Sunday, January 14, 2007

Back to Man-o-War; On to Treasure Cay

Since this was a windy week, we spent some time in Man-o’-War's excellent harbor. On Man-o’-War we enjoyed the company of some new friends. Temple and her orthodontist husband Richard, had sailed from Maine. We took several long walks with Temple, a gentle, gracious lady (incidentally, Richard sails a 56' Hinckley, one of the most beautiful yachts we have seen anywhere).

We also met an interesting English couple, Michael and Jackie, aboard the 41' ketch First Lady. When Mary Ann and I stopped by earlier in the week to examine their broken chain plate, Jackie immediately invited us aboard for tea and biscuits, although the package referred to them as “Digestive Biscuits”. They tasted like Lorna Doone cookies, but I must find out why they are called Digestive. Do they aid in digestion or what?

The next evening Michael and Jackie visited us after dinner and we enjoyed Annie’s pineapple upside-down cake with coffee and red wine in the Peregrine’s main cabin. As I earlier suggested they have an interesting story. After Michael had studied economics at Oxford, he traveled in 1972 to South Africa on business where he met Jackie (they now have a son and two daughters). Michael then joined the English diplomatic corps and was assigned to various posts, including (still in the 70’s) Botswana (where they no doubt met many ladies of traditional Botswanan build).

He has some good stories, but the most exciting described their recent voyage from Nassau to the Abacos. In high winds and heavy seas their chain plate broke; the chain plate is a heavy piece of stainless steel which anchors the shrouds and, therefore, holds the masts up. It should never break. Nevertheless, Michael reacted quickly to the failure and the boat made it safely to port. For more about their trip, check their web page feed://

After four days in Man-o-War, we sailed on to Treasure Cay, about which we knew very little. Treasure Cay is unlike any island visited so far. First, most of these islands were settled by American Loyalists (loyal to the British crown) about 220 years ago (they apparently decided to flee a country where Bill Clinton would someday be president and Rosie O'Donnell would be popular). There is no old settlement here, but in fact there was an attempted settlement here which failed. It was built at the southern end of the beach, now called Carleton Point, but the settlers soon left. The apparent reason for failure is evident; the other succcessful settlements are next to protected harbors, but here there is only a very beautiful beach (check for Carleton Point in the photo of Mary Ann on the beach).
The other difference is that Treasure Cay is not a true community. On most of the Abaco islands, like Man-O-War settlement, family and community activities are common. Young moms drive the kids around in golf carts; the youngest usually held with the left hand on mom’s lap, no seat belts anywhere.
Treasure Cay, however, consists of condos, villas, second homes, a few stores, some restaurants and bars, a large (mostly empty) marina, and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (according to National Geographic).
What’s so beautiful, you wonder, about the beach? Well, it’s a gently curving crescent shape; the sand is very white, powdery stuff; a dolphin family was playing 40 yards off the shore when we were there; but the light-green, translucent water is probably the clincher. The dark blue water on the ocean beaches is striking, but for most folks Treasure Cay beach on the aqua Sea of Abaco will be thought more beautiful.
The place seems to be prospering (they are building more housing units), but I’m not sure why, since we have seen very few people. There are two bars on the water, and on Saturday night at 8:00 PM , one bar was closed and the other was serving about five gloomy drinkers. The upscale restaurant, Spinnakers, had four tables in use out of perhaps 50. The weather is perfect today (Sunday) and maybe a dozen people are enjoying a 3 1/2 mile beach (one of the ten best in the world). So, I don’t understand the economy here, but I guess they’re doing fine. We’ve spent about $15, so we’re doing our part.
A word about the fauna: we have seen no squirrels, raccoons, or mice, but Little Bahamas Curly-tailed lizards are everywhere; one nearly steps on them. The size seems to range from a few inches to several inches in length, but it’s hard to tell, since the males curl up their tails, and you’d have to catch one and uncurl him to be sure. You’ve probably guessed that the males curl up their tails to impress the females and intimidate the other males (if they lived in east L.A., they might load up a ‘62 Chevy with woofers and hydraulics pursuing the same motives).