The Adventures of CS33 Borean
2003 - 2004


Instalment 10 - March 9th, 2004
Hope Town, The Bahamas

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(Occationally, editorial comments from Don of S/V Destiny Calls, host of this web site and southern waters frequenter, will appear in green italic)


Tenth Installment
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Crew visits
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Hi all! Time is fleeting and time to let you know what we have been up to. A while back we dropped of our daughter Tamara and picked up a friend from our yacht club…Marbeth Caron. She had wanted to go cruising for a long time, and since it was her birthday, we obliged. As bad as the weather had been for Tamara’s visit , it turned out pretty good for Marbeth’s visit.

For our first destination , we headed to Baker’s Bay. It was a good sail, and we dropped the hook amid the other boats already there. This is a very popular anchorage with cruisers. It offers good protection from the prevailing winds, and has good holding. With the anchor down and the first beer consumed in some very fine weather, it was time to go ashore. The long soft sandy beach is one of the longest in the area. This is where one of the Cruise Lines established a base , so its passengers could go ashore for the day and partake in various shore and water based activities. Alas all is abandoned as of 1993. It seems that someone in the planning department did not do their homework. As I had mentioned in a previous update, about the Whale Cay cut, how it can be treacherous for days at a time and no vessel can pass.

Well, this doesn’t work well when you are on a seven day cruise and the wind is from the wrong direction and you have a ship with all it’s passengers stuck in one port when they are supposed to be visiting many. Finally someone back at head office decided to give up the ghost. Literally, they just abandoned this resort and just left everything, all the buildings, an outdoor amphitheater, many bars, restroom facilities, personal water crafts, kayaks, you name it ,they left it. In one building there was even a safe , hopefully they took the cash out first, as everything else was stripped of anything of value. As we strolled through the paths you could see what it once was, now it is all over grown with pine and palm trees. The many palms having shed their coconuts , and they rot on the ground like so many skulls in the underbrush, that it gives an eerie feeling that pirates may have come through and looted the place leaving nary a soul alive.

We next headed for Treasure Cay do wait out another nor’wester. This place is nothing more than a huge suburban development and resort. There really wasn’t much to do but to take a walk with nothing much to see.

So to Great Guana Cay , onto a mooring ball at Settlement Harbour. The claim to fame of this Cay is that it is PARTY CENTRAL in the Abacos. The hot spot here is called Nippers, and are famous for their libation aptly called a Frozen Nipper. When asked what it was concocted of, the reply came back “rum, rum, rum,and more rum”.

We celebrated Valentine’s eve there. We all wore something red. A good time was had by all. They gave out red and silver necklaces for the ladies. This Tiki bar sits on the ocean side and is a short walk from the harbour. It has miles and miles of white sandy beaches with many reefs within wading distance, which Janette and I explored one afternoon.

On any given Sunday they hold a pig roast , and this past Sunday was special, as the Barefoot Man a local Abaconian now living in the Caymans, gave a free concert to 8OO to 1000 revelers. It was a gorgeous day , the sun was hot , the beach was packed, and we listened ….intermittently to the music, as the power kept cutting out. One of the songs they played was a ditty about the BEC (the Bahamian Electric Company) which isn’t always reliable.

As with most of these events in the Bahamas there is usually a fund raiser attached to it, this one had three. They were raising funds for the local volunteer fire brigade to build a firehouse on Guana Cay, Verna, a woman who needed eye surgery, and for Milos, a white Abaconian, famous for his art that he fashions out of coconuts. He has lived here for all of his 53 years and the proceeds of his fund raising is to install electricity and running water, of which he has never had.

Our next stop was Man’O War Cay, which is right next to Great Guana. This is the first DRY settlement that we encountered in the Bahamas. There is nary a drop to drink here . The locals decided that this would be a teetotaler town. But like most places we have visited it is pretty , and compact, with most homes being very close to each other.

This is also the home of the Albury boatbuilding dynasty. As back home we have famous family in the Maritimes for their fine wooden ships, the Albury name is well known.

