Click to Enlarge all Picts.
Our Transportation at Marsh Harbour
Junkanoo at the G.T.C. (film strip)
The women in charge
Green Turtle Clubs Linda & Lynn
View of Bluff House Villas from G.T.C. Villas
New Plymouth Street
Hope Town Harbour Lodge.
Our Rainbow rental boat parked at dock
Hope Town Harbour Lodge
Butterfly House- Our rental home
Hope Town Harbour Lodge - Entrance to Pool,
Beach & Garry at the Beach Bar.
Hope Town house
Man-O-War House & Yard
Albury Sail Shop
Hooters Photo Shoot at Nippers
Marsh Harbour Scene
Sandy & Debbie
May 2005 at Captain Jacks
Hope Town Resident
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Sandy Estabrooks Abaco Guide
Periodic Update No. 1
Supplement to Sandy Estbrook's Guide to the Abacos, Bahamas
Green Turtle Club, White Sound, Green Turtle Cay.
The Settlement at Great Guana Cay
Hope Town Homes (click to enlarge)
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Our three week fly over was rather typical in format. We flew over using one of the new carriers, Florida Coastal Airlines. They are are particularly useful for small city connections in Florida. In our case from Sarasota connecting through Ft. Lauderdale to Marsh Harbour. (What I couldn't have known is that they would be out of business by this same time next year.) Upon arrival we rented a small 22 foot outboard from Rainbow Rentals and made the 30 mile trek to Green Turtle Cay where we always start out trips staying at the Green Turtle Club. I was curious to see if there were any changes under the new ownership. In a word - none- same friendly staff.
The downside of this approach is, the Sea of Abaco can be choppy as it was seriously so the day we arrived so we pounded our way up tup to G.T.C. We could have eliminated most of the discomfort and rented one of Rainbows new powered Twin O/Bs Catamarans but at $350 more a week we decided to take a pass.
We hit our usual stops in the cays from Green Turtle southward including Great Guana Cay, Man-O-War, Elbow Cay to the last stop in the Abacos before Eleuthera, Little Harbour.
While on Elbow Cay, we stayed at the Hope Town Harbour Lodge instead of the Abaco Inn for a change of pace, and to be in walking distance to Hope Town. Both have pretty much fully recovered from Septembers hurricanes which in not to be said of many of the shore side restaurants and marinas in Marsh Harbour.
On three occasions we bumped in to the Hooters Patrol a boat load of Hooters Restaurant waitresses modeling for the 2006 calendar photo shoot. The first two times I didnt have my camera and then decided to always cary it with me in the day. Luckily near the end of our trip they showed up at Nippers while I was entertaining my sister and husband who spent a week with us. Three years ago we bumped into the Hooter Patrol boat on one of the uninhabited Pelican Cays but only learned this year that this photo shoot is an annual event and usually in late May.
There is a sizable controversy on Guana Cay, as there is a major development planned at Bakers Bay area (where the cruise ships once stopped). It is to consist of a golf course, major 200 plus slip marina and hundred plus condos on the property. (So far no casino has been mentioned or is planned.) I, like many of the islanders worry that this mega-undertaking will kill the fragile environment of Guana Cay who's reefs are world renowned, and in fact part of the third largest barrier reef in the world. Its a classic battle of jobs versus the environment.
The Abaco Inn, on Elbow Cay, where we have stayed in years past is also planning a major renovation although no start time was given. As mentioned The Green Turtle Club has changed hands. Its been under the same family ownership since I started going to Green Turtle in 1973.
And speaking of the Green Turtle Club, if the community can get the White Sound Harbour channel dredged in time, hopefully they will be once again adding their name to the fishing tournament circuit next May. Also new at the G.T.C. every Saturday, and definitely worth a visit, they bring over the towns (New Plymouth) children for a Junkanoo Parade. They march and play their drums and cowbells once before and after dinner. It's lots of fun and bring your camera. Info on Junkanoo cane be found on our Flotsam & Jetsam Page.
The other major resort in White Sound, the Bluff House was finishing undergoing dock repairs and had little activity at least from the boating folks. Here lies a certain irony. A few years ago I observed the construction of their new marina side restaurant and docks made of an expensive non floating Brazilian hardwood. As the foreman told me, the non floating nature of the wood, eliminating buoyancy, would protect the dock against damage during any tidal surge. I can not say for sure whether boats were attached to their docks when Francis & Jeanne hit last September, but all their docks were totally destroyed. The irony being that across the Harbour the old G.T.C. docks remained intact.
The charming old New Plymouth Inn in town is still closed and sad to see, in a bit of disrepair. It was a lovely quaint turn of the century inn reminiscent of Bogey and Bacall. It had one of the most romantic restaurants in the islands. I suspect its location in the middle of New Plymouth had something to do with it. It has a pool but its located away from beaches and marinas. It would be great for playwrights, novelists and poets. Its for sale if you are interested.
