Tuesday, February 28, 2012


The new marina and resort here in Hope Town is progressing along quite nicely. It has been interesting watching the barges come and go with building materials, equipment, and even trees. One night, we heard the inter-island freight boat come in after dark, which seemed really strange. It pulled up to the marina's seawall and shut off its engine, but kept its generator going. All the Harbour Rats were really wondering what was going on until the next morning, when we discovered that the pool was filled with water! There must have been a huge fresh water tank down in the hold, and the generator that we heard was the pump to transfer it into the pool.


And after!

Sunday is the only day that workers aren't present, so it was a great day to explore the premises.

Chairs, tables, and umbrellas have arrived to be used in the pool and bar area.

Pretty woodwork in the bar.

Kitchen equipment arrives.

More landscaping is ready to be planted.

It will take a lot of power to support this resort and marina. Looks like a bunch of spaghetti right now.

The view of New Horizon, out in the harbor, from the docks.

Here's a test for you. What's wrong with the above picture? Hint...look at the sailboat in front of New Horizon. It is backwards, caught on its mooring lines. This happens periodically when boaters run over the lines and the buoy lines get caught on the rudder or worse, the propeller, which could cut it. All you can do is put another line from the boat to the mooring to take the pressure off, and remove the lines. The boat in the picture also put an anchor down. If they had let the stern line go and were just on the anchor line, they would have run into us. Luckily that didn't happen.

While exploring the marina and boatyard next door, we came across two new moorings that are ready to be dropped into place in the harbor. You can see that they are large concrete blocks with chain through them, and then lines attached to that.

There's still plenty of work to be done at the new resort, and I have a feeling that we will be watching its progress for quite some time.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Outside, Looking In

Here in Hope Town Harbour, we spend most of our time on the inside, looking out. Even when we go boating out in the Sea of Abaco, it's still considered to be 'inside'. Yesterday we changed all that for a few hours when we were outside, looking in. The light westerly wind was perfect for carrying the kayak over the sand dune and kayaking in the ocean. It was so much in the lee that there was barely a ripple breaking on the beach. That made it even easier to get into the kayak without waves washing over us.

Once out on the water, we paddled about half a mile out to the outer reef, weaving our way around the shallow inner reef. We could really distinguish the dark colored coral heads, and at times the tops of them would come out of the water in the trough of the small swells.

This is what Hope Town looks like coming from the ocean, but almost impossible to get there with all the reefs. No wonder 'wrecking' (or wracking as it was also called) was such a popular pastime and occupation before the lighthouse was built!

Back near shore we kayaked past East Point, which is the easterly most point of the island, and the elbow part that Elbow Cay is named after.

On the south side of East Point there is a nice swimming hole and the water is crystal clear.

We couldn't resist taking a quick swim, once we got back to the beach. The 75 degree water didn't feel too bad, especially since it is February. Not only just February though, it was our 34th wedding anniversary too! What a great day to look back and remember all the many things we have done in those years, and how lucky we are to be able to live the lifestyle we do.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Off The Beaten Path

Before we decided to bring other people to the Blue Hole, we had to try and find it. Even though we had been there before, it's still hard to remember exactly where the spot is (next time we'll bring the GPS). Everything in shallow Snake Creek looks the same, and these backwaters are aptly named.

Many of the branches of the creek snake around and lead to dead ends, making it easy to get lost. Plus you never know what you are going to find. It really made us wonder what happened to this huge burned boat, and how it got back in the shallows.

It took awhile, but finally we just about fell over (or into) the Blue Hole. There are two main entrances/exits into Snake Creek, and doesn't it figure that the blue hole is almost at the beginning of the southern entrance, and we had started at the northern part.

However, the northern entrance is much more interesting. There is a cut that you enter that is about 40 feet deep, and the current races through it. We came across several spotted eagle rays and a crevice that looked like a boiling spring.

Another feature of this area is its history. Owens-Illinois made Snake Cay a base for its lumbering operation back around 1960. We found one of their old abandoned sawmill barges back in a branch of Snake Creek, in the late 1980's. It was mostly intact back then, but it is now rusting away. The two gigantic generator motors are still inside though.

