car-hopetown-largeThe first thing I see on my approach to Hopetown is an undulating emerald silhouette rising up from the horizon, dominated by a circa-1864, candy-cane-painted lighthouse that still uses kerosene for power.

Inside the harbour is a forest of sailboat masts. A chorus of dancing casuarinas trees, feathery branches seductive as a burlesque dancer's boa, serenades me.

And then I see the village – a sort of psychedelic Nantucket.

Think New England with pastel colours. Clapboard houses and shops capped by dormered roofs and gables. Some roofs have a Norman influence – steeply pitched and curved like you'd see in rural Quebec. But there's no snow here.

We're in the Sea of Abaco in the northern Bahamas, a shallow sea that stretches roughly two hundred kilometers along the Bahama Bank. The waters outside Hopetown are neon lime and incandescent turquoise, testament to the fact that depths here are never more than twenty feet. They make for gorgeous if unnerving sailing. In his book, Sailing Away From Winter, Silver Donald Cameron called sailing here "champagne cruising."

The Abacos boast two actual islands, eighty two cays and two hundred and eight rocks.

And Hopetown.

In his definitive cruising guide to the Abacos, Steve Dodge writes that "Hopetown is clearly one of the most picturesque settlements in the Bahamas." That's partly due to the striking geography: lush vegetation towers over a town that strolls up a gentle dune to the east, fronting on a pink coral beach decorated by sea oats and bay lavender. It's partly due to the architecture, the result of a fascinating history close to my own heart.

On a visit to the United Loyalist Cemetery in St. John, New Brunswick, I long ago discovered my own pedigree. My Loyalist ancestors helped settle Canada. But a whole lot of other Loyalists – the ones I now envy – came to Hopetown.

The Wiannie Malone Historical Museum, housed in an imposing white clapboard house with green trim, vividly outlines Hopetown's early history. Curator Linda Cole explains that Wiannie Malone was a Loyalist from South Carolina who was forced to move from the United States in the aftermath of the American Revolution. "According to all of our records Malone was one of the first settlers here, arriving around 1784," says Cole. "Hopetown was a staunch Loyalist colony. Even its name attests to this history. The earliest visitors disembarked from a brigantine named 'Hope'."

As I later stroll along the two village streets – Front Street and the King's Highway – I reflect on my own history and wonder what my life would be like if my forebears headed south.

On my first reconnaissance mission I also note that Hopetown is oriented first and foremost to the water. Cap'n Jack's, a rambling white clapboard structure with bubblegum pink trim, perches on stilts above the water, boasting its own dinghy docks. All wood inside and sporting a multitude of nautical bric-a-brac, it is a meeting place for visiting cruisers and the more lubberly types who usually come for long stays and are, for the most part, repeat offenders. "I've been here twenty times," says Oakville resident Ally Munro. "And I'm going to keep coming back."

The health clinic is a coral-painted building right beside a police station that scowls down on Front Street like a colonial great house, painted powder blue with white trim. Behind the police station stands a Methodist Church that bursts, at noon, into a carillon concert of hymns. The melodies mesh with the grumble of outboard motors on the dinghies that criss-cross the bay, with the wind that rustles the palm fronds overhead, with the murmur of the surf just past the dunes.

But it's the people that are Hopetown's biggest draw. "The policeman is the DJ too," says Munro. Graham Lavender of the Abaco Journal likes the fact that "there are no strangers here." According to Peggy Thompson, who runs Hopetown Hideaways, an eclectic collection of inns and villas, "the proprietor of Vernon's grocery, who's famous for his pies and breads, is also the lay minister at the Methodist church."

The accommodations we discover at Hopetown Hideaways add to a feeling that, for all its raucous colour, for all its semi-tropical ambiance, this place still feels like home. Our digs at Hideaway Villas sport a private pool ten feet from a row of docks, a huge deck with its own barbecue, gardens and groves where we can harvest fresh limes for our drinks, mangos and bananas for our breakfast, avocados for lunch, and a twelve-foot fiberglass launch for our exclusive use.

Early in the morning on New Year's Day, I am sitting on the deck of Hopetown Coffee Shop, meditating over a homemade chicken curry quiche that I wash down with a coffee made from beans that are roasted on site.

The street below meanders along the shore of the harbour on its morning constitutional. Just around the corner neat white picket fences worthy of Cape Cop border colonial homes and shops. But these buildings boast pink and lemon, turquoise and lavender with aquamarine trim. Blossoming bougainvilleas decorate these gardens. Palms and casuarinas stand in for oaks and maples.

This village may share its history with Upper Canada but I find myself wishing, as the breezes riffle the harbour waters, sending sailboat masts swaying before the candycane lighthouse backdrop, that I was descended instead from those other Loyalists.

Then I could claim, as my birthright, a storybook village called Hopetown.

