Tuesday, July 30

Green Turtle Cay

Green Turtle Cay is located in the "Abaco Outer Islands", which really means the islands surrounding Abaco itself.  It was named for the abundance of green turtles that inhabited the island.  I emphasize the past tense because we did not see an abundance of turtles or any turtles for that matter.  I'm just saying.  The island was founded in the 18th century and today only has about 450 residents.  We spent one night here in Black Harbor attached to a mooring ball owned by Donny's Boat Rentals.  The total bill was a whopping $10 and if we had ordered up internet, it would have been $11.  What a bargain.  We hailed the shop on the VHF before entering the teeny tiny, narrow, not to mention shallow entrance to make sure there was room for us.  The last thing we wanted to do was get in there and find out we couldn't turn around.  Donny said "no problem".  As we approached the mooring ball, a guy, presumably Donny, hollers from the nearby dock "need any help picking up the ball?".  No thanks.  Then we tried to secure a mooring ball for Patronus and suddenly I became the mediator between the two.  Finally, Donny went out in his dinghy, dog and all, to lead Patronus to their mooring.  Phew, glad that was over.

Local fisherman

We took a dip in the water at this little beach

 Colorful lunch spot

 cute and colorful, all street signs should look like this

We took a walk around this very small town.  Unfortunately it was Sunday and nothing was open.

 Except the free Memorial Sculpture Garden

Reading about the loyalists, a good lesson in history, standing in the blazing hot sun.  

 Pineapples Bar  - seaside with a pool.  They served up two for one rum punches.  Hard to pass that up.

 Kate pointing out that Reese had a birthday coming up

 Swingin' on the beach

Thunderstorm across the bay

Why is a ship called a she?

I have often wondered why a ship is called she.  Is it a mystery of life like why the sky blue?  Or is it deeply rooted in history?  Until now, I guess I never gave it much thought.  But owning a boat, living on a boat and being around boats all time, it is without a doubt common place to call a boat "she".  I saw a framed piece of artwork in the Hope Town Museum that gave one explanation.  As I read it, I thought perhaps they made a cute story out of something historical or was it completely made up?  So I decided to do a little research myself.  My examination of the subject turned out a surplus of reasons, you can pick your favorite.

Theory #1 and also the one that started me on this path in the first place:

Theory #2:
The ship may symbolize a mother who takes care of a baby inside her womb.  When we board a ship, we are all inside her as she takes care of us until we are delivered safely to our next port. 

Theory #3:
Ships are called she because they are traditionally given a woman's name.  Usually a woman close to the captains heart, like a mother or wife.  We found this particularly true of the lobster boats we saw in Maine.  They were adorned with two female names, like Mary Rose or Lori Ellen.  

Theory #4:
It has also been said that ships were once dedicated to goddesses, and later to important mortal women.  Even though male captains and sailors historically embellished their ships with a female figure (often topless), actual women on board were considered very bad luck at sea.  

Theory #5:
Ships are referred to in the feminine because that's the gender for the word, "ship" or "navis" in Latin.  So the pronoun is always "she".

Theory #6:
Perhaps there is a simpler explanation in reference to ships, cars, boats and the like....everyone loves to baby them so much.  They love to keep them running in good shape as well as clean, shiny and pretty.
"How do you like my sports car?  Isn't she pretty?"

Theory #7:
The men were 'married to the sea' for their love of the ocean.  As a token of their love and a reminder of the ones left behind for months and sometimes years, they named their ships or sailing vessels after the women in their lives.

So you can see, there are quite a few explanations for calling a ship a she.  It is also important to note that this custom is most popular in the US and England.  In some parts of the world, like Russia, ships are actually referred to as "he".  Go figure.  I guess the question can't really be answered but will always remain a source of good conversation.

Sunday, July 28

Full of Hope

Hope Town is just about one of the cutest towns in the Bahamas.  It's located on Elbow Cay which is a boomerang shaped barrier island to the mainland of Abaco.  I think our guidebook said it's where New England meets the Caribbean.  The quaint town is oozing with charm around every corner.  There are no vehicles, just golf carts.  The streets are narrow, lined with a rainbow of tropical colored cottage each adorned with a unique name.

Elbow Reef Lighthouse

Built in 1863, the lighthouse was the most recognizable landmark in the Abacos.  We were told that it was one of the last kerosine lit lighthouses in the world.  Unfortunately, we were skeptical because the last time we were told that about the Matthew Town lighthouse, it turned out they had converted it to an LED light.  We climbed the 101 steps anyway and were pleasantly surprised to see the kerosine lamp inside the Fresnel lens.  It is lit daily at dusk and the 4 ton apparatus rotates every 15 seconds.  Today, the Elbow Reef Lighthouse is still sending out light, rated at 325,000 candlepower.

