Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's in Treasure Cay

Thursday, 30 December, 2010

Well, since the kids flew out on Tuesday, Scott and I decided to tidy up the boat and then head out to Treasure Cay.  The weather had improved and the winds died down so we left the Marsh Harbour Marina/ Jib Room around 12:30 yesterday for the easy 2 1/2 hour run to Treasure Cay.  We reached our destination around 3:00 -- perfect timing for the high tide.

The water in the anchorage is very clear and greenish.  Treasure Cay is a resort development with a wonderful marina, pool, bar/ restaurants and a beach voted "one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world".  Now, we found the beach to be pretty but we're not sure we'd give it such accolades.  You can see a photo we took there this morning and decide for yourself.

A couple of other boats we know are planning to come here today and stay for the New Year's so we'll look forward to seeing them again.  One is "s/v Messenger".....a 38-foot Beneteau from Canada with a family of 5 onboard.  They were berthed next to us at the Jib Room for the Christmas holiday.  The other boat is "s/v Skedaddle" from Maryland.  They are both wanting to head south to the Exumas in the near future so we're hoping to tag along with them since that's our goal as well.

Scott and I spent this morning doing a little "gunkholing" in the dinghy up and down the canals here.  Very reminiscent of Marco Island, Florida in that there are beautiful houses situated along the canals and boats on lifts, etc.  There are many tennis courts in the area and an 18-hole golfcourse nearby.  We get the impression this is a big area for retirees.

We are defrosting 2 steaks from home and chilling the bottle of champagne our boat broker, Linda Reynolds gave us so we will have a cozy New Year's Eve celebration here on our boat.  We hope all of you there have a wonderful, safe holiday!

Here is a view of the beach we were talking about here at Treasure Cay.

This is the pool at the marina, with the anchorage in the distance.  Anyone anchoring has access to the marina's amenities.

A view of the slips at the marina with condos in the background.

Christmas with the kids in the islands

Tuesday, 28 December, 2010

Here is a photograph of my friend, Karen Huff-Lowe in her Albury boat named "Lowe Pressure".  While Scott and I were in Hope Town harbour for several days, Karen would swing by and pick me up so I could walk with her, her friend Leslie and the 4 wonderful dogs.  Abby is the one on the bow and Callie is the blond in front of me.  The very gentle Rottweilers belong to Leslie.  It was great to be able to walk and chat with Karen, Leslie and "the girls" on the north end of Elbow Cay.

Our 4 kids flew into Marsh Harbour on Wednesday, Dec. 22nd for the Christmas vacation.  We all enjoyed a wonderful rib dinner that night at the Jib Room, complete with limbo and rake 'n scrape entertainment and then we headed over to Hope Town on Thursday morning with them.  We flew the jib on the way over and they all enjoyed the sail.  Once in Hope Town, we headed for our favorite spot.....On da beach.  Like us, the kids loved the view from the bar and we all had a good meal there.

Friday morning was Lexy's 18th birthday and we were lucky that Froggie's Outisland Adventures there in Hope Town had a snorkeling/dive trip that day.  We ended up being the only ones on the trip and had a great time.  It was Lexy's first time diving and she loved it!  Here, Meredith and Lexy get ready to go into the water.

Drew's all suited-up and ready to go.  The dive was in the national underwater park off Sandy Cay.

Part of the expedition was a trip to Pete's Pub in Little Harbour, somewhere we've been wanting to go for awhile.  Pete Johnston has his pub and bronze foundry there.

We all enjoyed lunch on the deck overlooking the harbour.  The coconut conch there is amazing!  Our guides for the day were Michael (L) and Francis (R).  Both were very knowledgeable and had great personalities.

Travis and Lexy, posing by a bronze turtle outside the gallery.

Christmas morning, we headed back over to the Jib Room in Marsh Harbour to participate in their potluck dinner.  It was well-attended and everyone enjoyed the wonderful ham and turkey provided by the Jib Room and the many side dishes prepared by boaters and local people.

Stephen is the marvelous bartender and assistant dock manager at the Jib Room, shown here with his artist girlfriend, Chelsea.  Note the Santa made from a coconut dangling over Chelsea's head.  Probably another design by our friend, Muffin.  Also note the many covered dishes on the counter, waiting to be scarfed up by hungry boaters!

