Well…… it has happened, we have left Hope Town and are now once again tied up at the Conch Inn Marina, Marsh Harbour. Looks like we might be here for the balance of the week since the weather forecast is not great but we still have lots of places to visit on the way north, some new and some that we have decided need another visit.

Sunday the 18th, our last full day in Hope Town, was a great day, with many new experiences.
After a lazy breakfast we took our car for a car wash and boy did it need it as did “L’Equipe’s:” as well. We scrubbed and scraped a couple of months’ worth of growth of the bottom on a sandy beach adjacent to the dinghy dock.
Once done we could swear that the dinghy went better than ever!!! Another cruiser was also there doing his as well. You need a good scrubbing brush, lots of Vim or equivalent, a scraper to get at all the barnacles and lots and lots of elbow grease, it took us about two hours by which time we were ready for lunch and a beer!!

After lunch we hit the beach and Catherine and Heinz donned their snorkeling gear and took off for the reefs about 50 yards off the beach. Jacqueline and I stayed behind deciding that the water was really not warm enough to swim – it might have been warm enough in the water, but it was pretty cool when you came out. They had a good time and saw a variety of fish although nothing too big. (D means no shark as we had seen one cruising the reef in that very spot a few days prior... only a sand shark.. they only hunt at night !!!)

Following the lazing on the beach (our first!!!) it was time for, what else but rum punches except that our waitress made a mistake with the first round of drinks and gave us all something called a Goombay Smash……. not sure what’s in it but it is reasonably potent!

A second rum punch and we were off and flying back to the boat.

We were sad to be walking through this delightful town for the last time, but we shall return.

Back on the boat it was time to get dressed for a concert at the local Methodist Church but before we did we met our Bahamian host, Truman Major, to pay him for our mooring. What a nice and honest man he is – an absolute jewel of a man.

Our mooring cost USD 15.00 per day, we had been on his mooring for 18 days so we calculated that we owed him USD 270 and had decided to give him USD 300, the extra thirty dollars being a contribution to Every Child Counts, an Abaconian initiative to assist special needs kids. Truman is a leader in this initiative since both his adopted boys have very special needs. His response when we pressed the money into his hand was ….”oh no, the mooring fee for a month is USD 220 flat rate so you don’t need to pay me USD 270, just pay me the month’s fee.” Needless to say we did not, and he said that he would give the extra USD 80 from each of us to ECC.

During our conversation with Truman, we also reserved two moorings for next December
for a longer period and are planning to bring both boats back to Hope Town for the winter of 2007/2008. We will use these moorings as a base to explore the southern Abacos, and maybe further afield, having agreed that Truman will rent them out to other passing yachts when we are not using them.

Whilst on the subject of honesty, we have found that the people of these islands are amazingly honest and certainly do not take advantage of us tourists. Picture this, if you will, we go to a restaurant for lunch and when paying the bill do not notice that the tip is included, so add a tip. When checking the Visa account through the internet there is an amount that doesn’t correspond to any of the invoices kept, until it is realized that the amount is the original amount less the tip added….!! This actually happened to Jacqueline and Heinz …… now where in North America would that happen ..???? We all know that the full amount would be charged and the extra pocketed with a grin or a remark about the dumb rich tourist!! Only in the Bahamas!

When we were taking our leave of Truman in Hope Town we also took the opportunity to lighten our load of foodstuff, mainly canned goods etc, that Catherine and Jacqueline determined that they would never use on the voyage home. It was gratefully received and will, we are sure, be put to very good use. Amazing, now even with full water tanks and a full diesel tank I was noticing on my way back from the shower, this evening , that “Solitaire 1” is now showing some bottom paint all the way around, we are getting lighter by the day !!!

Back to Sunday……..after saying good bye to Truman we went into town again to St James Methodist Church for the concert. Luckily we were in good time and got seats, for by the time that the concert started it was standing room only with the doors flung wide open and people in the street in front as well. We were treated to great organ playing, to the church choir singing, the youth group playing guitars and drums, and a couple of locals playing wonderful banjo and guitar bluegrass music They ended with Dueling Banjoes from the film Deliverance which is a great favourite of both Catherine and I. All in all, a great one and half hours of good music and singing – most enjoyable.

Our evening finished off with dinner at the Harbour View Restaurant – a nice steak and bottle of wine and so to back to or trusty dinghy and bed.

Thus morning it was back to reality, 06.30 hrs listening to Chris Parker’s weather forecast, not pretty listening for the balance of this week, followed by a rapid run to the garbage dump – Hope Town is Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 08.30 and 09.30 hrs , a quick cup of tea and by 08.15 we drop the mooring and are making our way through the channel on the top of the tide, to ensure that we don’t have a nasty surprise with the keel meeting the ground . An uneventful crossing of only six or eight miles and here we are back in Marsh Harbour.

Once we were tied up, and plugged into shore power, Catherine decided to defrost the freezer, a big job since it hadn’t been done since Florida. At the same time she took inventory of all the goodies that still remain tucked away in it. She and Jacqueline are going to start pooling resources as we go further north so that our outstanding dining experiences will continue throughout. I worked on deck, filling water tanks pumping up the dinghy and ensuring that we were tied up properly with allowances for the tide etc.

A tiring day, but now we are both showered and clean. We have had supper and it will not be long I suspect before we are both asleep and in bed. So….. a very bonsoir to all.

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