Man-O-War Cay

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.

Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit peacefully anchored off Dickie's Cay

Cutting Class and Kindred Spirit peacefully anchored off 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.

There he is again, cleaning the waterline.

There he is again, cleaning the waterline.

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.

Man-O-War settlement

Man-O-War settlement

Walking up the road (path?) from the dock. Dan is describing something, isn't he?

Walking up the road (path?) from the dock. Dan is describing something, isn’t he?

Street signs

Signs to other places in the Abacos, but not to anything on Man-O-War!

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 house is a good example of a Man-O-War home. Notice the decorative palm tree accents on the porch.

This house is a good example of a Man-O-War home. Notice the decorative palm tree accents on the porch.

Probably a fixer-upper, but it also possessed a feeling of history.

Not a typical home here, and probably a fixer-upper, but there was something eye-catching about it, nonetheless.

The Methodist Church 1912 (one of several churches here)

The Methodist Church 1912 (one of several churches here)

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?

Sweet Apple's Snore Box

Sugar Apple’s Snore Box

Speaking of stores, we found the hardware store –

A well-stocked hardware store is every man's dream.

A well-stocked hardware store is every man’s dream.

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.

Albury Sail Loft

Albury Sail Loft – the smiling lady in the middle is also pictured in all the advertisements.

The blooming plants around the island held a few surprises.

Top left -Cotton  Right - a poinsettia bush Bottom left - hibiscus

Top left -A  cotton plant survived, hidden along the road. When the Loyalists left the American colonies, they attempted to create a thriving cotton crop for export, but the fields failed within a few years because of pests and soil depletion.
~~A poinsettia bush in full bloom
-~A beautiful pink hibiscus tree

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.

Building an Albury boat

Building an Albury boat
Bottom right – “Albury Designs”. Joe Albury creates model boats, half hulls and other works of art in high demand by collectors.

There are lots of Albury boats running about the Hope Town harbor. This is just one of the smaller ones.

There are lots of Albury boats running about the Hope Town harbor. This is just one of the smaller ones.

 

Very cute display of shells for sale

Very cute display of shells for sale – Grandpa is another entrepreneur!

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.

Going conching! Scouting with the look bucket before diving in.

Going conching! Scouting with the look bucket before diving in.

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.

Snorkeling for conch shells Photo credit - Dan Crouch

Snorkeling for conch shells
Photo credit – Dan Crouch

Swimming away with a conch shell Photo credit - Dan Crouch

Swimming away with a conch shell
Photo credit – Dan Crouch

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. 🙁

Bucket of soaking conch shells. There will be another blog post about conch shells!

Bucket of soaking conch shells. There will be another blog post about conch shells!

We had a dinner of juicy and delicious burgers at Dock & Dine.

Dock & Dine on Man-O-War

Dock & Dine on Man-O-War

As Al is ready to enjoy a bite of his juicy bacon burger, he lets me know that he thinks  has run out of his cholesterol pills for the trip.

As Al is ready to enjoy a bite of his juicy bacon burger, he lets me know that he thinks he has run out of his cholesterol pills for the trip.

Silhouettes of palms

Silhouettes of palms

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.

A rainy morning that eventually became a decent day back in Hope Town.

A rainy morning that eventually became a decent day back in Hope Town.

Update – I found another bottle of Al’s pills. 90 – that should do it!

A Little Art Show

Over the past week, as we walked around the settlement, we have seen artists scattered about, painting Hopetown’s scenery. Their presence added another dimension to the sense of community that pervades little Hope Town. We learned that the artists were participating in a local gallery’s workshop led by artist, Walt Bartman.

Workshop class on the dock

Workshop class on the dock

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Walt Bartman painting and teaching

We had already stumbled upon the Hummingbird  Cottage Art Centre housed in a charming historic Loyalist cottage here in Hope Town. It was recently restored by the owners and is now a beautiful setting for art exhibits.

Hummingbird Art Centre - the original cottage

Hummingbird Art Centre

Interior of the new gallery wing

Interior of the new gallery wing

View out the back of the gallery

View from the back of the gallery

Sunday, January 13th, the artists in the workshop exhibited their paintings at the gallery.

People gathered inside and outside

People gathered inside and outside

The paintings were displayed in this wonderful outdoor setting.

The paintings were displayed in this wonderful outdoor setting.

How fortunate that the earlier rain shower left us with a beautiful afternoon for this event.

How fortunate that the earlier rain shower left us with a beautiful afternoon for this event.

This little curly tail lizard enjoyed this painting very much!

This little curly tail lizard enjoyed this painting very much!

Today we mixed our beach time with art time. We had another swim in the gentle surf this morning, just before the skies opened with a short downpour. We laughed as some of the saltiness was washed from our skin when we finally climbed out of the water. Once the rain clouds passed Elbow Cay, it became another beautiful day here. On our way home from the art show, we stopped to look at the ocean one more time.

Our favorite beach once again.

Our favorite beach

 

 

 

The Rainbow Before the Rains

Monday morning greeted us with a delightful and colorful surprise – a rainbow! We had not heard any rain during the night, but there it was. Even better, this photo captured the rainbow with Kindred Spirit and the Hope Town lighthouse, thanks to Dan.

Kindred Spirit framed by a rainbow and with the lighthouse in the background. Thank you, Dan! Great photo.

Kindred Spirit framed by a rainbow and with the lighthouse in the background. Thank you, Dan! Great photo!

