11 May 2008 | Man O War Cay
January 6, 2008 Sunday
Marsh Harbour to Man O War Cay
We begin the day by pulling up the secondary anchor we had set for the weather front that has passed. In settled weather it is best to have just one anchor set. If the boat were to swing around 360 degrees while on two anchors, the anchor rhodes twist together making retrieval difficult.
Cindy and Rick stop over to say goodbye as they are heading to Little Harbor. Hopefully we will see them again. We have enjoyed their company.
Today we are heading to Man O War Cay, which is just a little northeast of Marsh Harbour. After another quick trip into the market for additional provisions the anchor is up and we are out of the harbor by Noon. It is only about five miles away. So we run the motor instead of sailing there to charge the batteries.
Our guidebook tells us the entrance is very narrow and to avoid meeting another boat within the channel. Once you are at the channel entrance you are supposed to line up with a piling that is in the center of the opening. Once you are within 50 feet of the piling you need to turn sharply to port or starboard. We check this out at the opening and we are an hour passed low tide. I stand on the bow as we navigate the channel. We pass through without a problem. At the piling we turned to port and head towards town. The water is very clear in the channel. We notice a barrel and a cement mooring block in our path. We maneuver around these obstructions as we go. We arrive at the marina and try to find an unoccupied mooring. A man on one of the moored boats points to an empty mooring. As we approach the mooring I can see the water is very shallow so we reverse direction. The moorings are positioned too close to one another to allow anchoring in this harbor.
We head back down the channel to the piling. South of the piling we find depths of 16-18 feet. We pick up a mooring here in "American Harbor". What a beautiful spot. There are about twenty boats in this area that is protected from all directions. Most of the boats are locally owned. There are about four transient boats on this side.
Kelly and Danielle lower the dinghy from the davits and we go exploring. There are about 250 people that live on this island. Most of Man of War Cay's inhabitants are descendents from the Loyalists. Recently foreigners have been purchasing land and building homes here as well. Man O War Cay's residents are deeply religious and among the most industrious here in the islands. The Albury boatyard is located here. They make a line of very sturdy open fiberglass power boats. They have been building boats here for over two centuries. At one time they made wooden sailboats. As we were getting ready to get in the dinghy, a man sails by in a 16-year-old wooden Albury sailboat. It was definitely a sturdy boat.
As we cruised around the harbor in the dinghy Kelly recognized the boat name Mixed Blessing. It was the boat that reported our dinghy on the rocks. We stopped and talked with John and Myra, who are from North Carolina. We told them the story of what happened and chatted awhile. We thanked them for reporting the dinghy sighting. We then went cruising around both harbors and then came back to the boat.
January 7, 2008 Monday Man O War Cay
Today we talk to Gram and Granddad on skype. It was good to hear their voices. We then had a visit from John and Hasty. They are from Cataumet. They have house here on the island that they use in the winter. They offered us the use of their dock to tie up the dinghy. They told us where to go exploring. We pack up and head off to explore, by tying up to their dock it will enable us to see even more of the island. The main road on the island is called Queens Highway. It is in no way a highway, rather the main road. As we dinghy in and see a manta ray before reaching the dock. As we approach the dock to tie, we are greeted by John and Hasty's dog. We then walked up the winding path that was cut into the limestone. At the top was a small dirt road that was lined with all sorts of vegetation. The road is more like a cart path. It is not wide enough even for two golf carts to pass. There are places along the road that allow a vehicle or people to stand clear while another vehicle passes. As we meander down this road there are scattered paths and driveways off of it. These are private residences. The paths are long so you are unable to see the houses through the thick vegetation.
We finally come upon a paved road, Queen's Highway. At the first intersection, we take a right and head towards the ocean side of the island. Just before we get to the beach, we pass an old cemetery. The markers have fresh flowers placed around them. Some of the markers appear very old. As we approach the beach we can see it is very windy. The seas are definitely rough today. The beach doesn't look inviting due to the weather so we head towards town.
The houses along our walk in this area are old and very close together. Most homes have an abundance of flowers in the yards. These homes are brightly painted and nicely kept. Curly tail lizards are everywhere. They are quick to move when you are near them. We get back up to the intersection and continue to walk along the Queen's Highway. We pass a small school and a tiny library. We then come upon a grocery store and checked it out. Kelly and the girls get ice cream and Popsicle's. Next door was the Island Treasure Gift Shop. This is where we pay our $15.00 mooring fee. Instructions on where to pay the fee were written on the mooring float.