A very interesting aspect of the lumbering operation was the fact that the company brought in the side-wheel steamship, Robert Fulton to not only be the worker's housing, but it was set up to have all the amenities of a city! The ironic thing is that the Robert Fulton originally plied the waters of the Hudson River between New York City and Albany, up near we live during the summer. What is also amazing is that once it was at the Snake Cay wharf, they filled in earth around it, making it landlocked. Click HERE for a must read article written by Dave Gale for Abaco Life Magazine. It's a great story about Snake Cay and life on board the Robert Fulton.

It's hard to believe that any large vessel can get close to the old seawall now, but the water sure is clear. We sure do like exploring off the beaten path!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Blue Holes of Abaco

Today we went to one of the many blue holes here in Abaco. Blue holes are underwater caves, wide crevices, or sink holes that usually have an outlet into the sea. Some can be found in the shallow backwaters and others are actually on land. We've come across some in our travels that actually look like they are boiling from the current, just like a fresh water spring.

The one we went to today is a closed cave, where the deepest walls have fallen in, shutting off the exit to the ocean. We had to go at high tide because it is located in the backwaters by Snake Cay, Great Abaco. It is shallow all around it, but then suddenly the water turns dark where the deep water is.

Dave brought his underwater hookah compressor with him and went down to around 20ft. He said there are caverns that lead off in four different directions. There are ledges everywhere, filled with fish.

Above water, Bill kept watch, and he had a reading of 60ft. on his depth finder, at the edge of the hole. Meanwhile, the girls on Interim's skiff watched Dave and the fish through their 'looky buckets' (buckets with clear plastic bottoms...the easy and dry way to snorkel).

For more information on Abaco's blue holes, click HERE.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

All In Good Time

It has taken over two months to get New Horizon back running on both engines, due to its exhaust problem. Today we finally had both Yanmars running at the same time...what a milestone!



Finally the new flange inserts are fabricated at the welding shop. At one point they needed both of the old exhaust pipes, so we couldn't run either engine.

"The doctor is in!" Actually these coveralls saved his skin in more ways than one. What a dirty, sooty job. By the last day in the engine room, they were black.

When Dave tried to hook up the exhaust hose on the starboard side, it split. Luckily he had a piece left over from a few years ago when he replaced the same hose on the port side. The problem was that this very stiff hose needed to have a bend in it, in order to fit in the tight quarters. He rigged up this spanish windlass to put the curve in it. We were hoping it would heat up in the sun and take a set, but it didn't work well.

He modified it so that the set up would be permanent and adjustable.

Once installed, the clamps couldn't be tightened down, so he ended up with sooty saltwater all over himself, parts, and tools when the engine started. The proper T-bolt clamps are non-existent here in the Bahamas, so we had to wait for them to come from the U.S. We still need another set of them for the other side, but for now the clamps on there are holding. We also need to get special packing to make it leak free. For now though, at least we are back up and running.


Sleep well Dave! You persevered and deserve the rest. Plus the next step will be cleaning the barnacles and growth off the bottom of the boat so we can move and steer. It's hard to tell if the grass growing is from the bottom up or the boat bottom down! The weather is back to 60 degrees for a few days, so he gets a reprieve. Who wants to travel when it's cold and blowing 20+ knots of wind anyway.

"All in good time." Welcome to the Bahamas, Mon!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rats Reunited

Once a year the Hope Town Harbour Rats have a reunion and celebration. Not only do we have a 'uniform', but we even have our own anthem!

Toasting Rats near and far....

Gloria (Quest), Sharon (Alize), and yours truly , 'Classic' Carol...

Dave with 'New' Carol and Bill (Interim)...

The Harbour Rats are always at the ready to assist each other and help with community projects. This once a year gathering is a perfect way to get us all together at the same time.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Adrift in a sea of dinghies and appetizers!