 Chris and Craig had an uncanny ability agree to meet somewhere and discover they were wearing the same colors or even the same shirt (yes, they both own the same shirt purchased in the BVI's).  "For the summer look, they are dressed in khaki shorts and matching orange t-shirts.  An easy, comfortable look that can accessorized with a hat and flip flops."

 101 steps to the top

View of Hope Town harbor

 A playground!  It was a great way for the kids to pass the time while the adults wondered around town.
 A local art gallery

 The sculpture park

Atlantic ocean side of Elbow Cay

We were bracing ourselves for a sizable storm to blow through the Bahamas.  We pulled up anchor in Marsh Harbor with the intention of anchoring outside Man-O-War Cay.  However, it was not a well protected anchorage for the potential 30 knot winds.  Elbow Cay was right next door with much better protection from the elements.  

 Kate making soup for dinner on a stormy night

 Maggie and Liv make the biscuits

Finally, we celebrated Erica's birthday aboard AG

Check out the lizard checking in at the Lizard Lodge

 Waterfront church

 Our street name in Dallas

End of the road

Cute as can be

Elaborate gingerbread trim

 The Wyannie Malone Historical Museum

We tried twice to tour this museum on two separate occasions, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.  Finally, Erica marched over to the store across the street with determination and inquired about its hours of operation.  She was told it was run by volunteers and they don't always show up.  Erica insisted and essentially begged for her to call in a volunteer so that we could view a piece of their history.  The store owner was a little annoyed but found us a volunteer to open the doors.  

 Flying kites on Tahiti Beach - the southern end of Elbow Cay.  The storm left much debris on the beach but it didn't stop us from having fun.  We even saw the comedian, Carrot Top, walking hand in hand with his significant other.

 Super shallow water makes for a safe play area

 Kate tries her hand at climbing a coconut tree.  What you don't see is the rash she got by hugging the tree trunk on the way down.  Ouch!

 Tahiti Beach view from our boat.  We spent 2 nights at anchor here in this quiet part of Elbow Cay.

 The girls found a fort amongst the trees on the beach.

Hours of fun

 View from the top of the fort

Saturday, July 27

Hop, skip and a boat ride

The Abacos Islands are not far from Eluethera.  In fact, it's literally a hop, skip and a day sail away from Eluethera.  Easy enough to get there, right?  Wrong.  One has to have the correct wind direction to make the 80 mile journey north, during day light hours.  And if you are sailing on Anything Goes, it's more fun if the wind is on your beam.  We had a good weather window with the desired wind direction and we were all set to leave.  The only problem was we'd be leaving Patronus behind, on Erica's birthday to boot!  I am not sure if she has forgiven us yet.

We bid farewell to Harbor Island at 0630 and followed our track out of the harbor and through the Devil's Backbone.  Yep, that's right folks, we did it all by ourselves this time.  Our chart plotter leaves a 'trail' of where we have been, so we can follow it in reverse if need be.  It is a very handy feature.  Sometimes I wish my car navigation would do the same!  The wind had picked up and came from a northeasterly direction which could have potential bad news written all over it.  We made it through with flying colors and we only held our breath one time.   Once out of Devil's Backbone, we pointed north, raised the sails and cruised to the Abacos.  The sea conditions were a little choppy and confused as we sailed through the channel.  And when we sailed through the drifting current, we slowed way down.  It took me by surprise and I scratched my head wondering why we were slowing down all of sudden.  I checked the wind speed and the sail trim, but nothing had changed.  Then we passed over a long, narrow patch of seaweed and once on the other side, we picked up speed again.  Once we were out of site of Eluethera, the seas got bigger, more rolly and less frequent which made for a more comfortable ride.  I would say that the sail was rough but bearable.  No one got sick but we were on the edge.

We decided to duck into the southern part of the Abacos, dropping the hook in Lynyard Cay before the sun went down.  I can't tell you how nice it was to be in flat water again.  There were only a few boats that dotted the shoreline here and there.  We caught 4 fish on the sail over, 3 of which were at the same time!  We were so pooped and the last thing Craig wanted to do was clean 4 fish in the amber light of dusk.  We considered taking a fish over to our neighbors but we were too lazy to put the dinghy in the water to actually accomplish that.  Needless to say, Craig worked tirelessly to fillet the fish while I packed it away in our freezer.

