On February 6, 2007, we left Man O War Cay
and made our way to Boat Harbour Marina at the Abaco Beach
Resort in Marsh Harbor. This was a trip of about 6
miles, made tricky by the shallow depth of the water in this
area, particularly the passes into the harbors on both cays
Marsh Harbor is on Great Abaco Island and is the major town
on Great Abaco. It's not a quaint town like Man O War
Settlement but the airport is there and the
town itself offers every supply and service needed.
The population of the entire island is about
10,000. This information was given to us by a Bahamian
policeman who picked us up the first day we visited Marsh
Harbor by ferry, before we brought Lionheart to the marina.
We were walking along the road into town from the ferry
landing and a van pulled up next to us. Richard,
thinking it was a taxi, asked how much it would be to take
us to town. The driver laughed, pointed to the Royal
Bahamian Seal on the door, and offered to take us to town anyway.
On the way he told us about the Bahamas and their problem
with illegal immigration. Yes, the same problems seem
to crop up in remote corners of the world as in California.
In the Bahamas it is the Haitians who have immigrated
illegally since the Islands gained independence from Britain
in 1972. In any event, the policeman indicated we
should stay to the main roads while visiting and he showed
us the shopping areas and major stores.
The day we arrived in Boat Harbour we joined
the Royal Marsh Harbor Yacht Club so that we could
participate in the many social activities of this very
active group. The dues are quite reasonable for this
Club which was started in Marsh Harbor by some American
cruisers who were regulars, wintering in the area every
year. Some of our "Looper" friends had
preceded us to
the marina and advised us that we should immediately join
with this happy group. Happy indeed, within hours of
docking Lionheart, we found ourselves at the yacht club's
Pirates of the Caribbean Party where the rum punch was
yummy, dinner was served, a treasure hunt had, skits
performed, and a good time had by all for a mere $5.00 each!
This was quite a change from the generally high prices for
food and drink at the eateries and watering holes in the
Abacos. There are some good deals offered by said
eateries and watering holes on a daily basis. To be
informed of happy hour specials and just about every other
piece of information pertinent to the many cruisers staying
in Marsh Harbor for the winter, one listens to VHF Channel
68 at 8:15 AM every morning. The news of the world,
the ever important weather report, and a general review of
every activity available in the area is delivered by a
dedicated Cruisers Net. Other activities organized by
the cruisers themselves (mostly the yacht club members)
include morning walks, group trips to Nippers (more on this
important Abaco destination later), group trip to giant flea
market on Man O War, Founders Days in Hope Town, conch shell
blowing lessons, afternoon exercise classes and much more.
Most of boaters we met at our marina who were not "Loopers"
come to the Abacos every year around December 1 and stay
until April 1. The marina rates are cheap and they
settle in for a winter of sun and fun in Marsh Harbor.
They are very kind and friendly to the cruisers who decide
to join their group for a few weeks or months and a good
time is had by all.
While February was a very windy month which
kept us primarily at the dock, we passed the time with
morning walks for me, boat chores for the Captain, and
regular housekeeping for both of us. Reading,
needlepoint and crossword puzzles are also among my favorite
activities. We have been introduced to a new author,
Carl Hiaasen, who sets his whacky novels in Florida, and
have enjoyed 2 of his books. Without a doubt, my
favorite reads this year so far were The Glass Castle and
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Other
activities included a weekly shopping trip to the super
market in town, accomplished by foot or by bicycle, usually
on the day the supply boat arrived. This timing was
important to ensure a good selection of veggies and dairy
products. Thankfully, we had stocked up on staples and
frozen meats in Florida because the prices for food in the
Bahamas is about double for most items. Rum, however,
is pretty cheap because it is made in the Bahamas.
Fire In The Hole is a favorite among cruisers. The
name explains it completely!
meeting our "Looper" friends at the Jib Room for ribs on
Wednesdays, a little bridge playing with Karen and Bill on
Candy Dish, Valentines Day dinner at the resort
restaurant......mmmmm good! The yacht club's
Ball was held on February 16. Needless to say, I and
all the other cruiser women had a hard time coming up with
appropriate apparel for such an event. The men, of
course, just put on long pants and a shirt with a collar and
they were dressed to the 9's! It really didn't matter
because the music was great and the dancing went on until we
were all pretty much dead on the floor. On top of the
yacht club parties, the resort sponsored a party every other
Monday night with music provided by a local fellow named Brown Tip.
By day Mr. Brown Tip has a boat bottom cleaning
service....by night he is a working deejay who accompanies
the music by playing a saw. He also has an accompanist who
plays maracas. They are not the only guys who provide
this type of entertainment but they are very popular with
the Boat Harbour group and it is fun to watch them play and
to dance to the music.
