from the deck is spectacular and there is a gorgeous sandy beach.

It's another half-mile or so to the "The Narrows" with the ocean on one side, Abaco Sound on the other, and a little gazebo in between.

NEXT: Revisiting Hopetown, Little Harbour, Tilloo, and Green Turtle as we prepare for our return to the U.S. when the weather cooperates.

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