A sign for a T-shirt shop was hanging on a nearby house. This shop was literally the front porch of someone's house. The shirts were grossly over-priced. The stock appeared very old. We were uninspired to purchase anything here.
Down at the town's main harbor waterfront area where we couldn't find a mooring, we entered a small shop where a woman was sewing canvas bags. She worked alone making bags and displayed some items made by others from the island. Though the girls liked some of the items we continued on without making a purchase.
Further down the street Kelly checked out a small marine hardware store. This shop is part of the Albury boatyard. The items available were mainly items used on the boats they manufacture.
Past the grocery store was the Albury's Sail Shop. The entire shop was filled with brightly colored canvas hats and bags of all types. There were items displayed on shelves and hanging from the ceiling. Five women were busily sewing more bags and another woman came in with fabric that was a pattern cut in her home. This was an organized factory producing nice quality products. I bought a neat pocketbook and the girls each get a backpack. They are all truly unique and made on the premises. So we made our purchase and headed out back to Queens Highway.
Along the road Kelly and Kristen point out a crocodile statute. It catches me off guard and I scream thinking it was real. We all got a good laugh out of it. The statue was displayed at the entrance to a dive shop. The grounds were decorated with various animal statutes and eclectic artifacts including a Pagoda.
Back on the road heading north we pass some pretty homes. One home had chickens running around which captured the kid's attention. The yard was fenced in with chicken wire that was not readily visible due to the dense vegetation. Another house displayed a British phone booth and mailbox at the driveway entrance.
We walked anther quarter mile or so to the point where the island is very narrow. It is only about 75 feet wide at this spot. A gazebo is constructed on the limestone proving a nice place to sit view the sights. The kids walk on the sandy beach below which was very pretty. They also walked out on the limestone ledge that reaches out over the water. We decide not to walk further since Kristen in now getting tired. So we start heading back.
As we passed by the house with chickens there was one on the mesh fence hidden in the brush. We were pointing it out to Danielle when the chicken squawked and jumped down to the ground. Danielle got startled, and again we all laughed.
Arriving back at the harbor waterfront Kelly checked out the Albury boat building area. The workers were working barefoot while applying polyester resin and cloth. The odor was very strong and no one was wearing protective masks. Kelly stayed a while to talk to them while they worked. The girls and I got away from the odor by walking across the street to the pier to look at the water for fish.
We all then looked at wooden ship models that were displayed in a small shack. Across the street from the display was the workshop where the models were made. Kelly introduced himself to the man in the shop. The man in the shop was the son of the original designer and builder of the models. He carried on the business of building the models. The man referred to his father as "Daddy" in conversation which was a little weird. This was probably normal for the small island culture where everyone knows everyone after all. While Kelly spoke to the model maker the girls and I went to the grocery store. Before entering the store Kristen spotted a bunch of fish swimming close to the store entrance. The store is built on a pier extending out over the water. The lady working in the store brought out some bread for us to feed the fish. Evidently this is a ritual the fish are use to. They were hanging around waiting to be fed. As they are feeding the fish and a few ducks, the bread bag falls in the water. Danielle climbs down a ladder to the shore and walks out to under the dock to get the bread. The water is midway up her thighs. She climbs out and the woman brings her some paper towels to dry off. A man then came over and pointed out the different types of fish, which include snappers, sergeant majors and grunts. Kelly then shows up and checks out the fish as well. We get a couple of items in the market and move on in the direction of the boat.
We make a final stop at the marina and gift shop. We look around and see we are not missing anything by being on a mooring in the other harbor. The amenities are minimal at the marina. There is a tiny pool but the water was very cold and that was about it for the extras.
On our walk back to the dinghy Kristen finds a large land hermit crab. We study it for a while but leave him where we found him. Kristen's pet hermit crab Ellie, back on the boat, doesn't need any room mates.
As we walk down the path to the dinghy we see John and thank him again for the use of the dock. We head back to the boat for dinner. What a day! We walked around for five hours today. We all enjoyed this island.
