Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sheila and Paul Visit the Abacos

Once I knew my sister, Sheila, and her husband, Paul, were coming to visit I could think of little else until they arrived. I was once again seeing the sites through fresh eyes as I imagined how much they would love it here. I was not wrong…they did love it here.

Sheila and Paul arrived in Marsh Harbour on a beautiful afternoon where we met them and had lunch at Mangos before boarding Coyote and heading out into the Sea of Abaco. We anchored for the night off Man-o-War Cay and went for a lovely evening stroll along the beach. The next day we toured the town and then moved to Hope Town as it was getting rather bumpy in the anchorage due to a west wind that had picked up throughout the day. On the way Sheila and Paul had fun riding on the bow of the boat.

Hope Town did not disappoint either. They fit right into the relaxed lifestyle and thoroughly enjoyed
wandering throughout the quaint town, having latt├ęs in the coffee house, ice cream at the Sugar Shack and swimming or strolling along the beautiful beaches.

On one of our perfect days, Sheila and I went to yoga in the morning and then met the boys for coffee before heading to the beach for a swim. On another perfect day we rented a golf cart to tour Elbow Cay, stopping at Tahiti Beach for a picnic lunch. Later that night we went to Firefly for dinner, Sheila and Paul’s birthday treat to me. Yet another perfect day included a trip to Lynyard Cay on Harold’s run-about with a stop at Sandy Cay for snorkeling and then Pete’s Pub for lunch. Needless to say they were all perfect days, even including the big thunder storm in Hope Town!

Their trip was a last minute decision so we couldn’t really believe they were actually here. Sheila and I kept pinching each other because it didn’t seem real. It was all so wonderful that we decided we could not describe it to anyone without seeming to be completely obnoxious. So, I will just say that I am so happy they came to visit. It was a most brilliant birthday present and I will always remember our perfect week.

We were sad to see them go, but it marked the point at which we felt it was time to start for home. We spent a few more days in Hope Town
that included my actual birthday for which we had dinner with friends and then cake (baked by Lynn) on the boat. Since this was a milestone birthday year I have been milking it for several months…I guess I need to accept that it is finally over.

We have now crossed through the Whale and are in Green Turtle Cay where we have waited out a front. Tomorrow we are heading further north to either Manjack or Powell Cay and soon we will cross the Gulf Stream headed for home. I always find this time somewhat stressful as we look for the best opportunity to make the crossing. In the meanwhile we are planning to explore some new northern cays, which is always exciting. And then we will be close to home and our family and friends, which is always wonderful.

We Love the Abacos

Lynn and I have spent much of our time in Hope Town since arriving back to the Abacos. Staying in one place instead of cruising around the islands is quite different and creates a tranquil, laid back feeling. Although finding nice anchorages can be wonderful, you are also concerned with anchoring, moving the boat about, weather influences and so on. When on a mooring you can just kick back, chill and relax (my sister refers to this activity as “chillaxing”.)

Chillaxing for us means some lazy mornings on the boat, walking the beautiful Hope Town beaches, swimming, yoga on the beach (me that is…can you picture Lynn doing yoga?!), hanging out with friends, and watching movies in the evening.

One day we did a sewing project for Harold, a local Hope Town friend who owns Cat’s Paw Boat Rentals, to mend the Bimini top of his run-about boat that had torn on the corners. It was actually a lot of fun…Lynn, Chuck and I worked on the project outside under a shady tree. When finished a few hours later I felt gratified to have finally paid forward the favor done for us by George when he fixed our freezer and main sail. But, later Harold gave us one of his rental boats for the day in return for our help, so now I am back to looking for opportunities to assist…but, I guess that is exactly how the pay-it-forward concept is supposed to work.

We also had some time to hang out with Chuck and Dale. They were house sitting for several weeks so had access to a golf cart for buzzing around the island.

We went to On Da Beach for lunch one afternoon. This is my new official favorite spot to eat on Elbow Cay because of the spectacular view and their delicious grilled chicken kabobs. They have only open-air seating which is fine on nice days, but unfortunately, the day we went was threatening rain. We sat down anyway and watched the clouds approach, reassuring each other that it would either pass us by or would be over quickly. We were WRONG! As soon as our meals arrived, the deluge started. We tried to seek shelter under the eaves but eventually our food was getting soaked. I finally asked if we could hide out inside their bar/food prep area, the only place with a roof. They said no problem, so we ended up eating our lunch alongside the cook and bartender.

Another afternoon Dale and I decided we needed our hair dyed. So we enlisted Lynn’s help who was happy to act as our hairdresser for the day. We went to the backyard of the house they were watching, donned garbage bags and let Lynn do his work. After waiting the prescribed 10 minutes, Lynn washed us off with the garden hose! We were both actually quite pleased with the results. Maybe Lynn should think about a new career in the beauty industry!

During a few calm weather stretches we ventured out to anchor in more isolated areas where we met up with Makani for some snorkeling, diving, sea glass hunting, good eating and cards. We first anchored at Armstrong Cay and then at Lynyard Cay, both secluded spots that offer excellent island and water exploring.

We were excited to finally dive a few times and have a chance to try out our new gear. After arriving back from my first dive off Sandy Cay I discovered that I had lost my brand new dive knife. The holster was still on my leg, but the knife was long gone. About a week after my sad loss, Makani were passing by the spot where we had been diving and decided to go on a search and rescue mission…and they found it! I probably wouldn’t have bothered to look, but it was just the kind of challenge they like.

Our favorite dive was at Lynyard just outside the cut where there were tall coral heads from the bottom, about 30 feet down, all the way to the surface. Lynn said he felt like we were meandering through a big coral garden.

After a few gorgeous days at Lynyard we made our way back to Marsh Harbour where we re-provisioned the boat while awaiting the much anticipated arrival of my sister and her husband.

Since returning from the Exumas we have decided that, while the Exumas are incredibly beautiful, we really are more Abacos people. We love the combination of onshore activities, like touring Hope Town and other areas, and quiet anchorages, like Lynyard and Armstrong Cay, where the beaches are very often clothing optional.