Tag: Nipper’s

It is time to leave Marsh Harbour…

It is time to leave Marsh Harbour, but I think we did the island justice.

Restaurants:

Jib Room: The Jib Room seems to be the cruiser’s hub on land.  It is on the East side of the anchorage and their motto is “it is worth coming to the other side…”  It is a family run marina and restaurant with a pool and laundry facilities.  They have a BBQ special on Wednesday’s and Steak night on Saturday’s.  Following the meals there is entertainment…  Rake & Scrape and Desmond the Limbo Man.  Must do evening while in Marsh Harbour.

Snappas, Mangoes and Curly Tails:  These restaurants are right on the water in the downtown area and offer the quintessential Bahamian menu… Fish, Conch, Burgers, etc.  A lot of it is fried and all of it is good.

We took the Albury Ferry to Hope Town ($27 roundtrip, ~20 minutes 1 way).  I think that Hope Town is the quaintest of all the settlements here in the Abacos.  Hope Town pictures.

We snorkeled at Mermaid Reef.  Mermaid Reef is considered the best reef for “beginners” since you can swim to it form shore and it is rather shallow.  The reef is not very colorful but there are a lot of fish.

We had a beautiful sail to Great Guanna Cay to go to Nipper’s and Grabber’s for the day on Two Step (catamaran) and a quick powerboat ride back to Marsh Harbour courtesy of Dickie & Nan.

We enjoyed the cottage Merrilee stayed in (Pelican Beach Villas).  It was on a beautiful peninsula very near Mermaid Reef.  Just gorgeous.

But it is time for us move along and see other islands here in the Abacos…

Marsh Harbour Pictures  (added new ones to the end of the gallery)

Great Guanna Cay Pictures (added new ones to the end of the gallery)

Grateful for it all…

 

From Merrilee’s Perspective “A Week in the Abaco’s”

Merrilee’s Blog Post:

A Week in the Abacos

It was only a few weeks ago that I was sitting in a rented room in Anchorage, Alaska, making arrangements to visit my friends Susan and George in the Bahamas on a whim. There was still snow on the ground here in this place I simply did not want to be, physically or mentally. I had cut out my horoscope from the local paper that week:

The trouble with our age is that it is all signpost and no destination… I am concerned that you may have fallen under the sway of this kind of myopia, Aquarius. A steady stream of useful tips and clues has been appearing, but you’re missing some of them. Your long-range goals aren’t sufficiently clear, so you don’t always recognize the significance of new revelations. Here’s the cure: In your imagination, create a vivid picture of your next big destination.[i]

             Then Susan posted on Facebook, “We are in Green Turtle Cay.” I could practically hear the water and feel the breeze blowing from the photo she posted. “I want to be there,” I posted. “Well come on down then,” she replied. There was a window in my calendar. I made my plans and called the cat sitter. I flew home long enough to pet the cat, go through two weeks worth of mail, mow the lawn, and swap cool-weather business clothes for shorts, sandals and sleeveless shirts.

The vacation gods were with me, starting with my villa at Pelican Beach. Too beautiful. Quiet. Surrounded by aqua/turquoise/blue water. I re-read the horoscope that now served as a bookmark in my Bahamas travel guide. Is there a lesson to be learned on this trip? Is this the destination? “Change of plans,” I write in my journal. “Be here, wherever that is, rather than there, with cases and strategies causing interference.”

After a day of snorkeling, Susan and I stop by the Jib Room, a local watering hole with a dinghy dock and a cast of characters. A conversation starts with Dickie, the window glass king of Mississippi. We meet his wife, Nan. Bob joins the conversation when he finds out where Susan is from — he is from Merritt Island. George arrives by dinghy to collect Susan. Bob tells me there is a Kentucky Derby party going on at Snappa’s, so we hop in his dinghy to check it out. No mint juleps, so we drink Jim Beam. We meet Steve. Casual business is conducted (Bob runs a charter business.) Steve leaves, but later we find he has picked up our tab.  Orb wins the Derby.

Race over, we head back to the Jib Room where Bob’s friend Tom joins us. I meet Desmond, the limbo king. Dickie is in high form. The Sunday pig roast at Nipper’s is mentioned. Susan and I are going, I say. (The plan is to go by ferry.) Bob offers to take us, and Desmond too. We watch the limbo man perform. It will take days to get that song out of my head. (D’oh! it’s back again!) When it is time to call it a night, plans are made for a rendezvous the next morning at 10:00 for a sail to Guana Cay. I email Susan that night. We have a ride to Nipper’s, I tell her, but as alcohol was involved in the evening’s travel plans, Plan B (the ferry) remains in effect.

