Man-O-War Cay, Great Guana Cay and Starting Back Home (April 10 – April 24, 2019)

Man-O-War Cay, Great Guana Cay and Starting Back Home (April 10 – April 24, 2019)

We are on our way back to the states now, waiting for tomorrow, Thursday, April 25th, which looks to be a great day for crossing through the Gulf Stream.  During our last couple of weeks, we have reflected on our meanderings through the Abacos, and we have found that each island has its own personality and beauty.  Some are perfect for provisioning, others barely have a shop, some can be fully explored on foot, others need a golf cart or car to see, some islands consist of one settlement, or even none at all, while others are busy little towns.  Most have no bank or ATM, which is always interesting as many businesses only accept cash.  People get cash by going to Marsh Harbour, which requires a boat or ferry ride; no one except visitors seems to be bothered by this issue.  We are often asked about our favorite places, but there are so many and it would be so hard to pick.  The last two islands we visited in the Abacos before starting our return, Man-O-War Cay and Great Guana Cay, however, would have to be considered to be near the top of the list.


The ladies sewing bags at Albury’s Sail Makers shop.



Bags of every shape and size are available for purchase.



The first street I found on Man-O-War Cay


Lover’s Lane, Man-O-War Cay



Steps to nowhere



The library seemed to be closed that day.


Here, the light green building is the elementary school, and the peach building is the post office on Man-O-War Cay




This house just made me think of the song about the crooked little man in the crooked little house.


Albury’s Boat Builders shop


I have always been interested in this tree. The wood is one of the heaviest in the world. Bowling balls used to be made from it and it does not float.


The flowers of the lignum vitae tree are tiny and bluish purple. Later, the blossoms turn to yellow flowers which  then open to display red fruits.


The fruits of the lignum vitae tree.


A beautiful Bahamian sunset at Man-O-War Cay.

Our first stop in Man-O-War Cay a couple of weeks earlier was cut very short, after a stay of only two hours, because we were able to get a dock in Marsh Harbour at the last minute. This time though, John had a small repair he wanted done and Man-O-War is known for its great boat maintenance businesses.  Tied up to a dock at Edwin’s Boat Yard, I set off to explore the little settlement right next to our boat and was immediately charmed by this tiny town.  My first stop was at Norman Albury’s Sail Makers.  Almost everything in the Abacos is named Albury’s, thanks to the first Albury who settled there in 1870; in fact 70% of the 215 residents on the island can trace their heritage back to that first settler. There are Albury’s boats, Albury’s ferries, Albury’s Supply, and on and on.  Albury’s Sail Makers, however, are famous for the bags made of sailcloth and Sunbrella.  When I visited, four ladies were busy at their ancient sewing machines making bags of every color and style imaginable.  They were happy to pose and let me take their pictures, and they didn’t mind at all that I wandered around snapping away with my camera.  Although the settlement is tiny, I spent the next hour and a half walking around, chatting with people, checking out the little, but well supplied, grocery store, and, of course, taking pictures.  In the evening, we were treated to one of the prettiest sunsets ever.


The walk along Queen’s Highway on my way to the Low Point on Man-O-War Cay



Low Point. The Sea of Abaco is to the left and the Atlantic Ocean is on the right.



Sights along the way in Man-O-War Cay


The next day, while John waited for the maintenance worker, I set off on a quest to find a small sliver of land called the Low Point.  After getting directions from a very friendly lady at the boat yard, I started a 25-minute walk along Queens Highway through the lush tropical landscape, along the road that turned into a dirt path.  I passed small homes with beautiful gardens and undeveloped seaside spaces filled with mangroves, sea grapes, and palms along the Sea of Abaco.  After a while I came to the other side of the island, directly on the Atlantic Ocean, and soon afterwards, the place I had been looking for, the Low Point.  At the Low Point, the island narrows to about 25 feet across.  On one side is the Sea of Abaco and on the other, the Atlantic Ocean. It is an amazingly beautiful place. There were only two other people there when I arrived, a couple from Canada who were equally taken by the beauty of this special spot in the world.  We chatted a while, and relaxed taking in the crystal clear water and the white sand, and we reveled in the fact that so few people seemed to know about this secret place.