On to Man-O-War. In the past I may have written unkindly of The Albury Sail (canvas) Shop where they make all sorts of bags, purses, hats etc. I had suggested their styles havent changed in years. Well on this years visit there were all sorts of new design and brightly patterned canvas products. A worth while stop if you find yourself on this Cay. As a testimonial to that fact, we bought two bags. It has always been the main event on Man-O-War, only now more in keeping with fashion of the times.
Aside from the above, here are a few tales from our spring pilgrimage.
At the pool bar of the Hopetown Harbour Lodege, I got to chatting with a fellow. His name escapes me but in a regular in the Abacos. During our conversation he mentioned that his boat was immortalized by CNNs coverage of Hurricane Jeanne in Marsh Harbour. As soon as he said that, it hit me. Do you have a Mainship Trawler I asked. His answer was yes! I told him I remembered CNN showing, maybe a dozen times, his boat up high and dry on Marsh Harbours Bay street.He contimued to tell me that surprisingly there was no serious damage to the boats intregrety until the crane operators placed their sling in the worng place partially crushing the hull. Cest la Vie. Pictues can be found on our Weather Page underhurricanes..
Our rental boat: In the Bahamas it is customary to drop a stern anchor and tie your bow perpendicular to the dock to allow maximum usage of limited dock space at hotels and restaurants. One morning I discovered my stern anchor line cut and replaced by my heavier bow anchor. Naturally I was a bit steamed to say the least as in the Bahamas the little Danforth Anchor with chain and line is a $200+ item. Low and behold I got a call on VHF radio from our rental company saying that Cool Change a 40+ foot Sea Ray called to say he cut my anchor rhode and would like to pay for it! Can you believe that? On a later occasion I caught up with Cool Change and gave him a hearty thanks. If we werent underway Id have bought him a Goombay Smash.
Travels on Florida Coastal Airlines: On our return leg, I disembarked in Sarasota. And while we were waiting for the one man office manager, counter clerk and porter to cary in my bag which took all of five minutes, I realized I left my camera with of course all my new photos, aboard the plane. Well in the five minutes it took to get us our bags, and because the pilot had no return passengers, he was already heading down the runway and back to Ft. Lauderdale. What to do? John, the one man Jack of all trades for FCA at Sarasota called the tower who called Norm our pilot who confirmed it was there. He left it on the seat to return to me the following day but dispatch switched planes on him and my camera took off for Stuart. Woe is me. But John tracked it down and I finally got it that evening. Imagine that kind of service from a major carrier. (Too bad it wasn't to last)
Speaking of airlines a final note. If I heard once I heard 4 times and even on the VHF CH 68 cruisers net, numerous reports on missing luggage on Bahamas Air. Most of the time it would show up a day or two later which can translate into big trouble if you have scheduled charter boat waiting for you.
Many of the island commuters use a small 9 seater plane like the Cessna 402. But weight is crucial, so travel light because you might find your baggage on another airline or plane. On the first leg of our return flight this was the case. The plane was loaded with fisherman plus their coolers with ice and fish forcing some of the latter and some of the baggage off the plane. FCA placed it on a competitor - Island Express flight that arrived only a few minutes behind us.
And in conclusion, here is an airline travel story that's one to beat. As I mentioned, we spent our last week with my sister and her husband. Their return flight on Continental took them from Marsh Harbour to Ft. Lauderdale connecting to Phila. Now as it were, there was a delay of another Continental flight to Palm Beach which was supposed to arrive and depart prior to theirs. Well, theirs being the only Continental plane, ground crew loaded both the Lauderdale and Palm Beach baggage in the same plane. Shortly after take off, this mistake was realized. I wish I could have seen the luggage forman's face. Anyway my sisters flight was called back to Marsh Harbour for the unloading of the misplaced baggage and took off again, luckily in time to make her connection.
Finally, On a not so pleasant note: I have heard for years about sea lice in the Bahamas. (See Flotsam & Jetsam) It's routinely discussed on the Cruisers Net. It causes an itching / burning sensation that can ruin your vacation causing what looks like small mosquito bites in the effected area which can last for a week or more. They arent actually lice but the the larvae of the thimble jellyfish which find their way into bathing suits and wet suits and become trapped against the skin and sting. They are practically invisible in the water. Like I said, Ive often heard of them but never had encountered any in my 32 years of going to the Abacos, till this year. Actually I didn't become infected by them but rather Debbie did, even though we always dove or swam in the same areas. Luckily as best as we can determine she didnt come in contact with them until the day before we flew home and was still scratching a week later. Looking into the matter upon our return, I concluded that in order to avoid this, your bathing / wet suits should be replaced by a dry one as soon as you come out of the water and if possible a quick freshwater rinse off or shower. I also read that there is a season for this affliction usually defined in the Bahamas as between Mothers Day and Fathers Day. There are treatments suggested like cortisone ointments and oat meal bath. There are even preventatives on the market that you can find on the internet. All I can say in summary. It is not fun. It effects your mood and can sometimes causes nausea