Sunday, March 30, 2014

Abaco Communities

Abaco Communities

February 4-5, 2014 -- Return to the Abacos

After our wonderful visit to the Exumas, it was time to make our two-day hop back to the Abacos in joyful anticipation of visits from Anneke and Eli mid-February, Sage and Ian mid-March.  On February 4, we headed northeast, reaching on an ESE moderate breeze from Roberts Cay in the Exumas, with full sun and terrific visibility through the coral heads of the Middle Ground area, through the Fleeming Channel, and past Egg Island, to anchor at Royal Island, Eleuthera -- a protected harbor that is a perfect arrival and departure spot for Eleuthera.  We had a few white caps and 2-3 foot rollers; it could hardly have been a better sailing day.  Especially compared to the next day.

The passage from Royal Island to Little Harbour is almost 50 nautical miles, crossing the Northeast Providence Channel between Eleuthera and Grand Abaco Island.  We had gotten handier with our chart plotter in the Exumas, and here is the chart plotter for this passage after we had gotten out of Royal Harbour and rounded Egg Island -- a long straight shot at 3 degrees magnetic (about due north) to Little Harbour Cut, with waypoint 04 outside the narrow cut and waypoint 05 inside to assist in getting the correct angle through the cut (you also use your eyes!).  The chart plotter shows distance remaining for each leg and approximate arrival time.  This pic was taken at 8:02 am, indicating that if we continued on the current speed over ground (SOG) of 5.2 knots, we would be through the cut by about 5:15 pm, in time to get anchored at nearby Lynyard Cay by sunset, 6 pm.
Chart plotter Eleuthera to Little Harbour
The wind was 10-13 knots and on the stern quarter, so after getting around Egg Island, we put up the spinnaker in anticipation of another lovely sail, and Fred made himself comfortable on the coach roof.
Fred passin' time on the passage
It had become a running joke between us that when Dorothy was captain, in spite of claiming to dislike motoring, inevitably she seemed to do a lot of it.  Today was no exception!  By 11 am, the wind had dropped to under 10 knots, while the sea state had increased to 6- and even 8-foot rollers.  With our speed over ground having dropped to under 4 knots, chart plotter indicating ETA at Little Harbour Cut 2 hours past dark, Fred turning green from the uncomfortable rollers, and spinnaker slatting (losing its wind, then slamming full again), Captain Dorothy (aka "Motor Mama") started the engine, snuffed the spinnaker and motored the remaining 5.5 hours to Lynyard Cay.

Below is Cap'n Dorothy after navigating the Little Harbour Cut.  The line of breakers that you can barely see in the photo look much more serious when they are off your starboard beam.  The area with no breakers to the right side of the picture is the cut.
Post-Little Harbour Cut happy face
At Lynyard Cay that evening, we got to visit with our friends Marcie and Jim Trantham of Island Jim, who were leaving in the morning to traverse the opposite direction, Little Harbour to Royal Island, Eleuthera.  Literally (almost) ships passing in the night!  We had a great time sharing things we had enjoyed on Eleuthera and in the Exumas, and hearing things they had enjoyed in the Abacos!

February 6-16 -- Hangin' in the Abacos

You never know when or where you might be stuck waiting for weather, so we had headed back to the Abacos with plenty of time to spare before family began arriving.  We got lucky on the weather and made it back to the Abacos quickly, giving us time to explore places we had bypassed previously in order to get down to the Exumas.

Feb 6-7 -- Lynyard Cay Area

While anchored at Lynyard Cay, we dinghied over to visit Little Harbour, a small, fully-protected harbor with moorings, a bronze sculpture foundry, a gallery, a beautiful beach, and Pete's Pub (their motto is "why walk when you can crawl").  Here is the view from Pete's Pub looking over the harbor:

Little Harbour - looking west from Pete's Pub
From Pete's Pub you can climb a set of stairs and look east over the Atlantic side as well:
Looking east from Pete's Pub, Little Harbour
Note the difference in sea state between the Atlantic side and the protected harbor!

Below is the gallery and store, with some beautiful bronze sculpture work.  Little Harbour was settled by Randolph Johnston, Canadian and long-time professor at Smith College, who sailed to the Bahamas with his wife and four children in the early 1950's to escape the "megamachine."  The family first lived in a cave, then a thatched hut.  They built a generator for power, then the foundry.  Now, of course, electricity, phone, etc, have come to Little Harbour.

Pete's Gallery - amazing bronze sculptures (some on the building front...)
Beautiful sunset at Lynyard Cay
During the couple of days we were anchored at Lynyard Cay, the water was dead calm at times.  Here is a picture taken off the side of the dinghy in about 3 feet of water.
Clear, dead calm, water
We took advantage of the settled weather to do some snorkeling at Sandy Cay, which isn't very sandy.  Our fish photos are in other blog entries, so I'll just note here that the abundant coral and sheer wall to deeper water make this is a great snorkeling spot.  We saw a nurse shark, spotted and southern rays, black durgeon, ocean triggerfish, and many, many more species here.

Sandy (not!) Cay -- great snorkeling

Feb 8-10 -- Hope Town, Elbow Cay

We sailed on a moderate breeze with jib only from Lynyard Cay to Elbow Cay, 17 nm (nautical miles), broad reach and tacking downwind.  Cap'n Fred brought us into Hopetown Harbor without a hitch, where we picked up a Lucky Strike mooring.  Fred went out and about exploring Hopetown, while Dorothy felt the urge to slog on the blog.  Sights of Hopetown:
Hopetown Harbour, Hopetown, and the Atlantic beyond, from the Hopetown Lighthouse
Hopetown Harbour -- Aviva dead center/back, green bimini and jib cover
Hopetown -- very narrow, easy to walk across to ocean side for swimming/snorkeling
Hopetown harbor homes and businesses
The streets of Hopetown.  Plenty wide for golf carts!
Ah, the Bahamian colors!! 
The breadfruit tree story
The breadfruit tree
Hopetown, Atlantic beach
Shorebirds running back and forth with the tide -- plovers

Dorothy sloggin' on the blog, also enjoying artist class on the harbor, lighthouse in background

February 11-15 -- Man-O-War Cay

We caught wind of a flea market benefiting the Man-o-War Cay school to be held on Saturday, Feb 15, with vendor tables available -- a perfect outlet for Dorothy's "need for seams"!  Dorothy busied herself making tissue pack covers and fabric baskets.  We sailed on over to Man-O-War Cay, where Dorothy busied herself creating inventory.

Gotta sew -- the need for seams
We anchored off the northwest side of Dickie's Cay and saw a beautiful double rainbow after some showers.
Double rainbow off Dickies Cay
We moved down to "the low place," where the island is so low and so thin you can see across it to the Atlantic (can't quite in this photo).  
The Low Place
Fred chilling at The Low Place
The Road to LowPlace

After the inventory was built, but before a big front came through, it was time to move inside to the Man-O-War Harbor.  We had reserved a mooring, but that didn't pan out -- it was gone.  ARG, because we needed to be in the harbor in order to be able to do the flea market.  Fortunately we found another (the LAST) available mooring!

Time for the flea market -- still strong winds in the morning from the front that passed overnight, but at least it wasn't raining!  The table cloths and items are taped down with double-sided tape.  Dorothy was between a fellow selling an anchor and a woman selling jewelry.  Jewelry proved to be more popular than tissue pack covers, but Dorothy sold enough to feel gratified with this first experience (over $100!).
Dorothy and her wares at the Flea Market
This was FUN!!!


  1. Your blog slogging is such a treat!

  2. Some familiar sights and some new! Love it!