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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.