We rode our bikes 4 miles from the Bluff House to New Plymouth and stopped along the ocean to admire the breaking waves on the reefs. New Plymouth is a small, quaint village filled with pastel colored homes where the kids all wear school uniforms and walk home for lunch. We went to the Wrecking Tree Restaurant for fish and chips, biked back and had happy hour aboard Side by Side with two other couples....one of which owned a 57' trawler that was three stories high, with a full fridge, dishwasher and three bedrooms, three baths and a living room set..Wow! He uses 9 gallons of diesel/hr. We still are on the same gas tank that we filled a month ago in Florida and we'll make it back to Vero Beach without buying any more fuel. We are sailors!
We have pulled into a dock at the Bluff House Marina here in Green Turtle for three days. The beach, ocean side, is great for snorkeling and the Bluff House has a nice beach on the Sea of Abaco. We have a tennis court on the property plus a pool which is always refreshing. There is one main road on this cay that goes to New Plymouth, all other roads are really stone and coral lanes with lots of potholes.....the bikes are taking a beating! We plan to head to Manjack Cay on Thursday since the winds will be less than 5 knots....unheard of here for this month. We'll anchor and do some snorkeling.
You can see the storm clouds starting to enter the Treasure Cay Marina and we are anchored in the adjacent basin with about 25 other sailboats. We watched the lightening off in the distance for about an hour after sunset and it was beautiful. At 11:00 at night the storm was right over us and raged until midnight with winds clocking 180 degrees and blowing 39 knots. It was ugly.... and scary.... A moorings sailboat pulled anchor and slid between two other sailboats and then he couldn't get his anchor up because it was so windy and raining so hard. There were spotlights helping him out from the two nearby boats. Every GPS was on as each sailor monitored his vessel. No one else dragged, but it's not an experience I will ever forget.
We pulled into Treasure Cay at high tide and had no trouble anchoring in the basin adjacent to the marina. This is an upscale resort community with the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. The water is clear turquoise and the beach looks like sugar...it is truly magnificent. There are many condos, villas, and townhouses here. Tonight we went to Mass at St. Andrew's Church which is a small stone church with great music and the same priest that we had in Hopetown. He travels to three churches on three different cays! The music was wonderful...we thought we were at a retreat house.
We checked out Man-O-War Cay this morning and pulled into the VERY narrow channel to check out the south anchorage which was really a mooring field and a very tight one at that. We saw a trawler from Rochester, NY but there were so many boats that we went out and anchored in the lee side of the cay with 8 other sailboats. Then we took our dinghy in to visit with Lou and Jean aboard Both Sides Now, from Rochester. They gave us all kinds of info on Man-O-War which has a bakery, boat building company and a great beach. The town is actually a real community with lots of streets and modest homes where people actually live, and not just when they are on vacation!
We had some great sailing in 14 knots of wind from Hopetown to Fisher's Bay at Great Guana Cay. We joined about 40 other sailboats all anchored in about 9' of water in front of Grabber's Beach and Tiki Restaurant. Everyone had come in for the Barefoot Man Concert Friday and Saturday at Nippers.....which is quite the little bar and grill, where just about anything goes. Nippers is painted all different pastel colors and over looks the ocean, whereas Grabber's is quite classy and has its own beach on the Sea of Abaco. There were bands playing non-stop all three days. Both bars had pools and the beach in front of Nippers was beautiful. We walked to the Oyster Bay Marina, not far from town. With a small cafe, some shops and a little grocery story this area seems to have FUN written all over it.
We biked to Tahiti Beach today to experience low tide on the sand flats and it was a delight. We saw sea stars, sea urchins, huge sand dollars, and more sunrise shells. Walt is presently tuning up our bikes and storing them away on board for tomorrow's departure to Great Guana Cay. The weather is supposed to be nice for the next few days...East winds 10-15 knots which is next to nothing here for this time of year.
This is a view of the Atlantic Ocean that we see from our bikes on our way each day to Tahiti Beach. The house that you see in the foreground is available for rent.....$7,500 a week. Hey, it's just money!
