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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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80* and Sunny
04/22/2009, Hope Town, Elbow Cay to Man-O-War Harbor, Man-O-War Cay (N26*35.711 W77*00.457)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hung around until 2pm before leaving the harbor. Visited the grocery store, dropped off garbage and had a last walk about. I polished off a John Sanford novel, Wayne napped, and then we headed out for Man-O-War.

On the way out, we bumped on a hard patch, but only once (thank goodness). I followed the path out that Wayne came in on, but man it was rough watching the depth sounder... I do not like hard shallows in our little boat. It made me cringe. I was on edge until we finally got out to 8-9 ft. The tides were flooding and we were doing a zooming speed of 2 knots against the wind and waves. I finally decided we were clear of any other boats and gave Wayne the helm and practiced blowing on the conch horn. Wow - it made me dizzy! I got some sounds out of it - some actually sounded pretty good, but the sound wasn't consistent. That ole cow sound came out again, dead air hooting, and a few good blows interspersed with some strange high pitched toots. I am definitely not ready to sound the entrance of the king... More practice on the next island hop.

The moorings at Man are extremely closely packed here - and I thought they were close in Hope Town. The first one we went for, belonged to the marina but was to shallow when we approached it and had to forgo it. We found another one and managed to attach to it but wow are we close to another boat. The boats surrounding us on the moorings look like they're wrapped up and uninhabited. I think we're in a storage area LOL. We got into Man-O-War at 4:05pm and dinghied to the marina to see who we were supposed to pay for the mooring. They said it didn't belong to them and to just wait - Someone would come to the boat to collect. We walked around but most things were already closed. Found a great couple of shops, grocery store and 2 banks. The banks only open once a week. One opens from 2-4pm on Thursday, the other one opens 1-4 on Friday. There are two boat works places here - nice boat building going on!

Back at the boat we sat up top and watched the sun go down - it was a very nice golden sunset with pink/red bottom clouds. Wayne convinced me to try my hand at the horn again since others were blowing the sun down. Yikes - hope I didn't offend anyone - how embarrassing- there was that cow passing gas sound again!

Had the rest of the Marsala beef/mushroom stew for dinner that I made last night, then sat up top enjoying the evening. Nobody has come by to collect yet for the mooring - Maybe in the morning. I have Internet here J

Still at anchor in Hopetown
showers on and off
04/21/2009, Hopetown, the Sea of Abaco

Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Hope Town - Cap'n Jacks moorage, Sea of Abaco.

Rainy morning. Showers on and off. Wayne put up a towel to direct water to the holding tank and it stopped raining right after that (isn't that always the way LOL). We worked on some necessary paperwork (unfinished business from home) and stayed aboard reading, and catching up on downloading pictures from my camera (amazing how quickly that card fills up), Internet and emails.

I tried my hand at the conch horn again at sundown. Yikes! Wayne says Louie Armstrong has no worries from my direction.

It's interesting that Atlantic Cruisers picked up a Pacific tradition. The conch horn heralds back to the Polynesians/Hawaiians that used the conch horn for ceremonies and to herald in the arrival of the king. I'm not sure who started the sundown tradition here but it seems most prevalent in the Georgetown area. Wayne wants me to learn to blow it to herald in his arrival LOL

Local businesses use the conch shell as decorations and building material too. This picture was taken in a restaurant - the shell is used as a table decoration.

Lights, action, blow!
82* Mostly sunny
04/20/2009, Hope Town, The Abacos

Monday, April 20, 2009

Last night/this morning - I was dazzled! Around 2:30am I woke up and decided to go topside to look around, and to make sure everything was copasetic. It was another snapshot moment in life. The sky was crystal clear and I could see soooo many stars - they all but blotted out most of the constellations. I had to search to find Orion's belt and the dippers - so far above me. How small we are in the scheme of things on this planet. Between the mast lights, the stars, the Milky Way and the lighthouse - it was just a breathtaking sight. I was amazed that the sky was so "viewable" considering we're moored with so many other boats and right under the flashing beacon of the lighthouse. It's sad that such moments are rare in life when you can suddenly be awed by the world around you. This trip has reminded me of the moments that are lost during the course of our life where we can truly marvel at our beautiful planet. I only hope that my students back home can someday experience such a sight or feeling as this. Sometimes it's hard to realize there's a wonderful world out there, when city walls and circumstance surround you. There were so many times, in my life, that I had forgotten it was there - I'm grateful that I've gotten to experience it.

I had a beautiful sunrise again this morning. Quite golden. Radiant. A cool breeze welcomed me topside with my morning coffee. This is a much nicer place than Marsh Harbor - I'm so glad we came here. Coffee is gone so it's time to get ready and go exploring more...

We wandered the beach and town during the morning and I have a beautiful conch shell/horn! Now all I have to do is figure out how to blow it and make a sound come out of it that doesn't sound like air pushing out of my lungs LOL.

One part of the island, the part we're moored in, looks out over the turquoise Sea of Abaco, and the other part of the island faces the mighty deep blue Atlantic Ocean. In our walk about - both views were spectacular and I love the colorful little village here. There are two grocery stores in walking distance and some wonderful little shops to browse - which we did - much to Wayne's chagrin. He stood outside with other males that were also drug along to browse with their mates and enjoyed the view from the shops along the streets. We came across a cholera cemetery where about 100 people died and were buried during an outbreak in the 1850s. There was also a monument erected at the top of the hill that overlooked the Atlantic and the Elbow Cay Reef - dedicated to the souls lost at sea off the reef. A tragic place situated next to the volunteer fire department.

After lunch on the boat we dinghied over to the candy-striped lighthouse to explore it. It's a 120 ft beacon that can be seen for 17 miles and is the only remaining manned lighthouse in the Bahamas. I was surprised that they leave it open for people to access without someone monitoring the visitors. When we got there, we could see people at the top of the lighthouse, but it appeared to be locked from inside - the outside lock was hanging loose. We shouted up to the people to see how they got in, and a little girl from inside, finally opened it and said, it must have locked somehow. Mmmm hmmmm. The wind threw the latch and locked it...

There was a guest book that we signed and a sign asking to please not touch any of the equipment or mechanisms inside the lighthouse. Made sense to me. We climbed the 101 stairs and greeted the people at the top. I was surprised to see the lens spinning and commented on it - it shouldn't have been, and a crank was lying on the floor. I think I realize why the door was bolted from inside now. One of the people asked me if I knew about the lens and I prattled off the statistics of the Fresnel lens (and I was reminded that it rotates/floats in a sea of mercury, instead of ball bearings). Some of the lens pieces were broken/chipped but what a magnificent lighthouse. The 360* view was spectacular from outside the lens room. You could see the palm edged beaches reaching out to the coral heads, breakers splashing up over the reefs surrounded by vivid colors of green, turquoise and various shades of blue water; the quaint little houses and streets, marinas, shops, cascading flowers and the boats in the harbor and at anchor in the coves and surrounding shallows. The wind was quite gusty but felt good! Once we climbed back into the lighthouse, I noticed the lens had stopped spinning finally. They should seriously think about manned tours - it appears, sadly, that people can't be trusted to keep their hands off. I hope that this misplaced trust doesn't endanger anyone's life at sea.

Back at the boat, I checked our email and then made dinner - salad, chicken, homemade bread. At sunset I tried to blow the conch horn. Key word - tried... Then Wayne tried... we definitely need to practice - but not in a crowded harbor. Baleful blowers is what we are... we sounded like a cow passing gas

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