The weather took a turn for the worse overnight on Saturday and we woke to high winds. cold and rain on Sunday.  Drew and Travis were great as they helped tighten lines and move fenders around on the boat as needed.  It was the perfect day for playing dominoes at the Jib Room and we had a big pot of black bean soup onboard that night, complete with cornbread.

The kids had to fly home midday Tuesday so we did a little shopping in town and then took them to the airport.  They all had New Year's Eve plans and were ready to see their friends back home.  They all enjoyed the visit and found the Bahamas a beautiful place to be....they just want to come back in warmer months next time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More interesting times in Hope Town

Tuesday, 14 December, 2010

So here are some good photos from our visit to the famous lighthouse here in Hope Town.  It was a beautiful, clear day but a wee bit windy at the top!  There's this teeny little (but very thick and heavy metal)
door by which you can access the balcony at the top of the lighthouse for "killer" photos such as the ones further on in today's blog.

 Scott had the brilliant idea to take this artistic shot of the staircase inside the lighthouse.  101 steps to the top.  Looks like the inside of a chambered nautilus shell, doesn't it?

Here's a shot of Painkiller from the grounds of the lighthouse.

You can see from this photo how narrow the island is in spots.  The gorgeous blue Atlantic is at the top of the photo, with breakers visible on the many reefs there.

A close-up shot of our home- away- from- home.

A beautiful rainbow appeared one afternoon, just over the pastel pink "Flamingo Villas" at the entrance to the harbour.

We're still having a wonderful time here in Hope Town.  I have been able to reconnect with a friend from Rock Hill, SC-- Karen Huff-Lowe-- who now lives here with her local fisherman hubbie, Robert Lowe.  Her sister, Elaine, was my best friend in high school and it's been fun catching up on news.  Scott & I attended the 9:30 service Sunday morning at the Methodist church here where my parents were planning to fill in as youth ministers in spring 2000--at Karen's invitation.  Because my mother was diagnosed with cancer that February, they had to cancel their trip, to their great regret.  I have felt such a close bond with my folks since being here in this beautiful town.....seeing all the sights and enjoying the many moments here they never got to enjoy.

We've been treated to delicious red snapper caught by Robert himself and hogfish caught by another outfit.  Karen also shared some lemons, sour orange (a local variety), a star fruit and a tangerine from their garden at their home.  Turns out Robert, in addition to being a professional angler, is also quite the horticulturalist and has a backyard brimming with fruit trees and grape vines.

The weather has been unseasonably cold and windy the past few days, complete with gale-force winds overnight Sunday and most of yesterday.  At times, we're told it was gusting over 45 miles per hour in the harbour.  Judging by the bumpy conditions onboard, we believe it!!  Today is overcast but much calmer in terms of the wind.  We are hoping for sunnier, calmer conditions by midweek and are *really* hoping for great weather when our 4 kids come down for Christmas next week.  We can hardly wait for them to arrive!

We're hoping to cross to Guana Cay later this week and take in Nippers and Grabbers, famous (or should we say "infamous") bars around here.  We'll roll back into Marsh Harbour next Monday or Tuesday to get the boat all ship-shape for the kids' arrival on Wednesday.  Until then, stay warm.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Livin' da life in Hope Town

Monday, 06 December, 2010

We made the passage from Marsh Harbour over to Hope Town on Saturday in a couple of hours, arriving in this beautiful protected harbour around 1:00 pm.  This is the view of the harbour as you come in, with pretty little cottages all around in typical Bahamas pastels.  We picked up a mooring ball labelled "alley oop" and were soon settled near our friends from Camden, Kitty & Henry Beard on their Island Packet "Galatea".

This is the famous lighthouse at Hope Town.  Built in 1864, it's one of only 3 kerosene-burning lighthouses left in the world....all 3 of which are located in the Bahamas.  It is a sight to behold when it comes alive at 6 pm nightly and, to add to its beauty, is currently  decorated with vertical strands of Christmas lights from top to bottom.  We hope to climb to the top later this week to survey the area from such a wonderful perch.

We dinghied into the dock on Saturday afternoon and walked through town, drinking in all the quaint sights such as narrow, bouganvilla-bedecked streets, precious rental cottages and beach scenes such as this.  The sand on the beaches here is pink-tinged from coral and the water is a clear, pale aqua.  The combination is impossible to believe unless you see it for yourself.

This a a typical street in town with all the colors of the buildings, palm trees and blooming vines.  Narrow streets are fine here as only golf carts are allowed in certain sections so it's a great place for strolling.  Scott finally said to me, "now, Beth, you know you can't take pictures of ALL the cottages."  Well, I guess he's right but they're all so picturesque in their own right, it's hard to resist!

