Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Marooned in Hope Town

Elbow Cay, Abacos
January 21-February 20, 2016

Every cruising season is completely different from every other. Different places, different people, different weather. Especially weather, because it dictates our itinerary and activities. This year’s unfavorable weather has been the topic of conversation since we arrived in The Bahamas.

We started our season by staying an entire month on Elbow Cay near Hope Town due to near-constant high winds. But what a great place to be marooned! The village of Hope Town has a high cute-quotient with colorful pastel colonial cottages and inviting shops and restaurants. Everywhere you go, there’s a beautiful ocean or harbor view.
This cottage is more than 100 years old
The miniature cottage is "The Lizard Lodge" 
View of the Atlantic from a Hope Town cottage
The town’s most recognizable feature is its candy-striped lighthouse, one of only two remaining in the world that are hand-cranked and kerosene burning. Every two hours the keeper on duty uses a hand winch to lift seven hundred pounds of weight to the top of the tower. The descending weights turn a series of bronze gears that smoothly rotate the four-ton light apparatus every fifteen seconds, sending out a beam that can be seen for seventeen miles. The tower is eighty-nine feet high with one hundred one steps to the lantern room. Panoramic views from the top make the climb worth every step.
The Elbow Reef Light Station
Harbor view from lighthouse window
101 steps to the top
A view from the top
An Abaco dinghy, hand crafted right here in Hope Town
We crossed over to the Abacos in order to coincide with friends’ time here. Marty and Barb came to visit Marty’s high-school friend, JoAnne, whose sister owns a cottage on Elbow Cay. It was great to hang out with them while they were here, walking beaches, playing games, eating out. We’d met JoAnne before, but this time we got to know her much better and loved her.
Marty and Barb
JoAnne, Joanie, and Barb
In addition to these friends, we met some very interesting people during the month. Among them:
An older woman who came to Hope Town for the first time in 1957 (when it was a still best-kept secret) and has been here every winter since then in a seaside cottage her father built; she invited us over and showed us around her small and perfectly charming beach cottage…A couple who lived in Saudi Arabia for nine years while he managed a petro-chemical company there (they also have a boat pet, a turquoise iguana)…A couple who took us deep-sea fishing in a boat outfitted with all the best equipment (no trophy fish, only three red snappers); he managed the largest shipyard in the world in Norfolk, VA, her father died attempting to escape from Cuba after Castro came to power…A couple who spent the last fifteen years restoring an 1835 West Virginia brick mansion built by a descendant of George Washington’s brother…A couple who flew their own plane here from Boulder, Colorado…several of the nine “famous Mackey sisters,” daughters of a former lighthouse keeper on the island.
Keith being deck hand. Notice electric reel; they were fishing at 800 feet.
We also enjoyed several events that raised money for local causes, lazy walks on lovely beaches, and meandering bike rides around the island. Then there were the days we hunkered down to avoid wind and rain, reading for hours.
On da Beach Restaurant
A view from Abaco Inn, the first place we stayed in the Abacos 25 years ago 
The protected Sea of Abaco
What to do as weather conditions kept us pinned to the dock?  Settle in, be patient, choose contentment. And thank God for the silver linings in those clouds—the great experiences we would have missed if we hadn’t been marooned.
God, I know You’re not in a hurry.
Your plans for me are on time.
You need no schedule or reminders
For I’m always on Your mind.
Elaine Wright Colvin