Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Marsh Harbour

August 1, 2017

Of all the anchorages in the Abacos, Marsh Harbour is low on the list in terms of scenic beauty. It's the main port for the region and is a big commercial center. So how did we end up here on my birthday? Shouldn't we be anchored off a white sand beach, floating behind the boat with a tropical drink in hand? Yes, but weather. Our one interlude with unsettled weather occurred right before my birthday. We're getting the outer bands of Tropical Storm Emily which is resulting in strong southerly winds, a hefty chop, and lots of squalls. We spent the last few days at Man-O-War Cay, a dry island with a strong religious tradition. (Dry in terms of beverages consumed, rather not consumed.) It was quiet and beautiful and devoid of vacationers. A glimpse into what the Abacos would look like without tourism and continued strong ties to their Loyalist history. The island residents are renowned for their boat building skills and the waterfront is a true working one. Active boatyards and boatbuilding shops with the completed boats scattered across the harbor on moorings. The majority of the rental boat fleet in the Abacos are Albury Boats - sturdy center console boats made to withstand years of use. Albury is an Abaco name and draws its history back to the Loyalists.

We had the marina pool all to ourselves.

And here's the storm.

going out on a neighbor's go fast dinghy/tender
 We walked around town - admiring the neat yards with flowering bougainvillea, white picket fences, and the family name tacked above the front door. Most yards had fruit trees, small vegetable plots, and roosters crowing. Electricity is expensive and while the island didn't seem poor, no one was running their a/c despite the heat and humidity. Windows were open allowing the sea breeze to blow through. The ocean beach was gorgeous. Crystal clear water, soft white sand. We spent hours at the beach.

So how did we end up at Marsh Harbour for my birthday? It was the first day of sunny weather  for a couple of days and we were ready to leave Man-O-War. We left with the idea of going to Little Harbour, home of Pete's Pub and an artists' colony about 20 miles south. But when we left Man-O-War the wind and seas were directly from the south and we faced over three hours of motoring straight into wind and chop. No fun. We turned west to snorkel on Mermaid Reef just off Marsh Harbour. Freja and I spent an hour snorkeling in a natural aquarium - we saw almost every kind of little reef fish in our reef guidebook. Despite the 30 or more other snorkelers, it was a fun experience.

We motored a couple miles to the mouth of Marsh Harbour to look for lobster - Day 1 of lobster season! Freja and I went hunting first but we only saw a baby; Hans snorkeled the other side of the small cove and pulled up a big one! Lobster salad!
Happy Day 1 of lobster season!
teaching Freja the fine art of picking a lobster. Must get all the meat!

We decided to go to Marsh Harbour for dinner and to anchor for the night since it was 5PM and we were so close. However we only found one restaurant open and it was more of a bar serving fried food. Thinking of a nice birthday dinner, we decided to try our luck and go fast on both engines to Hope Town . . . 5 minutes later and 3 miles outside of Marsh Harbour, the starboard engine started overheating. I ran down below to check and found the exhaust hose had popped off the port engine. (!!!) Shit.

So, instead of a nice dinner, we spent 45 minutes floating around while Hans muscled the exhaust hose back on, put the distributor cap back on the starboard engine (??!!), and had cereal for dinner back at Marsh Harbour. We were feeling pretty disgruntled and fed up.

We reassessed the situation the next morning and after running through some checks and tightening the hose clamps even more, we felt much better about the engines. We headed back to Hope Town and spent the afternoon at the Hope Town Harbour Lodge - birthday redux...lunch out, relaxing at the pool and the beach, enjoying the view.

another lost tooth!
Hope Town Harbour Lodge
The pool deck and restaurant overlooking the ocean

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