Valerie Arden under tow. A true sailboat - no engine
After we all recovered from “Margarita Madness” and the really beautiful weather was back for good (we hope!) once again, everyone was anxious to “get out!” Despite the good times together, as cruisers, we were all suffering from “cabin fever” and desperate to set sail. Everybody left! A weather window had opened up to safely cross the gulf stream back to America which lured several boats away, and a big convoy set off for the annual “Barefoot Man” drunken party and rock concert on Guana. We were one of only a handful of boats that stayed behind because Vince had been asked to help a fellow cruiser.
The boat “Valerie Arden” had been crippled earlier in the season when her engine was dismounted and a hole pieced her hull. Now she had to get back to the US solely under sail with no engine controls. And she was afraid to cross around the “Whale” in those conditions. Bob on “Shade-Mor” promised to help and he asked Vince and Jim on “Ilsa La” to join him in a towing operation. Early Saturday morning the little group left in two dinghies, tied on either side of Valerie Arden, and motored out of the harbour. Once safely away, they tied a strong 100’ line to the stricken vessel and one of the dinghies--actually it was more than just a dinghy--it was really a small motoring tender with two big engines--and towed the sailboat out into the Atlantic and around “The Whale.” The voyage was a success and once back into the safety of the Bahamian Banks at Green Turtle Cay, Valerie Arden hoisted her sails and jib and began her slow “safe” sail to Memory Rock. Here, Boat US was scheduled to meet them and tow her back across the gulf stream to the USA. If this engine problem had happened in the Exumas, the boat would’ve been stranded “on its own,” with no possibility of rescue. Another example of why we like being here, relatively safe, in the Abacos. Vince, Jim and Bob arrived back later in the afternoon and the next morning, we too took off in our boat leaving the marina virtually deserted.
We spent the next few glorious days with “Diva” at Hopetown in Elbow Cay. We were lucky to arrive in time to pick up two mooring balls in the harbour and the place was packed! We loved being “out” bobbing comfortably in our boat surrounded by life and activity--so different than sitting safely in our slip at Boat Harbour with nothing to look at except other boats sitting quietly in their slips too. Here there was always something “new” to look at--pretty pink cottages, a lush shoreline, and busy commercial activity--whenever the wind shifted the boats position. At night cool breezes filled our berth as the boat rocked us to sleep--Bliss! It was a really short dinghy ride to shore where we spent a whole morning exploring the many interesting shops, cafes, and little twisting lanes that run through the village. We had a magnificent Rib-Eye dinner at the old establishment “Harbour Inn” the first evening and the next morning I was up bright and early on a “shelling expedition” with my friend Muffin and her dog Lucy from “Antares.”
We found lots of wonderful treasures on the beach and the water was glorious--all green and turquoise with lots of wind and waves--a really exhilarating experience. We made new friends--Jane and Ron aboard “Rachel” and were invited on yet another yacht for drinks and happy hour along with “Diva”. On our final day Vince and I rose early and set out of the harbour in our dinghy which we got “up on a plane” zooming along at a very fast pace toward our special shelling destination. We arrived in under 10 minutes, and while I collected even more shells, Vince read his novel in an Adirondack chair under a palm tree. We met up later for breakfast at Seaview Marina and then headed on back to Hopetown. We left on a high tide about noon and were safely back at Boat Harbour about an hour later--just in time for Mahjongg and showers. We REALLY loved being here at Hopetown. It is SO different and better in many ways than Boat Harbour. But we love the people at Boat Harbour. If only we could transport the whole club to Hopetown, it would be absolutely perfect. But we will seriously consider spending at least a month here next season. And maybe a few of the RMHYC boats will do the same thing. But if that doesn’t happen, we’ll start another Bocci and Mahjongg group in Hopetown, if one doesn’t already exist.
Dinghy drift in Hopetown Harbour
FORTNIGHT in Hopetown Harbour