Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Little Harbour Where The Elite Eat In Their Bare Feet

You wake up in the morning, look out the window at the white stuff that the local plow driver just pushed into your driveway, curse, grab a coffee, scratch your um… head  and turn on the TV to the weather station verifying whats been and whats coming for the weather that day.  We do the sailors version of channel surfing weather. Most mornings we listen to Chris Parker, check weather on the internet, then listen to the Cruisers Net. For those that haven’t experienced a cruisers net, a net is a bunch of dedicate people who share the local weather, advertise local events and businesses flog their wares to cruisers, translation, they brag about food and drink. By far Marc’s and my favorite ad is Brian from Done Rovin advertising for Petes Pub Little Harbour, by day five of listening I could mimic his booming voice followed by my morning giggle…“the Island you can drive to, home of the world famous Blaster, why walk when you can crawl, where the elite eat in their bare feet”  He had me hook line and sinker, I had to go see Pete’s Pub Little Harbour

Marc and I have now made two, week long visits to Little Harbour, for us its a cruisers paradise. The much talked about entrance, shallow at low tide, had plenty of water for DevOcean’s 5’2” keel at half tide.  The Picturesque Harbour is sheltered on all sides and promptly on grabbing a mooring ball, we were greeted by a manatee and we all know manatee’s and dolphins are good luck. 

We enjoyed our first visit with the fantastic buddy boat Kirsten & Rocky of the S/V Night Music, the weather was sunny, winds were light which made exploring perfect. I think Kirsten and I walked miles of beach, snorkelled hours in the water, and the four us of drank more than a few cups of Blasters. We were entertained by the Remoras and nurse sharks under the boat, fished in Robinson’s bight, and excitedly we were given a tour of the foundry from Richard Appaldo, Sculpture Ran Johnston's last student in 1983. 

But, I digress, let me tell you about Ran Johnston and his family. In 1950 a Canadian, Randolph Johnston working as a professor in the US, pulled anchor and sailed south to escape the "megamachine” and continue his art work on an island destination. Randolph and Margot Johnson settled in Little Harbour with their four children, reportedly living in nearby caves while they worked to create a small art community. Randolph Johnson established a foundry here, and became internationally known for his bronze sculptures. The Johnson family still operate the foundry and associated gallery. My mind fantasies turn to hippy explorer. I think I would have liked this adventuresome couple, I wish they were still alive to chat and share their tales.

Anyway before I got side tracked I was telling you we got a tour of the foundry. 

The process used is called the lost wax bronze casting method, A wax model is encased in a heat-resistant material like plaster. Then it is heated so that the mold hardens and the wax melts. The remaining cavity, a negative image of the model, is then filled with molten metal. The surrounding cover is removed after it cools, revealing a solid metal object in the image of the original model. The artwork can then be polished or painted. It's a complex and sometimes dangerous process, involving molten metal and twelve stages, each with ample room for error. A piece can take three months to finish. These bronze works are found all over the world, including the Vatican. 

Sadly, we were running out of water, so we had to leave. When the wind started to blow again about ten days later we jumped at the opportunity to head back to Little Harbour. This time we tucked in close to avoid swell, and wait out the blow. We spent windy days walking the beach, collecting sea glass, hiking Bookies Beach, then…explored THE CAVE.  Richard told us that a scientist explored the cave and had dated owls dating back 100’s of years. With the added draw of owls and history I was hooked.  Though fascinating as any open air caves are time has obscured this one, sadly the presence of bats, owls and wildlife is absent. Of course I always had my imagination to in vision Mrs. Johnson raising her children in the cave. People often ask how we spend our days on the boat, everyday chores we take for granted like laundry, water and groceries are all day tasks. Can you imagine, the 1950’s four kids, no fresh water source, living in a cave? Kids being kids, climbing, swimming, playing. Seems like a perfect adventure to me. 
About 40 homes have been built at Little Harbour since Randolph Johnston sailed in, moved out of a cave and into a house himself. Before that, the only stucture was a small lighthouse. "There is no sign of man except the distant roof of the Little Harbour Light.” Johnson wrote in his Log. The remains of the lighthouse, its roof finally blown off by Floyd, can be reached via a path which starts from the shoreline and winds up the hill through seagrapes and bush.

So what about Pete’s Pub? There’s nothing fancy about Pete’s, as its sand floor and roof constructed of colorful t-shirts and flags will attest, but it was perfect, the staff welcoming, food delicious, blasters a treat.
There are so many corny expressions here I could fill this page…

"It's not a topless bar,"  the pub has a roof. "It's more of a sideless saloon.”
“If you have on shoes your over dressed”
So, Brian you enticed us to Pete’s Pub with your booming voice and funny slogans and we stayed because we fell in love with Little Harbour.  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Water Collection?

People can't survive without water. What do you do If you're a cruiser on a vessel with limited space for water storage and/or a water maker? Not mentioning the cost! We don't have a water maker, but we carrying 60 gallons in two bladders  plus two jerrycans, then one bladder started a small leak. In the Abaco water can be costly at $0.27 to $0.38 per gallon. So a long discussed water collection job, that was on the should do list, became a must do.  Here is what I did. As you can see in the pictures, we already had converted our old sail into a sun cover. I inserted a hose in the center grommet that we used to lift the cover with the hillier. With a few modifications I can still raise the cover, or lower it, if it's raining. The hose can reach the main water tank or the now hopefully fixed bladder sitting on the top deck. We are now waiting for a good shower and see if my setup works.  

What did or would you do? Please share your ideas and pictures.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Hope Town Abaco

I asked Marc this morning what I should write about Hope Town, he responded with, “ it’s beautiful.” So I questioned, well, anything else? “It’s quaint, lovely.” Before I start writing a post I always make a list of topic I want to share, pretty, quaint, beautiful, was at the top of my list too. 

We spent a day walking the narrow roads of the Hope Town settlement, the only town on Elbow Cay, checking out the many clapboard houses painted two contrasting shades of pastel that is so popular in the Bahamas, many of these appearing historic.

We visited the yacht club, just a short walk from the dingy dock, chatted with Bill who snickered and shared about just being chastised for interrupting the bridge club presently using the facility. 
Hope Town boosts a population of 458 but, I would bet, many of those are retired transits who have claimed this island as their own. It seems there is a vibrant social community, always something going on, whether it’s an art show or sailboat race. 

Excitedly for me we found the local school while we were on walk about. And for the first time in the Bahamas we found a recycling station and a school garden. My heart be still, it is not my place to judge as I know so little about the political situation in the Bahamas, their mandate for landfill or recycling. But, seeing an eco friendly initiative, was exciting. Though in Canada we have adopted environmental land fill practice it wasn't that long ago we didn’t, I can only hope and do my part and encourage others while in the Bahamas.

Hope Town is the home to the famous Elbow Reef Lighthouse.  Striped horizontally red and white it is probably the most recognizable landmark in Abaco, Built in 1862 the lighthouse is one of the last manual lighthouses in the world and can be seen as far away as 17 miles. The light works on a weight system that has to be hand cranked by the light house keeper every two hours to maintain the sequence of five white flashes every 15 seconds. Marc noted that the Light House worked on the same system as his mothers Grandfather clock. Two keepers and their families live at the light house, sharing the task of keeping the light going. For nothing but a small donation, Marc and I crawled all over the light house unsupervised, enjoying the view.