A Visit with Friends from Home

Our house in Connecticut --brrrrrrr!

Our house in Connecticut –brrrrrrr!

Our friends, Gil and Judy, abandoned the cold New England weather to spend a week visiting us here in the warm and sunny Bahamas. Can’t blame them for that! This is what our little house in Connecticut looks like right now (courtesy of a neighbor who wanted us to know what we were missing.)

In preparation of the visit, we left Hope Town and went to Marsh Harbor last Monday (2/3) so that we could stay at a dock (Our first night at dock since early December in Florida). After Ray helped us into the slip at Mangoes Marina, I asked him about going to the office to pay, etc.  His reply was, “Relax, no hurry, don’t worry.”

Kindred Spirit nestled in the slip at Mangoes Marina

Kindred Spirit nestled in the slip at Mangoes Marina

OK, then, we will take Ray’s advice! It was quite hot, so we treated ourselves to lunch at Mangoes (grouper fingers and chicken quesadilla with pineapple and swiss cheese) and then walked out to Maxwells for provisions. After the long walk an unloading of groceries, it was nice to finish our laundry while sitting by  marina’s pool. But the best part about the dock was charging our batteries back up to full capacity and having  unlimited water for $5 to wash down the boat and fill our tanks again. Mangoes is a reasonably priced marina, but the water under us in that slip disappeared as low tide arrived– we were tilted in the slip for a few hours on either side of low tide. It is a very weird feeling to walk slightly uphill inside your boat when you cross the cabin from port to starboard. But no harm done.

That evening we were treated to a conch blowing session at sundown. The regulars on the dock blow conch shells every evening, in a semi-contest to see who can blow the longest.

Conch shell blowing (gotta learn how to do that.)

Conch shell blowing (gotta learn how to do that.)

On Tuesday, Gil and Judy arrived at Mangoes via Alexander’s taxi service. Our plan was to visit Great Guana Cay and Man-O-War Cay again before bringing them to Hope Town, all of which would give them a bit of variety during their 7-day visit. One of the nicest things about this week was that we revisited some of our favorite places, but also did and saw new things with Gil and Judy.

We wasted no time, quickly boarded Kindred Spirit, and left that dock while the tide was still high enough. Welcome to the Abacos, Gil and Judy!! Now that we are having company, we really feel like cruisers and liveaboards!

Welcome to the Abacos!! Gil and Judy arrived at Mangoes in Alexander's taxi.

Welcome to the Abacos!! Gil and Judy arrived at Mangoes in Alexander’s taxi.

We sailed over to Great Guana Cay – nice sail, and much cooler than at the dock.  Cutting Class was already anchored at Guana and served as the second welcoming committee for our guests.  While Judy and I relaxed on the boat, Gil and Al headed out to look for lobsters. Gil has been patiently waiting for this experience for months. They were out there a long time, but returned triumphantly with lobsters!  The larger one proved to be a challenge – Al speared him and he escaped, running off to save his life. Gil, in desperation, grabbed him with his hands.

Two very happy hunters returning home.

Gil is holding up the tail of his first lobster – It goes without saying that this was a very exciting first day for Gil. First day??? First FIVE hours in the Bahamas!!

After an exciting first day, we took things a little slower and gave Gil and Judy  a tour of Great Guana Cay starting with a walk out to Nippers. Remember what Nippers looked like the first time we came to Great Guana Cay? It was a Sunday over the holidays, packed with wall-to-wall people. You know, it looked like “spring break.” Much more subdued today.

This is Nippers Bar and Grill on a Wednesday in february. Remember what it looked like on a Sunday??

Nippers Beach Bar and Grill is much quieter on  a Wednesday in February.

Views of the beach on the ocean side of Guana Cay.

Views of the beach on the ocean side of Guana Cay.

Someone is trying o rebuild the dunes by pushing the sand back with what appears to be heavy equipment from the looks of the tracks up the hill.

Someone is trying to rebuild the dunes by pushing the sand back . Looks like a lot of pushes up that sandy slope with heavy equipment.

