Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hope Town, Abacos, Bahamas

Wednesday, February 3 - Thursday, February 4, 2010
Welcome to lovely Hope Town! We arrived in Hope Town this morning to find the quintessential Bahamian village, complete with its very own candy cane-striped lighthouse. We've heard that once you visit Hope Town you'll want to move here, and we can see why it gets such rave reviews. Besides having the most photographed (and still working) lighthouse in the Bahamas, it has charming gingerbread-style pastel-colored houses along each street. Its harbor is protected from all wind directions, but fair warning: the harbor is filled with moorings for rent, which means there's no room to anchor inside. We expected this and are happy to contribute to the local economy. (That's IF they'll ever let us; after 24 hours on a mooring ball, we still haven't found anyone willing to take our money! We're told that someone will come around in a boat to collect from us "eventually". They never do...)

Hope Town, on the north side of Elbow Cay, is about 8nm from Marsh Harbor. We arrived outside of the harbor in the midst of a sailboat race and got to see the participants as they tacked around a marker 100 yards from us. There's nothing quite like watching a 40' sailboat heading straight for you until it turns at the last minute! Winds were 15-20kts, and we were all having quite a ride. We had planned to anchor in the lee of the island, but winds were still out of the north, making it a bumpy anchorage. We radioed a friend in the harbor and were told that a few moorings were still available. We found enough deep water thanks to the Explorer charts (our chart plotter said it was 4' everywhere without giving any alternatives), and Ian from Celtic Cross met us in his dinghy to show us the remaining moorings. Luckily Hope Town is well protected, and we barely noticed the wind inside...much easier when you're approaching a little mooring ball in a 25,000-pound boat! We'd just begun to eat lunch when John and Ginger from Be Leaving stopped by in their dinghy. They were headed into town, and we made a date to meet later for happy hour.

We dinghied into town ourselves soon after, and were completely charmed by this picturesque little spot. A walk around town was soon followed by a beach walk on the Atlantic side of the island. Like most of the Abacos, Elbow Cay has a reef that protects its beaches from the brunt of the Atlantic waves. We were able to wander along the surf line looking for shells and sea glass (no luck), finally reaching the northern point of the island before turning back. We eventually made it to Harbor's Edge, an open-air bar/restaurant overlooking the harbor. John & Ginger joined us for happy hour, and we had a great time getting to know them better.

The next morning we dinghied over to the Hope Town Coffee House, famous for their delicious breakfasts, coffee drinks, and free internet. Stacy enjoyed her first latte in two months, and their breakfast sandwiches and quiches were fabulous. John and Ginger met us there, and we all agreed that a beach day was in order. After gathering up our snorkel gear, we hiked across the street to the beach entrance through Hope Town Harbor Lodge. Wouldn't you know, we couldn't pass through without spotting some familiar faces: Rick & Linda from Sojourner were there having lunch with their visitors, so we got to chat with them before setting up camp on the beach. Thanks to the protection in the harbor, we hadn't realized how windy it was on the far side of the island. John & Ginger were brave enough to go out snorkeling, but we decided to be wimpy, hiding under our towels trying to stay warm. We all survived for a couple of hours, but eventually got tired of the dark clouds that blocked out the sun. We really can't complain given the snowstorms in the Northeast, but this isn't sunbathing weather!

This is a short trip for now, as we're leaving for Treasure Cay in the morning ahead of another cold front. 30+ knot winds are expected early Saturday morning, and we want to stake out a good spot before the anchorage gets too busy. We're taking the ferry to Green Turtle Cay Saturday afternoon; there's a charity fund-raiser wine tasting at the Green Turtle Club Saturday night, and it's a great excuse to see Nicki, Babette, and the rest of our friends on GTC. 'Til next time...

Pictures at: http://picasaweb.google.com/Rene.Foree/2010BahamasI?feat=directlink