53 Man-O-War Cay, Abaco to Hope Town, Abaco

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The setting sun is sliding behind the only cloud in the sky turning it into a golden sunshade. In front of us, the harbor with its golden streak of sunset lay quiet. Color drains away with the setting sun turning everything to shades of grays and blacks. A few dinghies dart about looking more like water bugs on the quiet harbor. There is just enough breeze to weathercock the sailboats swinging on moorings and add a few cats’ paws to the surface of the Hope Town harbor. The far shore is becoming a black silhouette framing a golden glow as the sun disappeared. Someone blew a conch shell horn and the local church bells serenaded the town. Atop the red and white striped lighthouse day shades protecting the 100-year-old lens are lowered. A spark signaled the lighting of the kerosene-fired light. The keeper released the brake and the lens began to turn putting out its 5 flash characteristic. We sit enchanted, mesmerized by a few Goombay Smashes and Bahama Mamas. Our life of high adventure has been transformed into quiet pleasures brought on by warm weather and light winds.

Last week we’d pulled into Man-O-War intending to stay a few days and then move on, driven, if you will, by our ongoing desire to see what is around the next corner. We found Man-O-War to be like coming home, comfortable on a secure mooring, listening to the Cruisers Net on VHF 68 each morning and then heading ashore to buy fresh bread or cinnamon rolls from Lola delivered fresh each morning to dockside on her golf cart. The homey feeling of the island drew us in, and we stayed a week. Each day had a marvelous nothingness to it that absorbed us and made time fly. Some days were occupied with walking out the sandy Queens Highway to the north end of the island. On other days, we poked around the harbor most of the day, saying hello to other boaters, trading stories about adventures anchoring, crossing the Gulf, or along the ICW.

On some days, real work was accomplished. After a number of phone conversations with our new propane stove manufacturer, I was able to take the oven apart, clean the clogged pilot light orifice and get the oven working. Our conversion to propane is finally complete. Ruth celebrated having an oven by baking a salmon and asparagus casserole. Ruth continues to turn random scraps of cloth into works of art. She’s about half way through making new custom quilted pillows for our main salon. She’ll have a hobbit house on her pillow, and I’ll have a hobbit lighthouse.

We’ve been delighted to see all the flowers in bloom this year. Hibiscus, bougainvillea, and oleander are in bloom everywhere. All are stunning. As if trying to compete with the bright vivid colors, humming birds dart in and out of view adding a tiny sparkle to the scene.

We did a touch-and-go at Marsh Harbour to pick up supplies and headed for Hope Town on Elbow Cay and a quiet anchorage. Tucking back into a corner of the harbor we met up again with Dick and Sheila on their trawler Patriot. Surely but slowly our charming friends are convincing us to consider some of the finer luxuries of cruising. Their comments about being able to take showers without worry about water supply and washing down the boat with fresh water to get the salt off got us thinking about adding a watermaker. Then one morning we off-loaded fresh water from Patriot filling Tranquility’s water tank. I’ve threatened to get a lawyer and sue them for corrupting our simple life style. They are working hard to keep out of the grip of a lawyer by offering to give us their excess cubes from their ice maker. Probably will hold off on getting a lawyer unless their watermaker or icemaker break (which we truly hope won’t happen).

The Sea of Abaco was calm and Dick elected to anchor Patriot’s dinghy in the shallows just off Yahoes Restaurant on Lubbers Quarters Cay. The 4 of us slipped over the side and waded ashore in the knee-deep water. Damp sandals, shorts and tee shirts are normal attire at Yahoes. Chef Kool greeted us with warm coconut slices fresh from the oven and we mellowed out with a few rum drinks and fantastic grouper sandwiches. The view was totally tropical. Palm trees framed the view toward the white sand of Tahiti Beach. Just off the end of the beach surf breaking on the reefs around Tilloo Cut could be seen. It was difficult not to just stay all afternoon enjoying the view.

Appetites satisfied, we set off to explore Lubbers. A wide path passes for a road. Narrow footpaths lead off into the mangroves to homes built along the shore. As we passed two bicycles parked in the middle of the path a voice called out, “Hello ya’ll. Come on up.” We headed up the path and found the studio of Ann and Pat Rae. Pat, an ole southern boy from way back, made us instantly feel like old friends. We ended up getting a tour of the studio, and their home on the water plus offers to use their moorings. Ruth found a picture of the pink house on the shore of Hope Town she loves. Ann was kind enough to change the mat to a color matching Tranquility’s interior. Then she gave us a discount on the price– made for a fun afternoon.

Dick and Libby from Harbour Lights invited us ashore for dinner and to watch the NFL playoffs. It was a treat to visit their very charming, Bahamian home, which is reachable only by water. The next day we all took their boat and went snorkeling for conch. Learning that they had limited sailing experience, we took them on a day trip up to Nippers on Great Guana Cay for lunch. Although there was little wind, we had a great time enjoying a fun, beach bar. Dick and Sheila were a welcome addition to our “party” when they arrived on “Patriot Jr.”

Hope Town Harbour Entrance

It was dusk as we approached Hope Town Harbour. It was also just past low tide and as we came near the island flanking the entrance we found a boat aground. Using that as a mark, we headed for what we thought was the center of the channel and went aground ourselves. The sailboat following us split the difference and continued on in, thanking the other boat and us for marking the channel limits. We began to work to get Tranquility off. Powering forward and reverse and trying to rock us did nothing. I dropped the dinghy in the water and went to work playing tugboat. We’d just upgraded our outboard from 4 to 8 hp and the extra power helped. I pushed the bow around heading us to where we knew the water was deeper. Squaring off on Tranquility’s stern the extra power helped push her off into the channel. That accomplished I headed over and did the same with the other sailboat aground. Then flying at full throttle, I managed to catch and board the still moving Tranquility. We picked up our mooring just as we lost the last of the light. Made for an exciting end to the day.

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