Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hope Town

July 22, 2017

Spotting the iconic red and white striped lighthouse in the Hope Town harbor was a huge milestone. We'd done it! We left Jacksonville on an old boat that we'd maintained as best as possible with our medical school and residency and stay-at-home-mom incomes. [Read: debt, stipend, no income.] Some systems were brand new (solar panel), some were new five years ago (fridge, a/c), and some we'd just plain neglected (batteries). We left with the goal of reaching Hope Town - a picturesque harbor, Bahamian settlement, with amazing beaches and great snorkeling; and also a highlight of our trip on Whisper since we met lifeline friends there. So when we saw that lighthouse we cheered, high-fives, and felt a huge sense of achievement. Good job Rhumb Line! Who thought that our old Carver would have made it from Philadelphia to Hope Town, all the while providing us with a safe, cozy  home where we raised our girls for the early years of their lives. The jubilation was paired equally with a sense of relief. We'd made it to a well-developed part of the Bahamas and we're stranded on an out island or on the middle of the Banks or in the middle of the Gulf Stream. 

Hope Town has everything a boater could want: a protected anchorage lined with restaurants, marinas, and a small grocery store. A library, a playground (fantastic!), a sailing club, and it's only a few steps from the gorgeous, palm-lined, white sand public beach. Mountains of coral (as Freja calls them) are a short swim offshore, and Hans is excited to hop a mere mile offshore to fish. Sitting at anchor, I can hear the waves breaking on the beach just on the other side of the island.

Waiting for the light keeper to show up to light up the lamp.
It's a manual lighthouse, requiring hand lighting every night.

climbing up the lighthouse to watch the lighting

Jeffrey, one of the keepers.

Harbour's Edge restaurant, a great spot in the harbor

post-dinner beach walk

Bingo at Jack's. Always fun. Alas, we weren't winners.

But these kids. They are such homebodies. It's like pulling teeth to get them off the boat. And they're not sitting in a/c with a TV. At anchor we don't have TV or internet and we don't own a tablet. They're screen-free and a/c free, completely self-entertained and they still won't leave the boat! Drawing, writing books, playing with figurines, playing a huge variety of make-believe games, swimming off the boat. It certainly makes for relaxing days but I do go a little stir-crazy.

We found an old printer up for grabs outside a realtor's office so we took it home for some tinkering.

Living at anchor is life on an off-the-grid floating home. If you do it right, you can stock up on food, catch fish, and be at sea (or anchor) for months. We have a bank of batteries (think car/tractor/RV size batteries) powered by a 150 watt solar panel mounted on our T-top (the roof over the back deck). Our batteries weren't charging very well so Hans investigated and one had very low voltage and was sucking power from the other two batteries, causing all batteries to have low voltage. He pulled that battery so we're down to two batteries. Our main power draw if the fridge and calling it "inefficient" is generous. We also have fans, lights, a fresh water pump (to pull the water from our water tank out  the faucets), bilge pumps, and toilet pumps. (There's a lot of plumbing on boats!) We find that we can go three days maximum at anchor before needing a power boost, either by running the engines or pulling into a marina and plugging in. We could always have more power (more solar) and more batteries, but for short-term cruising, we make it work.

We carry approximately 100 gallons of water which lasts us for 5-7 days if we are conscientious about our usage without feeling like dirty, salty sailors. We use the water to have quick freshwater rinses after swimming, we wash our dishes, we hydrate ourselves, wash hands, etc. We've all had some unpleasant GI upsets recently so we've decided to buy drinking water for our last couple weeks.

For long-term cruising we'll have 'UGE power and a 'UGE battery bank.

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