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.
As former British colonists, Bahamians drive on the left side of the road. Most of the cars here come over from the US though, which results in the somewhat unnerving situation of driving on the left side of the road from a steering wheel also on the left side. I began noticing that there were lots of Japanese domestic model (JDM) cars with right-hand drive, including some (kawaii) kei cars. Dennis King, from whom we rented a car on Cat Island (a right-hand drive JDM Honda Accord) told us that there were websites (e.g., BeForward, SBT, Trust), from which you could order used Japanese cars and, thanks to the magic of containerized shipping, receive them in the Bahamas just 45 days later. I like thinking of these cars and trucks, which began their lives on the hectic streets of Tokyo, or in the cold northern reaches of Hokkaido, getting to live out their dotage on the balmy, traffic-free, sandy roads of the Bahamas.
Elbow Reef Lighthouse at dusk.
While waiting for a laundry dryer cycle to finish earlier this week, I decided to head up to the Elbow Reef Lighthouse, just across the harbor from Hope Town. Early in the history of the Abacos, the local population had supplemented their livelihoods by salvaging ships that wrecked on the Atlantic side of Elbow Cay, often the first landfall after a transatlantic crossing. There are even allegations that ships were lured onto the reefs with false lights by “wreckers” in order to increase their salvage yields. To help reduce the number of wrecks, the British Imperial Lighthouse Service began building lighthouses throughout the Bahamas and, after repeated construction delays due to vandalism by locals interested in continuing their “wrecking” salvage, the Elbow Reef lighthouse was completed in 1864. It is now the last hand-cranked, kerosene-powered lighthouse in the world.
The view from the top of the 120-foot tower is…not bad.
The only downside of our visit to Cat Island? Our refrigeration system failed the day we arrived. Oof.
Our fridge and freezer share a chill plate, which we cool down twice a day via a compressor that runs off the generator. (There’s also an engine-driven compressor but it stopped working several months ago.) The generator wouldn’t start after we anchored, and Drew quickly discovered that its raw-water impeller had disintegrated. (Impellers are like propellers, except they suck in water rather than push it out.) Not to worry: He’d ordered spare impellers in Seattle and brought them on board for just such an emergency. Only, oops, it seemed that pumpvendor.com had shipped the wrong parts. They were too small. No fix was at hand.
17 years ago to the day, Linda and I, my brother Jordan and cousin Wendell (who were also in New York City at the time, living in a pre-gentrification Williamsburg) received the following dispatch (via fax!) from my uncle Gene and aunt Mimi, who were anchored off of Elbow Cay in the Abacos. It must have made an impression (even though I was apparently “underwater workwise”) because, here we are, 17 years later, anchored off of Elbow Cay in the Abacos.
Here’s a transcription of the fax: