July 25, 2017
We left Marsh Harbour early one morning to catch the 15 knot east wind that was forecast. Pat was on deck getting the sails ready and I was at the helm, circling the harbour while we waited for a freighter to come in. I was having trouble getting our chart plotter to come up: I kept getting a programming error message, then it would shut down. We were heading for Treasure Cay and we had been there many times, so we could get there without the chart plotter, but that wasn’t the point. This plotter was new and we had come to really depend on it. Redundancy to the rescue. Pat dug out our old chart plotter that we had carefully wrapped and stored in the back of the linen closet. It’s old and was painfully slow, but it worked.
The sail to Treasure Cay was lovely; so seldom were we able to get in a good sail over the last few months that we enjoyed it immensely. Once we had picked up a mooring ball in the harbour, Pat set to work to get the chart plotter working again. The first thing he did was remove the chip, turn the unit off, turn it back on and reinsert the chip. And voila! It worked just fine. I guess it just needed a rest!!
Treasure Cay is a beautiful resort, with shops, restaurants, laundry, showers, a pool and a five-mile long, pure white, sand beach. If you pick up a mooring ball for $20 a night, you get the use of all of the resort’s facilities. Yahoo! First up was a long, hot shower, (very long and hot…not my water!), then a walk on the beach. We spent 5 days there, a vacation from our vacation.
Our next stop was Guana Cay, five miles away. Every Sunday afternoon, Nippers Bar and Restaurant has a pig roast. Everyone who has a boat or can get a taxi boat ride from the other islands shows up at the bar. It gets crowded but is a fun afternoon.
Nippers overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and is a series of large decks that climb up and up. The pool is on the first deck and the dance floor is on the next level, the tables for eating occupy the next 3 levels. The music is loud, the tempo high, and the crowd, which for some reason seems to consist of people 20 – 30 years old, is “motivated”. We old folks stayed as long as our eardrums could tolerate, then headed out to explore the island. It has white sand beaches on both the Atlantic side and the Sea of Abaco side. There are small resorts and quaint, very old homes, beautifully kept. And you can still hear the music no matter where you are!
Our next stop was Man-O-War Cay, only six miles away from Guana Cay. The island is small and very narrow, and has a beach that runs the length of the island on the Atlantic side. There is a large harbour, divided in two sections- the eastern section contains only mooring balls, the western section has the marinas and more mooring balls. We tried to anchor on the south side of the island, facing Marsh Harbour, but could not get the anchor to hold. I have a rule that if the anchor doesn’t hold after three tries, we go elsewhere and in this case, we went inside and took a mooring ball.
We stayed there for six days, it was such a quiet, protected harbour. We spent our days walking the beach, walking the road that runs the length of the island and visiting the boat building shops. One day we tried to help a charter catamaran get off sand bank behind us. He went aground on a falling tide and in the end, he was there for another ten hours before he floated free. Thank goodness he had two hulls as he was almost completely dry for a while.
Man-O-War Cay has a close knit population of about 300 and most of the residents are in some way related to the Albury family. William H. Albury was famous for his tremendous boat building skills and built his first schooner at the age of 14. His descendants have kept up the tradition of boat building, but the new generation has moved over to fibre glass boats. Several of the local boat builders still make the traditional “Abaco Dinghy”, but they are considered works of art, and only the wealthy can afford to order one.
We were lucky enough to be there for the weekend of their “Boat Builders Memorial Day” celebrations. The entire community was out to celebrate. There was a plaque unveiling, a children’s choir whose music was so beautifully sung and moving that everyone was choked up. There were speeches by some government officials, one of whom asked specifically how many Canadians were in the crowd. Yeah Canada! They had a ceremonial launching of one of the old Albury Dinghies complete with christening and bouquets of flowers. The whole day was so beautifully choreographed and we spent the whole day visiting the workshops, the vendors and eating the amazing food. We befriended one elderly gentleman who sold shells and small souvenirs and every day we would go to his stand and spend an hour talking with him. He invited us to spend Christmas on the island when we return in the fall. We just might do that. It is that kind of an island. Until next time…….