Our visit to Hopetown has quickly become the most memorable stop of our trip so far. Our friends on S/V Lady J and M/V Sweet Freedom are fully tuned in to the attractions here on the island, and although they’ve seen them all at least once, they seemed more than willing to play tour guide and enjoy them again with us.
After a few morning chores we packed a light lunch, docked our dinghies and walked up the hill to rent bicycles for the day. We peddled south; passing both resident and rental properties on either side, rolling up and down the island’s gentle hills. The quality of the roads varied widely between smooth pavement and what John characterized as a “goat trail”. The bike took a little getting used to for me since I haven’t ridden one with brakes in the pedals since I was in grade school; it took me a while to stop reaching for the brake on the handle bars and use my feet instead.
As we stopped on the first rise that overlooked the ocean we were greeted by the boisterous winds and waves crashing on the shoreline. No beachcombers were out this morning, and the winds whipped us with both sand and sea spray even on our vantage point above the dunes.
Making our way to the southern tip of the island we stopped at the various resorts along the way, seeing contrast between a gentle protected breeze on the west side and the strong gusty winds on the east. At one place there were actually white caps in the swimming pool. We stopped once to look at a model home recently built as the first in a new development, where Bill and John peppered the agents with questions while the rest of us enjoyed the 360 degree view from the rooftop deck. There is lots of development going on throughout the island. It will be interesting to come back in 5-10 years to see how much of the natural beauty is left.
At the south end of Elbow Cay we enjoyed our lunch and walked along a beautiful beach protected from the current conditions, then peeked around the corner at Tiloo Cut between Elbow Cay and Tiloo Cay. It is one of several places where boats can safely pass through the reef when the conditions will allow it. Our friends have both ventured through this cut before, but today would definitely not be a day to attempt a passage.
We stopped at Sea Spray Marina on our way back where we another drink at the bar (notice a pattern?) and met a few hearty vacationers and a rather lonely bar tender. When we started playing with some of the bar’s toys he anxiously joined in, happy to have someone to talk to and a chance to earn better tips. A metal ring on the end of a string is such a simple thing but we often find it a regular fixture at watering holes.
Another great game we found here is called Jenga™, someone’s brilliant idea using pieces of lumber cut to length which you build into a tower. Players take turns removing pieces from the base and placing them on top until the tower tips over. As the tower grew taller the shorter members of our group (no names) complained of an unfair disadvantage. Although the deck was fairly protected from the winds, the real trick on this day was to complete your turn before a gust of breeze brought the tower crashing down.
Our last stop for the afternoon was at a resort in town that had all of its wind screens up trying to keep their few customers a little more comfortable.
Although we locked our bikes up for the evening, our excursion was not over. After a short nap and a quick dinner we met onboard Lady J for a game of Mexican Train Dominoes. Their spacious cockpit (catamaran) was surrounded by curtains which kept us comfortable while the night’s winds roared around us. As Jennifer lounged in her PJ’s, John jokingly assured us numerous times that things were “getting better out there”; however both Bill and I maintained a watchful eye between plays on our respective vessels nearby in the darkness.
The game was lots of fun, as expected, but we were certainly ready to call it a day after a couple of hours as Cruiser’s midnight approached. We returned to Brilliant, checked things out before turning in and both slept more soundly through the night than we have in some time.