When we left you (before my tremendous accomplishment) we were just leaving Marsh Harbor’s Harborview Marina. Well, we went from there to Great Guana where we wanted to visit another one of the Bahamas self-pronounced world famous restaurants, Nippers Bar and Grill. We have discussed Nippers in years past. It is kind of a multi-level restaurant/bar that has tremendous views of Guana’s Atlantic Beaches and offers vastly overpriced drinks. The day we got there, the temperature was about 77 degrees and the wind about 10 knots out of the southwest. I’ve gotta tell you, it was just about perfect.
|Ann in the lower pool at the world-famous Nippers|
Bar and Grill (she had already swum in the upper pool
Our intentions were to have a drink at Nippers, then to eat at Grabbers, another restaurant on the island (one that does not yet claim to be world famous, is still really cool and charges a little less for its alcohol), but when we got there, it looked like Grabbers was closed. Hmmm… what to do … There really wasn’t much of a decision, we just headed up the hill and had a drink AND lunch at Nippers. We split a lobster salad and cheeseburger. Now, I know there are a number of theories on where Jimmy Buffet wrote his song “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” but folks for my money, it wasn’t too far from the world-famous Nippers Restaurant on Great Guana Cay.
When we arrived back at the boat, the wind had shifted and had picked up some speed. It was only about 15-20 knots, but it was now out of the west – a direction from which our anchorage had practically no protection. We stayed for a while and found ourselves getting rolled about quite a bit – so we decided to go back to Marsh Harbor, anchor there for the night and get out of the wind. It was the right decision. Marsh was only about an hour and a half from Guana and it didn’t take us long at all to drop the anchor. We were in a well-protected anchorage by 4PM.
|The beach below "On Da Beach"|
The next morning it was off to Hope Town Inn and Marina. Although the resort does not claim world-famous status, it is pretty world-class nonetheless. In addition to the marina and hotel, there is a nice pool, swim-up bar, restaurant, laundry and shower facilities. The resort also provides a water taxi that will transport you back and forth from Hope Town – itself a major tourist center.
Wikipedia identifies several unique cultural events that have recently occurred in Hope Town. In 2009, the TV comedy Scrubs filmed a two-part special on location in Hope Town. The episodes featured Hope Town landmarks and points of interest such as the Elbow Cay lighthouse. Eighty-four cast and crew members turned up in Hope Town, temporarily increasing its population of 300 by over a quarter. Season 3 of TLC’s “Little People, Big World” also features the Roloff family visiting the Bahamas, where they make two stops in Hope Town. A visit to the lighthouse is featured, as well as a scene with the local Methodist church. And finally, Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith was married by the lighthouse in Hope Town.
Despite all that cultural heritage, the first day we just lounged on the boat and tried to get a few boat chores done. The next day we went “downtown” – okay, maybe it is more correct to say we went where the restaurants, grocery store and gift shops are located; there really isn’t a “town,” let alone a “down.” I bought a cool map of the Bahamas for myself and bought Ann an ankle bracelet for Valentine’s Day. Now most of you know that I am pretty honest in this blog; when I do something wrong I own up to it. You will also note that we very seldom discuss Ann’s faux pas’. She would have you believe that is because she doesn’t make as many mistakes as I do. But once in a while … well, I am going to let her own up to her own mistakes below.
We also went to the lighthouse. Interestingly, Hope Town features one of the last operational kerosene-fueled lighthouses in the world. This lighthouse was built in 1862 and became operational two years later. It is striped horizontally red and white. Its light can be seen from over 25 miles away. The Elbow Cay Lighthouse is one of only three manual lighthouses left in the world. It has a weight mechanism that has to be hand cranked every several hours to maintain the sequence of five white flashes every 15 seconds. The lamp burns kerosene, at the rate of 1 gallon per night.
The following day we rented a golf cart and explored the rest of Elbow Cay. We went to our favorite eatery on the island, called, “On Da Beach.” It is a small establishment set on the side of a hill, kind of like Nippers, but it has only about ten tables, as opposed to Nippers’ hundred or so. The last time we were here we were wowed by Mama’s (the cook’s name) Grouper Fingers. This time we didn’t see Grouper Fingers on the menu. Oh No! Had we traveled thousands of miles for those delicious grilled grouper fingers only to be let down. Alas No!! On the menu they had “fish tenders.” On the off chance that these were one and the same, I ordered the tenders and Ann ordered a pulled pork sandwich. Guess what. This year they did not have any grouper to cook, so they cooked Mahi the same way and the result was … spectacular!
The history of Hope Town follows the history of the Bahamas in many ways. We know that Elbow Cay, the island on which Hope Town sits, was first populated by the Lucayan Indians in the pre-Columbian era. We know that because, in 1990, a skull was found on the island that dated back 600 years. Several hundred years after the Lucayans, Elbow Cay was periodically visited by pirates hiding from the authorities, and eventually populated by Loyalists – principally from South Carolina – who, after the Revolution were no longer welcomed in the United States. After the failure of US-style plantations in and around Hope Town, the major industry changed, in succession, from wrecking, to boat building, to sponging to rum running in rapid succession. Eventually Hope Town became a center for tourism, which is the backbone of both the Hope Town and Bahamian economies today.
|Sunrise at Lynyard Cay ... getting ready to cross.|
From Hope Town we headed south to Lynyard Cay, a nice little anchorage just inside the Little Harbor Cut across from Pete’s Pub. We had intended to stay for a couple of days inside Little Harbor, but when we looked at the weather we determined that Monday was going to be the best day in the next several to cross the Northeast Providence Channel (about 50 miles of serious 3000+ foot deep ocean), so off we went.
