54 Hope Town Harbour


After 20 months of continual travel we rented a mooring for a month in Hope Town Harbour. We’ll have it until 2/14, which for us is an interesting coincidence. Two years ago on Valentines Day we closed on the selling of our home in Wauwatosa, WI and moved into a residence hotel. There we waited for warm weather to move aboard Tranquility. Now again, two years later, on Valentines Day it will be time to move again. We are still considering options: go further south to Eleuthera and the Exumas or maybe just stay here and continue to enjoy the fine weather. I suspect we’ll debate the choices until it’s time to make a decision.

Dick and Libby, our friends ashore, are rebuilding the caretaker’s house on their property. Being a past pro at house disassembly and a glutton for punishment, I volunteered to help remove the old termite-damaged plywood floor. 6 hours later, completely covered with sweat and a nice layer of termite sawdust, we had the floor out. I had that good, tired feeling you get from hard physical labor and reinforcement of knowing that I’m not yet ready to come and live ashore.

With a hard swing of his machete, Dick knifed half way into a coconut we’d collected. A second swing split the nut open. We continued splitting coconuts until we had enough for pies planned as the Super Bowl party desert. Then the real work began. We sat around on the porch of Harbour Lights working to get the coconut meat out of the shell. Careful prying with a knife resulted in large chunks popping out. A gentle cooling breeze came in through the coconut trees in front of us. Just over the trees, Tranquility’s mast looked back at us. Libby brought out an old fashion hand -cranked meat grinder, and we ground the coconut down for the pies. The ladies finished the pie filling, and as we headed down the path to the harbor, coconut pie scent filled the air.

Dinghy dock at Hope Town

Hope Town sits near the middle of Elbow Cay. Like Man-O-War, the roads on the north and south side of town have completely different characters. South of town there’s a real asphalt road wide enough for two vehicles to pass and travel at 30 mph and better. On the north side of town the road is sand and rough rock. It’s barely one lane wide. Vehicles, mostly golf carts, can rarely go more than 5 mph. In Hope Town itself there are no roads, only sidewalks. It’s illegal for residents to drive their vehicles through town. So if you have a golf cart on the north end of the Cay, it stays there.

We frequently walk the north end road enjoying the quiet while getting our exercise. One afternoon a humming bird flew by, almost in our faces, heading for a bush of firecracker flowers. Most of the humming birds we’ve seen rapidly disappear once they spot us. This one didn’t seem to care that we were watching. The bush was 3-feet away and we enjoyed the show our miniature humming hovercraft put on. The firecracker flowers the bird was visiting required that its beak be inserted deep within the flower. Then it would back out, fly sideways and visit the next one in line. Occasionally it would stop for a rest and we had a mutual stare down until rested, it went after the firecracker flowers for more nectar. We enjoyed a 5-minute show of flying ability from our shiny green friend.

Snorkeling has been great. We’ve expanded our horizons and have gone to a number of reefs. Best so far has been on Mermaid Reef off Marsh Harbor. One of the dive boats was there and the people snorkeling with us had plastic bags of food. All kinds of fish came out to be fed. One bright blue parrotfish ended up staring me down. It seemed to think I had food and should feed it. It’s mouth looks like a sharp beak and I backed away. It turned and headed for the next person in the water and found the food source.

Dick from Tanarive, one of our guests for happy hour announced “I’m going out to look for satellites. Best time to see them is just after sunset.” Cynically I thought, right–he’ll never see anything. A minute later he announced: “There’s one.” We all scrambled out and sure enough we spotted our first satellite passing overhead–a small bright spot moving rapidly against the fixed stars. We continued to look and found 3 satellites that evening.

I used my left hand to break my fall when my foot slipped on the companionway steps. My hand hit hard and bent back at an acute angle. I thought I heard a crack, but falling is noisy so I’m not positive. Ever the optimist, I went to bed assuming a bad sprain. However during the night the pain started me thinking about how we’d manage anchor retrieval and sail handling with my left arm and hand out of commission.

The next morning, one of the wrist bones just down from my thumb was tender to the touch. Moving the wrist in certain directions hurt like hell. My thumb, wrist, and inside of my lower arm were nicely black and blue. Suspect a potential minor fracture of a wrist bone. Ruth applied an elastic bandage and that helped ease the pain and immobilize the wrist. I’m fast learning not use my left hand or bend my wrist in directions that cause pain. Everyone recommends seeing a doctor, getting x-rays and maybe a cast. I’m holding out to see if I can live without a cast since the wrist only hurts when I bend it in certain directions and I get a painful reminder when I forget.

We sat in Tranquility’s cockpit and watched black clouds appear above the horizon up around Green Turtle Cay. Miles north of us at Baker Bay, Frank on Summer Magic reported the wind shift and speed increase. A day earlier, we’d checked our mooring: a 3-foot cube of concrete, the mooring chain and the mooring line. All were in good shape. A half-hour after Frank’s VHF call, Tranquility swung 100 degrees to face northeast. The wind picked up to 23 knots average with gusts reported above 40 knots. Our first major front passage blew hard for two days. We felt secure, and on the first night of the storm went ashore to watch the Super Bowl and get pieces of the coconut pies we’d help make.

It’s been a week now and my wrist is still tender and still hurts if bent in the wrong direction–but not quite as much. I’ve gotten pretty good at using my right hand and figuring out how to use my left without causing pain. Another week or two and my wrist may be back to normal.

I’m told one of the funny sights of the dinghy race was watching the mate point the direction to go while calling out steering instructions. I couldn’t tell, since like all the other people at the helm, I was blindfolded. We were having a blind dinghy race around Hope Town Harbour. Speed wasn’t a factor, you traveled hoping to come close to a previously established, but not announced rounding time. At one-minute intervals two dinghies started at the same time in opposite directions on the course. At each turning mark you had to do a 360 around the mark before proceeding. Time penalties were assessed if you hit anything or anyone. Collisions were inevitable. It was unnerving, but also funny hearing a motor coming nearer, and Ruth and the other person go through a frantic series of “left! More left! Slow down! Mary you should be yelling right! Damn, they’re going to hit us.” Then would come a gentle bump and we were off to the next encounter. The party before and after on Yellow Brick Road, a large motor yacht was something to see. We counted 25 dinghies tied off her stern. The 50 or so people aboard had a grand time and we managed not to sink our host’s yacht.

We left Hope Town Harbour to do a pump out and things kind of got out of hand. Once out of the snug confines of the harbor the urge to travel again kicked in. Instead of returning to our mooring paid for another week we ended up anchored out at Treasure Cay. Our curiosity to see what’s around the corner only got worse. We are now taking advantage of a huge weather window to head for Eleuthera. The Atlantic is flat calm, you can see the clouds reflected in the deep blue of the ocean. We’ll end up motoring the 50 miles of open ocean to the reefs guarding the entrance to Spanish Wells.


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