It was time for a change of scenery again and Monday looked like a good weather window to get out of Hope Town and head to Man-O-War Cay. Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit left early in the morning with the tide to make the trip. It was a lovely morning for a leisurely sail, but we used the engine to charge the batteries. Man-O-War is very near Elbow Cay so the 5 miles took only an hour. We anchored in beautiful clear water outside the northwestern entrance to the harbor, just off of Dickie’s Cay.
The “boys” had boat chores to do. First, Al decided this was a good time to clean the anchor locker where all 200 feet of the chain lies beneath the deck in the bow (pointy end of the boat.) So, it all went out into the water. So nice to be able to see it down there in the sand. In the bottom of the locker was mud. Mud that the chain had carried with it when the anchor is pulled up, in spite of Al’s vigilant cleaning, every single time. We suspect this is mud from 20 plus years. We now have a very clean anchor locker and bilge. This was also a good time for cleaning the water line and scrubbing the bottom again.
The four of us took a walk around the Man-O-War settlement. A very nice map of the settlement greets you as you leave the docks and walk up the road.
Like most of the Abacos, Man-O-War was settled by Loyalists during the American Revolution. The unique feature of Man-O War is that it is a very religious island and no liquor is sold on the island. There was a much more subdued feeling here than in Hope Town. The people even speak quietly. Certainly quite different than Great Guana Cay!
Man-O-War is known for its businesses. It was described to us as a “bedroom community” for Marsh Harbour business owners, which is just across the Abaco Sea from Man-O-War. The two grocery stores were certainly a treat for us – well-stocked. The businesses and homes are all very neatly kept. Most of them are built from concrete rather than the wood siding we see on Hope Town.
This little building is an example of a snore box and is even labeled with a little sign – “Sugar Apple’s Snore Box.” A snore box is a small building near the main house, but not connected, and is only a bedroom with perhaps a bath. For guests. Or maybe for times of marital disagreements?
Speaking of stores, we found the hardware store –
We visited the Albury Sail Loft which now produces colorful handmade canvas totes, bags, duffels, and hats. I may have to return here for a shopping spree. 😉 The ladies were busy at the sewing machines when we were there.
The blooming plants around the island held a few surprises.
In the 1800s, The Abaco Islands resembled New England as fishing, wooden boatbuilding and “wrecking” — salvaging damaged ships while they were sinking — became the foundation of the local economy. Although there were pine forests in the Abacos (and there was a pine scent to the air as we dinghied into the harbor) these were depleted through foreign ventures that bought tracts of pine forest as well as the Abaconian use of the woods for boat building. Boat building on Man-O-War dates back to the 1800’s and the tradition continues with the Albury Brothers Boats. Albury Brothers Boats were built in wood until 1985. The first fiberglass boat was molded off the last wooden hull. These Albury boats range from 20 – 27 feet, from what I see around the harbor. They are extremely well-made and seaworthy runabouts.
After lunch on the boat, we had a perfect afternoon for snorkeling. There was a variety of fish (but no photos – camera did not come with me) and beds of discarded conch shells after the snail had been removed. Most of them were old, broken, and covered in barnacles and growth. But, by looking carefully, we found some more recent ones.
Al did the deeper diving because I just couldn’t manage to stay down there long enough. Thanks to Marcia and Dan’s underwater camera, I now have photos of me snorkeling for conch shells – 4 months after the fact! In this digital world, it is hard to wait for the film to be developed.
We brought back five that needed some cleaning and bleach. As I was giving them a first cleaning, sitting on the transom, my fingers slipped and one dropped back into the water. The water was too deep. My screams of dismay carried across the water to Dan and Marcia on their boat.
And then there were four. 🙁
We had a dinner of juicy and delicious burgers at Dock & Dine.
With full tummies (and higher cholesterol) we settled into bed to read, and were immediately (or so it seemed) woken by a downpour at 9 pm. Heavy rain showers kept us up throughout the night. Morning brought more of the same, and the trip back to Hope Town was uneventful, but wet.
Update – I found another bottle of Al’s pills. 90 – that should do it!