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Hope Town (Elbow Cay) & Lubbers Quarters, Abaco, Bahamas By Rebecca Burg

“Look!” Bill said, pointing at a birdlike creature disappearing into the dense undergrowth — “A penguin!” The pier to Cracker P’s.


laughed and said, “Penguins aren’t in the tropics.” Bill was convinced that he saw one. Still giggling, I followed my seemingly confused cruising buddy along a narrow path through the small, verdant island of Lubbers Quarters, which is next to Elbow Cay in Abaco, Bahamas. Boaters visiting Elbow Cay typically make their rounds to Lubbers Quarters for its bar/restaurant, Cracker P’s. Fresh food, social events and a cheerful ambiance has put this place on the map. Cracker P’s is also the clubhouse and wall of fame for Abaco’s legendary, wooden racing sloop, Abaco Rage. After lunch, Bill and I toured a cottage and tree house hidden in the island’s tangled tropical foliage. Owned by renowned artist and friend, Marlee Mason, the cottage was a self-sufficient marvel with solar power and rainwater cisterns. Socializing, we sat on the upper deck and watched Marlee’s little white dog chase hermit crabs in the grass below. Bill kept an eye out for his mystery penguin. Bill’s ketch, Defiant, and my cutter, Angel, were anchored in the sandy bottom shallows just north of Eagle Rock near the entrance to Hope Town Harbour. Boats can also anchor between Elbow Cay’s western shore and the Parrot Cays. Deeper drafts must watch out for the five-foot mounds on the seafloor. The channel into the harbor is 6-7 feet deep MLW, and opens to a completely sheltered area that’s about 8-15 feet deep. There’s no room to anchor between the moorings that have filled the harbor. Moorings can be rented. A handful of marinas in the harbor offer slips, fuel and resort facilities. Dinghies can nose up to one of the two public docks, and the Harbour View Grocery store thoughtfully has a dock for its shoppers. Like almost anywhere in the Bahamas, stern anchors are used while at the docks. Step ashore and Hope Town’s pastel village, perfect-


January 2008


ly landscaped and clean, beckons. Elbow Cay has a fascinating history. Recently, a 600year-old native Lucayan skeleton was uncovered during a dig to build a house in Hope Town. The Lucayans were among the first to inhabit the islands. During a sailing tour through Abaco, Christopher Columbus described these island people as “well formed, naked and generous.” Unfortunately, after the Spanish slave raiders swept through in the 1500s, the Lucayans disappeared, and the islands were uninhabited for a time. In the 1600s, the English began to colonize the Abacos, and Hope Town’s tiny community was established in 1785. The British Imperial Lighthouse Service built the now famous lighthouse in 1863. Today, this treasured maritime monument still uses its original hand-wound kerosene mantle and glass prism lenses to guide distant ships. Its functioning antique mechanism is the last of three that are still in use in the entire world. Visitors can climb the lighthouse’s spiral stairs and marvel at the gull’s eye view. Bill and I found it particularly amusing to see our anchored sailboats, which resembled ant-sized toys at such a height. For another nostalgic journey through time, Hope Town’s Wyannie Malone Historical Museum shares a wealth of artifacts and curious glimpses into a hard life way back when. I was amazed by the historic dress code, which was incongruous with the tropical climate. Dark, long pants and hats were worn by the men, and women were wrapped in layers of body-hugging fabrics and long dresses. Such exploring works up an appetite. Elbow Cay has two grocery stores, a bakery and two liquor stores. In Hope Town Harbour, Capt’n Jacks and Harbour’s Edge serve up Bahamian delights with a view of the harbor and lighthouse.