Today was a glorious day! We biked to Tahiti Beach at the end of Elbow Cay and looked out the cut to the ocean which was filled with incoming waves and lots of spray all crashing on coral and sand. There were conchs lying everywhere but not collectibles. I did find some sunshine shells which I've never seen before-very pretty. On our way back to Hopetown we stopped at the Abaco Inn for lunch and met a very cute curly tail. Walt tried the local Bahamian brew called Kalik and I had a rumrunner with my lunch. Seated next to us we met Tony and Bente who have cruised for 18 years and now have an Endeavour 44 Power Cat named Side by Side. They invited us to their boat for cocktails later. We heard tales of their trips to Bermuda, Venezuela, and the Caribbean....they even were hit by a small rogue wave in the dark.
We attended Mass today outside near Sunshine Park on 7 wooden benches in about 15 knots of wind. The priest came from Marsh Harbor on the ferry at 12:30 and returned by ferry. There were about 12 people in attendance...it is very hard to find a Catholic Church in the Bahamas! WE walked to the ocean side to check the waves but decided instead to use one of the pools near our boat at Hopetown Hideaways Marina. The whole side of the harbor has been bought by someone in Florida and is being turned into an upscale resort.
We visited the lighthouse here in Hopetown which is at the entrance to the boat basin. It is the only lighthouse that is lit each night and uses kerosene which puts out a yellow light .....5 flashes with a five second pause and it can be seen for five miles. The views of the harbor were spectacular!
We picked high tide to attempt the entrance to Hopetown on Friday and we had no trouble navigating the narrow and shallow channel that winds its way into a beautiful basin surrounded by the quaint loyalist village of Hopetown. We immediately decided to stay a week on our mooring ball which is right across from two swimming pools. The town has a dinghy dock, many small streets with pastel colored houses lining the way. There are no cars downtown and the atmosphere is festive. The lighthouse marks the entrance to the basin which we intend to visit later. We have coktails Friday evening aboard Tortola after spending a few hours in the pool. We see lots of boats that have crossed from Marsh Harbor.....I could spend the winter here!
On the ocean side of Marsh Harbor is the exclusive Abaco Resort and Marina with lots of mega-yachts tied to beautiful docks surrounded by condos, a swimming pool, tiki bar and beach. It's separated from the rest of Marsh Harbor and a world unto itself. At $4.00' we didn't see too many sailboats!
Marsh Harbor is the third largest city in the Bahamas with Maxwell's and Save-A-Lot grocery stores not too far from the dinghy dock. The streets are very narrow with few sidewalks so walking is a challenge...forget the bikes. Marsh Harbor Marina offers slips for $.85' and the photo shows the back of the marina overlooking the harbor. In between the 25-30 knot winds all week we did sneak in to the tourist section of town and visited Harbour View Marina, Iggy Biggy, Curly Tails and even the beach at Boat Harbor Marina. As far as provisioning and being a safe harbor in a storm I'm not too impressed......unless forced I would not return here!
We crossed from Lake Worth to the Abacos on Thursday with Tortola, a trawler and Spartina, a 39' sailboat. We had tried to cross on Wed but the wind was from the east, on the bow at 18 knots and we could make no headway so we turned back. We rested and left at 3:00 AM on Thursday with winds 10-14 out of the ESE and had a great crossing to Memory Rocks and then to Great Sale where we anchored at 6:30. Up early on Friday to get to Green Turtle, then around the Whale and Tortola and Waves of Grace pulled into Marsh Harbor to wait out the predicted blow. Spartina anchored at Treasure Cay and came to Marsh Harbor on Friday. We only left the boat twice in 6 days...it was gusting to 40 mph on Sunday and there was chop everywhere but every anchored boat held fast! This is a photo of the front as it approached the harbor and also one of the celebration onboard our boat with members of our buddy boats.
Walt and I have been avid sailors for 38 years. Our retirement dream was to sail to Florida and the Bahamas for the winter months which we did for the first time last year, 2007-2008. We decided that we loved the cruising life
and four days after our return to Lake Ontario we traded our Catalina 320, Eagle's Wings, in for a Catalina 42 which we named Waves of Grace. We hope to continue to cruise in the Florida Keys, Gulf of Mexico, and the Bahamas for many years to come