Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Haynes, Laura, James, Sandra, and Betty Arrive

Dinner for all aboard Irish Eyes in Man of War Cay's Eastern (American) Harbour.

Haynes forward on the deck as we broad reach with all three sail up along Scotland Cay.

The view from the lighthouse across the entrance to Hopetown Harbour, across the town, and into the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bill and I are anchored in Marsh Harbor. We spent several days in Manjack Cay waiting for a good weather window to go through the Whale Cay Passage. To get from the northern part of the Abacos to the southern part you have to go out into the Atlantic Ocean, go around Whale Cay, and then come back into the Sea of Abaco. The meeting of the two bodies of water can be quite rough, what they call here a rage. It didn’t take too much whining to have Bill agree that we need a very calm day for our passage! We came through the Whale on Saturday, March 22. Was a very easy passage, but after our more exciting Gulf Stream crossing we were prepared for the worst, but we didn’t have any problems at all.

We anchored first in Bakers Bay. This is a spot on the northern end of Guana Cay. In the past this was a perfect place; no houses, no condos, no resorts, just a beautiful beach on the Abaco side, a path leading through the underbrush and palms inthe center of the island to a pink sand beach on the Atlantic side. The reef was just a small distance from the Atlantic Beach and was a great snorkeling place. Well, now it is a development with home sites ($2 to $12 million), hotel, and small boat dock. A large marina is under of construction with earth moving equipment digging a harbor in the middle of the island. We walked a mile or so along the Bakers Bay beach. Because the beach was a lee shore we moved the boat and re-anchored behind Spoil Cay which is sometimes called Shell Island. The shelling was great. If I had had a shovel we could have brought home a ton.

We headed to Marsh Harbor to pick up Bill’s brother Haynes and his wife Laura and to see James and Sandra Little and James’ sister Betty when their flight arrived. The Littles had chartered a 31 foot boat, Anticipation, from Hopetown. We had the perfect plan for meeting up but the weather didn’t cooperate. At just about the time the Little party was landing at the airport a strong squall blew through the harbor anchorage. One of the other cruisers said the wind was 47 knots! Bill watched our dinghy with outboard motor attached flip over. He said goodbye to his new bailer, tiller extension, and sponge as they floated away. We did keep the two life jackets that were trapped under the overturned dinghy. Once the storm was over we got the dinghy right side up and began pondering what to do with an outboard motor that had spent over an hour immersed in salt water. While it was still raining we had a radio call from James. They were here. Without a motor we couldn’t dinghy over to see them, so we made plans to talklater. We had lots and lots of advice, greatly appreciated, from others anchored nearby in the harbor. Bill took the motor apart while I held a bucket underneath to catch all the dropped parts. He drained the water soaked gas tank, rinsed the motor inside and out with fresh water, used about a quart of WD40 to dry it out, put it all back together, and lo and behold; it started! Haynes and Laura came as we were finishing up, so we told them to go to the Conch Inn Bar, have a drink and wait because we weren’t yet ready. A half hour later we finally retrieved our guests from the bar. All’s well that ends well; I suppose. (And another plus, we got the water tanks topped up in the rain.)

Tuesday we sailed over to Man-of-War Cay and picked up a mooring ball in Eastern Harbour. The Littles came from Hopetown and tied up alongside us. We had a great time walking around the settlement looking at the houses and beautiful flowers. We visited the local baker in her home kitchen, but unfortunately it was late in the day and she was sold out. All seven of us had cocktails and dinner aboard Irish Eyes. That night we all slept like babies. In the morning Haynes and James went back to the bakery for fresh warm cinnamon buns. Yummy!

The next day we sailed back to Bakers Bay and went ashore. We discovered we weren’t even allowed to sit in the chairs along the beach or venture beyond the high tide line. We had a great walk around the tip of the island to see the Atlantic. Thursday morning Anticipation went over to Treasure Cay to get some water while Irish Eyes sailed down to Hopetown Harbour expecting the second boat later. The waves were too much for Anticipation and they went to Marsh Harbor for the night. The Irish Eyes crew wandered around Hopetown and enjoyed a great restaurant meal ashore.

In the Abacos there is a wonderful VHF radio “show” each morning on channel 68 called The Cruisers Net. The weather report is given, headline news read, news of local happenings broadcast, questions asked and answered, requests made for help with boat repairs, and new arrivals and departures announced. During Friday morning’s Cruiser’s Net an announcement was made that local Methodist youth group was planning a mission trip to Copper Hill, Tennessee. James Little, ever the champion of Watauga Lake Sail Club, during the open mike time, invited the youth to come sail on Watauga Lake if they are in East Tennessee! Wouldn’t that be something? Irish Eyes’ crew was chuckling about James, the radio celebrity, when Anticipation slipped onto a mooring behind us. Both crews went to inspect the Hopetown lighthouse. The views from the top are fantastic. Unlike the lighthouses in the US, you can just climb to the top of this one unescorted. The kerosene mantle lamp, lenses, and clockwork to drive it all are all within reach with nothing more than a Do Not Touch sign to protect them.

Irish Eyes sailed back over to Marsh Harbor for the night. While Laura and I shopped a bit, Haynes and Bill went dumpster diving and picked up some roadside trash to get the parts to replace the lost dinghy motor tiller extension and bailer. As much as I hated to encourage them, they were successful. They did purchase a new sponge, but chose a $2.75 one from the grocery store instead of a $10.00 one from the marine supply store.

Bill saw Haynes and Laura off in a taxi to the airport at about 9:30am Saturday morning. A short nap time later the Littles radioed that they had taken the ferry from Hopetown and were standing on the dinghy dock. Bill and I came over to meet them, and we all had a great farewell lunch at a restaurant with a view over the harbor. We saw them off in a taxi to the airport and returned to Irish Eyes. I decided it was time to do laundry. With Bill’s help I got all the dirty clothes, soap, and fabric softener to the Laundromat for that adventure. Waiting on the machines to finish, I sat quietly knitting a sock. I ended up giving a mini knitting lesson to several local girls. It was a pleasant way to spend the time waiting for the wash to finish. We have clean clothes but need to top up the water and fuel tanks before heading south towards George Town. The weather is supposed to be very windy here at least the next few days, so we may be here for a bit.

[Bill's aside: As I expected the beer is running low. Haynes was kind enough to buy a case of the local Kalik at $48. Budweiser is higher. Ouch. Diesel is $5.65/gal in the marina.]

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