Lifestyle

  • Prev
Arie and Maribeth sent us this photo from their honeymoon departing Killarney…I think they were in ...
This shot was taken last week by Jessica Lee, a freelance photography pro, Albacore racer and part ...
On a sunny and windless day we led Alicia and another sailboat into New York Harbour. There were ...
It was a trip 2 or 3 years ago, and all 4 boats traveled up to the Killarney area in a ...
My name is Alexandrine GOVAN, mother of a 5 years old girl and I found your contact on internet. ...
John Booth, who passed away just a few weeks ago was one of the most amazingly gifted and ...
We left Vero Beach on Saturday morning with Alicia, a boat from Sweden, following close behind. The ...
At the end of last month, Canadian sailors gathered on the Palma Beach in Palma de Mallorca, Spain ...
In 2019, C-TOW celebrates its 35th anniversary of providing 24/7 “Peace of Mind Boating” for ...
West Vancouver Yacht Club reports that following an independent certification process the Georgia ...

DIY & How to

  • Prev
On the Friday before a weekend with a gorgeous forecast, I heard on the news that a boat had ...
A reader suggested we take a look at anchors. Anchoring seems simple enough. A weighted hook with a ...
If you’ve spent any time in a boat yard during spring commissioning season, you won’t find it out ...
As a busy marine mechanic, I tend to have the same or similar conversations often, and they’re ...
This time of year, great deals abound. That boat with the ‘for sale’ sign looks quite attractive. ...
For less than US$2,500, Jim Leshaw, a lawyer who lives and works in Key Biscayne, Florida, ...
Each spring, I tend to notice canvas. I wish it was because it’s been immaculately maintained and ...
I’ve had two emails over the past few weeks with a count-down to launch (47 days per the last ...
Last time we looked at making proper electrical connections – the tools, supplies and methods ...
Winter is a great time to look at some of the hidden spaces on your boat – to take stock of what is ...

Sailboat Under Cloudy Skies

By Joan Wenner, J.D.

Sailboat under cloudy sky by Bill Cox-Unsplash

Have you ever needed on-the-water assistance due to a mechanical breakdown, running aground, taking on water (perhaps from striking a submerged or floating object), having a mishap with another vessel, or have a medical emergency and the authorities are not near, but another mariner answers your mayday or perhaps observes your predicament. Another boater is in the vicinity, but will, or should, that person offer to help perhaps at his peril? What if you were that pleasure craft operator?

Read more about Good Samaritans............

 

  

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...
ILCA is seeking new builders to complement its existing network of manufacturers, the International ...
Nelson Gilbert (1854-1921) began building canoes in Brockville in the 1890s, a time when the sport ...
I have heard a lot of talk lately about trends in yacht clubs where senior membership is getting ...
To get you in the mood for cruising the Boat Show then launching in spring, here’s a boat that ...
Quite simply, the styles of boats have changed. Where in past years a buyer might have been looking ...
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...

Monte Carlo 52The launch of the new Monte Carlo 52 will be one of the highlights of the Cannes Yachting Festival 2019. This 50-foot high-end motor yacht is eagerly awaited and will introduce the Monte Carlo “Smart Luxury” generation. The stylish flybridge powerboat has inherited all the superb signature features of a successful range: modern design, elegant lines, distinctive character, incredibly well-used spaces and a careful focus on details, not to mention the iconic large porthole, distinguishing the 15 m (50’) to 18 m (60’) class of yachts made in Vendée. The Monte Carlo 52 has greatly improved all these features.

 

Read more about the Monte Carlo 52..............

 

John ArmstrongOur Canadian Yachting test team, John Armstong and Andy Adams, were at a Jeanneau media event called “Throttle Down” in St. Petersburg, Florida. The media event was held to highlight the Jeanneau Power Boat Line with the emphasis on their outboard models. 

The media event was scheduled to follow their Jeanneau dealer meetings, held earlier at Thunder Marine International in St. Petersburg. The Thunder Marine location is on the water and has a cooperative agreement with Jeanneau to host the full line of Jeanneau power boats in the water for dealer demonstration to their clients.

Read More about the Jeanneau Media Event...........


ChicagoBy Mark Stevens

Photos by Sharon Matthews-Stevens


From my perspective on the observation deck of 360 Chicago in the John Hancock Building, I have an eagle’s-eye view of this Lake Michigan metropolis.

The city stretched out before us is a forest of concrete. Toward the lake – right below us – there’s a beach volleyball game in progress. White triangles crisscross Caribbean-blue waters in the distance. Sunday morning must be race day – just like home.

 

Read more about Chicago....................

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
The Seabin device part of the Oak Bay Marine Group trial, has had promising results so far while ...
When I took the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV down to Wednesday night racing, the people that came over ...
Protecting your boat from scratches and dents isn’t always easy. That’s why the Big Bumper Company ...
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA - Forespar has just introduced a new smaller size version of their ...
As boaters we all have a very unique connection to the water and all the opportunities it presents. ...
Edited by the Quebec Marine Association under the direction of L'Escale Nautique (producer of the ...
Blue Guard has announced the general availability of the BG-One, a solid-state bilge pump switch, ...
With the introduction of the Ion Power Basic, a safe Lithium Ion battery formulated with Lithium, ...
Finding a car brand that you enjoy while it does what you need can be tough, as they can be ...
Yikes! No boat refrigeration? You’ve Got to be Kidding me!! But then again, true campers don’t use ...