Hard to believe this is happening already, but we’re about to depart the Bahamas and head back to the US! Drew’s brother Jordan is flying in for the three-day-ish passage to North Carolina. We can’t wait to see him and are excited to head home, but feeling wistful too.
After Cat Island we headed north to Eleuthera and then to the Abacos. It was an interesting way to finish our time in the Bahamas, as the further north we got the more prosperous everything became. Larger homes, fancier marinas, more dive shops, big sport fishing boats everywhere. This area seems to be visited much more than the Exumas, perhaps because it’s nearer the southeastern US — maybe that explains some of the wealth.
Most of the smaller cays in these “out islands”* were settled by Loyalists after the American Revolutionary War. They came to farm cotton, although that didn’t last more than a couple decades as these islands aren’t really suited to that kind of agriculture. But the folks who stayed moved on to other endeavors: piracy, logging, rum running, ship building, tourism — you name it, they’ve tried it.
The accents of the white Bahamians in these settlements are all different and, to our ears, bizarre. In Spanish Wells, a lobstering capital and the northernmost town of Eleuthera, it sounds like a mix of South African, deep south US (think Jimmy Carter), with occasional vowels from New England. In Hope Town people sound vaguely like Mainers, possibly because they’re descendants of a Loyalist mother and her children from New England.
Little Harbour, our first stop in Abaco, was settled much more recently — in the 1950s by a sculptor named Randolph Johnson, along with his wife and four children. He yearned to get away from the grind of civilized life (he taught at Smith College), live freely, and make art. So the family sailed away from Massachusetts with no particular destination in mind and eventually landed in Little Harbor. They spent several years Swiss Family Robinson style establishing their home — they lived in a cave (dodging bats and mosquitos), built their own thatched-roof huts, and later even built a bronze foundry for Johnson so he could continue his sculpture. He died in his late 80s in 1992. His son still lives there and runs a bar/restaurant called “Pete’s Pub” — it’s sort of the ultimate beach bar: open air, sandy floor, good food. Next door is a gallery of sculpture by both Pete and his dad. Fascinating stuff.
We’re now in Green Turtle Cay, stocked up on fuel, water, and provisions and ready to head out. Tonight we’re hoping to get together with two other boats we’ve met recently for a final beach party/farewell: Sasquatch, a family of four from Seattle (with an awesome Big Foot icon on their bow), and Gavroche, a family from San Francisco on a Dutch metal boat (woot) winding up a two-year trip. We’re all heading for Beaufort, NC, starting tomorrow. The weather looks benign for the rest of the week — so benign, in fact, that we might have to motor most of the way. Oh well. It appears to be a safe weather window and we have to get Jordan back to work. 🙂
Will try to send updates via the sat phone while underway. Here’s to a safe passage!
*Fun fact: There is, it turns out, a distinction between the terms “island” and “cay.” Islands have their own water source whereas cays do not.
May 31, 2016 at 14:14
Fascinating how the Loyalists settled, and shaped, Bahamian history. The difference between the Abacos and the Exumas is the difference between Massachusetts and Alabama.
Good that you’re got other boats for company on the sail north. Hope you get some wind…from the right direction.
May 31, 2016 at 14:32
Thank you for the update. Sorry to hear Jordan’s flight to Marsh Harbor was cancelled and that now you connect tomorrow. Have a nice speedy and safe passage. Hope you have some wind to speed you along.
May 31, 2016 at 16:11
What an amazing adventure you guys have had. We wish you safe passage, and here’s hoping you get some decent wind!
May 31, 2016 at 22:23
Wishing you a fair wind to take you back to the mainland. Doesn’t sound like you’ll be able to leave all of the Bahamas behind….
May 31, 2016 at 23:12
What a treat to read you SV EXIT posts that I’ve missed while we were in Kauai. May your return to the US sail be smooth and your re-entry gentle. What a life-altering journey you all have shared out on the salty, healing ocean! Love to you all, Mindy
June 1, 2016 at 00:26
Thanks for the update and the great pics. Safe travels.
June 1, 2016 at 13:33
Drew and Linda, I have been following your journey and I am amazed and awed by it. What a gift you have given yourselves and your children, one upon which they will draw for years to come. Of course, I wish you safe passage, calm seas, and fair winds. All the best, Eleni