We’ve safely arrived in Freeport, Grand Bahama after a few more days in the Abacos. Throughout the Abacos we found that each harbour and cay had it’s own personality. Well, Freeport is a whole different world. Approaching it from the water, it reminded more of Florida than anything we have seen so far in the Abacos. Once on shore, we still found it to be more like Florida – not a bad thing, just different from the lightly developed Abacos.
We left Marsh Harbour on Sunday, December 7 for Little Harbour, which is a secluded harbour on the eastern side of Abacos, surrounded by a small community. Walking through the town, we noticed that most of the homes went to great length to name and create unique signage for their cottages.
The settlement developed around a foundry built by Randolph Johnston in 1951 and is still in use today by his grandsons. The sculptures can be found throughout the settlement. It has grown into a community of artists. Artistic talent is obvious in the area, right down to the beach shanty created from trash that washed up on the beach.
Mr. Johnston’s grandson Pete runs a fun bar/restaurant in the sand called Pete’s Pub. Of course we had to try that!
While moored in Little Harbour we met a couple, Brian and Jan, who live there in their hilltop cottage, Done Rovin’. From them we learned most of the settlement lives completely “off the grid.” Their power is from solar panels and batteries, and they collect rainwater in cisterns. Brian and Jan also sail their Cornish Shrimper sailboat around the harbour, with its deep red sails – quite a site to see.
Our next stop on our way to Freeport was Schooner Bay. It is quite the opposite of Little Harbour in that it is a planned community of Bahamian style cottages built around the man made canal, but right alongside the ocean. It is still early in its development, but one can see the potential. Harvey, the sales executive, gave us a tour of the community on his golf cart.
A big part of the developers plan is build an eco-friendly community, with its own geothermal power plant and reverse osmosis water plant. A 1/4 acre plot has been set aside for hydroponic gardening, which is supposed to yield as much produce as 5 acres of land.
Next stop is Sandy Point, a stopping off point before the long hop to Freeport. It is another contrast to the places we’ve visited so far. The community is smaller than any we’ve visited and has a very rural feel. It appears that the main source of employment and income is Disney’s Castaway Cay, which is about a mile away by boat. We saw Disney crewboats take folks off in the morning and return them in the afternoon. We could even see a Disney Cruise ship docked at Castaway Cay.
Among all of these places we’ve visited there have been many stray dogs. The strays have crossbred over the years to form a recognized breed, called the Bahamian Potcake. For the most part, they are medium sized, short haired and good-natured. So far I haven’t captured a picture, but will keep trying. One day a small female potcake followed us down to the pier as we got on our dinghy. She smiled at us just the way Amy used to and won my heart. Unfortunately I couldn’t take her with us.
A real treat was dinner at Nancy’s. It was recommended to call ahead for reservations, which seemed strange for this small community. Turns out that when you call, they tell you what the choices are for dinner that night and ask you to choose. Our options were chicken, fish or lobster. Between us, we had the fish and the lobster which were accompanied by peas ‘n rice, cole slaw and baked macaroni and cheese. All yummy!
On Friday morning we left before sunrise for the 70 mile trip to Freeport. Pete had reserved a spot for us at Seabreezes, which is run a Canadian couple named Bob & Mary. It is a delightful place to stay, whether you want to book one of their apartments or space on their sea wall. Bob came out on his boat to guide us into the canal and to his resort.
Bob & Mary have treated us as if we were guests in their home. When we mentioned that we wanted to visit the Garden of Groves while we were here, they said there was a special Christmas celebration the next day and Bob was to be Santa. They graciously invited us to go along with them. Pete got to ride in Santa’s Sleigh (AKA Bob’s solar powered electric car).
The gardens were a peaceful oasis in a bustling city. We had lunch at the Garden Cafe and the costumed Santa took a break and ate with Mary, Pete & I. The looks on the faces of the kids was priceless. A very few were brave enough to approach Santa.
We’ve spent the rest of our time here getting to know our hosts, who designed and built this resort themselves, working on the boat and running errands in town. Hoping for time to walk on the beach tomorrow.
We’re flying back home on Wednesday to spend Christmas with the kids and my dad, and looking forward to seeing everyone again. We’re excited that when we return in January, our son Brendan will join us for some more island hopping. Planning to head for the Berries and then Nassau. If I’ve learned nothing else on this trip it is to be flexible. Life on a boat is dependent on the weather.
Wishing everyone a safe and Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!