The curious thing about this rainbow is that it preceded the very cloudy, windy, cool, and wet weather we are now having. Monday was a decent day – sun, a dinghy ride and a little snorkeling. But today and the rest of this week is not so good. True, we are not having single digit temperatures with ice and snow, but, hey, we are in paradise and expect daily sunshine and more than 66 degrees! 🙂 We are reading, napping, visiting, and organizing things around the boat.

Here are a few photos of special places and views we have found on our walks around Elbow Cay, on nicer days.

This memorial garden is a work in progress. It is open to anyone and sits high enough to have a wonderful view of the ocean.

A lovely garden overlooking the ocean in the early evening.

A lovely garden overlooking the ocean in the early evening.

Dolphin statue

Dolphin statue’s quote – “May their adventure spirits soar free forever.”

Al stands at the edge and looks out to sea in the waning light.

Al stands at the edge and looks out to sea in the waning light.

Looking south along the eastern shore

Looking south along the eastern shore

The same beach on another day at low tide

The same beach during the day at low tide.

A walk along the north shore path, lined with   pine trees.

A walk along the north shore path, lined with pine trees.

A peak through the pine trees to see the little island that greets you upon entering the Hope Town harbor.

A peak through the pine trees to see the little island that greets you upon entering the Hope Town harbor.

I am thinking sunny thoughts, hoping that this cold front will move more quickly than forecasted.

Looking forward to a future day at the beach!

Looking forward to a day at the beach again, hopefully sooner rather than later!

Wine Down Sip Sip, Sots, and Ice Cream

If a title like that doesn’t get your attention, what will? This is a post about three of our favorite things here in Hope Town.

Wine Down Sip Sip, a great little wine bar

Wine Down Sip Sip, a great little wine bar

On our second night in Hope Town way back on Friday, December 13th, Dan and Marcia took us to a classy little wine bar named Wine Down Sip Sip.  The atmosphere is both casual and sophisticated, with a lounge area and shelves filled with books for lending and exchanging.

A very inviting place

A very inviting place

The name is decidedly unusual, but, oh, so fitting — Wine down = to relax. Sip-sip= to share ‘news’, the Bahamian equivalent of gossip. Wine Down Sip-Sip is the place to do both – relax and enjoy conversations with others.

Hanging out at Wine Down Sip Sip

Hanging out at Wine Down Sip Sip

Within 10 minutes on that first Friday, we were introduced to Deanna and Sara, who enticed, encouraged, persuaded and cajoled us into joining the SOTS. The official Webster definition of a sot is a person who is habitually drunk. But that is not really what this is about, not really at all. Sara took our photos for our membership cards, which were available the very next day (when do you ever get service like that anywhere?).

We are now lifetime Sip Sip SOTS

We are now lifetime Sip Sip SOTS – “Enjoying life one sip at a time.”

What does this mean???  We received a witty email the next day that explained just what we had joined the night before. From that email, we learned — The idea was born back in 2009 when four friends were enjoying drinks and the conversation. “Why not found a group that had as its purpose nothing but chatting with friends over a flagon (or wine glass, or tumbler)?  A group without rules, directories, by-laws, meetings, committees, or fundraisers. Our only goal would be to gather like minded souls for the camaraderie.”

These four friends were “besotted” with the concept and were sitting at the Wine Down Sip Sip, so their new group was baptized “the Sip Sip Sots.”  For the alliterative touch, not the negative connotation.  One thing led to another and their idea expanded to include other local island establishments.  Wine Down Sip Sip is the headquarters, but “meetings” of the Sots are also held at several other locations on Elbow Cay. During Happy Hour, light treats are provided for the members to enjoy. Membership entitles us to 10% off purchases in some local businesses. The major portion of the lifetime membership fee of $5.00 goes to Friends of Abaco Animals, a charity that provides for abandoned and needy animals.  We are proud to be SOTS!

Every Friday at 5 pm, the Sip Sip Sots gather at Wine Down Sip Sip for conversation and a drink. In four Fridays, we have already met many terrific people there, other cruisers and Elbow Cay residents, year round and seasonal.

Juliet and Eric work at Wine Down Sip Sip and do a wonderful job!

Juliet and Eric work at Wine Down Sip Sip and do a wonderful job!

The chef ( why didn't I ask his name??) makes delicious flatbread pizza, jamaican beef patties and the most unusual key lime pie I have ever had with a chocolate crust.

The chef ( why didn’t I ask his name??) makes delicious flatbread pizza, Jamaican beef patties and the most unusual key lime pie I have ever had with a chocolate crust.

That leaves only one more thing in the title to explain – ice cream. We love ice cream, as you may well know 🙂  and we went without any ice cream for nearly three weeks here in the Abacos. Yes, that is truly hard to believe, I know.  We found our first Bahama ice cream at the Sugar Shack.

The Sugar Shack

The Sugar Shack

The Sugar Shack sells the ice cream by weight, not by scoop. We got a small to share and it was $5.00. I am wondering what a medium for $5.00 would be?

Ice cream prices by weight. $3-$5 for a small and $5 - $ for a medium

Ice cream prices by weight. $3-$5 for a small and $5 – $8 for a medium

We enjoyed Pirates Plunder, a chocolaty delight.

We enjoyed Pirates Plunder, a chocolaty delight.

I guess this little sign says it all.

I guess this little sign says it all.