From Marsh Harbour, we took Albury’s ferry over to Hope Town on a mission! We were tracking down a rumor of a used dinghy for sale at a great price. Orion’s dinghy was completely shot, and they desperately needed a new form of transportation to get them through this cruising season. It didn’t have to be pretty, and it certainly didn’t have to be new, but it had to hold air for more than 15 minutes. This mission took us to the lovely Hope Town Inn and Marina. It’s the sort of beautifully landscaped and maintained resort that, if you came to visit Sanitas there, would trick you into believing that we cruisers live a glamorous life. We ate blackened fish tacos and the special “Da Stagga” rum punch by the pool while Bob and Laura of Orion inspected the dinghy and practiced their negotiating skills. Ultimately, our mission was a failure, because this dinghy was is worse shape than their own, and not even worth the $200 asking price.
It gave us the opportunity to explore the picturesque Hope Town lighthouse. It’s the only kerosene-powered lighthouse left in the world. And it is gorgeous! Painted in bold red and white stripes like a giant candy cane, in contrast to the tropical vegetation surrounding it, the lighthouse grabs your eye from the harbor, and provides amazing views from the top of its 169-step spiral staircase.
The next time I sail through The Abacos, I’d like to spend more time in Hope Town. The harbor is small, but lovely, and I get the sense there is a very strong cruiser community. Each morning, listening to the cruisers net on VHF channel 68 we’d hear about yoga classes, art exhibits, fundraisers, and pickle ball tournaments. (Capt Mike is intrigued! He ready to invest in a good pickle ball racquet)
After leaving Green Turtle Cay, we intended to meander through the rest of the Abacos, maybe spending a night or two on Great Guana Cay, and Treasure Cay, and Man ‘o War, and then head south to Eleuthera and the Exhumas.
Winter storm Quinn, which pounded Cape Cod and brought widespread power outages to Washington DC and snow days to much of the East Coast was felt all the way east in the Bahamas. No snow here, of course, but the low pressure cell brought high winds from the north and crazy high seas. And we found ourselves waiting out a weather pattern with a new low following just behind the last one every two or three days; not allowing the sea swells to calm back down to normal levels. So we took shelter in Marsh Harbour, where one night turned into ten nights before we felt confident continuing south.
Marsh Harbour is the third biggest city in the Bahamas, and we each had a need for a “city”.
- SE of Disorder needed a new membrane for their water maker.
- Orion needed to repair or replace their dinghy, which no longer stayed afloat.
- And Sanitas needed to try again to repair our leak (see Tool of the Day … Life Calk)
Even after 10 days, I don’t have much of a good impression of Marsh Harbour. Probably because I spent most of the stay doing chores: walking back and forth to the bank, grocery store, hardware store, and liquor store in the hot sun. And I didn’t really love the Conch Inn Marina where we stayed for most of the time. They are the local Moorings charter base, and I got the impression they thought private boats were second class citizens compared to their charter boats. We did accomplish several boat projects, such as changing the compost in the toilet, removing the rust from much if the stainless steel on the deck, working on the bilge projects, etc. But we did manage to have some fun!
Happy hours at Snappas, where we showed Sharon and Drew how much we missed them.
Cookouts at the Conch Inn Marina pool, complete with Full Moon party, and swim-noodle-water-launcher contests
Whole fish and margaritas at Colors by the Sea
I was introduced to “my former co-worker Justin’s current co-worker Caroline’s parents” (phew) Rob and Sharron, who introduced us to the cruiser community at the Jib Room at the Marsh Harbour marina. We spent quite a bit of time there, enjoying the high speed internet (and the bilge burner rum punches), working on taxes, and celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary at Rib Night and with a limbo contest!
We crashed the beautiful, high-end Abaco Beach Resort one afternoon, and enjoyed a lovely beach day and a first attempt at stand up paddle boarding. And we took a ferry over to Hope Town for a day. But that’s another post …
A week out of Miami, and a month after leaving St Pete, we took a vacation from our vacation on gorgeous Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos.
As I write this, I feel you judging me, and I cringe. But look at it this way. In the two months since we moved on to Sanitas full time, we’ve had a lot of adjustments to make:
- Selling or donating most of our possessions.
