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Island Hopping to Explore Abaco’s Treasures – Part 2

December 1st, 2009

by Jennifer Hudson
PART 2 of 4

Explore History in Elbow Cay

Whether you are a history buff or just someone interested in finding out more about the place, a visit to Elbow Cay would not be complete without a visit to the Wyannie Malone Historical Museum. Located in a hundred-year-old house next to the Post Office Dock, the museum tells the life and times of Elbow Cay and its environs over the past two centuries and beyond.

The museum was named after Hope Town’s matriarch, Wyannie Malone, an original settler from South Carolina, and contains an interesting collection of historical documents, photos, artifacts, seafaring paraphernalia and much more. Several rooms are laid out as they would have been in times past, which gives the unique feeling of being back in another era on Elbow Cay.

Snack, Dine and Shop in Quaint Hope Town

kthread cooks: conch fritters

After exploring everything Hope Town has to offer one might feel the need for some “refortification” and there are several snack shops that can supply you with coffee, pastries and ice cream. If a more substantial meal is called for then the Harbour’s Edge and Cap’n Jack’s, both situated on the harbour, or the oceanside restaurant at the Harbour Lodge, provide an excellent menu of good down home Bahamian food as well as other choices.

Don’t leave Hope Town without visiting Vernon’s Grocery Store for some of Vernon’s famous homemade and totally delicious bread and pies. While you are there you will enjoy the collection of poignant and amusing quips and quotes pinned up all over the store.

Cruise South for More

Back in the boat, having enjoyed the quaint colonial atmosphere of Hope Town, one might desire to cruise south around the nearby Parrot, Tilloo and Sandy Cays and onto Lubbers Quarters to visit the famous Cracker P’s Bar and Grill for lunch or a “cooler.” Another option is to cruise north from Hope Town to close by Man O War Cay, which is bordered on its north side by the Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park and Fowl Cay Preserve.

Man O War Cay was once the boat building capital of The Bahamas but today just one boat yard remains, which is still world-renowned.

Joe Albury’s studio, where Joe makes half-boat models, is worth a visit as is the Albury’s Sail shop where the distinctive canvas bags are made and the ladies will be happy to chat all about their island home as they sew. It is a very quiet and laid back little island where one can experience complete tranquility and relaxation. While it has the distinction of being the only “Dry Island,” meaning no alcohol is served there, no objection is made to persons bringing their own.

bay house

Our island hopping adventure will continue tomorrow. In the meantime, check out Part 1.

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Abaco’s Red & White Lighthouse

November 5th, 2009
Lighthouse at Hope Town, Abaco, Bahamas

CC: Flickr user sensorphoto

Abaco’s signature and historic monument, the red and white lighthouse in Hope Town, is a sailor’s guiding light and a tourist’s photographic moment. But the lighthouse (37 m or 120 feet in height) wasn’t always so popular.

According to David Gale and historical records from the Bahamas Lighthouse Preservation Society, Abaconians disapproved of the lighthouse construction.

Gale is quoted as saying, “their animosity began in 1836 when the first two major lighthouses were built in the Bahamas, one on the southern tip of Great Abaco Island at Hole-in-the-Wall and the other at Gun Cay just south of Bimini.”

The locals originally opposed the building of the lighthouses because the lighthouses interfered with their ability to make a living from “wrecking,” scavenging items from boats that shipwrecked off the reef. Shipwrecking was, of course, the very reason their creation was proposed by the British, who then ran the island and wanted the lighthouse to help navigate the ships.

Despite the Hole-in-the-Wall Lightstation, wrecks contined to be a concern for ships and in 1863 the British erected the lighthouse at Hope Town. Today, many people refer to the lighthouse as the Hope Town Lighthouse, but it was actually built to warn ships away from Elbow Reef. The lighthouse’s correct name is the Elbow Reef Lighthouse.

Elbow Reef Lightstation in Hope Town

Visitors to this Hope Town landmark can now enjoy climbing the 101 steps to take in the sweeping views of Parrot Cays and Elbow Cay’s harbor.

View of Hope Town from Lighthouse

View from the Beacon

Facts about Abaco’s Red & White Lighthouse:

  • Elbow Reef Lighthouse was built in 1863 (completed in 1864) by Imperial Lighthouse Service.
  • All Imperial Lighthouse Service lightstations were issued a set of signal flags, which were used to communicate news with passing ships.
  • The signal flags were used to request medical assistance, to identify ships in order to calculate bills for services rendered, to report on-ship births or deaths, or to announce any important news.
  • The light created by the large Fresnel lenses floating in a bath of mercury is visible from more than 17 miles away.
  • The Fresnel lenses were brought to Hope Town from the then-dismantled Gun Cay lightstation in 1936. The new light replaced the standing wick-type light that was originally installed.
  • Chance Brothers of Birmingham, England, built the light.
  • The hood petroleum burner is rated at 325,000 candlepower, a first order light.
  • The lighthouse is 1 of only 3 kerosene-powered lights in the world.
  • Five white flashes occur every 15 seconds.
  • The Elbow Reef Lighthouse is 120 feet tall and it takes 101 steps to get to the top.

More Information on Lighthouses of Abaco: “What’s on” “Hope Town”
Beautiful Bahamas: “Hope Town History”

Have you been to the top of the lighthouse?

Share the link to your photos.

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