Kelly talks on Skype to Jim Dalton and then to Mary McCarthy. It's good to hear their voices. The girls and I start a 500-piece puzzle. We assemble half of it before Kelly joins us. The girls fall asleep around 10:00PM. Kelly and I continue to work on the puzzle until Kelly hears dolphins. He takes a flashlight up on deck to take a look for them. These are the largest dolphins we have seen yet. They appeared very muscular and lighter in color than those seen previously. They are chasing pipefish. It was so neat to watch them hunt. We tried to wake the girls to see the show, but they were out and couldn't be woken easily. The frightened pipefish would make a run from the dolphins by sprinting on the surface. Doing so, they could not turn and often struck the side of our boat. Kelly was able to find some pipefish lying still on the surface with his flashlight. Lying still and illuminated by the flashlight, they were easy prey for the dolphins which would strike from below. We finish all but two pieces of the puzzles around midnight. We left the last pieces for the girls to do in the morning.
January 8, 2008 Tuesday Man O War Cay
In the morning we clean up some banking and emails. We take down our Christmas decorations. We hear from our friends Debbie and Paul and they are going to be Hope Town this coming weekend. So we plan to meet up with them. The girls get through a full lesson. Kelly worked on the sliding hatch that leads to the aft cabin. He took the tracks off and made adjustments before reinstalling them. Now the hatch works great. He also repositioned our ladder in our cabin.
We were going to go swimming but the skies opened up for quite awhile. After dinner I finally get on Skype and talked with my mom. It was good to hear her voice. I really miss her. We caught up regarding what she has been doing and everything about the family. We hope to see each other in February. In the meantime we would keep in touch by email whenever possible, as well as with Skype. Kelly and Danielle played cribbage. I went through some email and checked on other marinas to see the prices for fuel, laundry and water. Tomorrow we will make a decision on where we will go. I read another Magic Tree House book to the girls, and then we all read our own books for awhile.
January 9, 2008 Wednesday Man O War Cay
We decide to spend another day here, since we enjoy this picturesque island. We have breakfast then decide to go ashore and pay for our mooring. This time we pack our cameras so we can go back and get pictures of places we saw when we went exploring two days ago. This time we took the dinghy and went out zooming, as the girls call it, into the Sea of Abaco. There was some chop, but the girls definitely enjoyed the ride. We then came back in the entranced and head to the public dock. We tied up not thinking we would spend as much time as we did on the island. We went to the grocery store for rolls and we checked out Joe's Studio, which had a lot of neat jewelry and house decorations, but not much was made by the locals. We then went got pictures of the sail shop and the crocodile statute we went by the other day. We then explored two other roads that we didn't check out before. One was Schooner's Landing. This spot had a five-room inn on the ocean with a pool. We walked all over the place as it appeared that no one was around though the pool filter was running and the AC was on. We then went down another road that had 3 Albury (a common local family name) homes on it. These were good size houses for the island.
Back on the road to the town we saw another road called Coconut Grove. It led down to the water and had two gazebos. We walked on the little beach and sat in the gazebos that were painted with bright colors. Danielle found a coconut and between her and Kelly they got the nut out. Kelly had a knife on him so he cut holes so they could try the coconut water. Kelly and Danielle enjoyed it. We then head back to a road that had some neat flowers on it that I wanted to take pictures of. As we are walking on this road a golf cart stopped next to us and a woman asked if we would like fresh home made bread ($3) or home made cinnamon buns ($5). Of course we buy both. This elderly lady makes them fresh everyday except Sunday, and then goes around with her husband and sells them out of their cart. As we head back to the waterfront Kristen finds a neat shell and inside it was a hermit crab. We check him out but he didn't want to come out of his shell.
When we got back to the dock where we tied up the dinghy we find it pretty much suspended in air as the tide has gone out. We all have a laugh looking at our mistake. With the help of the girls, Kelly manages to get the dingy back into the water easily. We get a lot of comments from the locals. We have provided them with some cheap entertainment. We then head back to the boat for some snorkeling before returning to schoolwork. In school Danielle learns about casting out the 9's, which is a neat concept. You cast out 9's to check your addition. We finish up the lessons and have dinner. I then read a Magic Tree House book to the girls, and then call it a night.