When I arrive at the Jib Room the next morning, Capt. Bob and Desmond are there, as are a few other stragglers disappointed that the Jib Room is not yet open. But Plan A looks to be a go! George arrives with Susan, but has decided to opt for a day of alone time. Capt. Bob promises to have us back by sunset.

Plan A starts to waiver. Bob’s crewman, Sparky, has gone AWOL with Bob’s dinghy, which we need to get to “Two Step,” Bob’s catamaran. By 10:30, still no Sparky as we watch “Plan B,” the ferry, leave the harbour. At 11:00, still no Sparky, but the Jib Room opens, so I get a beer. Then Sparky is spotted in the distance, trying to pull-start the dinghy’s outboard. Oars come out. Susan and I exchange glances. She has memorized the ferry schedule, so Plan B2 quietly goes into effect. We have time and the bar is open, so we settle back to island attitude as spectators to the unfolding saga of Plan A. The dinghy has arrived dockside, and dingy wrangling commences. We are introduced to the happy but hapless Sparky, a friendly Canadian from Kelowna, BC. He and I bond over our common northwestness, having been surrounded by southeasterners. Dickie stops by; he is also planning on going to Guana, just waiting on Nan. He has rented a 17-foot power boat and will take us over. The dinghy engine roars to life at the hands of Capt. Bob. Plan A2 goes into effect. Bob and Sparky load the dinghy with refreshments and head to Two Step. Dickie ferries Susan, Desmond and me to the catamaran.

We are soon on our way to Guana Cay, under sail at 4-5 knots for the 7-8 mile crossing. A cooler full of Kalik, reggae music playing, tall tales being told by all.

Thank you, vacation gods.

My day on Guana Cay was a surreal combination of sublime relaxation amidst frenetic energy. We side-step our way through the happy crowd at Nipper’s, and immediately find Dicky and Nan, who arrived well ahead of us. Once the first round of drinks is in hand, and we have found a place to settle (a challenge considering the crowd, but Susan is up to such challenges), I make my way to the pig roast buffet where I load a heaping plate of pork, mac ‘n’ cheese, rice & peas and potato salad — a most impressive pile of fat and carbs to absorb the alcohol. I grab four forks and return to my gang, a hero bearing plunder. We are seated with others at a long, bright yellow picnic table. Introductions are made all around. The couple at the end of the table is from Seattle. Small world… small world…

But our captain is restless. Weather on the horizon furrows his brow. Images of Two Step dancing sideways. He decides to move the boat to safer waters. The rest of us will move on to Grabber’s, where he will soon join us. We drink Nippers at Nipper’s and Grabbers at Grabber’s. I duck in to buy a bright orange tank top at Nipper’s, which is donned immediately. As I make my way through the crowd to catch up with my friends, I am told I am beautiful by a beautiful Bahamian man in a similarly bright orange shirt. Yes we are.

I need to pace myself. At Grabber’s I order Pinot Grigio on ice – a refreshing combination on this hot day. Sparky the Canadian boasts of his drinking prowess. Dickie dances on a table. Capt. Bob rejoins us and goes for a swim. Susan tries to understand what Desmond is saying. I find a hammock and swing slowly, absorbing all sensory input. The warmth of the sun, the smell of the sea, the music, the susurrus of scattered chatter punctuated by frequent laughter. I am content in a way that defies description. Like the calm aftermath of orgasm. The first sip of a cold beer on a hot day. Biting into a perfectly ripe peach, juice running down your arm and chin. Some confluence of all of this and more.

From the hammock, I move to the water, knee deep, toes wiggling. Alone but not alone. I return to my friends for more “not alone” and another glass of wine, the voices and laughter of my group now familiar. The warm and welcoming Mississippi accents, the energetic Canadian. Have I really only known these people for one day?

Time to go. Capt. Bob and Sparky take the dinghy back to Two Step. The rest of us pile on the party boat with Dick and Nan. I am ferried to Two Step. Susan and Desmond opt for the faster return with Dick. By the time I board Two Step, Sparky is passed out. Capt. Bob is stuck with me as his lone crew. “I take direction well,” I say. He smiles, but I see he doesn’t need my help.

After a brief delay to retrieve a left-behind beach towel, Dick overtakes and passes us. We shout out and raise our glasses to each other, mine empty at the time. When I run into Dick the next day, he says “Don’t you ever waive an empty wine glass at me – I was fixin’ to turn around and come fill it for you!” What amazes me most about this is the acuity of his vision – he could see that my acrylic wine glass was empty as he sped past.