On February 20, I was invited to play
Scrabble with a couple of ladies. I thought this would
be fun and went like a lamb to slaughter. This was a
game of Scrabble like I have not seen before. First of
all, one of the gals had lists of words......ALL of the
2-letter words, ALL of the Q words, ALL of the X and Z words, and these included words like ab, ee, and many others
that I have never seen before and have now forgotten.
They also specialized in making words that added on to words
already on the board so that they would get a score that
included the old word and the new word. They also
would do ANYTHING to get a triple word score, particularly
one using a high scoring letter. As the afternoon wore
on with little ole me falling far behind, I wished I had
accepted the hostesses offer of a glass of wine to start.
I have mentioned this to my old friend Judy Collins only to
be told that she was glad that I had finally encountered a
properly stimulating (or humbling) game of Scrabble. I
must say I was intrigued by this particular style of play
but I didn't get invited back for another round.
To sooth my ruffled Scrabble feathers, we
left the marina on February 21, traveling about 20 miles
down the coast of Great Abaco to Little Harbor. It's a
charming little bay. It is well protected from the
wind but it has a very shallow fairway to get inside. We
arrived during the very highest tide for the area. We
left 24 hours later at the next highest tide. What
Little Harbor is known for it Pete's Pub, the home of the
"Blaster" rum punch, and a foundry where the owner of Pete's
Pub makes cast bronze art. The gallery is very nice
and the cast sculptures are interesting and unique.
After visiting the gallery and the beautiful white sand
beach, we went to Pete's Pub and, guess what? After 2
blasters we were blasted.....surprise! The Scrabble
Queen, Patty, was there too and she had 3 blasters.
Had to keep up her strength for the next unsuspecting
Scrabble wimp. The day after the blasters we left Lionheart at anchor at Lanyard Cay and took the dingy over
to Sandy Cay and went snorkeling over a beautiful reef.
We saw many beautiful fish and coral but I was mainly
impressed by the beautiful sea rays.
On February 25, we attended the Great Loop
Rendezvous and beach party. All the "Loopers" from the
various marinas and anchorages gathered at the Abaco
Resort beach for a potluck lunch, Looper story telling,
conch blowing contest and tug-of-war. It was fun to
catch up with "old" friends from the 2006 Loop group and
meet others who are just starting their adventure.
There are also a number of boats who are going for their
second loop. It's not only the trip that is so
enticing but it is the people and the camaraderie that
develops among the travelers that make the experience what
Meanwhile, the Cat Unit of the crew
continued his exploratory ways by getting off the boat
every time he thought he could escape. He usually
announced his intention by sitting on the step and emitting
a loud howl and then he jumped onto the dock. He
seemed to love exploring the grassy area adjacent to the
dock and beat a fast retreat to the boat whenever a
bicycle rider appeared or any loud noise. He would
also lie down and present his tummy in a shameless bid for
attention from any friendly person walking by. While
he almost upset one bicycle rider and stayed out way too
late on one occasion, he never fell in the water and he
earned his privilege of going "off boat" at least once a
The last weekend in February had us on a yacht club cruise to
Sea Spray Resort on Elbow Cay. On Friday we headed out early to catch the
high tide and anchored about 2 miles outside the resort fairway. We
decided to walk into Hope Town from the resort which turned out to be quite a
trek. After making a wrong turn (hard to do since there is really only one
road on the cay) and walking about an hour in the hottest part of the day, the
resort van picked us up and drove us the last half mile into town. There
we observed the annual Founder's Day celebration. The Abacos were settled
by American Colonials who were against the Revolution. Some brought their
slaves. Hope Town residents recreate the landing and settlement of the
town back in the 1800's with period costumes and activities of that time in
history. Back at the resort we joined the yacht club members for a dock
cocktail party and dinner. All richly deserved after our long long walk
earlier in the day. The next day found the group partying around the
beautiful resort pool all day. The Captain and I took a long walk on the
beautiful white sand beach and engaged in a search for "sea glass". Sea
glass collecting is a popular pastime among cruisers in the Bahamas as well as
by local artists who make jewelry and other art objects using this glass.
I thought this would be a good alternate to collecting shells which take up a
lot more room than little pieces of glass. The glass is derived from glass
bottles and jars that have been thrown into the sea, broken, and the shards
washed by the sand until they no longer have sharp edges and they are opaque as
in sandblasted by nature. I liked this stuff so much that I found the most
well known glass jewelry maker in Marsh Harbor, Marlee Mason, and bought a
beautiful glass pendent and earrings. The pendant is a stunning piece with
a silver sea ray swinging over the opaque white glass. Friends and family
will see me wear for years to come. It is a beautiful souvenir of our time
in the Abacos.
This weekend also found us having dinner at the locally famous
Cracker P's Full Moon Party on Saturday. There was actually a lunar
eclipse that night which will not be repeated in this century.
Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see the eclipse properly. On Sunday we
headed to Great Guana Cay to attend the weekly pig roast at Nippers.
Nippers is another locally famous beach bar. We docked in Orchid Bay
Marina and walked over toward Nippers. As we neared the turnoff that would
take us to the top of the cay and thus to the bar, a golf cart stopped and
offered us a ride. This is the Nippers "van" and the driver had an unlit
cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He said that he was not allowed to
smoke while transporting passengers and that pretty soon he expected he wouldn't
be allowed to drink on duty either! Hail Mary and pass the Nipper! (That's
the name of the rum punch at this establishment.) We spent the afternoon walking
on the beautiful white sand beach in front of Nippers and enjoying the food,
drink and dancing. As the afternoon progressed and the crowd got bigger
and drunker, the dancing got more interesting and a great time was had by all.
On this day we learned that the grand finale of the winter season was the
Barefoot Man's Concert at Nippers on March 25. People from all over the
Abacos come every year to this much anticipated event so, of course, we made a
reservation at the marina to attend this event. We were not disappointed
by the entertainment provided by Barefoot Man nor the reported 2000 people who
crammed themselves into this rickety (at best) establishment for the concert.
In fact, some people arrived at 3:30 AM to sleep on tables on the upper deck to
assure themselves a good view of the proceedings. The music started at
10:00 AM. By 10:30 the pool cabana roof had been totally occupied by a
group of young women in bikinis and a lot of male onlookers. Dancing was
non-stop for hours and it got pretty up close and personal. Unbelievably,
the roof of that flimsy establishment did not collapse nor did a single person
fall into the pool. The party went on all day and into the night. At
one point an older woman (whom we did not know....Thank you God!) who was on the
roof we were on across from the dancing roof, started flashing the crowd across
the pool and they started flashing back. All in good fun and made possible
by that demon....the Nipper.
March zipped past in much the same whirl of winterbird living
relieved by a visit from our friends Paula and David, my former bosses and close
friends from SCR. They came to celebrate Paula's birthday. We took
them to see Nippers. Let me tell you, on a weekday it's not the same
place. We had a very civilized lunch on the patio and walked again on the
beautiful white beach facing the Atlantic. We also stopped by Grabbers, the
other beach bar on Great Guana Cay. Yup, they serve Grabbers rum punch.
We visited Treasure Cay, back on Great Abaco. Another beautiful
beach but the day was too windy to walk. They treated us to the best meal
we had in Marsh Harbor at Wally's restaurant. I showed Paula the sea glass
jewelry and she decided she needed a piece too. All in all, they enjoyed a
laid back Bahamian vacation and we enjoyed company from home very much.
One other outing that is definitely worth mentioning is our
afternoon spent at Winding Bay Club on Great Abaco. This is a fabulous
membership resort which offers golf, equestrienne sports, a spa, water sports,
and a five star dinning room. Club membership is $60,000. The
cottages start at $1.75M and lots for individual homes start at $1M. The
facilities and view make it, without a doubt, the most beautiful resort in the
Abacos and we enjoyed our time there very much.
Since we had decided to visit California the first week in May
to attend Erik Miller's graduation from Woodbury College, we needed to begin
heading back to Florida April 1. Erik is the young man the Captain
mentored from eighth grade through college and he had promised to attend that
much anticipated graduation ceremony. So, on April l we left all our
cruising and partying friends and headed for the Florida coast. This time
the weather window came immediately, so we headed north and west to Crab Cay the
first night and Manjack Cay the second night. There were about 8 boats
anchored there waiting to cross the Gulf Stream on Tuesday morning, April
3. We were up before the moon went down or the sun came up, heading west
through the Bahama Bank and across to Lake Worth in Palm Beach where we arrived
late in the afternoon.
The next day we attended to checking in with US Immigration at
the Port of Palm Beach and saying goodbye to our cruising buddies. We will
probably catch up with some of them in the Chesapeake this summer and others we
will probably see in the islands again next winter. However, next winter
we will head further south than the Abacos. Perhaps we will even make it
as far as the Terks and Caicos. While we had a great time in the Abacos,
we have decided it's more our style to keep moving and seeing as much as
possible during each year that we cruise. Our time to retire to the
winterbird lifestyle is not yet.
We are spending April in Florida visiting Disneyworld, Cape
Canaveral, Sarasota, Everglades City and anyplace else that catches our
interest, while Nick is going to a Pet Resort for a vacation stay. When we
return from California in May, we will head up the ICW to the Chesapeake,
including a 2 week stay in Washington, DC. At the end of summer we will
attend a Trawler Fest in Maryland and we will spend Thanksgiving in
Williamsburg, VA, with the Maynes and the Nolls.
Look for another chapter on the website in June. We always
love to hear from our family and friends and encourage you to come visit
Lionheart at the future destination of your choice.