After what seemed like an eternity waiting for conditions to calm down, we had an uneventful but less than comfortable passage through Whale Cay cut, sticking our nose out into the Atlantic along the only viable route for a 6-foot draft vessel between the northern and southern cruising areas in the Abacos. The incessant rolling waves built up over thousands of miles of fetch served to remind us of two things: that anything that can move about when the boat rolls will do just that, and how much an island (even a reef and a pile of sand) will shield us from the ravages of the ocean swells and spray. Some things never change.
After the cut we made our way down the inside of Great Guana Cay to Settlement Harbor where we stopped for a night to look around and sample some local flavor. The next morning we left again and traveled down to Elbow Cay, to a well known cruisers stop called Hopetown. It’s a popular, well protected harbor filled with moorings that go quickly when the winds pick up. Fortunately our cruising friends John and Jennifer on S/V Lady J who have camped out here so far this season contacted us via email to tell us they had reserved a mooring for us. This little favor made our arrival in Hopetown much easier by not having to worry about finding a secure spot to anchor. I’ve often quipped that it’s not what you know that counts in life; it’s who you know.
After a week and a half of very blustery winds throughout the Abacos that ranged between 15 and 35 knots, the winds were very mild today, and as we entered the harbor they dropped to a gentle breeze that felt like a weight had been lifted off of us, complimenting the azure blue sky and green water to remind us why we are here. The pastel colors that individual houses are painted here in the islands surely must be chosen so as not to duplicate colors too often, and they add a beautiful accent to the natural surroundings.
We located our reserved mooring among the many that were either occupied or marked with a reservation jug by the orange and white kayak our friends had tied there. As I snatched up the mooring lines from the water, I could clearly follow them down to large chains that were finally imbedded in an enormous cement block in about 15 feet of water, all ensuring that we’d sleep soundly during our stay.
Even with a bustle of large and small boats moving around the harbor, our Wind Generator not singing its familiar song left things feeling very peaceful. A red and white striped lighthouse towers over the harbor, one of the few remaining lighthouses in the world that is manned by an actual person instead of automated equipment. Its unique kerosene lamp and Fresnel lens are definitely on our list of things to see while we’re here.
But if all of that wasn’t good enough, the real highlight of our arrival was found after short dinghy ride over to Lady J on the other side of the harbor where we exchanged hugs and greetings, greeted some other friends Bill and Maureen from M/V Sweet Freedom, and all sat down to drinks, appetizers and a full meal expertly cobbled together by three beautiful boat ladies.
Plenty of laughs and good stories were exchanged as the sun crept down below the horizon; catching up with both our trials and our adventures since we last saw each other. By the time Cruiser’s Midnight (9 PM) rolled around, we were ready to turn in, reluctantly saying good night as we headed back to our own boats with hopes and plans for getting together again while we’re here to enjoy both the company of each other and the new (to us, anyway) sites around the island.