Got Conch?

It’s no secret that I love the coral-colored queen conch shell. I took a look back at some of my old blog posts from 2014 and surprised myself at the many photos of conch shells – the ones we collected (Beach and Sea Treasures), the conch horns Al made (Sounding the Conch Horn 1 & 2), and the various ways people decorate with conch shells.

My hand-painted baby plate

My love of conch shells had an early beginning with this hand-painted baby plate made for me. My mother’s family name was “Schell” and my given name has a shell sound to it — “miss shell”. Oddly enough though, it wasn’t until 60 years later that I began to collect conch shells.

From the Bahamas National Trust: The Queen Conch’s scientific name is Strombus gigs. “The conch is a large sea snail. It has a large shell with a short conical spire with blunt spikes. The shell’s exterior is orangeish (not always apparent because of algal growth; the aperture (opening to the inside of the shell) is a shiny rosy pink colour. The mollusk itself has a mottled gray head with a large proboscis (like a nose or beak) and long eye stalks with eyes at the end. Beneath the shell is a strong foot with a “claw” like a pointed toenail. Conchs are either male or female just like people. The male has a black arm over his right eye. The female conch has a groove that runs down the right side of her foot.”

Conch shells have been rare during this winter of 2015-2016. We have not been able to collect as many conch shells as 2014, none at all for quite a while. How could I match the 24 that I brought home from our first trip?? I’ve been pretty disappointed. 🙁

Then, late one afternoon, at the Hope Town Inn and Marina, I spied a fishing boat on the dock cleaning the day’s catch. A closer look and wowweee, the guy was cleaning conch, something I had never watched before. I didn’t want to bother him while he was working but couldn’t resist watching and asking a few questions. Also grabbed my camera for photographs, which I tried to take discreetly.

This was my first opportunity to see someone “crack” or “knock” a conch, the process of separating the animal from its lovely home. The tools are simple, a hammer, screwdriver, and knife, but the technique is challenging.

cracking conch

He holds the shell with the opening downward and the point inward, hitting the shell with the hammer to make a hole on the spire between the 2nd and 3rd row of pointy nubs.  A knife is inserted in the hole and the tendon is cut which releases the conch.

cleaning conch

It is called “jooking” when the animal is finally pulled out by its foot-like body part. Cleaning the conch is messy and tricky and known as “slopping.” Oh yeah, I get that.                                     Although the shell is beautiful, IMHO, the creature inside is ……, there really is no tactful way to describe it. It’s ugly.

Al agreed that I could have three conchs to take home, but after he left, I talked the conch guy into one more. They were beautiful mature specimens.

The shell's exterior is bit grimy with overgrowth, but when turned over the bright coral colors are shining.

The shell’s exterior is bit grimy with overgrowth, but when turned over the bright coral colors are shining.

After acquiring the shells, they require cleaning which starts with a bath in bleach water complete with vigorous scrubbing. Tow of them had some conch bits left inside. Al had to pry and pick them out so they didn't stink up the boat. He's really pretty indulgent about my obsessions. ;-)

After acquiring the shells, they required cleaning, which starts with a bath in bleach water complete with vigorous scrubbing. Two of them had some conch bits left inside. Al had to pry and pick them out so they didn’t stink up the boat. He’s really pretty indulgent about my obsessions.    😉

It’s also no secret to anyone who knows me well that I do not like to eat conch. I’ve tried, tasting conch salad, conch fritters, cracked conch. I just don’t care for the texture or taste. So there won’t be any photos of any conch specialities.

The Queen Conch is endangered because many other people do like to eat conch in all forms. So much so that the Bahamas exports $5-$7 million dollars worth of conch each year. The February 1, 2016 edition of The Abaconian, ran an article about the status of the conch population. Over-harvesting has already led to commercial extinction in Florida and Haiti. Bahamian regulations require that any conch harvested must be fully mature with a lip thickness of 15 millimeters (about .2 inches.)   Successful mating and reproduction requires a minimum density of fifty adult conch per hectare with 100 conch per hectare for sustainability. (The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square meters, 100 meters by 100 meters. Picture two footballs side by side for a rough estimate of a hectare’s size). Research 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.

As we travel around the Abacos, we see evidence of how many conch are harvested, and that many are only juveniles without a fully developed mature lip.

Piles of empty conch shells by the docks in Man O' War and here in Hope Town.

Piles of empty discarded conch shells by the docks in Man O’ War and here in Hope Town.

The day we dinghied around Snake Cay, we stumbled upon even more conch graveyards.

Feeling sad about seeing all of these old discarded conch shells.

Feeling sad about seeing all of these old discarded conch shells.

The water was so clear and shallow that we spotted this living conch beneath us.

The water was so clear and shallow that we spotted this living conch beneath us.

We came upon this pile of conch shells that looks more recent with more color.

We came upon this pile of conch shells that looks more recent with more color.

I talked Al into dinghying close enough to climb onto the rocky little island and pick out a few shells.

I talked Al into dinghying close enough to climb onto the rocky little “island” and pick out a few shells.

Six more conch shells in our dinghy.

Six more conch shells in our dinghy.

We have kept these two beauties out on display.

We have kept these two beauties out on display.

Treasure Cay

The weather pattern has continued – big winds, very cool for here in the Bahamas. After the most recent high winds and surf we used our bikes again to visit the beach area down by Abaco Inn.

The wind was so strong the tops of the waves were getting blown off. They remind me of horses with their manes blowing back.

The wind was so strong the tops of the waves were getting blown off. They remind me of horses with their manes blowing back.

Looking up and looking out form our walk on the beach.

Looking up and looking out form our walk on the beach.

As soon as we heard there would be a 2-3 day suspension of the wind, we left Hope Town harbor to visit a new place – Treasure Cay. Treasure Cay is 20 nautical miles north of Elbow Cay, located on the eastern shore of Great Abaco Island, near Don’t Rock Passage (remember that??) It isn’t a “cay” (island) any longer, but rather a peninsula that juts out from Great Abaco. At one time it was separated from Great Abaco by a small inlet that was gradually filled in from hurricanes and storms.

I found some history about Treasure Cay in a small document from the Mariners Cove Condo Association.  This was the location of the first settlement in the Abacos. A group of Loyalists (the colonists who sided with the British during the American Revolution) from New York arrived in September 1783 led by Sir Carlton. As the little band grew, dissension and infighting broke out among them (I have no idea what caused the dissension other than to imagine that, like today, any gourp of humans trying to organize and govern themselves are bound to have disagreements!) The majority of the population moved 20 miles southeast to Marsh Harbour and the settlement of Carleton then died out after a few years. But…. I also read in another source (Steve Dodge) that the settlement was destroyed by a hurricane in 1785. So….???

Fast forward to the 1950s and Leonard Thompson, a WWII bomber pilot, born in Hope Town. He acquired the lease to the land from the Crown with the condition that he build 5 permanent buildings, a hotel, golf course, roads, and dredge and landscape. Thompson and investors pulled it all off and opened the hotel in 1961. The area was known as Sand Banks Cay on charts, but the owners legally changed it to a more “romantic” sounding name, Treasure Cay, playing off the history of Spanish treasure galleons that sank along the coast of Treasure Cay in 1595.

Through the 1970s and 1980s Treasure Cay continued to grow with second home buyers, a second hotel, condominiums, villas, time shares, marinas, medical complex, and small airport nearby. The sport fishing industry has also added to the growth. In 1972, the movie “The Day of the Dolphin” starring George C. Scott was shot in Treasure Cay.

Besides the history, why did we decide to make a visit to Treasure Cay? We hadn’t been here before and other cruisers told us we should go, especially for the beautiful beach.

Pretty nice day, a little cloudy and cool as we passed the Fish Cays.

Pretty nice day, a little cloudy and cool as we passed the Fish Cays.

The entrance to the Treasure Cay channel is somewhat hidden until you are practically upon it. Follow the markers around the shallows and there you are!

The entrance to the Treasure Cay channel is somewhat hidden until you are practically upon it. Follow the markers around the shallows and there you are!

Treasure Cay welcome

Nothing like a little welcome sign to let you know where your are and how deep (or shallow) the channel is.

I have heard people (Floridians?) say that the Abacos are just like Florida, and I have never understood how anyone could think that. Not at all. Not at all. But, now that I have seen Treasure Cay, I think this is what they must mean.

We took a mooring off the channel in this little basin.

We took a mooring off the channel in this little basin, right in front of the condos.

There are condos and canals all over. Very reminiscient of Florida. There are concrete walls that surround the canals and hold back the soil.

There are condos and canals all over. Very reminiscient of Florida. There are concrete walls that surround the canals and hold back the soil.

We dinghied in towards the marina to explore Treasure Cay.

BATELCO phone booth! I wish now that I had picked up the phone to listen for a dial tone. I will bet it is not a working phone booth.

Do you know what this is??? If you are older than 20, you will. A BATELCO phone booth! I wish now that I had picked up the phone to listen for a dial tone. I will bet it is not a working phone booth.

