Of course, one of the best parts of our voyage over the last four years has been witnessing, first hand, the differences in culture, values, and wealth. Traveling the ICW through Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach is generally a study of affluence and prosperity. It’s hard to believe that so many people in the United States own so much. In the Abacos, the northern part of the Bahamas, worlds of riches and simplicity combine in harmony. Many homes are those of foreigners who have picked a beautiful spot on a pristine beach and built the perfect house for residing or for vacations, while the homes of most natives are small and simple; no one, however, spares color and vibrancy. In the Bahamas, the sea reigns, and every beach brings wonder and pleasure to anyone who views it.
These small and strange little boats were anchored near Fort Lauderdale. I have not been able to find out what their purpose is or why they were there
We left Miami on February 26thand spent the next two nights at anchorages in Fort Lauderdale and in West Palm Beach. The homes along the way were mostly spacious and luxurious, and many of them sported huge yachts docked in the back yards. Once in a while a cute little home, obviously left over from days gone by, poked its head in between the opulence. We even spotted a trailer park that has probably been on this waterway for countless years. It was great fun to look at the houses along the way and to try to imagine who lives in them now.
Our anchorage in West Palm Beach set us up for an early departure for the Bahamas on March 1st. Thankfully, our 60 mile, 10 hour crossing was easy and uneventful. We pulled into Old Bahama Bay Yacht Club in West End on Great Abaco Island at about four o’clock and began the process of checking into the country. Clearing Customs and Immigration went well, but although we had reservations, getting a dock turned out to be a bit of a hassle. To make a very long story short, we ended up at the fuel dock of the marina and had another boat tie up to us for the night. All is well that ends well, however, and both our boat the one rafted to us left early the following morning.
The next two nights were spent at anchorages; first at Mangrove Cay (pronounced Key), an uninhabited island, and then near Fox Town on Little Abaco with a population of 242. The town boasts one store, one gas station, one guesthouse, and one restaurant. We didn’t get to go to town during our one night stay, because the entry to the harbor was too shallow for AfterMath, but we enjoyed the scenery and crystal clear water around us.
We arrived in Green Turtle Cay on March 4th. Green Turtle Club, the marina there, is a favorite for cruisers. The resort offers an upscale restaurant, a small beach, a pool, a well-stocked marine store, a laundry, and rentals for golf carts to tour the nearby town and beaches. We took advantage of the golf cart rental and enjoyed a day in the town of New Plymouth and traveling down the paths that led us to the gorgeous beaches that surround the three-mile long island. Of course I spent time on the beach at the marina and in the pool there during our stay. We met dock mates Steve and Marianne aboard Remember When while at the marina and we quickly started the tradition of nightly happy hours on the dock; other boaters sometimes joined us as well, only adding to the fun.
The next stop on our agenda was Treasure Cay, a short trip from Green Turtle Cay. Treasure Cay Marina was a joy as it is on an incredible white sand beach, named one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world by National Geographic Magazine. Needless to say, the beach was the best part of this marina, although the grounds also included a lovely pool, restaurants, various shops, and even a real grocery store. Remember When traveled to Treasure Cay the same day as we did, so happy hours continued for another several nights.
Finally, on March 12th, it was time to move along. After parting ways with Steve and Marianne and many “hope to see you soons”, we turned AfterMath towards Hope Town on Elbow Cay, where we are currently. Elbow Cay is home to more gorgeous beaches, of course, and Hope Town is as charming a place as you can imagine. Pastel colored homes and shops line the streets in town and beach access is easily available. A beautiful old red and white striped lighthouse looms large over the Lighthouse Marina where we are docked. The last light of its kind in the world, it operates completely without electricity and requires a lighthouse keeper to manually wind the weights, similar to those in a grandfather’s clock, every two hours during the night. Visitors are welcome to climb the 101 stairs to the top of the lighthouse during the daytime. From the top, the view is absolutely spectacular.
To get to town we must take our dinghy, Tangent, for a short ride across the bay to one of the dinghy docks provided by the town. After the return from one of our visits, and while putting Tangent back up on top of AfterMath, a friendly face from the past greeted me. One of my high school classmates from the class of 1970, Gary Andaas, was standing at our stern! Gary and I are Facebook friends and he was visiting Elbow Cay with some friends. They were getting fuel for the boat they rented and were docked right next to us. We had not seen each other for almost 50 years. It was so much fun to run into each other that day on this tiny island in the Bahamas. It truly is a small world.
Today is the first day of stormy weather that we can remember for quite some time. The winds are whipping, rain is pouring, and it is a great day for working on this blog. Our time in the Abacos is flexible now. We have no real plans as to where to go and when. We are excited, however, that John’s sister and husband, Kathy and Steve, are coming to join us next week. We will pick them up in Marsh Harbor, a large town in the Abacos with a population of about 6000 people, and then we will take them away from the big city and spend time exploring and enjoying having them aboard with us. We can’t wait to share our life on AfterMath with them.
We are starting to look back now on all of the places we have been and all of the people we have met along the way. We have met people who have had so much and those who have had so little, young people and old, natives in foreign lands, people in our own country of every age and occupation, both on land and on the water. Everyone has his or her own story; every single story is interesting and important. Oceans and waterways have a way of leveling people. We need each other, we depend on the skills of others, and we get joy out of conversations and time spent together with those we meet. Life on the water equalizes us and brings us together. We needed the boat boys in the Caribbean, the cheerful shop keepers in distant places, the engine specialists in the United States, the divers who cleaned our boat bottom, the dock hands who helped us in windy weather, the acquaintances who fill us in on weather, the friends we have made who have made us laugh, and countless others. Life on AfterMath has taught us to never take anyone for granted. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could take a minute to stop and see the value in every single person they met? Wouldn’t it be magnificent if differences, instead of pulling people apart, brought people together? Then every day we would all be better people, everyone would be valued and respected, and the world would be a better place.