It’s been a while since my last update! We wrapped up our time in the Exumas just a few days ago and made our way north to the Abacos as we must make our way back to the States in a couple of weeks. Although many areas of the Exumas have a cell signal, most of it is either too weak or too slow to upload photos here. In any case, most of the cool stuff we’ve seen and done has been underwater, and I do not yet possess a proper camera for that. At a later date, I will recap some of the highlights of our Bahamas trip with reflections on the experience, lessons learned, and the like.
After a tiring couple of days and not so cooperative weather, we finally made it to the Abacos last Sunday. We made a quick stop a bit west of Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, while we waited for favorable weather to cross over to the Abacos. Unfortunately, because of COVID, we could not disembark in Eleuthera without having to clear out to other islands with a negative PCR test. We had wanted to visit Spanish Wells, but decided the COVID requirements were not worth the hassle. We stayed two nights in a fairly protected anchorage, but it did get a little rolly our last evening there. We set out early Sunday morning with a nice south wind, but we had to motor-sail with the genoa because the wind was a bit on the light side. The seas were also fairly tame, but I found the motion difficult because we had swell from the east (prevailing direction in the Atlantic at this latitude), but waves from the south because of the wind direction. Having swell and waves at 90 degrees to each other equals a confused sea state and a good formula for misery for those of us who are prone to motion sickness. My medication helps, but does not totally eliminate symptoms.
Early afternoon saw us entering the Little Harbour cut at low tide. We had to anchor outside of Little Harbour and wait for the tide to come in as the entrance is quite shallow. Ed and I were eager to get off the boat, so we took the dinghy in to see if a mooring ball was available and also that it was in good shape. We had about three hours to kill before the water would be deep enough for Serenity, so we had a seat at Pete’s Pub and had a nice, cold beverage. It was a welcome rest to be on a non-moving surface after having a few rolly days on the boat. It just seems to be a motion my body refuses to adapt to, and I’ve been thinking long and hard at long term adjustments or tweaks we might have to make so that I’m not regularly miserable. There are many ways to cruise and voyage, and a “salty” version is likely not going to work for us.
By late afternoon we finally got Serenity into the harbor and tied to a mooring. We headed back over to Pete’s for dinner and finally had some time to marvel at the hamlet that is Little Harbour. It has quite the history and story. Rather than taking up a huge amount of space rehashing it here, I’ll provide a link to an old newspaper article that tells the story quite well.
Monday morning saw most of the visiting boats leaving, and we mostly had the harbor to ourselves. We later found out because the pub is closed Monday through Wednesday…bummer for us. Friends, and our temporary buddy boat, dinghied over to check out the community and we joined them for the afternoon. They had set up a tour of the bronze foundry that was created by the Johnston family many years ago, and we were happy to join them! The foundry is the only one in the Bahamas, and Randolph Johnston, son Pete, and the rest of the crew are known world-wide for their bronze sculptures. Randolph has since passed away, but Richard, who now effectively runs the foundry, had studied under Randolph since the mid ’80’s. Pete’s Pub also has a gallery and gift shop where many of the works are on display. A few are also around town.
The foundry tour has been one of my favorite things I’ve done in the Bahamas so far. Richard, who was once Randolph Johnston’s apprentice, gave us the tour. His French accent was a bit thick at times, but he is highly skilled at the process of bronze sculpting and explained it in such incredible detail. I had no idea the intricacies of the physics, chemistry, and artistry involved.
We also got a little story in how Richard stumbled into Little Harbour and found himself settling in there. Richard started out life as a welder, he built himself a boat (which is still moored in the harbor) and embarked on his own sailing adventure. By the time he got to Little Harbour, he had run out of money and asked Ran Johnston if he could work at the foundry. Ran evidently declined at first, but upon discovering Richard had actually built his boat (which is made out of aluminum) he reconsidered. Richard came and went at first, as he was still sailing, but eventually returned permanently and has lived there ever since. I always find it so interesting how some people end up on the path that they do. Serendipity seems to be a main factor in so many people’s lives.
The community of Little Harbour is equally fascinating. The town is not served by any utilities. All of the homes harvest rain water and store it in large cisterns, most homes are run on solar and batteries, although there are some diesel generators around. I’m not entirely sure how sewage is dealt with…I’m assuming septic of some sort. There is a cell tower close enough to get internet which is really nice. Most of the houses, and the town generally, are quite thoughtfully and artistically done. It really is quite a contrast of island living from the Exumas. Most settlements in the Exumas are quite poor, and the construction of the buildings reflect that fact. I found Pete’s Pub most interesting of all. It’s essentially built like a ground level fort or tree house. It’s open air and the floor is the beach. The only indoor space is the small kitchen. The pub is almost this actualized structure that a preteen boy would dream up as the ultimate clubhouse. Except that this one has been “adulted” with the addition of a bar.
The following day we decided to explore around a bit. We visited the cave where the Johnston’s first “lived,” hiked up to the old light house, and just wandered around town.
This morning we left Little Harbour and sailed a bit north to Tiloo Cay to spend the night. We will spend the next few days exploring Hope Town and Elbow Cay. We know the community has been devastated by Dorian, but from a few reports we have received they have rebuilt a lot and are open for business! Happy Spring to all, and we will be back in the USA soon!