Monday, January 08, 2007

Little Harbor - Great Guana Cay

Shallow water is common in The Bahamas, but the shallowest we know of is in the channel entering Little Harbor, the southernmost harbor in the Abacos. I’ll only say that we spent two hours in that channel waiting for the tide to change so we could get all the way into the harbor. ( Oh, and heartfelt thanks to all the nice folks who helped us move off the hard bottom: Andy and his son Andy, Danny, Bruce, and , of course, Larry. Boaters, even power boaters, come very quickly when needed. )
Little Harbor was settled by artist/ teacher Randolph Johnston who moved his family there and lived aboard their boat until it was destroyed by a hurricane. Then they lived in a cave while building real shelter. At any rate he was an apparently gifted sculptor (although it seems to me he was preoccupied with large buttocks) and demand grew for his cast bronzes (lost wax process). He’s gone now, but his son Pete operates a pub/ restaurant and still produces statues of naked people rising from the sea or just standing around being naked.
It is an extremely friendly spot, and a nice couple, Bruce and Lin Olson invited us to their boat New Year’s Eve for snacks, fresh cherry pie, and champagne. Lin is a teacher, but Bruce was a clinical psychologist, so I tried to avoid revealing any unresolved feelings toward my mother, father, or childhood sled, “Rosebud”. A very enjoyable evening and we were asleep by 10:30 PM
Just about midnight the fireworks display began and Pete fired the rockets right out over the boats in the anchorage. If I had been a combat soldier back in Nam, I'd have awoken in a panic thinking that Charlie had just launched a rocket and mortar attack and that one had exploded over my head. (Luckily the only traumatic stress I suffered in the war involved badly impacted third molars.)
We slipped out of Little Harbor at high tide early Monday morning without relying on the kindness of strangers.
Later in the week, we spent three days on Great Guana Cay, across the Sea of Abaco from Marsh Harbour. The settlement here is the smallest and least impressive we have yet seen. I won’t say trashy, but there are beer bottles and litter everywhere, the folks are unfriendly, and some of their houses are near collapse. (Mary Ann thought it might better have been named Bat Guano Cay.)
Once one leaves the harborside settlement, the character of the island changes. As is often the case here, the newer homes are quite nice and frequently enjoy a view of the ocean or Sea of Abaco. We rented a golf cart, and drove, on this long slender island, as far as the road (and the guards) would allow. There really were guards (but low-key, friendly Bahamian guards) because Great Guana is in the middle of a political dispute. The Bakers Bay Resort wants to build a golf course, but the locals are opposed because golf course fertilizer kills coral reefs. They are currently settling this in the London courts.
We snorkeled on a part of their reef Thursday afternoon, and in some ways it was the best we have seen. There were huge areas of purple fan coral and schools of reef fish. This was a large barrier coral reef, but there is much more reef all along the island. It would be a real loss if the reef suffered future damage.