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We bought wood at Man-O-War Cay for Bob to replace the wooden inserts on the anchor platform which were blown out as we crossed the Gulf Stream.  Also, he got a rough-hewn piece of mahogany, sawed it into a triangular shape, sanded it smooth and  rounded the edges to make a shelf for the helm pedestal on which he mounted some of the instruments.  Both jobs were masterful.  Those of you who saw the cradles he made know how beautifully he works with wood.

Wooden inserts on anchor platform

Looking through the steering wheel to GPS, compass, and radar mounted  on mahogany shelf

We left Marsh Harbor to sail to Hopetown.  Our route was across the Sea of Abaco, out into the Atlantic Ocean, around the north end of Man-O-War Cay, down the outside along the reefs of that island, back into the Sea of Abaco on the southern end, and then to Hope Town.  We were traveling with Rainbow's End.  The guys were fishing.  Jerry, on the other boat, heard his reel sing as he passed through the cut between the islands.  He said the fish hit his line like a ton of bricks.  Sam, his wife, couldn't get their boat turned around and stopped quick enough. When Jerry tightened the drag, it was so tight that he couldn't pull it out by hand yet the fish kept striping off the line.  By that time, the fish was out 200 yards.  Sam had to be careful not to let the boat drift into the reefs.  Jerry had the butt of the rod tucked into his stomach so hard it hurt.  He had to hold on with both hands.  He thought it was a dolphin (mahi mahi, not Flipper) that would have been dinner for all four of us for a week.  When Jerry finally got the fish to the boat, it was only a 20 pound head of yellow amberjack.  A shark had bitten off the entire body.  It was weird, looking at that huge head with the teeth marks just behind the gills.  There was still enough meat on the head for Sam and Jerry to cut three nice steaks and some big chunks of fish. We're not the only ones out there fishing!  The fishing book describes the yellow amberjack as the toughest fighting fish for its size.

Hopetown is the most picturesque village we have seen in our travels.  Most of the houses along the harbor are painted white with contrasting trim of blue, green, pink, or aqua. The beach has a pink tint to it due to flecks of pink coral mixed in with the sand.  There is a lighthouse painted with wide red and white stripes.  It is reportedly the most photographed lighthouse in the world.  You can go up 101 steps to the top and walk around the exterior platform.  It is still operated by hand-winding every 1 hours so someone has to sleep up there each night.  It has a Fresno lens, if any of you saw the PBS special on lighthouses.  It is powered by atomized fuel oil, same principle as before the propane Coleman camping lantern.  The view is magnificent with water every possible shade of green and blue, depending upon depth.  Gorgeous!  We were able to see the tiny entrance channel.  It was so shallow that we had to enter near high tide to keep from running aground.  Everything was so quaint that I pulled out my camera to take pictures, but it died.  How frustrating, no more pictures for a while.  We rode our bikes to White Sound and then to Tahiti Beach, considered by some to be the most beautiful beach in the Bahamas.  We stopped for lunch at Sea Spray Resort and ate in the wind and bright sunlight, looking out at the water amidst palm trees.  Truly beautiful.

We returned to Marsh Harbor to take care of some chores and plan to leave for the southern tip of Abaco tomorrow or Friday.  The plas was to wait there for a weather window to head further south to Eleuthra, a day-long sail in the ocean.  Even in good weather, there can be "rages", bad waves which travel long distances across the water.  We wanted to be sure we didn't get caught in some of those, especially in the narrow cuts between the islands.

On Thursday, our last day in Marsh Harbor, we attended a seminar about traveling to the Exumas by way of Eleuthera. We weighed anchor after lunch and set a course for Lynyard Cay.  There was no wind so we motored the distance, about three hours.  Bob was below and I was in the cockpit, lulled into a stupor by the sound of the motor and the lapping of the water, when the fishing reel began to sing.  I called out to Bob and then went to the rod.  It's been years since I fished, so he had to tell me how to handle the rig.  I brought the fish in, a mutton snapper.  We checked the fish book and edibility was categorized as excellent.  We kept him.

Lynyard Cay was so narrow that when anchored on the Abaco Sound side, we could hear the waves crash on the Atlantic shore and sometimes see the spray.  After we got anchored, Sam and Jerry on Rainbow's End came over and took a picture of me with my first fish.  Jerry and Bob cleaned and filleted it.  There was enough meat for two people so Bob and I had fish for dinner that night.  The next morning, we left the big boats anchored at Lynyard and took the dinghies to Little Harbor.  The harbor itself was very well protected and had some depth, but the entrance was so shallow that only low-draft boats could enter. That would not have been us.  We walked around Little Harbor and met a spry elderly lady who told us about a million-dollar view of the ocean from her deck, then she told us how to get there and encouraged us to go, even though she was not going to be home.  We walked down the sandy road and then up a path and found her house.  The view of the ocean, beach, and reefs from atop her hill was fantastic.  The woman's house was completely open as if someone were home.  People don't lock their doors in the Abacos.  Behind the house, there was a tiny building with a sign indicating it was a schoolhouse.  We speculated that she had taught there.  Later, Jerry saw her and engaged her in conversation.  Her daughter was Pete's first wife and she had lived on the island for 30 years, taught children in years past, and outlived both her daughters.

Little Harbor was discovered by sculptor Randolph Johnston who arrived by sailboat and lived there with his family.  When his boat developed problems, he moved his family into a cave, and later built a house.  Randolph Johnston was world famous for his bronze sculptures.  His son Pete continued to maintain the studio, foundry, and shop on the water's edge.  Pete created jewelry and cast dolphins and other marine creatures using the lost wax method.  He also had Pete's Pub, a true outdoor bar and grill, which served food and drink.  The bar was designed like a gazebo with palm fronds serving as the roof.  Picnic tables under palm trees provided seating.  Only the cooking area was enclosed on three sides.  A very picturesque place.

The lighthouse at Little Harbor was very unusual.  An abandoned two-story house and a free-standing light on a metal tower were both located on a high point visible from the ocean.  When viewed from the water during the day, you only saw the house.  Obviously, at night, you only saw the light.

We returned to the boat from Little Harbor and prepared for the trip across the open water to Eleuthera.  We had to beach the dinghy, clean it, and then return to Viking Rose where we hoisted the outboard and dinghy.  We put the bikes in their cases and stowed them below.  We secured everything in case of a rough ride.

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Lighthouse at Little Harbor, Abaco