THE Treasure Cay graphic (same as on the welcome sign in the channel) in the center of the round-about. Yes - a roundabout! There were also little subdivisions of homes along the road.

The Treasure Cay graphic (same as on the welcome sign in the channel) in the center of the round-about. Yes – a roundabout! There were also little subdivisions of homes along the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were three things on our list to do at Treasure Cay. First, was the laundromat. Friends told us that you can have your laundry done (note the word done, as opposed to do your own laundry) for $4.00 per wash and $4.00 for drying, plus a tip. Really???? It costs me $5.50 to wash and then $5.50 to dry each load at the marina in Hope Town, doing it myself which includes lots of waiting. We had our sheets and towels done while we had fun.

Second, the beach is beautiful. On our second day, we spent the afternoon there.

The Coco Beach Bar sits overlooking the beach.

The Coco Beach Bar sits overlooking the beach.

A gazebo is on the path over to the beach.

A gazebo is on the path over to the beach.

First look at Treasure Beach, a long crescent shaped beach of fine grain beautiful sand. So civilized there are umbrellas, but you have to pay $10 to sit under one.

First look at Treasure Beach, a long crescent shaped beach of fine-grained, beautiful sand. So civilized there are umbrellas, but you have to pay $10 to sit under one. The lounges are free. 😉

Ahhhh, looking out a sailboat passing by in the distance. Sunny skies, blue water, white sand. The Bahamas, mon.

Ahhhh, looking out a sailboat passing by in the distance. Sunny skies, blue water, white sand. The Bahamas, mon.

It was still too cool for us to plunge into the water, which was a shame, but it was fine to walk in with our toes.

It was still too cool for us to plunge into the water, which was a shame, but it was fine to walk in with our toes.

A snow fence for the sand!

A snow fence for the sand!

Third, Cinnamon buns from Cafe Florence. Florence and her husband Captain Forty own a little bakery that sells huge cinnamon buns.

Cafe La Florence Dishing out those giant buns!

Cafe La Florence
Dishing out those giant buns!

Confession time. We each ate our own cinnamon bun., no sharing.

Confession time. We each ate our own cinnamon bun., no sharing.

Evidently, the Treasure Cay guys meet here at Cafe La Florence for morning coffee and breakfast and to hang out. Like McDonalds back in the states??

Evidently, the Treasure Cay guys meet here at Cafe La Florence for morning coffee and breakfast and to hang out. Like McDonalds back in the states??

WOW! Were we surprised to see spotted leopard rays as we dinghied. Look at the length of the tail!

WOW! Were we surprised to see spotted leopard rays as we dinghied. Look at the length of the tail!

We anchored for our second night and left early the next morning. After leaving the Treasure Cay channel, we looked back and could see the Don't Rock rock.

We anchored for our second night and left early the next morning. After leaving the Treasure Cay channel, we looked back and could see the Don’t Rock rock (on the right.)

An easy ride back to Hope Town and look who we pass, on their way back from Great Guana Cay and Marsh Harbor - our buddies, Cutting Class.

An easy ride back to Hope Town and look who we pass, on their way back from Great Guana Cay and Marsh Harbor – our buddies, Cutting Class.

Which of those three things is my favorite at Treasure Cay? Tough question.  I’d have to say that if you go to Treasure Cay, you have to do all three and enjoy them equally,  for obviously different reasons.

 

Al and The Abaco Rage!!

The Rage is a classic Bahamian workboat that doesn’t “work” so to speak, but rather, races in the time-honored tradition of Bahamian workboat regattas.

The Abaco Rage's WordPress header - Love the design of the name.

The Abaco Rage’s WordPress header – Love the design of the name.

For background about these workboat regattas, The Rage’s own website has a nice description which I have included here —

Workboat Regattas – A Bahamian ‘Ting!
“Regattas, the great unofficial national sport of the Bahamas, got their start in the 1950’s when skippers and owners of local fishing boats (sloops or “smack boats”) got together at various times and inevitably bragged about the speed of their boats and the skills of their crew (and themselves!). The boasting and bragging led to competitions to see who really could claim “braggin’ rights” and not just who had the loudest voice or most vivid imagination. And one ‘ting led to another ‘ting, and lo and behold, official regattas and the one true Bahamian sport were born and “off to the races” so to speak.

Bahamian regattas are a competition between traditional wooden work boats from the major islands of the Bahamas which helps to preserve a way of life from a time when such boats were the glue that held this country of far-flung islands with their disparate populations together, both in terms of fishing as a livelihood and communication and freight transportation between islands.”