Farm fresh, colorful eggs.

Finally, on April 12th, with the minor repair taken care of, John and I took a morning walk around town and stopped at a nearby gift shop that also sold free-range chicken eggs.  After waiting for the tide to rise, we left Man-O-War Cay and started off on the short trip to Orchid Bay Marina on Great Guana Cay.


A view of Nippers Bar and Grill from the beach


Great Guana Cay is six miles long and only one-quarter of a mile across; it has a population of about 150 people and has just one tiny settlement at its center.  To tour the island we rented a golf cart and set out on our way.  As it turns out, only about one-half of the island is accessible by a road of any type. Within less than two hours, we toured each and every paved road on the island and also a few that were a just dirt path.  Great Guana Cay’s claim to fame is, of course, beautiful beaches, but also a beach bar and restaurant named Nippers.


There is never any telling what you might find in the Bahamas. Here, this tree in Great Guana Cay is loaded with buoys.




I was fascinated by this contraption. It is a scuba scooter. We didn’t get to try them, but someday I would love to!


The tiny settlement on Great Guana Cay.



The pool and restaurant at Orchid Bay Marina


The little beach at Orchid Bay Marina. It was well populated by turtles and nurse sharks.


The settlement on the island is very small and consists only of a few water sports rental shops, a couple of tiny open air restaurants, and a small grocery store, but somehow, the fact that is lacks much of anything is what gives Great Guana Cay its charm.  Many of the Abacos islands have become vacation home escapes for those who can afford them, but Great Guana Cay seems to just be more old Bahamas, and it was refreshing to visit.  This is not to say that developers haven’t tried to make their claim on the island.  Orchid Bay Marina, where we stayed, has a gated community, and we saw evidence of other beginning developments, but there were far more for sale signs than one might have expected.  The amount of new homes for sale seemed to indicate that the developers are over ambitious and that it will be a long time until the charm of this island is just a memory.


Sunset on Great Sale Cay


And so we began our return to the states.  We have enjoyed our final trip aboard AfterMath to the Bahamas, but we are both ready to go back.  Leaving Great Guana Cay we followed our footsteps back to Treasure Cay, where we stayed for several days, once again waiting for the weather to be conducive to our travels.  We celebrated John’s birthday a day late when we arrived at the marina there, as the restaurant was far nicer than the one at Orchid Bay, and then we began our watch of winds and waves.  On Easter Sunday, we left Treasure Cay and traveled to Crab Cay, where we anchored for the night.  Monday, April 22nd, took us to Great Sale Cay for another night at anchor, and Tuesday we took the short trip to Mangrove Cay, again dropping the hook for the night.  Today, Wednesday, our last night aboard AfterMath in the Bahamas, we are anchored outside of West End, and ready to make the crossing to West Palm Beach tomorrow. We have enjoyed the Abacos, but we are so anxious to be back in the states again; truly, there is no place like home.

The future holds more adventures for us.  We are both looking forward to our trip up the Intracoastal Waterway in Florida, and we are hoping to spend some time exploring the St. John’s River before arriving in Brunswick, Georgia for the summer.  We are, of course, looking forward to seeing our children and grandchildren more often and to visiting with old friends and meeting new ones.  With no definite plans for what comes next, aside from getting AfterMath ready for sale, we are starting to think about what future travels appeal to us. The world is a big place and there is so much left to see, both at home and abroad.  We probably have too much wanderlust in us now to stay still too long, and we must continue to see what we can see and do what we are able to do. This adventure of Life on AfterMath has been just another chapter in the book of our lives.  We can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay, and Hope Town with Kathy and Steve and then Little Harbour  (March 19 – April 9, 2019)

Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay, and Hope Town with Kathy and Steve and then Little Harbour (March 19 – April 9, 2019)

When you see a beauty through someone else’s eyes, when you witness the delight others have in discovering places you love, and when you introduce someone to a brand new experience, you are rewarded with a pleasure at least equal to theirs.  When the people you are with are dear to you, it is even better.  Our time with John’s sister, Kathy, and her husband, Steve, was indescribable to all of us; we are all still reliving our adventure together and it will be remembered by all of us forever.