- Moving from a house to an apartment to less than 120 feet of living space.
- Embracing a new lifestyle where everything from cooking, shopping, keeping clean, and even going to the bathroom is more complex and time consuming.
- Finding everything we own is wet and/or salty at all times.
- Finding that my BED is wet AND salty all of the time.
- Unplugging from phone and internet.
- Starting to live on canned goods and whatever we planned ahead to bring with us.
- Needing to think every day about where we are now, where we are going next, what the wind is doing, how deep the water is, and what the waves will be like.
I have to admit that it has been a difficult adjustment, and we were ready to remind ourselves of why we worked so hard to get here, and why this transient lifestyle is worth it.
So! For $1.50 per foot per night, we tucked Sanitas into a nice cozy slip, and gave her crew access to all of the amenities of the gorgeous Bluff House Resort and Marina: showers, pool, and the Tranquil Turtle Beach Bar. We might have taken a little TOO much advantage of that last one, lol.
Green Turtle Cay is lovely. I took a morning to jog on the Coco Bay beach to the North Point of the Island.
The huge wooden cross at North Point was constructed from an old sailboat mast, and commemorates the miraculous rescue of Grima and Francine Johnson whose boat washed ashore on the coral here on Thanksgiving Day 1981.
We rented bikes and explored the entire length of the island, with a stroll through the historic town of New Plymouth, founded in the 1770s by the Loyalists. This colorful town has everything you need, in miniature. Including a small grocery, four churches, a hardware store and the “Liquor and Lunch” shop.
Sounds perfect, but imagine riding these cute little beach cruisers up and down the short but steep hills all around the island. I admit, I had to walk up two hills on the way home after I filled my belly with lunch! Our sailing buddies rented a golf cart and took it all over the island, up and down hills, and on dirt roads, like speed demons!
We watched the budget by only ordering drinks from the bar during 2-for-1 happy hour. At the beach bar, happy hour is from 4 to 5. Then we ran over the hill to the other side of the island for happy hour from 5 to 6. The Goomba Smash is the specialty of Green Turtle Cay, and the Tranquil Turtle punches are pretty good too! We met fellow Coloradans at the Bluff House: including the guy who owns Boulder Beer and all of the restaurants in the Hotel Boulderado, and a great couple from Dillon, CO. Sanitas hosted a small party in the cockpit on our final evening before heading back out to the high seas.
Our trip through the northern Bahamas has been dictated by the winds. It’s tricky for a sail boat of our size and design to sail straight into the wind, and in this part of the world, the prevailing winds are easterlies. So … we motored across the Little Bahama Banks to Mangrove Cay, and then to Great Sale Cay, where the Northwest Harbor is very well protected from the easterly winds. Unfortunately, there’s not much else going on at Great Sale. It is a small, uninhabited island of mostly mangroves, without the gorgeous sandy beaches of tropical fantasies. On our first night there, we had a had a potluck on the beach and watched the sunset (and were feasted upon by sand fleas in the meantime). The dinghy ride back into the wind was enough of a wet and salty ordeal that we didn’t try THAT again!
After that, we just sort of hung out in the harbor, watched the weather, and waited for lighter winds.
Eventually, we got a bit of cabin fever. On our first attempt to leave Great Sale, Sanitas and Orion sailed and motored into the wind for three hours … and then calculated that at a pace that was slowing to less than 3 knots,we would never make it to the the next safe harbor before sunset, so we turned around and motored back with our tails between our legs. Disorder won the bet that we’d be back before lunchtime!
Two more days in the same harbor and we were getting even more stir crazy, so we took the next opportunity to sail and motor east to Foxtown on Little Abaco Island. You’ve already heard about that great adventure, running aground in the Fox Town Harbor! You’d have thought we arrived in New York City by our excitement to reach civilization! The town was about 3 blocks long, with one restaurant, two mini marts, and one very active (aka, loud) church. We walked the entire length, met all of the local hustlers, sampled the local rum and the cracked conch (made especially for Mike and me with rice flour because we are allergic to wheat), and headed back to our boats with grocery bags filled with lobster tails.
After sampling all the delights of Fox Town, we still needed a few basic things, such as water, fuel, and internet. So our next stop would be beautiful Green Turtle Cay…..