 Strict rules govern the Bahamian Class A work boat regattas:

  • Competing boats must be designed, built, owned, skippered and crewed by Bahamians.
  • Overall length must be 28 feet, three inches or less.
  • Sails must be canvas with a single mast.
  • Hull and mast must be wood.
  • No vertical transoms.
  • No bowsprits.
  • No spreaders or aluminum spars.
  • No winches.
  • No wind or speed instruments or tell-tales.
  • No bending masts.
  • If a crew member falls off, he must be picked up. The boat must finish with the same number of people that started.
A Bahamian Regatta - the fleet (from the Abaco Rage website)

A fleet of sloops in the Bahamian Regatta  (from the Abaco Rage website)

The Rage no longer competes in the official Bahamian regattas, but does race here in the Abacos, quite often in the Hope Town Sailing Club’s races. She has been mentioned in two previous blog posts this year when we have been involved in a race.

The January 9th Race (blogpost "Sailing Again!)

The January 9th Race (Blogpost “Sailing Again!)  Photo credit – Will Heyer

January 20th race

January 20th race                                                                                                                                        Height of the mast  + the length of the boom = Lots of sail area!

1st place committee boat

January 20th race                                                                                                                                             The Rage took 1st place! Woo Hoo! That was the race when Kindred Spirit was the Race Committee Boat (Blogpost -Racing from a Different Perspective) Photo credit – Will Heyer

Last week, the Hope Town Cup, a 2-day race series, was held, and…………Al was asked if he wanted to crew on The Rage on the second day. Yes, yes, and yes!! What an opportunity!!

Abaco Rage - Number 11 with the Elbow Cay Lighthouse graphic

Abaco Rage – Number 11
with the Elbow Cay Lighthouse graphic

 

A little bit more about The Rage (from her website AbacoRage) and other sources):

Abaco Rage Statistics:
LOA: 28′
Beam: 10′ 4″
Draft: 6′ – 6′ 6″
Mast: 65′ (61′ 11′ over deck)
Boom: 38′ long and 6×8″ tall
Crew: 10-20 people depending on wind

 

 

The Rage’s History:

  • Class A sloop, built in 1980 on Man O’ War Cay.
  • Won the Out Island Regatta in Exuma in 1983 and 1984.
  • Placed second overall in 1990, and was then retired.
  • Rescued by a consortium of new owners from Hope Town who acquired The Rage in October 1997. “Fundraisers were held. Repairs were made. Materials were scrounged.”
  • Won the Class A championship in the very first All Abaco Regatta in April 1998 with Jeff Gale as tactician and Christopher Lightbourn at the helm, and a crew of 12 from Elbow Cay.
  • Won 3 out of the four Class A championships between 1998 and 2002.
  • Abaco Rage Sailing Syndicate (A.R.S.S.) was formed to support on-going efforts to keep the Rage in sailing shape and competitive trim, raising funds needed for on-going maintenance and repairs plus new sails and other gear.

Wooden boats require a lot of loving care to restore and maintain.

Sand that bottom!

Sand that wooden bottom! (from the AbacoRage site –  https://abacorage.wordpress.com)

On the travel lift - ready for the water again.

On the travel lift – ready for the water again. (photo from Into a New Horizon, Dave and Carol Pahl’s blog – http://intoanewhorizon.blogspot.com)

On elf the things I like most about The Rag his the red and white stripes at the very top of her mast - So Elbow Cay!

One of the things I like most about The Rage are the red and white stripes at the very top of her mast – So Elbow Cay! (photo from Into a New Horizon, Dave and Carol Pahl’s blog – http://intoanewhorizon.blogspot.com)

A unique feature of these sloops is From the article "The Rage is All the Rage" referenced at end -- "The captain has to determine how many sailors to place on the wooden planks known as “prys”. The prys extend four feet from the starboard and port sides. It is imperative that not too much or too little weight is balanced on these extensions. A mistake in either direction can influence the craft’s speed through the water and hence the outcome of the race.”

The prys play an important role in the sailing of the sloop and how she performs.                         From the article “The Rage is All the Rage” (referenced at end) — “The captain has to determine how many sailors to place on the wooden planks known as “prys”. The prys extend four feet from the starboard and port sides. It is imperative that not too much or too little weight is balanced on these extensions. A mistake in either direction can influence the craft’s speed through the water and hence the outcome of the race.”

Now to the races! The Rage was DQ’ed at the start of the first day’s race. 🙁  She crossed the starting line before the horn. Given the combination of her structure, maneuverability, and the strong force of the winds that day (over 20 knots), Skipper Dave Pahl decided it would not be worth it to tack around and go through the starting line again as required by race rules. So they raced for fun and experience. This meant that the 2nd day’s race would also be just for fun. Think about this – The Rage is an older wooden boat (refer to her stats above) competing with modern fiberglass boats.

