Mar-a-Lago: Heading South for another great adventure!

Hope Town - favourite spots to wine & dine

21 March 2017
Due to our ailing outboard, we were unable to visit Seaspray resort by dinghy, but stopped there for a delicious cracked conch and mahi lunch during our golf cart tour of Elbow Cay. Wednesday night we bundled up against the blustery wind and headed to my favourite spot 'Wine Down, Sip, Sip'. In the Bahamas, to 'sip, sip' is to gossip, but we were there for the wine and the delicious flatbread pizzas...yummy!

Hope Town - Cruiser's happy hour at Hope Town Inn & Marina

21 March 2017
Last year in Hope Town, we met Bill & Maureen (m/v Sweet Freedom) and this year we are moored near each other in HT harbour. They told us about a cruisers cruisers gathering on Tuesday evenings, so we joined them and a nice group of cruisers for their weekly poolside happy hour at Hope Town Inn. Everyone took their own libations and appys to share as we enjoyed the music and songs of three of the cruisers who are musicians...a fun evening to mingle, with easy listening music and singing!

Elbow Reef Lighthouse - history lives!

20 March 2017
This was our third trip to the Elbow Reef Lighthouse, with its interesting history. In the mid 1800's, shipwrecks were on the increase in the Bahamas, and England wanted to build navigation aids in their colonies. To keep vessels from grounding on the treacherous shoals near Hope Town, the Elbow Reef Lighthouse was built in 1864. But the building of this lighthouse was hampered by sabotage from the locals, whose major source of income was from wrecking and salvaging. When the lighthouse was completed, it had a steady, non-flashing light.

The original light source from 1864 is still in operation...a 325,000 candlepower petroleum vapour burner. It works by using a hand pump to pressurize the kerosene in the iron containers below the lantern room, which then travels up a tube to a vaporizer which sprays the kerosene into a pre-heated mantle. The lighthouse mantle must be lit each night by the lighthouse keeper, just as it has been since 1864. Luckily we are moored close to the lighthouse, and can see the lighting of the lighthouse each evening!

In 1936 the Imperial Lighthouse Service decided the light needed to be more easily identified by ships at sea, and the Elbow Reef Lighthouse was given a major refit. To make the light 'flash', turning equipment and an eight thousand pound Fresnel lense floating in a circular tub of lubricant was installed.. The Fresnel lens has 5 'bulls eyes' that concentrate the light into piercing beams to produce a unique group of five white flashes every 15 seconds, with a visibility of 15 nautical miles. The heavy lens apparatus is rotated once every 15 seconds by a system of gears and weights on long cables, similar to a 'grandfather clock'. The lighthouse keeper on duty has to use a hand winch to wind up the weights every two hours. This system works totally without electricity and runs very smoothly...just as long as the keeper does his job!

Elbow Reef Lighthouse - you can see forever!

20 March 2017
We walked up the hill from the dinghy dock to the base of the 89 foot red and white striped Elbow Reef lighthouse...also known as the 'Hope Town Lighthouse'. This Lighthouse is the last hand-wound, kerosene-burning lighthouse left in the world and the entire lighthouse operates without electricity. This historical landmark and its traditional hand-powered technology is maintained by donations to the the 'Elbow Reef Lighthouse Society', a non-profit historical society.

While climbing the circular wood and iron steps, we paused at each of the arched windows to look out at the view. We had chosen the perfect day and the colours of the Atlantic Ocean and Sea of Abaco were incredible shades of blue. We had a really good view of the numerous reefs and shoals too! We reached the area where the kerosene is stored and saw the system for lighting the mantle. Then we were at the level just below the Fresnel lens and could see the facets of the lens and the gears that rotate it every 15 seconds. At this level there is a very small, low 'door' and we crouched down to squeeze through it and out onto the 'main gallery' or balcony. The view was fabulous and worth climbing 101 steps to the top...a great experience at the lighthouse!

Hope Town - Touring Elbow Cay

20 March 2017
We then enjoyed a delicious lunch on the new dining deck at 'Seaspray Resort'...'in da bag' cracked conch for Brian and fresh filet of mahi for me...mmm! Afterwards we stopped for ice-cream at the Sweet Shop, then made stops at the Abaco Inn, the Firefly Resort, the 'On Da Beach' bar, and finally returned to the Hope Town Lodge. Touring in a golf cart was fun, and being able to cover more ground gave us the opportunity to explored many of the side streets and residential areas we hadn't biked to before!

Hope Town - Touring Elbow Cay

20 March 2017
During our five days in Hope Town, we had a variety of weather conditions....we began with a couple of hot days, then two heavy downpours followed by a fabulous rainbow, then 3 days of heavy winds bringing very cool temperatures!

We're always busy in Hope Town and dinghied ashore each day, but because our outboard still is not operating properly, we didn't venture out of the harbour or go on any of our usual dinghy explorations. So, to shake things up a bit (literally) we rented a golf cart and spent a day touring Elbow Cay. Since it's 'high season' in the Bahamas, all rental golf carts were booked, but one vendor 'moved things around' to provide a cart, which was very nice...but, we think we have 'loser' tattooed on our foreheads, since both the rental car in Eleuthera and the golf cart were in such terrible shape...we wondered if the vehicles would break down during our rental time!! No worries though, we sped around the island in the golf cart sounding like a lawnmower, with major backfiring on a regular basis! We first drove to the south end of the island to walk along Tahiti beach, with its amazing sand bar.
Vessel Name: Mar-a-Lago
Vessel Make/Model: Catalina 42 MkII #947
Hailing Port: Toronto, Ontario, Canada. sv.mar.a.lago@gmail.com
Crew: Brian & Jane Wilson
About: Email: sv.mar.a.lago@gmail.com
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