Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer home

Vero Beach City Marina will be our home sweet home for the next few months.  The town has free bus service throughout the county, a real plus.  The mooring field is purportedly well maintained and is in a small enclosed area.  For those reasons we think we will be staying here while we get Horizon ready for another season of cruising.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Hopetown, Elbow Cay

Hopetown may be the most picturesque of the towns found in the Abacos.  This is probably due to its reliance on rental homes to tourists.  It is a hilly town with narrow streets lined with flowers, old cemeteries, churches and a few quirky shops. We are anchored outside the town harbor, facing the Lighthouse.  It’s so peaceful. 

As the sun sets in the evening you can hear the waves lapping at the island.  It’s an alive sound, somewhat like the talking rocks I heard with Bridget and Maureen on a piece of New England shoreline.  It speaks of impermanence as you see the soil eroding from the continual lapping tide.  

As in most of the Abacos, it is a very small distance from the shores of the Sea of Abaco to the shores of the North Atlantic.  Both Man O’ War Cay and Elbow Cay have the cemeteries on the cliff next to the North Atlantic.  What a send-off, what a view.  If you are in town at noon, you will hear the hymns of the Methodist church marking the hour.  Abide with Meand The Church’s One Foundation have given me pause as I heard the comforting strains and was compelled to identify the tune. 

There are cool things to do of an afternoon here.  Get an ice cream, which is a big deal once you are out of the states living on a boat.  Even living in a house, a half gallon is at least $10.  Or trying out one of several restaurants for lunch.  Or going to the Reef Bar & Grill where you are on the Atlantic ocean side, with a pool, bar and grill, and a beachside set up for swimming and snorkeling.  I really like the idea of having a pool where there’s a bar . . . should have some of this in the states!  And the ever evasive internet connection can be found at most bars, grills or restaurants. 

Mike and I have become the typical boating couple with a big waterproof boat bag at our feet, frantically making connections on our smart phones until our order arrives.  Some of our communiqu├ęs go straight through the meal :)

One photo we have yet to capture is the method of disembarking at a dinghy dock in the Bahamas.  We have a Torqueedo, a very cool, expensive electric outboard that is lightweight and sweet to use.  But to conserve power we approach all trips with the idea that it is the journey, not the destination.  In Hopetown there are no less than three boat rental companies, three marinas, many a mooring balls and a limited entrance channel.  So we have many wakes to maneuver as we putter along.  I have mastered the Princess Di wave as a way of confirming that yes we travel slowly but quietly and are not in distress.  Which is often answered within a minutes with high wake waves lapping over the dinghy pontoons and soaking us.  Forget arriving pretty, dry or collected.  My “town” outfit now consists of a pair of a earrings with fitted shorts, tank and a padded sports bra, sandals.  I know if you have read this far, you may not have needed the padded sports bra as info. TMI.  But I need to let my girls and my sister know that I still maintain the high standards passed down from my mother on appropriate beach town attire.  On the boat, well . . . let’s just say no padding, no earrings, no shoes and the extra large shorts that fit before we left. 

So Hopetown has a unique trash reception set-up.  Most islands have a dumpster, preferably at the dinghy dock for your boat trash.  Seems civilized considering we paid $350 just to be here.  However maybe due to the high rental tourism, Hopetown has a particular trash pick-up three days a week available for an hour each day.  Mike and I were in the dark about this for about three days.  What with prepping to have company, we take off on Friday morning at 8:40 with three large bags of ripe trash.  The electric outboard; unclear about the dock location, lots of boat traffic to deal with wakes.  It was my first island time of stress.  I found my jaw clenching, worrying about getting there on time.  Like I used to do on my way to Seminole.  Then I laughed and said to Mike, “as if the world would end if we missed the trash truck.  This is my biggest worry----how blessed we are!”

Once I unclenched my jaw, we saw another boat with trash and all ended well.  We then took a nice work through town, checking on the weekend entertainment.  Talking to the shopkeeper about the last day of school, being peaceful. 

That evening I watched the sun slide behind the horizon, then turned and waited for the Hopetown Lighthouse to start sending out it’s nightly pulse while the waves lapped like hungry tiger cubs at the impermanent shore.

Well Hell!

I got so tied up in wardrobe, I forgot to describe dinghy dock dismount.  There are two kinds of dinghy docks in the Bahamas, the ones with a straight up ladder included in the structure amongst the pylons, or the floating dock, that is attached at only two points.  Try either one of these with any alcohol in the system, and it becomes a bit of a nightmare.  So we finally get to the dinghy dock, find a spot among others, I stand, lunge for the closest set of stairs, usually moss covered if it’s low tide.  As Mike stops the outboard, I climb the straight up ladder to the top using what hand holds are free of moss and reachable with these McCarty hobbit-like arms.  As I climb I am dragging the “painter” , a ridiculous name for a rope attached to the dinghy to secure it to the dock.  Again, can you see why the earrings and the padding are the only statement really workable?