Because The Rage does not have an engine, her crew gets picked up and taken to her. Although I didn’t get to go out to the race, I tried to take some photos from our flybridge while they were still in the harbor.

Captain Dave Pahl picks up Al. I'm so glad Al wore a bright blue shirt that day. Made it easy to find him among the crew members onboard.

Skipper Dave Pahl arrived to pick Al up. I’m so glad Al wore a bright blue shirt that day. Made it easy to find him among the crew members onboard.

Picking up the crew from various places around the harbor.

Picking up the crew from various places around the harbor.

The Rage is towed out of the harbor to the racing course (no engine, remember?)

The Rage is towed out of the harbor to the racing course (no engine, remember?) You can really see how far the boom extends out past the hull.

A close up as she was towed out .

A close up as she was towed out .

The racing photos are from Will Heyer. Thank you, Will!  Again – so glad Al wore that blue shirt.

racing 1

Photo by Will Heyer

racing 2

Photo by Will Heyer

racing 3

Photo by Will Heyer

racing 4

Photo by Will Heyer

I asked Al what it was like out there. He told me, “It was a great, one-of-a-kind, exhilarating experience – racing on the edge, literally. The prys planks are such a totally different design than modern sailboats. The crew has to scoot from port to starboard on the planks as we tacked so that the long boom wouldn’t drag in the water.” Al also added that Dave Pahl was an excellent skipper – no yelling and very encouraging.

The Rage getting towed back into the harbor.

The Rage getting towed back into the harbor after the race.

At rest on her mooring at the back of Hope Town harbor. (photo credit unknown)

At rest on her mooring at the back of Hope Town harbor. That is one loooong boom! (photo credit unknown)

If you are intrigued by The Rage, here are links to two excellent and descriptive articles about the story of her origin and her resurrection —

 

A Four-Day & Four Stops Getaway

Finally! A stretch of good weather!! Time to get away for a few days. We, with Laurie and Peter on Navigator, left Hope Town and headed south towards Little Harbor.

"It's a beautiful morning, ah I think I'll go outside for a while And just smile Just take in some clean fresh air, boy No sense in staying inside If the weather's fine and you've got the time It's your chance to wake up and plan another brand new day...." Remember The Rascals?

“It’s a beautiful morning, ah
I think I’ll go outside for a while
And just smile
Just take in some clean fresh air, boy
No sense in staying inside
If the weather’s fine and you’ve got the time
It’s your chance to wake up and plan another brand new day….”       Remember The Rascals?

Our first travel leg was very short – Tahiti Beach, only 3.5 nautical miles away on the southern tip of Elbow Cay. We often take the dinghy here, but have never brought Kindred Spirit. We anchored just north of Bakers Rock, an easy dinghy ride away from the white sand beach that arcs out into the clear water at lower tides, but is nearly hidden at higher tides.

I have written about Navigator during our first visit to the Bahamas. When we first saw Navigator, an Island Gypsy 36 moored in Hope Town harbor, we decided that was the  trawler style we wanted – the covered aft cockpit and the ability to step directly into an open salon, known as a “sedan” or “Europa style.” We became friends with Laurie and Peter, and always credit them for helping us to finally find the trawler style that would suit us.

Navigator in the foreground with Kindred Spirit in the back.

Navigator in the foreground with Kindred Spirit in the back.                                 Kindred Spirit

It was too cool for a swim, but beach combing is always a good option.

It was too cool for a swim, but beach combing is always a good option.

As we walked along the shore we stumbled upon this multi-level little hideaway created from flotsam and jetsam.

As we walked along the shore we stumbled upon this multi-level little hideaway created from flotsam and jetsam. It had a hammock, 2nd floor, swings and benches. Everything a kid could want in a “secret” hideaway.

There’s a story behind this catamaran in the photo below. The night before, back in Hope Town, this charter cat arrived in the harbor with six guys aboard, foreigners from somewhere. That night they played music so loudly we thought it was a restaurant on shore until Al got up to determine the source. The thumping beat of the bass was going strong and loud from 9 pm until after midnight. It was simply rude and inconsiderate. Not to mention very annoying. Fast forward to the next day –  Al commented on a catamaran he could see, north of Tahiti, that was clearly aground on the sandbar near the entrance to White Sound, a sandbar that is marked. With the binoculars, he identified it as the same catamaran from the previous night. Justice??

