Abacos update-post Irene
Dear Friends: Some of you know that Amy and I left for Abacos the Friday before Labor Day to view the damage to that pristine area. The news media gave little coverage; the wild stories spread, and I wanted to know how well "Nobut" survived in Man O War on a mooring. First, "Nobut" came through very well even though hit by a 40' sailboat that took off around the harbor when the sail unfurled! Fortunately Chris and Jill Prewitt kept us somewhat posted from Hopetown when time permitted. This was no Floyd thankfully. There were some boats up on the shore, but very few compared to Floyd. The primary damage was to downed power lines and telephones. Very high tides caused great flooding and uplifting of docks. High winds dropped trees and stripped branches of leaves. The salt spray burned the remaining foliage so that everything was brown and bare. In every instance I saw homes never seen before due to thick bushes and trees.
My overall impression was being impressed how quickly people went to work cleaning up. They have boundless energy and in most cases, great pride. Island by island, I can tell you it was very quiet. Of course, many facilities and restaurants are normally closed this time of year. I stopped in Boat Harbour in Marsh Harbor. There were 4 boats, all on one dock which had electricity. They were not able to pump fuel. The high water must have knocked out the power, but the restaurant and office was open. People were trying to be cheerful and helpful Chris, the great Dockmaster, was a very busy guy attempting to get everything going again. The main part of Marsh Harbor survived better than in past years, although damage to docks, some boats; but it was very empty other than Conch Inn Marina where the charter fleet was based.
Man O War was pretty bare with the foliage missing. The harbor was in excellent condition. By the time I got there, they had power, and most had electricity. Cell phones are a wonderful thing in these times. Tommy at Man O War Marina was very busy, quite full, and providing all services including pumping fuel. He lost too many beautiful palm trees, and only a few shingles. Joe Albury who cared beautifully for "Nobut" along with his brothers were hard at work pickling up and trying to launch some of their boats. Jeff's grocery store just as immaculate as always. The ice machine outside the store floated around, but was running fine when I arrived.
Man O War did something unique. They got 3 large barges, positioned them near the dump, and lifted all the small boats up on the barges - no damage. Man O War's 2 restaurants were back in full operation. The food at Dock and Dine always melts in your mouth, and it did this time too! George and his crew do wonders. Incidentally Lolo is still baking her bread. The area of Man O War that got hurt was north harbor. Many docks torn apart and some boats really hurt. The beach at the narrows was quite a sight. So much wood was piled up on land from the damaged docks. Along came the extremely high tides after Katia and roared over the road and threw much of the neatly piled wood right back in the water!
The trip over to Junior's place, Sea Spray Marina at White Sound, was a pleasant surprise. Everything was just right, very neat and all systems and restaurant up and running. This was in spite of the island being breached just east of the marina with 4' of sand burying the road! Tahiti Beach is gone - maybe it will rebuild itself, but no nice sand hump.
Hopetown Harbor was very empty and void of much boat damage. Lighthouse Marina was up and running, the grocery stores were open, and the Lodge and the only open restaurant was also immaculate and all cleaned up. Tommy does a wonderful job under all conditions.
Guana Harbor seemed untouched. Everything pretty much boarded up and abandoned except that Nippers was open! There appeared to be no dock damage in that harbor, which really impressed me. Fisher Bay was another story. Oh so many docks wiped out. Wood everywhere - a few boats up on the shore. Troy at Dive Abaco really got slammed - his extensive docks really ****. Bakers Bay was absolutely pristine - no damage whatsoever as far as we could see. The ride around Whale Cay was a roller. And we picked the right day to go.
Green Turtle Club was really flooded. Some of you probably saw pictures of water half way up the gas pumps. By the time we got there, all appeared normal except no boats at all in the marina. They are always closed this time of year although they do pump fuel and were doing so. They had done a nice job of picking up. The Bluff House had minimal dock damage. I think they may have been open, but not certain. Black Sound looked deserted and boarded up except one boat at Other Shore Club. New Plymouth had been well flooded, but places like Miss Bees looked normal. Only activity appeared to be church services. Talking and listening on the radio made me realize how beaten down these folks appeared. Many structures were seriously damaged - where did the people go?
I have rambled on but want to make some points. First, under normal circumstances this is a wonderful time to visit and cruise the Abacos. The waters are warm, and normally clear and calm. This time the waters were beautifully blue-green with sand stirred in so visibility not good. In fact, under some light conditions, it was difficult to even see the waves. Speaking of waves, it was beautiful to see all the breaking waves on the reefs all around the Abacos. It was like a protective white rim keeping the breakers away from these lovely islands. This is the time between seasons - the winter folks will be arriving in October. If you like to shop for goodies, forget this time of year. If you want a different restaurant every day, it won't happen. If you want the pristine waters almost to yourself, this is the time. It is absolutely beautiful over there, even under these trying times. May they be spared from any other tropical disaster. Yes, it could have been much worse; however it is too bad it had to happen at all.