We stayed in Hope Town until March 23rd, enjoying the town and the beaches and awaiting the time Kathy and Steve would arrive.  Finally we left and traveled about 20 miles to Man-O-War Cay where we tied up to a mooring.  The plan was to stay for a couple of days before going to Marsh Harbour, where we would provision and ready the boat for our guests’ arrival.  Marsh Harbour, however, was very busy and we had not been able to make a reservation for a dock the following week, so we were a little concerned about how we would get Kathy and Steve aboard.  As always we lived by our motto, “we will figure it out”. Soon after tying up to the mooring in Man-O-War, John called Marsh Harbour again and was told that we could have a dock if we went there right away, but we could not have one if we got there the following day.  This is the Bahamas, after all.  So, we quickly pulled in the lines after our two-hour stay, and motored the few miles to Mangos Marina in Marsh Harbour.

Because we had a lot of extra time on the island, we rented a car and went touring.  Surprisingly, there really wasn’t much to see, and in reviewing my images, I find that I didn’t take a single picture there before our guests flew in.  Marsh Harbour does, however, have a large grocery store that compares to those in the United States, so this was a huge benefit when provisioning for more people on board.  Shopping, however, is best done on a Thursday, as Wednesday is the day the produce comes in by boat.  We were told that everything good would be gone by Sunday, so Thursday was shopping day. This was perfect as Kathy and Steve were flying in on Friday, March 29th.


Kathy enjoying life at sea.


Steve keeping watch from the fly bridge


I was happy Steve and Kathy got to see Randy, the manatee that likes to visit the marina for a drink of fresh water.

Finally the big day came and the fun began.  We left Marsh Harbour Saturday morning and went back to Treasure Cay so we could show off the beautiful beach there.  Kathy and I stayed longer on the beach than the guys did, and we loved having time to chat and catch up.  It had been way too long since we had time together, and there was so much to talk about.


Steve trying out his mask and fins


Steve and me getting ready to head to the reef


Kathy all ready to snorkel


And Kathy is on her way


The fish were just amazing and so very friendly


Sunday, March 31st, led us to the nearby Mermaid Reef.  We had heard that the reef was a wonderful place to snorkel, easy, calm, and loaded with fish.  This was the first time Kathy and Steve had snorkeled, so it sounded like the perfect place to introduce them to one of my favorite activities in the islands.  Both a bit apprehensive before jumping in the water, it didn’t take long until everyone was swimming like a pro.  We swam from the boat to the nearby reef, and before long, we saw the unbelievable show.  Fish at Mermaid Reef are very used to people, and they are quite sure you are there to feed them and play with them.  They swim right up to you in huge swarms, cuddling up as though you are their best friends.  At times it was a bit overwhelming, but we loved seeing all of the many species and colors of these beautiful creatures.  Snorkeling turned out to be a big hit, especially with Steve, who was willing to go back as soon as possible.


Kathy and Steve aboard Tangent


Kirby and Kathy looking for sting rays


Sunset at Marsh Harbour

After our swimming adventure, we headed to the anchorage at Marsh Harbour.  There is plenty of room in this harbor, and it’s a fun place to spend an afternoon and evening.  In the afternoon, we put the dinghy, Tangent, in the water and took a ride around the area to look for sting rays in a shallow bay.  We didn’t see too many, but it was still a nice way to spend some time before the every day happy hour that takes place aboard.  Before dinner we watched a beautiful sunset, and enjoyed another great day together.


Back to the lighthouse


So much fun to have Kathy and Steve with us!


The lighthouse views are the kind you never tire of



The door handle at the top of the lighthouse


Walking through Hope Town



Steve “deep sea diving” for a conch shell. Unfortunately, the shell was confiscated at the airport. Who knew you couldn’t bring conch shells home!


Kathy and I had so much fun being together


How we loved having them with us!