Cat aground

The obnoxious charter cat grounded on the sandbar with a foot of bottom paint showing. Well-deserved.

sunset over Tahiti

The setting sun’s glow  over Tahiti Beach and Tilloo Cut. It was so peaceful that evening. So quiet.

sunset over lubbers q

The sunset behind Lubbers Quarter in the west. Two different views of the same setting sun.

The next morning, we walked the crescent shaped beach at low tide, with coffee in hand. No photos, just wanted to stroll along, picking up anything that looked interesting.  When we look southward from Tahiti, we can always see what appears to be a large two -masted schooner in the distance. Later, when we pulled up anchor and headed south, we passed by it for a closer look —

In the distance, over the sandbar beach, is a two-masted schooner.

In the distance, over the sandbar beach, is a two-masted schooner.

A pirate ship!

It’s a pirate ship!

Pirate flag = pirate ship, right?

Pirate flag = pirate ship, right?

Little Harbour is 12.5 nautical miles from Tahiti Beach, and took us less than 2 hours, anchor to mooring.

Once past the southern end of Lubbers Quarter, the route takes a zig zag, skirting shallow water -- the lighter blues in this case.

Once past the southern end of Lubbers Quarter, the route takes a zig zag, skirting shallow water — the lighter blues in this case.

Two years ago, with our sailboat, we could not enter Little Harbour itself because of the shallow depths (2014 blog post about Little Harbour) so we anchored out at Lynyard Cay and dinghied into the harbour. With the 4-foot draft of our trawler, and a high tide, we easily made it into the harbor and picked up a mooring from Pete’s Pub.

The Little Harbour dock

The Little Harbour dock

First item ont eh agenda - lunch at Pete's Pub. Keep your eye on the picnic table in the water.

First item on the  agenda – lunch at Pete’s Pub. Keep your eye on the picnic table in the water.

Pete’s Pub is considered to be the quintessential Caribbean beach bar, outdoors, sand under your feet and t-shirts over your head. The night before was the 22nd anniversary of Pete’s 50th birthday complete with pig roast and lots of partying. Just like two years ago, we opted out of the big bash and arrived for a quiet afternoon lunch, the day after. I’ll admit that there was a tiny part of me that seriously considered going to this famous birthday party, along with all the other wild people. 😉

See the picnic table on the right? That's our dinghy tied to it. Very convenient. While we ate our lunch onto deck, the picnic table demonstrated its multi-purpose use - a napping table.

See the picnic table on the right? That’s our dinghy tied to it. Very convenient.
While we ate our lunch on the deck, the picnic table demonstrated its multi-purpose use – a napping table.

Pete's Pub. Why didn't I remember to bring a t-shirt for the ceiling?? Al and Peter checking the menu. Special mention here to Rob and Vicki Waz, GHS math teachers. IS this your shirt???

Pete’s Pub. Why didn’t I remember to bring a t-shirt for the ceiling??
Al and Peter checking the menu.
Special mention here to Rob and Vicki Waz, GHS math teachers. Is this your shirt???

Peter and Laurie Al and me

Peter and Laurie
Al and me

After lunch, Al and I strolled around Little Harbour, including a stop at the Gallery. Randolph Johnston founded the gallery and the foundry for his bronze sculpture work. The process, still used today, is “lost wax bronze casting method, a practice that goes back 5,000 years.” His son, Pete, has continued his father’s work creating bronze sculptures of marine life.

Interior and exterior of The Gallery

Interior and exterior of The Gallery

We walked up through the multi-levels of the pub to the path that led to the oceanside.

We walked up through the multi-levels of the pub to the path that led to the oceanside.

"One Particular Harbour" I liked this house and its attitude on our first visit. I still like it.

“One Particular Harbour”
I liked this house and its attitude on our first visit. I still like it.

Walking down the road in Little Harbour -- Bahamian style speed bumps.

Walking down the road in Little Harbour — Bahamian style speed bumps. Blues, like the water.

Al walked down along the water's edge and found another sea bean. This one is a heart-shaped sea heart.

Al walked down along the water’s edge and found another sea bean right there in the harbor.  This one really is a heart-shaped sea heart.

Other interesting sightings of domestic and wild life here at Little Harbour. Notice that the dog in the kayak is wearing a people life vest. Blue heron?

Other interesting sightings of domestic and wild life here at Little Harbour. Notice that the dog in the kayak is wearing a human personal floatation device.
The majestic Great Blue Heron posed long enough for a photo before flying away.

The next morning, I was suffering from a cold so Al joined Peter and Laurie to explore the caves in Little Harbour.  (Of course, I insisted that he take the camera along.) Little Harbour has a unique and interesting beginning.

