Hope Town was busy and hopping this past week — two special events in one week! There was the Golden Jubilee (50th Anniversary) celebration for the Hope Town Sailing Club and the 2nd Annual Hope Town Songwriters Festival.
Our week began with the arrival of Eleanor Q! We met Eleanor Q in the Chesapeake Bay at the SSCA gam and spent some time together there. Frank and Mary Marie have been in the Exumas and just got here to Hope Town last Monday. We “paid it forward” by greeting them in the dinghy outside of the harbor and leading them to a mooring, just like Cutting Class did for us when we first arrived.
To celebrate our reunion, the four of us went to Firefly for a delicious dinner. On our golf cart ride we met another couple, Mike and Deb, from Pennsylvania, who were staying at the Hope Town Inn and Marina. We asked them to join us at our table for dinner. Poor Al, the only native New Englander out of the 6 of us. The rest of us reminisced about New Jersey (“the shore”) and Pennsylvania, although my memories are nearly ancient now. Truthfully, I am a New Englander now, after 28 years in CT.
That evening was also the first night of the Songwriters Festival, the “mix and mingle.” For five nights, this group of country song writers sing and perform at different locations around Elbow Cay and Lubbers Quarters. The performances are all free.
Following dinner, we sat out on the Firefly deck and listened to a few of the song writers as they informally sang and chatted with everyone.
Patrick Davis is a young “alternative country” singer and writer. He is the force behind this festival, bringing other song writers together, such as Django Walker, Casey James, Corey Crowder, Jesse Rice, Bryson Jennings, and Tyler Reeve. They have written songs for artists like Lady Antebellum, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw, Jamey Johnson, Darius Rucker, Carrie Underwood, LeAnn Rimes, and Blake Shelton.
My favorite song is one the group wrote at last year’s festival here, titled “Hope Town.” It’s a pretty simple tune, but is very catchy; and if you love Hope Town, it just bounces around in your head all day long. It was written on the porch of The Big House at Firefly Sunset Resort by Patrick Davis, Jesse Rice, Django Walker, Mark Bryan & Phillip Lammonds on the second day of last year’s festival. The recording includes Jesse Rice singing the first verse and lead vocal in choruses, Patrick Davis on second verse and all harmonies and Django Walker singing in the bridge. It gets you in the Bahamian mood for Hope Town! You can listen to it here. It is (was?) available on the festival website Hope Town (Master). Or try this —
Hey Hope Town, throw me a rope down into a firefly rum
And let me swim around.
Where the low down
Is to hurry up and slow down
In Hope Town.
Back to Mike and Deb, the couple we met on the golf cart ride to Firefly. Mike has been here on Elbow Cay for the past few weeks to work with Winer Malone. You may recall from an earlier post about the Hope Town Sailing Club’s dinghy races, that Winer Malone has been building wooden “Abaco dinghies” in his shed with only hand tools and without templates or jigs.. Winer, now 84 years old, is the last of the great generation of Bahamian wooden boat builders and has single-handedly crafted over 200 of Abaco dinghies in his lifetime. Mike is documenting Winer Malone’s work on a blog, Abaco Wood Dinghy Building and invited us to stop by and visit at the shed.
As part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, the Hope Town Sailing Club’s Founders’ Cup regatta was held on Wednesday and open to all cursing boats over 18 feet long. Whitey and Anne had just returned to Hope Town from North Carolina, and before I knew it, Whitey had once again talked Al into racing Kindred Spirit (just like the Boxing Day race……) The winds were forecasted to be 10-15 which makes nice sailing conditions for our 43 foot Morgan. This time, instead of five boats racing, there were 18 boats, varying in size and configuration. My personal opinion is that there is too much variation in the boats that even a standard PHF rating can’t compensate for — 18 foot sailing boats, catamarans and sleek j-boats are not “cruising boats”, in the living aboard sense, loaded down with water, fuel, canned goods and “stuff.”. But that doesn’t really matter when it is a beautiful day and you are sailing, with a great crew – Whitey and his son, Rick, and Frank and Mary Marie.
Final result??? We had a great time out there, but with winds below 10 (and sometimes only 3-4) our boat just doesn’t move swiftly. Officially, we came in last. It was 16th place out of 18 boats that started, which means two other boats never finished, they dropped out and went back. We did not quit, so 16th place is not last in my world.
We had the opportunity to participate in another Golden Jubilee event on Friday (told you this was a busy week!!) – the “Fleet Review.” Members of the Sailing Club “dress” their boats for a parade around the harbor. What does “dressing” a boat mean? On national holidays, at regattas, and on other special occasions, yachts often “dress ship” with International Code of Signal Flags. This colorful rainbow array of flags is arranged, reaching from the water line forward to the water line aft – from the bow up to the mast and back down to the stern. Since there are twice as many letter flags as numeral pennants, the official sequence is to alternate two flags, one pennant, two flags, one pennant and so on. There is even a recommended order that will provide a “harmonious color pattern”: Starting from forward: AB2, UJ1, KE3, GH6, IV5, FL4, DM7, PO Third Repeater, RN First Repeater, ST Zero, CX9, WQ8, ZY Second Repeater. I’ve never seen anyone bother to order their flags like that on a leisure boat, but maybe the Navy does it.
All across the harbor, boats bobbed happily on their moorings, dressed up and ready to celebrate.
We were invited to join Imagine, a sweet fishing boat owned by Rick and LouAnne, for the parade. They decided on a “Loyalist and pirate theme” for the event.
It was a gorgeous day (yes, another one) and a very special event for the Sailing Club and Hope Town. We thank LouAnne and Rick for inviting us to join the parade on their boat. Some boats were amazingly creative, especially when you consider that there are no Walmarts and party stores to shop for decorating supplies.
At the “stand up” gathering later that afternoon, it was announced that New Horizons with the Titantic theme won best overall, hands down! It was a totally fun time!
Back to song for the end of our week. The last evening of the Songwriters Festival was held at the Harbor Edge restaurant, starting at 9:00 PM. If you know anything about cruising life, you know that 9 pm is very late, it’s bedtime! But we rallied and left our snug boats to hear the singing one more time. We used our dinghies as our seating, anchoring just off the dock of the Harbor’s Edge.
Jimmy Buffett is now singing one of the songs written by Django Walker, I think, called “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Boat.” I think it is fitting to end this post, Songs and Sails, with a song about a boat. The words for the title verse and chorus —
Somethin’ ’bout a boat
Sittin’ on the sea
Out there in the wind
Floatin’ on the free
Take you ’round the world
Bring you back home
Gives a man hope
Somethin’ ’bout a boat
Ain’t it crazy how somethin’
Seems like nothin’ at all
Take a big old world
Make it seem so small
Seein’ windows where there are walls
Makes a whole lot of something
Out of nothin’ at all
I listened to Buffett’s version, but I prefer the version sung by Patrick Davis and his buddies here in Hope Town (and I am a Buffett fan.)
There’s somethin’ about Hope Town………………..