Such a pretty sight, looking out to the harbor. This Guana Cay dock is lined with conch shells.

Such a pretty sight, looking out to the harbor. This Guana Cay dock is lined with conch shells.

Noticed this interesting line of conch shells along the street. With the tops sliced off,  you can see the internal spiral if you look closely.

Noticed this interesting line of conch shells along the street. With the tops sliced off, you can see the internal spiral if you look closely.

See the sign on the porch of this cottage? "Nana and Papa's Nest"  We are called Nan and Papa, and we are going to be grandparents again in May. :-)

Can you see the sign on the porch of this cottage? “Nana and Papa’s Nest” Our two grandchildren call us Nana and Papa, and we are going to be grandparents again in May. 🙂

While Gil and Al went snorkeling to find another possible lobster hidey hole (no luck this time), Judy and I relaxed on the big boat.  It is a special treat to swim right off the anchored boat, something we do not do in the Hope Town harbor. The water is clear and warm, and just wonderful.  I tried so hard to hold this starfish up for a picture, but those critters are heavy!

This is a ridiculous picture! Itreid so hard to hold the starfish up, but it was so heavy I would sink down before Judy could take a good photo.

Not the most flattering picture! The starfish was so heavy that I would sink down below into the water before Judy could take a good photo.

It was a Wednesday, which means Potluck at Grabbers on Great Guana Cay. The residents and cruisers all gather at Grabbers Beach Bar & Grill under the tent right on the beach, for a potluck supper. Grabbers provides all the paper goods and the space.

Grabbers - right on the beach!

Grabbers – right on the beach!

Saw this ad on a board in town

Saw this ad on a board in town – “A dish is not 1cracker & an apple!!!!”

On our walk I saw this poster for the potluck. Take note that the start time is 6 pm. With our potluck dishes prepared, Cutting Class, Palm Pilot and Kindred Spirit were ready and dinghied back around 5:30. This is a pretty famous event and we did not want to miss it or be at the back of the food line, especially Dan.  We waited for people to appear. And waited. Is no one coming this Wednesday ?? We had a round of beer, took a Shennecossett Reunion photo, and enjoyed another beautiful sunset.

Shennecossett Yacht CLub REunion in the Abacos - the crews of Cutting Class, Kindred Spirit, and Aurora

Shennecossett Yacht Club Reunion in the Abacos – the crews of Cutting Class, Kindred Spirit, and Aurora

Yes, another sunset. How can you not take a photo like this?

Yes, another sunset. How can you not take a photo like this?

Then, we find out that the potluck buffet actually starts at 7 pm! I think the 6 pm posted time was so that people will show up early and buy beer at the bar before dinner.The food was great. No one brought anything remotely like “1cracker and an apple.” There was only one dessert – an amazing rumcake. Marcia and I really wanted the recipe, so Al went table to table to find out who made the cake. The answer – “Rum Cake Carol” Her cake is so famous that it has become her name. Seriously, Carol was the sweetest woman who graciously emailed the recipe to Marcia and me. I am going to bake this cake when we get back home and think of the Abacos every time.

Almost reminds you of SYC Friday Night gatherings, doesn't it?

Almost reminds you of SYC Friday Night gatherings, doesn’t it?

On Thursday, a warm and humid day, we made the short trip to Man-O-War after breakfast. We walked around the settlement to show Man-O-War to Gil and Judy. Man-O-War has a different “feel” so it was a nice change. Each little cay has its own flavor, which is why it is nice to make these excursions and see other places.

A charming dock on Man-O-War

A charming dock on Man-O-War

Entrance to a cottage on the beach road.

Entrance to a cottage on the beach road.

We gave Gil the opportunity to throw trash ingot he dumpster on the way into Man-o-War. We really wanted to be sure he experiences everything possible while visiting!

We gave Gil the opportunity to throw trash into the dumpster on the way in to Man-o-War. We really wanted to be sure he experiences everything possible while visiting!

