I’m behind on blogging due to lack of WiFi signal. So I have some catching up to do! We pulled into Hopetown a week ago Thursday, right after our visit to the school in Man-O-War. We knew winds were moving into the area and we wanted to be in Hopetown before they started. We had friends there and knew it was a bigger town to spend a few days in. As we pulled in Thursday Michael and Cathy from Trawler Life came over on their dinghy and told us everyone was heading down to Tahiti Beach. It was a beautiful sunny day. The winds had already started but sunshine all day so we blew off school and hopped in the dinghy and joined them. I’m so glad we did as the next many days were impossible to even think about a beach. The girls snorkeled with Michael and Cathy, we ate lunch on the beach, a fellow boater brought a huge watermelon and sliced it on the beach to share. We walked way out on the gorgeously long sand bar at low tide.
Michael and Cathy found so many neat things for the girls – a sea biscuit for them to keep, a live sea biscuit for them to see and hold and put back in the water, a sea cucumber and many conch shells with conch still in them. I know they already blogged about this but it was just such a neat experience for them.
We headed back from the beach and right to the pool at our marina. A HEATED pool! The first since Florida. The girls were so happy.
As predicted the winds started and some rain moved in. The wind started in earnest Thursday and blew through Tuesday. We were able to see all of Hopetown and had a good time, but didn’t get to spend time at the beautiful beaches here. The girls would run down to the Atlantic side beaches, get blown around, do a cartwheel and run back up. Friday Molly and I walked over to the famous Hopetown lighthouse. It is the last manned kerosene lighthouse in the world. It’s undergoing a huge restoration project and there are lighthouse keepers that keep it going every night. The top part around the light has diamond paned windows that are in the process of being replaced. They have raised money for about half of the windows so far. If you know me at all you know I’m TERRIFIED of heights. It gets worse and worse as I get older. But I climbed to the top with Molly. I had to stop and breathe after each level.
We got to the second to last flight of the windy spiral staircase where I could see all the way down. I had to stop. She went on above and was able to look out the window onto the ledge. She told me she knew I wouldn’t want her to go out there alone so she just looked out. So, up I went to the top level. I couldn’t bring myself to go out on the ledge. But there’s a walkway the whole way around. I let Molly climb out as I held tightly to her clothes. Yes there were railings. Yes I’m irrational. TERRIFIED of heights. Anyway, my pictures aren’t great but they are of Molly standing in the open windows, and the view from the top on a cloudy day. And one other that I took from a friend.
Maddy wasn’t allowed to go because of another HUGE school fit. She’s had a very difficult past couple of weeks with everything from school to bedtime to fighting with us every time we are going to leave and go do anything (usually something she ends up enjoying). Anyway, Ben took both girls to the top (I waited at the bottom) twice and walked all around the outside with them. Here’s some more information if you’re curious or want to see a better picture! http://visithopetown.com/lighthouse.html
Friday afternoon we went across the bay into town. We walked around the damp quaint adorable streets of Hopetown and looked at the houses and shops.
We stopped at Vernon’s for a loaf of fresh bread and a key lime pie that Vernon makes daily. We found the Hopetown Harbor Lodge and stopped for a drink. This is where Gary the Explorer works. The girls have been watching his YouTube ecology videos about the ecosystems here in the Abacos. I’ve been watching with them and we’ve all learned quite a bit! Michael had also told us about Gary’s pina coladas. So, pina coladas for us and huge strawberry daiquiris for the girls.
Saturday we went into town again and the girls played at an actual park! A small playground with a cool tree house play area. Madelyn was thrilled.
We met our friends at Hopetown Harbor Lodge for a great lunch. Then we all rented golf carts to explore the island since dinghies and beaches weren’t an option in the insane wind! We followed Michael and Cathy to the south end of the island. We stopped to see a few different places and marinas. The ocean was angry that day. Here is one of the places the girls ran down to the beach and very quickly back up as the sand was pelting them from the wind.
We went to see Firefly marina, SeaSpray marina and the Abaco Inn. Three really nice areas at that end of the island. We ended up going back to Abaco Inn for dinner.
Sunday the girls and I went to the local Methodist church right near the water’s edge. We attended a family service that the girls loved. I have never seen them so excited about church. It was led by the youth ministers. It was very informal, involved great music, kids doing readings, etc. They really enjoyed it, as did I. Then back to the golf carts for lunch and more exploring. The neighborhoods on the south end of the island are incredible. These beachfront houses are beautiful and it was fun to explore. And the girls always love a good golf cart ride!
Monday after school we went to see Trawler Life. The girls LOVE to visit other boats and check them out so we took the dinghy across the bay to their mooring and visited for a bit. And then they came to our boat to do the same. It’s always fun to compare storage space and see what we like about other boats.
Tuesday after school (and a big meltdown from Molly this time…she has her moments too), we went back into town to check out the Hopetown school. It’s a lot bigger than the Man-O-War school. We didn’t go inside as it was the end of the school day but we walked around the school. The kids appear to stay for lunch here whereas in Man-O-War they went home for lunch we think. Their lunchboxes were set up all around outside organized by grade level. We read some school announcements and found that they are in school until June 16th much like Chicago. We also found that the classes here appear much more diverse and more what our kids are used to.
At the base of the school is a Recycling center! The only recycling we’ve seen in the Bahamas. They collect some plastics and uncrushed aluminum cans. It all goes to help fund a children’s cause in Nassau (I can’t remember exactly what!) Better than nothing. We loaded all of ours up before we left!
Wednesday we headed into town for Heritage Festival. It was held in the little park the kids had been playing in. Conch salad for lunch. Local artists.
Spent some time visiting with our friends Kerry, Dan and Helayna from Igloo and then toured the Hopetown museum. It displayed the history of Hopetown and was a walk through an old house. This is already long so I won’t go into a lot of the history but it was fascinating to read about how Hopetown flourished when boats started wrecking right outside of the harbor. Goods would be salvaged from the boats and sold. This provided quite the economy until the lighthouse was installed. It actually had a negative effect on the economy as there weren’t as many wrecked ships. That’s just a small part of the history.
We enjoyed looking in the rooms at the old furniture and clothes and such.
As we were pulling out of Hopetown it turns out that our friends Sonny and Phyllis from Corkscrew were at the top of the lighthouse. They saw us down below and took a great picture of the boat from above!
We headed to Marsh Harbor that afternoon to anchor and take the dinghy in. We went to visit Kellirae and Bill on Ocean Dancer. We left the dinghy, walked to the good grocery store to stock up again and then back to say hi to Sonny and Phyllis. We’ve been anchored in various places since! Anyone who knows us knows that’s a record. I’ll post soon about the past few days. This is long enough. Hopetown was a great stop!