 Must be rough catching so much fish!  I know you don't feel sorry for us at the point.

A bloody mess

Marsh Harbor is the main town in these parts.  It is a good place to provision and get stuff, boat or otherwise.

Marsh Harbor was 20 miles from Lynyard Cay and it wasn't an easy sail either.  Well, we didn't actual sail.  We motored because the wind was light but mainly because we had to meander in and around shoals on the inside passage of the Abacos.  We could have gone on the outside but then this post would be titled gluten for punishment.  Why pound in wind and waves when you can take the easy way around.  

And this was our reward for smooth motoring:  homemade ginger molasses cookies made while underway!

Tuesday, July 23

Party Time in Harbor Island

Harbor Island, Eluethera.  What can I say...it's known for the 3 1/2 mile long pristine 'pink' sand beach on the ocean side of the island.  It was once the capitol of the Bahamas and the second largest city to Nassau in the 1900's.  Dunmore Town is the only city on Harbor Island and its current population is between 1500 and 2000.  It just so happens to be one of the oldest settlements in the Bahamas.  It was a small and quaint village where New England meets the Caribbean.  It was best known for its ship building and sugar refinement back in the day.

 Following Patronus from Spanish Wells to Harbor Island.  We hired a captain, Bandit, to navigate both our boats through the dreaded Devils Backbone.   Navigating the Bahamas is challenging with its shallow waters and reefs surrounding the islands.  One thing we learned and altered plans accordingly, was to make sure we entered or exited an anchorage in the middle of the day when the sun was high and we could see potential hazards in the water.  Devil's backbone is no exception, unless you have the local knowledge of a captain.  It might seem straight forward when looking at the chart, but if the wind is the wrong direction or the waves too choppy or the sun at the wrong angle, you could end up awash on a reef.  Devils backbone is a very narrow passage between land and reef.  One wrong move or perhaps your chart plotter is not as accurate as you thought, it could be over.  Do you want to take that kind of chance through the Devil's Backbone?  Would you mess around with a channel name like that??

 As we pass around a point and enter into the Devil's Backbone, I thought this sign was pretty funny. Actually, this gazebo was on private property.  There was a resort on the other side.  That sign is not for the locals!

 Phew, we made it safely through the Devil's backbone and for future reference, our chart plotter was spot on as far a 'trail' to follow.  Next time we can trust our chart plotter software.  As we approached the anchorage in Dunmore Town on Harbor Island, this was the wall of water we were racing to beat.  I got everything ready.....had the bridles unhooked, had the anchor chain safety line removed and ready for deployment and had the windlass on.  We motored into the anchorage a bit faster than we normally do, spun the boat around in the increasing wind, Craig and Maggie ran up on the bow, dropped the anchor, got it secure and were back under the bimini with only a few raindrops on their backs!  No sooner did they step foot into the cockpit, the rain came down in sheets!  It was an incredible team effort if I ever saw one.

 This is our fellow Manta friends on True Colors just after the squall passed through

 License plate art 

Golf carts are the mode of transportation on this island.  So much more quiet and easier to find a park space!

 Even the sunsets are pretty here

Porter celebrated his 7th birthday at a water-side Italian restuarant and invited us!  We were so honored and thrilled to celebrate with him.  His family traveled by golf cart but we, however, traveled by dinghy.

 Chris had an assemblage of family members visit and we were thankful to be included and hang out with them.  Here, the kids playing at the resort pool.

 View of the pool with harbor in the background

 Craig was excited to be invited on Irish Wake - a beautiful 65 foot sport fishing boat owned by Chris's- sisters's-husbands's dad,Tom.  Did you follow that??

Bryson holding up a Mahi they caught!  I think the fish get bigger when the boat gets bigger.

This is what happens when you jump in after one's sunglasses (Craig) with your phone in your pocket

Another storm a-brewing

 Another party...this one was held poolside.  Chris, Craig and Tom

 Sashimi tuna caught that day (on Irish Wake)!!  It doesn't get much fresher than that.

 Stone crab - holy cow batman, now that's what I call delish!

 The whole gang:  Chris's mom, sister, in-laws, captain, first mate, kids, poachers (us) are all represented

 Reese and Maggie learn some sticky tricks from Eddy - first mate on Irish Wake.  Thanks a lot Eddie!

 Sparkler fun

Kate flies her kite on the pink sand beach