Gil, Al, and I snorkeled by the reef rocks over our favorite conch graveyard.  Most of the conch shells (discarded overboard after cleaning out the conch meat) are dead and far too gone to ever be salvaged for display. But, Al dove and gathered 6 more shells for me. I did their first cleaning sitting in the sand on the little beach near our anchored boat. Too bad we had no camera with us. Judy said I looked like a peasant at work.

THese three little reef rocks are a nice place to snorkel. There is a huge conch graveyard here and with careful inspection, we usually find a few to to bring back for cleaning and saving.

There are three little reef rocks marked by this pirate flag. There is a huge conch graveyard here, and with careful inspection, we usually find a few to to bring back for cleaning and saving.

We had to take our visitors to Dock & Dine so that we could all have those great juicy hamburgers again! Still yummy and juicy. If you want to see that burger, go back to our earlier post. 😉

A cruiser anchored nearby took this photo of Kindred Spirit in the sunset and emailed it to us.

A cruiser anchored near us took this photo of Kindred Spirit in the sunset and emailed it to us.

On Friday, before departing Man-O-War, we dinghied to the little beach and crossed over to walk on the ocean side of the cay and snorkel off of the beach.

Anchored off the beach at Man-O-War.

Anchored off the beach at Man-O-War. Kindred Spirit is the farther boat.

This little pavilion sits on the narrow stretch of land separating the anchorage from the Atlantic Ocean.

This little pavilion sits on the narrow stretch of land separating the anchorage from the Atlantic Ocean.

Gil and Al surveying the view from the pavilion. Notice the saying on the overhang.

Gil and Al surveying the view from the pavilion. Notice the saying on the overhang. This is a place where you can see both the sun rise and the sun set.

A "road" along the ocean side.

A “road” along the ocean side.

It was finally time to head for Hope Town to show Judy and Gil our “homebase” for the winter. We showed them the beaches from the north end to Tahiti Beach at the southern end, the cottages, the shops, the school, the grocery store, the library. On Friday evening, we brought them along to Wine Down Sip Sip to meet a few of our new Bahama friends. We were delighted that Gil and Judy saw how special Hope Town is and understood why we are enjoying ourselves so much here.

After 4 days on the boat with us, Gil and Judy moved into the Hope Town Inn Marina, a very nice place with flushing toilets, a real bed, and unlimited water for showering!!

The rooms at the Hope Town Inn and Marina overlook their pool.

The rooms at the Hope Town Inn and Marina overlook their pool.

Most of the time we used our dingy for transportation back and forth across the harbor. THis time, the inn's shuttle delivered Gil and Judy right to us on the mooring.

Most of the time we used our dingy for transportation back and forth across the harbor. This time, the inn’s shuttle delivered Gil and Judy right to us on the mooring.

Remember the lobsters?  Time for a lobster dinner on Kindred Spirit with Marcia and Dan, Gil and Judy.

Lobster grilled with cajun spices accompanied by cajun spiced vegetable pasta.

Lobster grilled with cajun spices (already half gone by the time the photo was taken) accompanied by cajun spiced vegetable pasta.

On one of our walking tours, we stopped at the memorial garden that overlooks the ocean.

On one of our walking tours, we stopped at the Memorial Garden that overlooks the ocean.

No one should leave Hope Town without climbing to the top of the Elbow Reef Lighthouse (The Candy-Striped Lighthouse). The four of us climbed to the top of the lighthouse. They loved it and we were still enthralled this second time.

Looking putt he shuttered window on the way up.

Looking out through the shuttered window on the way up.

Entrance to Hope Town

Entrance to Hope Town

Looking towards Johhny Cay

Looking towards Johhny’s Cay

Dan and Marcia just happened to be passing the lighthouse in their dinghy and tried to take a photo of us at the top.

Dan and Marcia just happened to be passing the lighthouse in their dinghy and tried to take a photo of us at the top. Not bad!! 🙂

That afternoon, we went outside the harbor to watch the Hope Town Sailing Club dinghy races. Three classes competed – Abaco sailing dinghies, sunfish, and little Optimist dinghies. The winds picked up so the racing was quite lively.