Photography credit here is given to John. I didn’t even know he took this picture until I put my photos in the computer.


Because we had so much fun the day before, we went back to Mermaid Cay to snorkel again, this time with bread and crackers for the thankful fish, before we moved AfterMath to Hope Town. John and I really loved that little spot on Elbow Cay, and we couldn’t wait to take Kathy and Steve with us. Happily, they loved it as much as we did.  During our stay there, we all went up to the top of the lighthouse, we took Tangent to town and walked around enjoying the sights and beauty of the Bahamas, and, of course, made a stop at the beach.  We also went to Vernon’s store, a tiny grocery that is famous for homemade bread and Key Lime pies.  Vernon is all business, not very chatty, and he only allows you to enter through one door and leave through the other, but he sure gets a line of customers when 2 PM comes and he has fresh pies ready to sell.  Vernon is also the Methodist minister on the island and will perform weddings for $350.  We all got a kick out of wondering how drab his sermons must be and what his weddings must be like, as he wasn’t overly friendly when we met him.  The bread and the Key Lime pie, however, were put to good use aboard AfterMath.


Before they left, we took a walk to a little bridge in the mangroves. There always are fish there, and there is always this barracuda hanging out in the shadows.


We are sorry you had to go, Kathy and Steve!


April 3rd came much too quickly, as it was the day our family had to depart.  Our original plan was to take them back to Marsh Harbour on the boat, but the wind was kicking up and expected to do so for a couple of days, so we sadly sent them on their way aboard one of the ferries that make the trip far more quickly than we were able.  We were so sorry to see them go; we would have loved to have them stay longer and to be able to show them more of these beautiful islands. We truly loved having them aboard AfterMath.


Pete’s private club and boat dock in Little Harbour


This is the cave Pete’s family lived in for some time


This sea plane landed while we were there


Amazing water in Little Harbour


Inside Pete’s Pub



On the path to the Atlantic Ocean



Back at Pete’s Pub, these swings were quite the attraction


There’s AfterMath right in the center


Some of Pete’s bronze creations



About 5 minutes from the pub, along an overgrown path, you can find the remains of an old lighthouse



It took some persistence, but I finally was able to capture a couple of turtles


Hope Town was our home for a couple more days while we waited out weather before leaving for Lanyard Cay.  There we anchored for a night so that we could enter our next destination, Little Harbour, at high tide.  Little Harbour is a beautiful spot with an interesting history.   In 1951 Randolph Johnson and his family discovered the almost circular, white sand bay while sailing in their boat, The Langosta, and they decided to stay.  They lived in their boat and in a cave while they built a thatched home and they started a bronze foundry there; after that, the family never left.  His son, Pete Johnson, started his pub, which is a popular beach bar for those lucky enough to find one of the very few moorings in the harbor, for those who arrive in smaller boats and tie up at Pete’s dock, or for those who manage to find the pub by land.  The only road that passes through Little Harbour is a sand one, right along the beach. Delicious fresh fish is served under a hut that is covered in t-shirts from those who visit, and a few steps up a path leads visitors to the Atlantic Ocean.  Pete continues his father’s work at the bronze foundry, making beautiful sculptures that sell for incredibly high prices.  Needless to say, we didn’t buy any of the artwork, but we did enjoy a trip through his gallery.  I spent many hours over the few days we were in Little Harbour in my float tied to the back of AfterMath, watching the boats, the people, and especially the turtles swim by.

The Bahamas have been treating us well, and we have a little more exploration to do before we return to the states. We have decided that we will spend the summer in Brunswick, GA while we prep AfterMath for sale.  Brunswick Landing Marina is a well-protected location for hurricane season that has lots of activity and lots of people to meet.  We will be able to still do trips to the surrounding islands there and to Savannah and, of course, the best part is we will be able to see our children and grandchildren again. For a little longer, though, we will float around these crystal clear waters, visit small settlements, enjoy perfect beaches, and live our life fully one day at a time.  There is so much to do, so much to see in this world, and really, so little time to do it.  The only way to live is to live life fully, one day at a time.