The crossing was not bad, not bad at all. Spot didn’t even spend her time in her “pretty secret hiding place” – under the table where she can feel all those table and chair legs preventing her from rolling with the boat. (She also has a “most secret hiding place” – behind the sofa – where she goes when the seas are particularly rough, but she hasn’t been there in a long time.) The only thing that could have made the crossing better was catching a fish; alas I didn’t even get a bite. That evening we entered Royal Harbor – a nice and well-protected anchorage – and anchored. We knew that weather was coming in on Wednesday, so we made reservations at the Spanish Wells Yacht Haven. For Tuesday, however, we thought we would stay in Royal Harbor and explore Egg Island.
Why, you ask, would we want to explore Egg Island? As I hope you learn later in our adventures, I have become very interested in the spot of Columbus’ first landing and the route he took through the Bahamas. In grade school, of course, we all learned that Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador. And he did … kind of. Columbus named the island on which he landed “San Salvador,” so by definition, I guess, he landed on it. We do know that the island had previously been known by the natives as Guanahani. But here is the rub – nobody knows which of the many islands in the Bahamian archipelago that was. Columbus’ logs have been lost and we have only one poorly drawn “map” of Guanahani by the Captain of the Santa Maria (that tells us virtually nothing) so we aren’t going to learn anything from the historical record. Moreover, since the Spanish virtually exterminated the native Lucayan people, we are not going to learn anything from their oral histories and legends.
|A view of Egg Island. Was Columbus really here?|
As you can imagine, people from all walks of life have stepped into the void to offer suggestions as to where Chris landed. Enter Arne Mollander who, at the time, was a retired civil engineer from the Bethesda, MD. Although I have not read his original paper (hey, what do you think I am, a historian?), Mollander ran some computer models of a possible Columbus route and concluded he landed at … Egg Island. Now, other people have run different computer models and arrived at different conclusions, but since I am not going to build any stinkin’ computer model, I decided to rely on something else – something called common sense. And as far as common sense is concerned, ain’t no way Columbus first landed on Egg Island. In the first place, Egg is only 800 square meters in area – which is kind of small to support the size of the native population that Columbus claimed rowed out to meet him. Second, from Egg you can see Eleuthera. Eleuthera is a very long island – 110 miles long as a matter of fact – and from Egg appears as if it could be the continent that Columbus was seeking. But Columbus did not go southeast to explore, he went further west. There are several other reasons as well, but I am not going to go into those here. Egg does, however, have a really cool beach.
After Royal and Egg Islands, we headed for Spanish Wells. We have been there several times before, but we heard that the construction at the marina where we traditionally stay was finally completed and we wanted to see what it looked like. Moreover, as I mentioned earlier, there was some weather coming in and we thought it was just as well to be in a marina when it hit.The marina was very nice and, since they have finished building their pool, Ann went swimming – I’ll let her tell you the rest. As for the weather, it was pretty much a non-event. A lot of rain, but the wind wasn’t that bad.
I have held on to this blog entry far too long, but we had some connectivity issues – which are now fixed. So, on we go and out the blog comes.
Ann’s Notes: Well, I guess I need to explain AND defend myself ... HUMMMMM …where should I start.?First, let me explain what I do prior to leaving Traveling Soul before an outing…it does not matter if we are in a marina or at anchor. As most of you that know me, I tend to be very organized, some might say overly so, but that is just how I operate and I am comfortable with that. Anyway…before departing my mental check list is, food and water for Spot, clean litter box (she does her part so I do mine, that is the human-feline agreement we made) turn some music on to keep Spot company, turn the VHF off so the emergency alarm does not go off (I will let Michael explain that one, if he wants to) … remember the camera, check to make sure we have money and or credit card, do we need a grocery shopping list and do I have it?...bring recycled grocery bags and a cold bag if needed. If we take the dinghy, make sure all the electronic items are in a dry bag, will we need the portable hand held radio ... there are a few more things but I think you get the idea. I have a lot going on in my head. All is good as far as I am concerned.
So…back to the story that I am supposed to own up to. We went into a lovely little gift shop, the Ebb Tide. There were lots of pretty handmade Bahamian items and some different pieces of jewelry. With Valentine’s day just a few days away my wonderful husband bought me a new ankle bracelet with pieces of sea glass on it. It is different and very nice. He also bought a map…I usually care all the items in one bag so we do not have to shlep so many bags. Anyway, we continue to do our walk and taking pictures. We were all over the tourist area taking pictures. I use my Ipad for pictures and Michael has the small camera in his pocket. After our lovely walk-about picture taking tour, we went to Cpt. Jacks for some beer and fries. I thought it would be the perfect time to put my new ankle bracelet on and enjoy it. OMG…no small sack in my medium bag that was in the big dry bag…S*#t…I lost it. I finished my beer and fries quickly. I left and Michael paid the bill, then joined me in retracing our steps. Grocery store … No; Memorial Garden ... No; Liquor Store…No; Very first place I opened the bag to take a picture of a dumb tree growing out of a coconut…YES!!! The pretty little bag was lying on the side of the road. Show me with a happy face, I do believe I used a few of my Karma points on that find and retrieval. So my friends…that is my story and defense.
Now about the swim in the pool ... So far I have kept my promise to myself to swim in every pool I can. I did get a pass on the pool at Treasure Cay as it was windy and cold. Besides…I swam in that pool more than once in past visits. The Spanish Wells pool is very nice, at night, very few lights on and is very refreshing sans clothes…