Another Look at Man-O-War
27 April 2008 | Man-O-War Cay
We moved over to Man-O-War on Sunday, anchoring up by the narrow bit at the northern end of the Cay. When we stopped there in January, we were one of 2 boats. This time there were 10 during the day and 5 overnight. We had been warned that Abaco anchorages are much busier in the spring and it has sure proven to be true. We're really glad we took the time to explore this area early in the winter when there was lots of space everywhere and the weather was only a couple of degrees cooler than it is now.
When we visited Man-O-War last time, we had mixed feelings about it so we decided to have another look. We also had a mission - to see the new house owned by a colleague of my sister's at Acadia University in Nova Scotia - my alma mater.
If I may just go off on a little tangent for a moment, when we were in Eleuthera, we picked up a brand new local paper, "The Eleutheran" (www.theelutheran.com) and discovered that the publisher/managing editor, Elizabeth Bryan is also an Acadia grad. Yeah Acadia!
And so..."our" anchorage was lovely as always even if more crowded with daytrippers, and the scenery just over the narrows on the ocean side was breathtaking. The beautifully kept properties along the Queen's Highway down to the centre of town were just as fine. Flowers bloomed, the houses were all painted up in pretty pastel colours, yards were swept, beaches were garbage free. Along the waterfront, boats were lined up at the docks and the boatyards were pristine. So why did we still feel uneasy here? What was missing? People!
Our last visit was on a Saturday, and although there were folks working in the boatyards and the shops were open, there were no local people casually around on porches or in the streets. Man-O-War is a dry cay and its inhabitants have a reputation as skilled carpenters and boatbuilders - people who work hard and take their religion seriously. This visit was on a Sunday, and we knew stores would be closed, but being a day of rest, we fully expected to see families out and about.
We started walking about 1 pm, went pretty much one end of the Queen's Highway to the other and strolled along 2 or 3 of the streets leading out to the beaches. We passed playgrounds, a ball field and gazebos. We passed 4 or 5 churches with doors and windows closed (services were listed for morning and evening) and ended up back at the boat at about 4:30 pm. That is roughly 3 ˝ hours of strolling. In that time we met probably 7 or 8 golf carts - all but 3 I'd wager were visitors. One of the local ones had an older gentleman and his dog. He gave a careful nod and answered our waves. Another held a beaming and friendly grandparent-looking couple with a pretty little girl on their laps, and the third held a young couple with a baby, none of whom nodded nor smiled.
We saw not one single person relaxing on a porch, not one single child on a bicycle or playing in a yard. No one sat on the benches; no one walked the beaches (except the visitors to the beach where we left the dinghy). There was not one single shop open for an ice-cream or a bottle of water - even the marina store was locked up tight.
We are used to finding folks out around, going to and from work or visiting; we are used to seeing children laughing and playing; we are used to waving to folks on their porches as we pass by; we've visited stores where, even if no one is there, we could grab a bottle of soda or water or beer from the cooler and leave the money on the counter.
Man-O-War is lovely - there is no doubt about that - but it didn't feel like a place to linger. In fact, it felt just plain weird.
We did find Mike's new house and a beautiful one it is. We stood on the wide breezy deck and looked out through the trees to the brilliant green water. We took the sandy path to the beach and listened to the waves roar in. The property looked like a fine spot from which to enjoy the Bahamas weather. And perhaps if one spent months here instead of days, it might even become a place from which to enjoy the community.
We enjoyed a beautiful evening from the deck of our boat and then headed out on Monday morning to Great Guana Cay.