Yesterday, Scott and I took a nice, long walk along the Queen's Highway -- the paved road which goes from one end of the island to the other.  Along the way, we saw many gorgeous vacation homes perched on the dunes and then we came across this whimsical sign.  Sorry it's horizontal (please turn your head)....we couldn't get the computer to make it vertical.  There are 3 signs on it for S.C. destinations....Charleston,
Hilton Head and Greenville (complete with Tiger paw).

After we had walked for quite some time, we saw a sign along the road for a bar and grill called "On da beach".  Well, being thirsty by now and ready to rest for awhile, we investigated.  After travelling up a boardwalk, we came to this great little beach bar, perched up on the dunes and overlooking this magnificent beach.  Are we in Heaven or what???  We could see the reefs in the water and the colors of blue were all amazing & crystal clear plus there was a refreshing ocean breeze the whole time.  Needless to say, we were very content to sit at the bar and have a couple of drinks and appetizer before resuming our walk!  This time, we walked back to town along the beach.  The water was surprisingly warm and I wished for a bathing suit.

Once we discovered that they will be open again on Tuesday (Monday is their day off) we made a pact to return to this lovely beach bar for another chance to eat and drink in such an idyllic setting.  Ahhh, such is the life of cruisers.....can you tell we're adapting to this lifestyle pretty well??

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sunrise over Marsh Harbour

Saturday, 04 December, 2010

It's a beautiful morning (again) here in Marsh Harbour and I couldn't resist snapping this photo from the boat.  This is one view we have of the harbor here....they're all good views!

 Yesterday, we rode our bikes all around town again, through Boat Harbour development with its beautiful houses, slips, pools and white-sand beach.  Surprisingly, the place was pretty much deserted.....very few boats in the marina and apparently nobody in the hotel.  Hopefully, the people will be coming later, in January.  We're told that this is often the busier time of the year....after Christmas.

We rode up to George and Sally's place....a small bungalow they rent from Gail Cottman on the grounds of
"the castle".  This is the dwelling Dr. Cottman built on the highest point of land in Marsh Harbour.  He was the first doctor in the Abacos....his autobiography about this is titled Outisland Doctor and is well worth picking up.  His castle is quite an interesting structure....not at all in keeping with the local styles of architecture but so dramatic sitting atop the hill!  George and Sally's cottage has a small deck with the most amazing views of the Sea of Abaco and the many surrounding cays.  They live there year-round unless they are in their Florida home for short periods.  We enjoyed our visit with them then headed back down to the marina for another round of dominoes with our friends, Ian and Sue.  This time, as promised, we got our revenge!!!

Later on today, we'll leave this wonderful marina to head over to Hope Town.....a place we've heard alot about.  We're excited to be exploring again but we'll look forward to coming back here to the marina for the kids' visit, Dec. 22-28.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

24 shopping days left.....

Wednesday, 01 December, 2010

Well, we're still in beautiful Marsh Harbour Marina and are lovin' life.   We've had a variety of weather lately....everything from rain and wind on Monday to sun and calm today.  A cold front is supposed to move in later today so I expect the winds will pick up.

Yesterday, we walked into town with Ian and Sue to do some shopping.  We finally made it to Island Bakery and bought some wonderful fresh bread and 2 decadently-delicious cinnamon buns.  They were supposed to make it to breakfast but we couldn't resist and downed them at lunchtime....pure heaven in your mouth!!  We also got some yellow fin tuna at Scagg's and had a wonderful dinner last night with that as the feature....YUM!!

Today, we gave each other haircuts, got some more photos, and got Ian to help us trouble-shoot our SSB.  He is quite the electronic "guru" and just happens to love helping others....sweet!

We'll probably be here a few more days since the weather doesn't seem to be looking good for moving out in the next little bit....oh, darn.  This means I may have to eat more of Marvin's delectable conch creations.

We have put a few photos on for you to enjoy.
'bye for now.....

A typical sunset one evening on the ICW

 Beautiful Marsh Harbour Marina
 George, chillin' at the Jib Room, the marina's bar
 George enjoys his first Kalik, the beer of the Bahamas.  Jason,the dockmaster looks on.
Kokopelli, the boat we met in Lake Worth and crossed to the Bahamas with.  Ian and Sue have become good friends, but next time we play dominoes they are going down!