Stephanie Pearse Hurtt, my high school and college friend from Rumson, NJ,
and her friend, Marcia Poutiatine, joined me for a delightful cruise around the
Abaco Islands. Both are widows, living in Vero Beach,
FL, with leadership roles in community organizations and many activities. We
had a wonderful week exploring the islands, and catching up on our life
experiences. Not only were they fun to be with, they also honed skills as a great sailing crew.
Our first stop was
Treasure Cay, where we picked up two of Marcia’s
longtime friends who have a vacation home there, Peter and Julie Burchfield, . We sailed to the exclusive resort at Bakers Bay, Great Guana
Cay, for a day visit before returning for a celebration dinner at the Spinnaker Restaurant in Treasure Cay. Early next morning we sailed to Fowl Cay Underwater Preserve where we snorkeled in crystal clear water, afterwards sailing Hope Town for the night. This quaint and charming English Village was
established by Loyalists seeking refuge after the American Revolution.
The next day, we climbed the lighthouse and explored the town, then headed
south to Man-O-War Cay, another picturesque loyalist settlement. In the past, Marcia had annually cruised the Abacos with a group of boating friends calling themselves "The Grady Bunch”, named for the Grady-White fishing boats they owned. So she introduced us to her friend, Joe Albury, a famous 7th generation craftsman whose meticulously handcrafted Aboco sailing boats are famous worldwide. I was particularly thrilled when Joe gave us a private tour of his boatbuilding shed behind his wife’s tourist shop.
That night we anchored just south of White Sound. The next morning we visited the Sea Spray Marina and the
Abaco Inn. After beach combing along the oceanside beach,
we returned to the boat and sailed to a sunken barge that friends had told me about in the middle of the Abaco Sea. Encrusted with colorful corals and soft
sponges, it supported a large community of tropical fish. Stephanie spotted 3 Lion Fish, an invasive species transplanted from thier native Pacific Ocean that has proliferated into the Caribbean. They are considered a major threat to the native ecology.
After another beautiful star-lit night, we had a wonderful sail back to Marsh Harbour.
The boat practically sailed itself as we reached, then tacked, then ran
before the wind. The weather was beautiful, the azure water colors in 8'-24’ depths were breathtaking, and the girls had by now become a highly
tuned and expert crew. What a joy! A perfect cumulation to a beautiful week of sailing. The next day, Easter, they flew back to their homes in Vero Beach.