What a gorgeous calm night for our first full moon dinghy drift of the season. 26 boats, 56 people, and 4 dogs set a new Harbour Rat record.

Even 91 year old Allen, who always wants to join in the fun, was there with Kim and Mark from Spirit.

It's amazing the food that comes out of the galleys that gets shared with everyone. The plates and bowls of goodies gets passed round and round and round! Dave has his 'dash stash' that looks like shells he's collected.

It was definitely a 'happy hour' to remember.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tune In

Recently, NBC's Today Show did some filming for their show, at the lighthouse here in Hope Town. Dave, who had just spearheaded a Harbour Rats project of building a door for one of the storage buildings on the premises, was asked to help out in any way that was needed.

Director of the Bahamas Lighthouse Preservation Society, Annie Potts (who is also author of the book 'Last Lights: The Hand-Wound Lighthouses of the Bahama Islands'), along with Dave Gale who founded the Society (and is author of the books Ready About: 'Voyages of Life in the Abaco Cays' AND more recently 'Below Another Sky: A Bahama Memoir').

"Dave Squared" and showing off their bosun's whistles.

When the film crew arrived, Dave helped them dock their two chartered catamarans. Then all the equipment came out onto the dock.

Here the lighthouse keeper is interviewed.

Although Dave didn't make it into any of the shots, he claims that our skiff did for some reason. We'll laugh if 'Safari' has its moment of fame, but it will probably get edited out.

The film crew was only here for a few hours before moving on to the southern Bahamas. This feature is about all of the Bahamas, but it's great that the historic Elbow Reef Lighthouse was included.

The show is scheduled to air on Thursday and Friday, February 9th and 10th at 10 A.M. Eastern time, but check your local listings.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Recipe For Disaster

Take one aged wood railing (circa 1984 preferred)

Press body against the above ingredient. Recipe comes out best if you also lean forward while lifting.

Add salt water to taste.

Forcefully remove eye glasses.

Recipe is a flop if you are still capable of swimming to the surface.

Hitting head on kayak and/or dinghy is optional.

Luckily my recipe result was a flop, although still a flop in the water. Here’s my tale of woe:

I was helping Dave lift the kayak out of the water, when the gate latch on the railing bent and detached itself, opening up the gate. Hanging on for dear life (literally, as our hard plastic dinghy was right below me), I yelled for Dave, hoping he could just grab my hand and give me that little bit of pull, back toward the boat. Unfortunately he had his hands full with ¾ of the two person kayak, and couldn’t make it in time. In almost slow motion, he watched as I went head first into the harbor. Amazingly, New Horizon just happened to swing in the wind and the dinghy went in the opposite direction, so I didn’t land in it! I remember looking up underwater and thinking how lucky I was that I didn’t knock myself out. Then I immediately surfaced under the kayak (which Dave had dropped to try and get to me), pushed it out of the way, and grabbed the broken off railing in the water, which I desperately held on to until the last minute when it broke completely off. Once back in the boat, I looked at my aching shins to find huge egg size blood blisters and bruises forming. Dave ran for the ice, and as I was sitting on the cockpit floor looking around, everything looked blurry. Then, and only then, did I realize that my glasses were gone! That’s when the tears and swearing started. Into the water Dave dove, and about 10 minutes later surfaced with my new expensive prescription glasses, and even the magnetic polarized clip-ons. Later in the day my neck and shoulder started getting sore, so I must have a touch of whiplash. Today I am much improved, but still finding more bruises.

Needless to say, the coconut telegraph works fast here in the harbor. Today we have had many concerned visitors and calls on the VHF, which I really appreciated. At least now we can already joke about it. Our neighbor, John on Palm Pilot, gave me a score of 9.8 for my dive. The ironic thing is that right before this all happened, he kiddingly yelled to us that we have too many boats.

I think there must have been divine intervention, because I could have really been hurt if I had landed in the dinghy or kayak. Being airlifted out of the Bahamas is definitely not on my ‘Bucket List’ of things to do.

Lucky for you too, since I will live to continue this blog!