Randolph Johnston's illustrated book, published in 1975, in which he wrote about his life living in the caves (shown on cover). Copies can still be found on eBay and in Hope Town gift shops.

Randolph Johnston’s illustrated book, published in 1975, in which he wrote about his life living in the caves.

 

Randolph Johnston, a Smith College professor, with his wife and four children, sailed away from the “megamachine” and  materialism of civilization on their schooner, Langosta, arriving in Little Harbour, on the western shore of Great Abaco Island, in 1952.  This harbor was virtually uninhabited at the time, so the family lived in the caves, sharing it with owls, bats and crabs, on the edge of the harbor while building a thatch-roofed home. After looking at the photos of the caves’ interiors, I just have to say that the Johnston family had guts and determination.

Exterior view of the cave.

Exterior view of the cave.

Having Laurie and Peter in the photo gives a better perspective of the cave's size.

Having Laurie and Peter in the photo gives a better perspective of the cave’s size.

There were a few holes in the "ceilings" that led upward. For ventilation?

There were a few holes in the “ceilings” that led upward. For ventilation?

Going in a little deeper. It's hard to imagine living here, In 1952.

Going in a little deeper. It’s hard to imagine living here, in 1952. Or anytime in the past 1,000 years…………

These columns are about 15 feet high. Room dividers?

These columns are about 15 feet high. Room dividers?

Entrance to a second cave

Entrance to a second cave.

Entrance to the second cave on the right. Two interiors on the left. Do the columns of rock form walls and dividers fro the rooms??

Entrance to the second cave on the right. Two interiors on the left.

A bedroom? Kitchen?? Either one does not appeal to me. I don't know how the Johnstons did it.

A bedroom? Kitchen?? Either one does not appeal to me. I don’t know how the Johnstons did it.

AL thinks this could be the living room, a room with a view to the outside.

Al thinks this could be the living room, a room with a view to the outside.

Peter walked the plank up to a ........ another space in the cave.

Peter walked the plank up to  …….. another space in the cave. Bedroom loft?

Was Tom Hanks here???? Al let Wilson borrow his SYC hat after they shared a Kalik.

Was Tom Hanks here???? Al let Wilson borrow his SYC hat after they shared a Kalik.

Over time, when it was “dirt cheap”, Johnston acquired land at Little Harbour, selling some pieces here and there to other “vagabonds from varied backgrounds.” Today the community surrounding Pete’s Pub is quite eclectic – artists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, airline pilots, and boat bums. So it is said. This remote little solar-powered community is now threatened by the invasion of “progress.” Southworth Development (Massachusetts based) plans to build a 44-slip marina, restaurant and shop in the anchorage, a 6,000-square-foot covered parking lot, storage facilities and generators. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen.

We left Little Harbour mid-day for the long trek to Lynyard Cay. Just kidding. It was a short 2-mile hop north. We both anchored just off of the sandy Lynyard Cay beach in beautiful clear water. Al, Peter and Laurie all went to shore to beach comb while I stayed behind, nursing this miserable cold. I’m missing all of the fun!!!!

I could watch everyone on shore from Kindred Spirit's deck - climbing about and picking up jetsam and flotsam.

I could watch everyone on shore from Kindred Spirit’s deck – heads down,  picking up jetsam and flotsam.

When Al returned to Kindred Spirit, he was excited to show me the things he had collected, his flotsam and jetsam. The National Ocean Service defines the two as: “Flotsam is debris in the water that was not deliberately thrown overboard, often as a result from a shipwreck or accident. Jetsam describes debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship’s load. The word flotsam derives from the French word floter, to float. Jetsam is a shortened word for jettison.  Under maritime law the distinction is important. Flotsam may be claimed by the original owner, whereas jetsam may be claimed as property of whoever discovers it.” Al had picked up a few more floats, which were probably long-forgotten flotsam. Really, when you find something washed ashore on a beach, how do you know if it was flotsam (accidental) or jetsam (thrown over)??? And do you really care at that point??

The best thing that Al found, in my opinion, was two more sea beans – he is having a good year for sea beans! He was so thrilled to show them to me as soon as he stepped onto the transom, that he forgot to tie the dinghy. Uh oh. Off came the clothes —-

Swimming after the escaping dinghy!! Good news is that it would only have made it to the beach. Whew!

Swimming after the escaping dinghy!! Good news is that it would only have made it to the beach. Whew!

We stayed overnight on anchor at Lynyard Cay. A calm, silent, and dark night. There is nothing around to disturb you. Just beautiful.

Kindred Spirit silhouetted in the setting sun. (Thanks, Peter!)

Kindred Spirit silhouetted in the setting sun. (Thanks, Peter!)