They have adapted to the times and are building fiberglass boats, but they still do work on old wood ships. Janette , Marbeth and I had the opportunity to see one while we were moored in American Harbour. She was a schooner about 50 feet in length. The William H Albury is a Sea Scout training ship, for teenagers that come and spend a week aboard, to familiarize themselves with methods of old. The three of us were having cocktails on the boat, when she appeared in the narrow channel , the captain turned to starboard so he could manoeuvre towards a mooring ball, when all of a sudden there was a great noise , and almost 2 feet below her waterline was now exposed.

I assume the reason(tongue in cheek) was so that the Sea Scouts could learn how to get a ship off a grounding. Needless to say many dinghys came out to look and lend a hand. It took a 40 foot power boat, pulling from the stern, a whaler with a 150 horsepower at the bow pulling her to starboard, and two dinghys pushed up on her hull at the bow to pivot her off. There are 2 kinds of sailors, those that run aground, and those that lie about it.

Onto Hope Town on Elbow Cay. This is the most picturesque settlement in the Bahamas. The symbol for hope is an anchor and for this settlement it is the red and white light house. This is one of the last three remaining light houses which burn kerosene in the world. Marbeth and I walked to it and viewed the sea and the ocean. We did not climb it that day. Later Jim and I went up the 101 steps of this British built light house.

Built in 1865? (reinforced in 1934? ) it was destined to be non-operational by the government. But the locals put up such a fuss and put up money to keep it operational. This means that two people are on duty to keep the light burning at night. It needs to be wound up every 2 hours aprox. for the light to keep turning. At night it is visible for 17 miles. Now the locals want it but way back in the 1800’s there was an outcry before it was built. This light house would destroy the livelihoods of many wreckers. There were 17 wrecker licences on Green Turtle cay alone. When there was a ship wreck they would go out and save the crew and salvage the goods. All goods were assembled and catalogued and brought to Nassau where they were sold at auction.

The wreckers made a percentage. There is even a restaurant called the Wrecking Tree. But common good prevailed and the light house was built. The locals turned to sponging and fishing for work and money. As you can see from the photos the views from the top are just breath taking. One is panoramic !

As for the place itself it has become an artistic centre with quaint cottages for rent. All have names (no #) such as Greeen Shutters, Toad Hall and Hibiscus cottage. The houses are painted in lively colours, more than one and have tole painting on many features. Pineapples are a common decoration on fences and doors.

The narrow roads accommodate small trucks and golf carts. Vernon’s grocery and bakery is a place to see. There are many restaurants, gift shops and tourist housing. It is one community that has a museum. All with volunteers. They build one new building and another is in progress to be completed next year. They collect all items related to life on the islands. Cost $3 to tour the collection. It will be a real show place of island life. They have a school and a library as well. All was so clean and so much like maritime coastal villages.

That’s it for now…till next time.


Don:

Abandoned cruise ship islands may be a little unusual, given the success of places like Half Moon Cay (Little San Salvador) in the Bahamas, just West of Cat Island. I flew over the Cay the other day on my way back to Canada from San Juan and snapped this shot of one of Holland Americas cruise ships anchored at noon Sunday for a little R&R.

I know that cruisers despise cruise ships, comparing them unflatteringly to floating hotels and their clients to furry rodents. But having been on a few liners they actually are a pretty nice place to spend a week. They are a lot more comfortable than the cruising lifestyle which is often more work than play most days

Maybe small boats cruisers should think a bit more favorably of cruise ships since if you think about it, it gets people out on the water, and that's better than being a dirt sucker all your life. And an important side benefit to the presence of floating hotels... I mean cruise ships is the money they bring to places which need it badly. Maybe even more important than spreading around the cash a bit is that Cruise ships give thousands of people access to these isolated exotic locations. Most of these people would never venture in small boats and have a chance to see these slices of paradise, if even for only a few hours.

Crusie ships are adding to the chorus of voices that will let the powers that be know that these places are indeed rare and must be protected.

More voices, not fewer, will help to protect paradise.


Here are some more pictures from Borean in the Abacos:


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to the 2003 - 2004 Borean log list


E-Mail Jim and Janette

of S/V Borean