Saturday, April 5, 2008

Happy Endings

March 28-April 1, Hope Town Harbour
Some things turn out better than anticipated. When the Hope Town Harbour Light was erected in the 1860s, the residents protested loudly, refusing to provide fresh water to the government workers on site. Many locals feared it would interfere with their “search and rescue” livelihood of wrecking: watching for ships that foundered on the barrier reef the runs along the east side of the Abacos and collecting any saleable goods (and, of course, any sailors) from the wreckage.

The story had a happy ending. The lighthouse was completed and now contributes dramatically to the local livelihood of tourism. Standing over the harbor with red and white candy stripes, it has been the colorful subject of countless photos and paintings. It’s a magnet to visitors who come to Elbow Cay to sightsee in the charming town. They can climb the tower, browse in cute shops and eat in restaurants housed in colorful cottages, or walk the long beaches. They may stay for a few hours or a few weeks, and some never leave.

Along with many other cruisers, Hope Town was on our must-do list in the Abacos. After we left Little Harbour we first anchored off Tahiti Beach, a gorgeous beach on the south end of Elbow Cay. For lunch, we checked another item off the list: we dinghied over to Cracker P’s, a restaurant on the island of Lubber’s Quarters only accessible to small boats. Then on to Hope Town.

For several days Pelican was moored in Hope Town harbor while a weather system breezed through. Sunday we attended the Methodist church in town and ran into Ed Collins. We had met Ed in 2004 on the street in Marsh Harbour. He was very friendly and welcoming to us as fellow “Middle Westerners” and invited us to come and spend a day in Hope Town. He and his wife Bobbie had first come to Hope Town on a sailboat and now have a second home there. Bobbie was back in the States at the time, so we didn’t meet her. But Ed was a great host, showing us around their home, taking us out for lunch, and giving us a tour of the island with a special stop to watch Winer Malone work on a wooden boat. Winer is the last builder of traditional wooden Abaco dinghies on the island, and he does it all without the aid of power tools in a tiny shed attached to his home. At that time, Ed was finishing a book entitled Winer Malone and the Abaco Dinghy.

It was fun to see Ed again, and this time we had the pleasure of meeting his lovely wife, Bobbie. Ed's book is published and all of the proceeds go to support the Wyannie Malone historical museum in Hope Town. We bought a copy and were very impressed. It turned out beautifully. The text clearly describes a complicated process, illustrated by dozens of beautiful pictures. Another happy ending.

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