I got up before the sun arose to greet the dawn. Froth flybridge, I was high enough to photographed this sailboat passing Lynyard Cay on the Atlantic Ocean side.

The flybridge is high enough to photograph this sailboat passing Lynyard Cay on the Atlantic Ocean side. (photo credit goes to Al)

This day was a top ten – perfect! (For the record, Tuesday, February 2, Groundhog Day to those of you up north.)

Event he moon was awake on this gorgeous morning.

Even the moon was awake on this gorgeous morning.

Al decided that this was the perfect day and place to check off one of his “wish list” items. He has always wanted to clean the bottom of the boat in shallow water by grounding it. Yup, that was a dream of his. I looked out to see we were drifting closer to shore. And closer. But we weren’t drifting, the boat was being pulled. There he was, with Peter’s help, dragging Kindred Spirit by the anchor chain, heavy rocna and all.

Heave ho, men!

Heave ho, men!

Looking down from the bow to see the rocna anchor, her little red and white float, and chain.

Looking down from the bow to see the rocna anchor, her little red and white float, and chain. And Al and the dinghy, too.

Al “MacGyver’ed” together the contraption in the photo above. He was inspired by Anthony on Magnolia to attach something to the long handle brush to push the brush up against the bottom of the boat. Thus, an old Type 4 flotation device was surrendered for a new purpose in life. The floating bottom cleaning brush in action —-

Strange as this may sound to some, Al was having a great time with this "chore."

Strange as this may sound to some, Al was having a great time with this  boat chore. Not only did he clean the bottom, he waxed the portside of the boat.

A dinghy, a Rocna, and a float on the sand. Not something we will see very often.

A dinghy, a Rocna, and a float on the sand. Not something we will see very often.

Kindred Spirit and little "Soulmate" the dinghy, gently resting on the sandy beach.

Kindred Spirit and little “Soulmate” the dinghy, gently resting on the sandy beach.

After cleaning topside while he worked under the boat, I decided it was time for me to play. I was feeling a lot better. What a glorious day to wander in the shallow water and find interesting things on the beach and in the water.

Is it still called beach combing when you are in the water?

Is it still called beach combing when you are in the water?

One of my favorite pictures from the day! Just playing around in the water.

One of my favorite pictures from the day! Just playing around in the water. Peter was out and about sailing in his Portland Pudgy dinghy.

My beach finds - sea glass, coral, small shells. In the center of the plate of sea glass are some very nice, small, but nice pieces. A few thick older ones and even a lavender.

My beach finds – sea glass, coral, small shells. In the center of the plate of sea glass are some very nice, small, but nice pieces. A few thick older ones and even a lavender.

Lynyrd Cay is so narrow here at the southern end that it is an easy walk over to the Atlantic Ocean side.

Lynyard Cay is so narrow here at the southern end that it is an easy walk over to the Atlantic Ocean side.

After such a glorious morning, it was hard to leave this anchorage, but the tide rose and lifted Kindred Spirit off of the sandy bottom (it’s important to plan that part when beaching a boat for a bottom scrubbing.) On our way back “home” to Hope Town, a 17 nautical mile leg,  we planned a stop at Snake Cay for a dinghy exploration. Snake Cay is a small cay on the eastern side of Great Abaco Island.  Back in the 1950s, Snake Cay was the headquarters of the International Paper Company’s timbering operation in the Abacos. Eventually there was no more timber, so they tried to establish a sugar industry which failed. All that is left of the original operation is a derelict quay.

After anchoring Kindred Spirit and Navigator, we dinghied around the end of Snake Cay. The abandoned quay has left an industrial style wound on the land.

After anchoring Kindred Spirit and Navigator, we dinghied around the end of Snake Cay. The abandoned quay has left a sharp and jagged industrial style wound on the land.

Once around the bend, you can dinghy behind Deep Sea Cay in shallow water, best at higher tides even with a dinghy. The water is crystal clear.

Al standing as he steers to get a better view, me with the look bucket hanging over the bow. We were surprised that there really wasn't much marine life to view. But the starfish were certainly shining under the water!

Al standing as he steers to get a better view, me with the look bucket hanging over the bow. We were surprised that there really wasn’t much marine life to view. But the starfish were certainly shining under the water!

It was a nice little dinghy trip, one that I would consider repeating and going the entire way south to Mockingbird Cay.

It was a nice little dinghy trip, one that I would consider repeating and going the entire way south to Mockingbird Cay.

Four really fine days! It’s a long post that took even longer than usual to do thanks to the very weak and intermittent wifi lately. But it was worth preserving the memories.