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Elbow Cay is only 12 miles from Marsh Harbor. We left abruptly on Saturday morning as the tide was going down and Rey told us that if we didn’t leave within the hour we wouldn’t be able to get out of our slip until late in the afternoon. So, with my wash still in the dryer, we loosened dock lines and left. Karen got my laundry and brought it to Hope Town. Thank you Karen!! We needed to arrive in Hope Town early so that we could get mooring balls which we knew were at a premium. Dockage in Hope Town is very expensive. Aquila and Her Diamond left together, followed the deep draft passage into the harbor and secured mooring balls. Then we went out on the dinghy looking for a mooring ball for Trekker, who couldn’t come until the afternoon when the tide was up because of their deeper draft. We were so lucky to get all three balls together with very little issue. Because the weather was good, people who had been trapped in Hope Town by the bad weather had left – freeing up some of the balls. Once Trekker got to Hope Town we all dinghied into the dock for a drink to celebrate. Celebrating arrivals is a very important part of cruising.

Angry Beach at Hope Town.

Hope Town is a very unique place. Some of the first residents were loyalists (American colonists who sided with England and came here in the late 1700s after the Revolutionary War). The homes are brightly colored and the streets are very narrow. There are very few cars here but lots of golf carts and bicycles. Most of the homes have beautiful gardens. There are luxury resorts and beautiful villas both in and on the outskirts of town. There are lovely beaches and great opportunities for finding sea glass and sea shells. The streets are very clean, there is a decently stocked grocery and some small shops.

Hope Town lighthouse

Mooring field as seen from the lighthouse. Can you find Her Diamond??

Cute Hope Town house.

Directional signs at Hope Town junction - we were on our bicycles.

We had been surprised by the amount of trash laying around on some of the other islands – you don’t see that here. Our trash can be brought off the boat to a central collection spot every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Trash removal is a big issue on the islands. While it used to be burned at Marsh Harbor they are now removing it by barge.

We will have been on the mooring ball for six nights when we leave here on Friday morning. This is the longest we have gone not in a dock. It makes us very aware of the limited size of our water tank, which only holds 62 gallons. Thankfully Aquila has a water maker and refilled our jerry cans (12 gallons) once while we were here. Otherwise, we would not have been able to shower as often as we have and that would have been a bad situation. This is our one concern about going to the Exumas where there are few marinas and most people anchor. We now know that if we do this again (travel from Florida to the islands) it will have to be with a water maker of our own.

One of the things we love to do when we are staying in a mooring field is visit other boats that are moored nearby – especially if we find other Freedom owners. In Hope Town there were two!! One other Freedom 38 owned by Rick, who used to deliver boats for Freedom to the BVI where there was a fleet of them, and a Freedom 45 owned by Jan and John. John and Jan race their boat with the Hope Town Sailing Club and invited us to join them as crew for the Wednesday race. It was great fun – even though we finished 7th in the 8 boat fleet.

We have been very busy since arriving. Sunday we walked around town as almost everything was closed. Monday we toured the light house which is the last kerosene fueled active lighthouse in the world.

My house is NOT your house - on our way found this house. Obviously they don't want strangers walking through their property.

We climbed the 101 steps and had an amazing view of the harbor and surrounding islands. We went from there to the beach so Bob could get a few pictures of a sailboat that had been wrecked and driven over the reef onto the beach by the recent bomb cyclone. The boat came from Puerto Rico where it had been damaged by Hurricane Jose. The sails ripped, the engine was out of fuel and they lost all of their anchors when the rope rodes were cut by the coral reef. The two men and two dogs survived the ordeal and have been hosted by the people at Hope Town.

Ellipsis run a ground.

Monday night is Bingo night at Captain Jacks and eight of us enjoyed losing while having drinks and dinner. The place was packed!!

Tuesday we unloaded our bikes from the boat (the others rented them) and we toured the Island. The marina is located near town on the North side and we rode to the South side to Tahiti Beach. Surprisingly the island is very hilly and this was a challenging ride. We stopped along the way to have lunch at Hope Town Inn and played some Giant Jenga. We arrived at Tahiti Beach at low tide and were able to walk out quite some distance. We saw crabs and conch in the shallow water. The water leaves waves/ripples in the sand as the tide goes out, which reminds me a bit of brain coral – it was beautiful. The ride back was a bit easier but we were exhausted and went straight back to the boat for dinner and an early night.

Interesting grave at Hope Town cemetery

We stopped at Firefly for drinks on the way home on bike ride.

Wednesday John picked us up at 9:30 am to go out and practice before the race at 11:00 am. It was drizzling a bit when we left and it continued to drizzle on and off throughout the race – but it did not dampen the experience for us. There were six of us on the boat with Jan and me stationed aft of the (center) cockpit making sure the main sheet line did not get stuck on the bimini as we tacked. At one point I was also holding the jib out with a boat hook on a down wind run– very sophisticated equipment. Bob helped with the main sheet, steered for a short time and tailed the jib sheet. Vince (who helps run the cruisers net each morning on the radio) and Ted rounded out the crew. The start was exhilarating as all eight boats tried to cross the starting line at the same time. We would have done much better had the wind not died right in the middle of the race, separating the leading four boats from the trailing four boats. The Freedom is a heavy boat and doesn’t do as well in light air. Unfortunately, we were in the later group. Hugh raced on the ABACO RAGE and had to hike out to help keep the boat level as it has a huge main sail. They finished a bit ahead of us. Had a blast!!

Allenicks on Bumble Bee

Captain Bob crewing

John and Jan - owners of Bumble Bee

Hugh hiked out on THE RAGE

After the race, the sailing club hosted what they call a “standup” which is a BYOB happy hour – they supply the eats. Bob and I enjoyed talking with the other racers.

Award ceremony at Hope Town Sailing Club

We then walked over to Captain Jacks for spaghetti night and then headed back to the boat.

Today, Thursday we had a quiet morning on the boat. Karen and Brain are buying their first house and I spoke with Karen about mortgages. I wish I was there to see the house and to see Honey Bear. I hope she doesn’t get too big before I see her in March. We are going to do some boat chores this morning and then head into town this afternoon to see the museum, walk the beach and hit the grocery store.

Many of the people we met here have decided to make this their “winter home”. They pick up a mooring ball and stay for the entire season – which is why it is difficult for transients to get mooring balls. I can understand why they stay. The people are very friendly, the town is beautiful and so are the beaches. This is somewhere we would definitely visit again.

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