Quiet sets in again on Two-Step. I go below to verify that Sparky is still alive, then settle in to swap stories with Capt. Bob. There is baseball. A no-hitter in high school. Time spent in the minors. And there is water. Time in the Coast Guard, and sailing, sailing, sailing. He teases me with a promise to take me to Pete’s Pub in Treasure Cay tomorrow, but he knows I am leaving. I feel as though I am being tested. That the right answer is to stay and sail one more day. Then perhaps another. The cloud of a case load looms on my horizon. I close my eyes and let the sound of water and the cadence of Capt. Bob’s voice chase it away.

I wake early the next day to make this, my last day, as long as possible. After packing, I sit on the porch swing outside my cabin and start this journal. I have a few hours before I join Susan and George for lunch with a cruising couple they know from Toronto. Some time before noon, I check Skype and learn from Susan that Bob is headed to the Jib Room after stopping by Stormy Monday. I arrive at the Jib Room to now-familiar faces: Steve, behind the bar, serves me a Kalik Light. Dick, Nan and Bob are there; George and Susan soon arrive. The stories and laughter this time are shared stories of our adventures the day before, including the story of Susan ripping her skirt on a cleat during the caper to retrieve Nan and a beach towel. I can only imagine George’s reaction as his wife is returned to him in this state. Sometimes I wonder why he even lets her out with me. I expect he wonders the same.

We meet John and Anna at Mangoe’s, and I instantly see why they have become good friends with Susan and George. Bob joins us. Laughter and stories come easily once again. I order conch chowder and pinot grigio on ice. Bob mischeviously renews his offer to take me to Pete’s Pub. “What’s the airline change fee,” Anna asks conspiratorily. They all know the right answer. I know I will choose the wrong one. It is 3:00, and I have a 4:30 flight. A cab is hastily arranged, but waits patiently as I hug the couple I met two hours ago, the man I met two days ago, and the friend I have known for over thirty years. Even George allows a hug. As the cab pulls away, Bob yells, “take care of her, she’s coming back.”

And here I sit on a flight two hours out of Seattle, racing to get my thoughts on virtual paper before my laptop battery dies. I am reminded of the end scene of a favorite movie, Local Hero, where the main character, an oil man who has been transformed by his visit to a village on the coast of Scotland, returns home to his empty apartment in Houston and starts emptying his pockets of sea shells, and posting photographs of the people he met on his trip. The movie ends with a shot of the lone red phone booth in the Scottish village – the phone used by all of the villagers. There is no one around. The phone is ringing.

When I land in Ft. Lauderdale, I have a message from Bob. He was checking to see if I had decided to stay after all, and was ready to pick me up at the dinghy dock.

– – –

Thank you Susan, for a decades-long friendship that is precious to me.

Thank you George for putting up with me and letting Susan come out to play. And for cooking.

Thank you Desmond for being a quintessential Bahamian.

Thank you Sparky for just being called Sparky. I couldn’t have made up a better name for you.

Thank you Dick and Nan. Dick the catalyst who started the conversation that brought us together.

And thank you Bob for your generosity and kindness. And for helping me come closer to understanding my horoscope. See you at Pete’s Pub.



 

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© 2013 Merrilee Harrell

 

Hello from Great Guana!

We arrived at Great Guana Cay on Tuesday after going thru Whale Cay Passage.  What a beautiful cruise down the West side of the island.  Calm winds really show off the beautiful colors of the sea.

We took our time and slowly made our way to Fisher’s Bay, one of several anchorages on the island where we would have good protection from N and NE winds, along with about 15-20 other boats.  This is a good anchorage for those of us with a deep draft.

Almost as soon as we dropped anchor, the winds became to increase and it was windy (15-20mph) the rest of the day and night.  It wasn’t until today that the winds subsided enough for us to feel comfortable leaving the boat.

We took the dinghy to the beachy shore at Grabber’s Bed, Bar & Grill, where we had a nice lunch after walking around the island.  Steve Dodge describes the island “The settlement at Great Guana Cay is the one of the smallest in the central part of the Abaco,  but it is growing…  by 2000 the population was 163.” … “The beach is one of the widest in the Abaco and and extends almost the entire 5.5 miles length of the island.”

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the building of a new resort on the North side of the island.  There was even a website created http://www.saveguanacayreef.com/whoweare.htm.  But it appears the development was approved and we have heard that they were even given a exemption on the import taxes for building materials.

The island is beautiful, the vibe “laid back”.  But one of Guana’s most famous sites is Nipper’s Bar & Grill.  It is a multi-level bar complex right on the ocean dunes, 40 feet above the ocean.  And it is probably the most famous party place in all the Abaco’s, but it was nearly deserted when we were there on a Wednesday morning.  On Sunday nights when they host a Wild Boar Pig Roast, I bet it is a hoppin place!

Click here for pictures.  Below is the island and the highlighted bay is where we anchored.

Grateful for it all…

Great Guana Cay

Great Guana Cay