Front row seats for watching the races - in our dingy.

Front row seats for watching the races – in our dingy.

The wooden Abaco dinghies are built by Winer Malone (born November 1, 1929), the last of a great generation of Bahamian wooden boat builders. He lives on Elbow Cay and has single-handedly crafted over 200 Abaco dinghies, 10-14 feet in length, in his lifetime. He uses no power tools, templates or jigs, creating them from memory and from trees he cuts down himself.

Before the common use of outboard motors in the 1950s, Bahamian dinghies were often the only means of transportation for fisherman, farmers, and visiting families among the islands. If the wind died, a boat could be propelled with a single, long sculling oar off the transom. Fiberglass hulls and motors have long since replaced most wooden hulls, Malone’s Abaco dinghies remain in strong demand, primarily from American sailing enthusiasts.

Abaco sailing dinghies

Abaco sailing dinghies

Our friend, John, was racing in one of the Abaco dinghies. Whenever he passed within range of our dinghy, we enthusiastically  cheered him on.

Our friend, John, was racing in one of the Abaco dinghies. Whenever he passed within range of our dinghy, we enthusiastically cheered him on.

Colorful sails marked  the sunfish competitors

Colorful sails marked the sunfish competitors

There were 3 children racing on Opti boats. This little girl was serious as she sailed by our dinghy.

There were 3 children racing on Optimist dinghies. This little girl was a serious competitor as she sailed by our dinghy.

Gil and Judy treated us to a dinner at Firefly Bar & Grill, at the Firefly Resort on the western shore of Elbow Cay. It was a perfect place to enjoy a delicious dinner and a view of the sunset. We thoroughly enjoyed this special treat and the chance to share it with friends.

Firefly is one of the loveliest settings on the island.

Firefly is one of the loveliest settings on the island, overlooking the Sea of Abaco.

The owners of Firefly distillery in Charleston, South Carolina opened the Firefly Resort here on Elbow Cay two years ago. One of their products is “Sweet Tea Vodka”,  a twist on the southern staple, sweet tea. The 70-proof liquor is crafted with real tea, Louisiana cane sugar and vodka, distilled on Wadmalaw Island , and the tea is from Charleston Tea Planatation. Flavors include: Firefly Mint Tea Vodka, Firefly Raspberry Tea Vodka, Firefly Lemon Tea Vodka, and Firefly Peach Tea Vodka. I tried a “Mo-Tea-To” and it was delicious.

~The Firefly logo ~ Signature Sweet Tea vodka (not your grandmother's seer tea" ~ Tin lanterns with fireflies adorned the walls

~The Firefly logo
~ Signature Sweet Tea vodka
~ Tin lanterns with fireflies adorned the walls

Enjoying the food, the dining room, and the view of the Sea of Abaco

Enjoying the food, the dining room, and the view of the Sea of Abaco

The sun set on a wonderful week sharing good times with our friends.

The sun set on a wonderful week , sharing the beauty, serenity and warmth of the Bahamas with our friends.

Gil and Judy – Thank you for visiting us!

2 thoughts on “A Visit with Friends from Home

  1. So jealous of what those pictures represent!! More snow today – at least eight inches – and no where to throw it. One of these days your panorama will be what I get to wake up to during the winter. It sounds like you are having a wonderful time. If I were you I would stay there!!

  2. Sitting in Connecticut – listening to the howling wind and watching the ten inches or more of swirling snow – it’s hard to imagine we were in another world just 48 hours ago.

    Once again Michele’s blog captured the essence of the experience – but I need to add something that may have been under-represented – i.e. Al and Michele are the consummate host and hostess.They shared their Abaco world with us. Their generosity, flexibility, and sensitivity to others made for an unparalleled experience – one that we will forever cherish and relive over and over again in our mind’s eye. Especially on New England wintery days like today. Wish we could somehow express our gratitude.

    PS Michele’s picture of John in the racing dinghy taken with her iPhone is more like a painting than a photograph. Definitely worthy of framing and hanging in a gallery.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *