Images from the Past and the Stories They Tell

I had a few photos that have not made it into a post for lack of a “theme;” some were pictures of things that were intriguing or from a day that didn’t really fit with anything else. Or I just never got around to it.  Today, after two months in Hope Town, we visited the Wyannie Malone Museum, and it occurred to me that I could gather a few things together for a single post, about things from the past. I do not want to make this a history lesson, but only want to share a few images that represent a time, a place, or people that are no longer here.

It begins with a little kayaking excursion we took earlier this week. We brought our kayaks with us and have finally had time to use them here. We have also shared them with other cruisers we have met – it is nice to see them be used and enjoyed. This time we left the harbor and headed south along the western shore of Elbow Cay.

The island is really a rock -- the current has eroded  it from underneath so that there is a distinct overhang along the edge.

The island is really a rock — the current has eroded it from underneath so that there is a distinct overhang along the edge.

Kayaking in the Sea of Abaco

Kayaking in the Sea of Abaco

We passed Frye’s Mangrove and came upon a place we had spied from our dinghy and from the big boat when passing on our way south. We had been told it was an abandoned resort. Seemed like a good place to stop for a little rest.

We beached our kayaks on this sandy spot.

We beached our kayaks on this sandy spot.

From what I can tell through a little googling, this opened as “New Hope” in 1954 as an alcoholic rehabilitation center, and later became  “Elbow Cay Club Resort”, operating as a typical out island inn in the 1970’s. It is now abandoned and has fallen into neglected state. We were curious and took a look around. It was a curious place to stumble upon – almost like a scene from the old tv series “Lost.”   Well, maybe not quite that. I have an overactive imagination.

These are the sights that greeted us, buildings in various states of disrepair.

These are the sights that greeted us, buildings in various states of disrepair.

Upper left - a pool bar with sunken tables and stools Lower left - a female sculpture in the ground Upper Right - the resort's name formed in shells and overgrown Lower Right - outdoor dining area

Upper left – a pool bar with sunken tables and stools
Lower left – a female sculpture in the ground
Upper Right – the resort’s name formed in shells and overgrown
Lower Right – outdoor dining area

elbow cay club old

This old photo (for sale on eBay!) seems to be the front of the resort where the name is now overgrown with vines. It doesn’t look like quite the same structure – perhaps there were modifications over the years?

Elbow Cay Club dates

Engraved in the concrete to the right of the words “Elbow Cay Club” was the date – we think it was October 20, 1978, followed by names.

Back in 2009, this property caused a stir and  a division among the population of Elbow Cay. A South Carolina development company put it under contract for development as a new resort and marina. “A groundswell of local opposition rose, creating much ill feeling in this small, close-knit community.” Hope Town Becomes a Battleground Over Out Island Development.  Most of the objection was to the scope and scale of the project –  homesites, townhouses, a hotel/conference centre, six staff apartments, and a large marina. Obviously, that never happened. We have heard that Haitian immigrants have moved into the buildings as squatters.

On our walks around Hope Town we have come across markers of the past, memorials and cemeteries. One of our favorite places to sit and look out over the ocean is the Memorial Garden (photos in The Rainbow Before the Rains post.)

The Memorial Monument atop the hill, across form Wine Down Sip Sip, overlooking the ocean.

This is the Monument that stands atop the hill across from Wine Down Sip Sip, overlooking the ocean.

In the 1850’s, the tiny community of Hope Town was exposed to the Cholera epidemic. This highly contagious and incurable disease spread rapidly through the community resulting in one hundred lives being lost.

Final resting place for the people who lost their lives in the cholera epidemic

Final resting place for the people who lost their lives in the cholera epidemic. Today the graveyard remains in existence at its original site, but with no gravestones marking the graves.

The Settlement Cemetery sits high above the ocean at the other end of  Hope Town, with incredible views of the sea. We stopped there one day and quietly pondered the names and lives of the people named; Malone, Lowe, Sweeting, Albury.

The Settlement Cemetery

The Settlement Cemetery

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Sand, wind and rains have taken a toll on these final resting places.

Hope Town Cemeteries Restoration Project

Hope Town Cemeteries Restoration Project – a community that cares about its people, past and present.

First Loyalists marker

On the little beach near a town dock, is this small plaque, marking the Loyalists arrival in 1785.

The Wyannie Malone Museum

The Wyannie Malone Museum

The Wyannie Malone Historical Museum was definitely worth the visit. For more detail than I will provide here, just use the link (blue highlight.)

The museum traces Hope Town’s history from the Lucayan Indians to the British Loyalists who settled here after the American Revolution. The building itself is a typical home form that time period.

The museum is staffed by volunteers who graciously greet you. Upon entering, you are also met by this timeline of Hope Town historical events and time periods.

Upon entering, a volunteer graciously greets you. You are also met by this timeline of Hope Town historical events and time periods.

First floor "birthing room". After giving birth, a mother and child would use this room until the baby is old enough to sleep alone and join everyone else upstairs.

First floor “birthing room”. After giving birth, a mother and child would use this room until the baby is old enough to sleep alone and join everyone else upstairs.

The second floor is mostly a large dormitory. I think our boat has more privacy.

The second floor is mostly a large dormitory. I think our boat has more privacy.

 

Dining room with displays of glassware, dishes and other artifacts discovered.

Dining room with displays of glassware, dishes and other artifacts that have been discovered or donated over the years. Like many homes from earlier times, the actual cooking was done in an outdoor area to prevent fires from burning down the house.

Display of antique nautical instruments.

Display of antique nautical instruments. We really appreciate our modern day electronics on the boat!

This is an early version of a look bucket - called a "water glass."

This is an early version of a look bucket – called a “water glass.”

A shelf of old bottles, a glass float and pieces of glass and old pottery

A shelf of old bottles, a glass float and pieces of glass and old pottery

This wall hanging is, well,  outdated; don't you think??

This wall hanging is, well, outdated; don’t you think?? Hmmmmmm. No more comment than that!

Let’s end this post with the wall art display created by visiting artist, Teleri Jones, as a gift to the museum, and made from shells donated by people from the community of Hope Town.

The stairway in the museum is decorated with this shell artwork.

The stairway in the museum is decorated with shell artwork. You know that we loved this!

 

Sounding the Conch

Back to conch shells again! This time, as a musical instrument.  I admit I do not like to eat conch in any form, but I love the shell. I will not take a conch with a slimey living creature in it, but Al will dive for discarded conch shells on the sea bed to satisfy my little obsession. We now have 19 on board (6 under our bed, 10 drying near the mast, 2 beautiful older ones, and 1 that is now a conch trumpet/horn).

The most recent ten conchs, drying by the mast after spending their time in a bleach bucket.

The most recent ten conchs, drying by the mast after spending their time in a bleach bucket.

Beth and Lynn invited us for happy hour on Coyote, their beautiful Sailmaster 50. Beth is also quite the conch horn trumpeter. I took a video of her – she is awesome!

 

Conch horn trivia —

  • Conch horns have been used for centuries by indigenous Carribean and Pacific Island natives such as the Arawak Indians but the use of conch.
  • The greek god Triton was said to control the ocean’s waves by blowing his conch-shell trumpet.
  • Conch horns are also listed by the US Coast Guard as an approved sound making device under the requirements of Rule 33.b and Annex III. (Really??? I had no idea!)
  • Sounding a conch shell horn at sunset is a long standing tradition in the Keys and the surrounding Caribbean islands. Here in the Bahamas, at sunset, you can often hear someone, usually a cruiser, blowing a shell trumpet at sunset, sometimes as soon as the sun just touches the water on the horizon, and other times it is a bit later when the last portion of the sun descends out of sight below the horizon. Regardless of exactly when, the sound of the conch horn fills the air and you know you are in the islands.

Al is a very talented man, as evidenced by our beautiful sailboat. Making a conch horn should be an easy task for this master craftsman. I selected one of my shells for this new role. Criteria – a very clean one, and one whose interior coral color has faded.

The first steps were to slice off the top of the cone end. Measure and then get out the dremel!

The first steps were to slice off the top of the cone end. Measure and then get out the dremel!

After dremeling, there was no hole. Switched to a new end on the dremel and drilled that hole.

Boring out the hole and sanding it smooth

Boring out the hole and sanding it smooth

The slit must be sealed closed - a little piece of cloth bandage tape from the first aid kit and two-part epoxy.

The slit must be sealed closed – a little piece of cloth bandage tape from the first aid kit and two-part epoxy.

Tonight a large group of cruisers gathered on the pool deck at the Hope Town Inn and Marina, both dock folks and mooring people for a BIG happy hour. It was a great idea since we could never all fit on one boat! We met even more wonderful people – how can there be so many terrific folks all in one little place?

Lots of food and lots of conversation.

Lots of food and lots of conversation.

Jim (on Jumandi, with Gloria) is a conch horn fanatic. He is building a set of shell trumpets in order to acquire as many tones as possible. A conch band, perhaps?

Jim's case of conch horns

Jim’s case of conch horns – even a tiny one! Mine is on the right, outside the case.

There are a lot of people who can really make those conch horns sound off! Alas, I just cannot get the hang of it. Al is learning and has come close to making that nice deep round tone, but not me. Not yet.

Upper left - Jim Upper right - a duet by Jim and Will Lower left - AL Lower right - me Good thing there is no sound to these pics.

Upper left – Jim
Upper right – a duet by Jim and Will
Lower left – Al
Lower right – me (Good thing there is no audio to these pics.)

I’ll keep trying…… and practicing……. but I’m not sure my talents extend to learning to trumpet at this age. Darn!

If you are as intrigued by conch shells as much as I am, you can read further…….

CONCH FACTS

from “communityconch.org”

  • A young conch is often referred to as a “roller” because they have not yet developed the flaring lip of the adults. Without the large adult “lip” on the shell, these juvenile conchs will roll in the surf, hence the name “roller.”
  • The queen conch is a large edible sea snail native to the coasts of the Caribbean, the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Bermuda. Conchs are herbivores – they eat algae and other tiny marine plants
  • Main predators include nurse sharks, loggerhead turtles, other snail species, blue crabs, eagle rays, spiny lobsters, and other crustaceans
  • Female conchs lay hundreds of thousands of tiny eggs in a sandy egg mass. The larvae emerge after 5 days and may drift on ocean currents for a month before settling in suitable habitat on the sea floor
  • In their first year conchs live under the sand during the day & come out to feed on the surface at night
  • A queen conch may take 5 years to reach maturity and can reproduce
  • They live an average of 7 years, but are known to live as long as 20 – 30 years
  • Conchs produce natural pearls that come in a range of hues, including white, brown, orange & pink

And, if you are also interested in the threatened state of conch, this is a link to a good article, Conservationists Gear Up to Save Conch in Bahamas”  by Larry Smith
A non-profit research group, Community Conch, led by scientist, Martha Davis, has been researching conch. “Our mission is to effect the sustainable harvest of queen conch through research, education and collaboration with local communities, the government and other organisations,” Davis said. “Conch has been a primary food staple for Bahamians, but has recently become threatened by over-exploitation.”

Volunteers count adult and juvenile conchs, mating pairs and egg casings in specified areas – either towed behind boats in shallow water or scuba diving in deep water. They also measure shell lip thickness, which determines age and sexual maturity.

Fifty  is the minimum density of adult conch per hectare required for successful mating. (The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square meters, 100 m by 100 m). Community Conch has confirmed that in every commercial fishing ground surveyed over the past five years has less than 10 conchs per hectare, a density which cannot sustain reproduction. The recommended density is 100 conch per hectare for sustainability.

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!

Never Bored!

There is always something to do here! We have yet to experience a day of boredom, not even just a little bit. In a seven-day period, we experienced three very varied events, each benefiting worthy causes.

Art for the Parks

Art for the Parks

Art for the Parks, sponsored by the Bahamian National Trust was held on January 24th-26th  in Marsh Harbor on Great Abaco Island.  It is an event that showcases Bahamian artists to benefit the preservation of Abaco’s six national parks and wildlife sanctuaries which includes Walker’s Cay National Park, Black Sound Cay National Reserve, Tilloo Cay Reserve, Pelican Cays Land & Sea Park, Abaco National Park and Fowl Cays National Park.

Froggies, the local dive shop here, provided a free ferry for anyone from Elbow Cay who wanted to attend the Friday evening opening “gala.” Along with about 50 people from Hope Town we made the trip on Froggies’ ferry over to Boat Harbor on the western side.

It was a pleasant evening for the 20 minute ferry ride.

It was a pleasant evening for the 20 minute ferry ride.

Art for the Parks was held at the Abaco Beach Resort & Inn, a very grand marina and a nice setting. Admission included free champagne and appetizers during the opening gala. We enjoyed seeing all the local arts and crafts, especially artists we knew from Hope Town.

One of our favorites is  Kim Rody, a “fishartista,” who paints  “Ocean and Mountain Art” in bold and bright colors. Her mountain paintings are from summers in Asheville, North Carolina. Her ocean paintings are from her winters here in the Abacos and southern Florida. She and her husband, Mark Kopp, live in Hope Town and sail on Spirit.

Kim with her paintings and dishes.

Kim (far left) with her paintings and dishes.

I have a small print of Kim’s “Blue Striped Grunts” hanging in the boat now and will be bringing home at least one of her dishes, if I can ever make up my mind which one!

I now have a small print of Kim's "Blue Striped Grunts."

Kim’s “Blue Striped Grunts.”

Another Hope Town artist at the show was Bruce & Gail, who design sea glass jewelry. During the winter, they live on their trawler, Orient Express, and in summers are back in …guess where? Niantic, CT. After the show I met with Bruce and Gail on Orient Express and together we selected four of my sea glass pieces for a necklace. I couldn’t think of a better memento of our travels than to have our own sea glass in a necklace designed by people we now know here.

Bruce and Gail on Orient Express

Bruce and Gail on Orient Express

Two necklaces! One showcases three colorful pieces and the other is a simple pendant of a truly beautiful teal-colored piece.

Two necklaces! One showcases three colorful pieces and the other is a simple pendant of a truly beautiful teal-colored piece.

Last week, the Princeton co-ed acapella singing group, Shere Khan, came to Hope Town to perform at the St James Methodist Church. The concert was a benefit for the church’s youth group and for a children’s home in Nassau.  We love acapella, especially college acapella groups, ever since we became fans of the Vineyard Sound in the early 90’s.  A few years later, my son Ryan and his wife, Kerri, both sang in the Marist College acapella groups, Time Check and The Sirens.   The Shere Khan concert was a great evening and everyone (standing room only) enjoyed it very much. These 11 young people are very talented and quite personable. But I will confess that I just didn’t get their name at all. Google to the rescue once again – Shere Khan is the fictional tiger in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. Shere = tiger and Khan = king. OK, I know what it means now, but I still don’t really see the connection between Shere Khan and an acapella group – but they were still fantastic!

Shere Khan singing

Shere Khan, Princeton co-ed acapella group

Shere Khan

Shere Khan, Princeton co-ed acapella group

For those of you who would like to hear as well as see this singing group, here is a short clip of them performing “In Your Eyes”  —

Shere Khan singing in the harbor

Shere Khan singing in the harbor

On a Friday morning, there was  a tag/rummage sale to benefit the Friends of Abaco AnimalsFriends of Abaco Animals is an organization that exists to ease the plight of abandoned and needy animals in the community. The increasing population of stray animals has been reduced due to the organization’s efforts in providing spay/neuter and adoption programs. This is accomplished through dedicated volunteers, donations and events such as the tag/rummage sale. Remember when we joined the SOTS? All of the membership fee is donated to Friends of Abaco Animals. Since the founding in 1982, Friends of Abaco Animals has grown beyond Hope Town to include the entire region of Abaco. The rummage sale was for a worthy cause and another chance to visit with everyone.

Baked goodies and lots of stuff for sale!

Baked goodies and lots of stuff for sale!

During the rummage sale I heard and saw the word “potcake” on t-shirts that were for sale. Curious, as usual, I needed to find out more about  potcakes and potcats. The potcake dog is a mixed-breed dog type inhabiting the Bahamas. Its name comes from the leftover rice and pea mixture that would cake in the bottom of the cooking pot and was fed to the outdoor roaming dogs. In general, potcake dogs have smooth coats, cocked ears, and long faces, although that can vary. Three types of dogs may have contributed to the genetics of the potcake: dogs the Arawak Indians  of Central and South America brought with them to the Bahamas; terriers that protected supplies from rodents on ships that arrived; and dogs from North Carolina that arrived with the Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War. Potcakes are intelligent with a laid back and easy-going temperament, very Bahamian. I assume that “potcats” is the name given to stray and abandoned cats ?

In addition to these organized events, Al and I decided it was time to host a happy hour on our boat and invite some of our new cruiser friends over. We managed to fit eleven folks in our cockpit for an evening of delicious foods, cruisers are creative cooks – guacamole, conch salad, corn and black bean salsa, chicken sausage with apples, brie and crackers, and toasted pumpkin seeds.  I think we even covered the major food groups and no one had dinner later.

Happy Hours, spending time with friends!

Happy hours as we spend time with friends.
From left to right – Beth and Lin (Coyote), Sam and Kayda (Solstice), Al, John and Carol (Palm Pilot), Chuck (Driven), Dan and Marcia (Cutting Class).

Al just complained that I am not in the picture above. Here is another photo of our little party, with me, but minus Dan, the photographer. Wish I could photoshop us all into one picture!

With me in the photo, but without Dan.

With me in the photo, but without Dan.
~Me, Beth, Lin, Sam, Kayda, Al, Carol, John, Chuck, Marcia

Have I mentioned that we are having a wonderful time here in the Abacos, and here in Hope Town?   🙂  Tomorrow we will be  heading to Marsh Harbor to pick up our friends from Connecticut, Gil and Judy, who will be spending a week with us. We can’t wait to show them Hope Town and the Abacos.