Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer daze...

Ahoy, my friends! No Bahamian history lesson today, rather, just the usual travelogue and commentary on our escapades of late! We spent one day being somewhat industrious for ourselves, doing a bit of routine maintenance: oil change for the 12 kW genset, an impeller change for the hydraulic stabilizers, and the general checking, care and feeding of other boat systems. Not to worry, though, we haven’t been all work and no play! Once the cloudy, overcast weather trough left the area, we’ve been enjoying light breezes and fabulously calm seas, so have been out in Tingum enjoying the reefs of Abaco to the fullest. We’d met another cruising couple, Evelyn and Erik, aboard their 57’ Nordhavn, Evrik, earlier in the month up in Great Guana Cay, and happily, they’re anchored near us here in Marsh Harbour.

Evrik on anchor in Marsh Harbour
We’ve been having great fun with them, from dinners aboard both Evrik and Equinox, snorkeling around Matt Lowe’s Cay, to diving several days in a row off Fowl Cay preserve aboard Tingum. The reef structure there is very pretty, with several large and very friendly grouper who follow us around the reefs, begging for handouts. (Not that we have anything to give them, but they are clearly used to some divers doing so, so they hang out with us the entire dive.) 
Heading out in Tingum for more diving
During yesterday’s dive we had two large bull sharks join in the fun; they arrived halfway through the dive and basically escorted us the rest of the way back to the shallows where Tingum was moored. It was pretty neat, I have to say; it was almost as if they were as interested in seeing us as we were in seeing them! They would cruise past, checking us out, then swim a slow, easy route away through the coral formations only to come up from behind us and join us once more. Initially, it was a bit disconcerting, especially if you weren’t keeping an eye out behind you! But they were calm and merely curious – I don't believe they were eyeing us up as dinner! But, as they were bull sharks, we weren’t throwing caution to the currents, either: we didn’t try to get too close but just continued our dive, maintaining our relaxed pace until we were back to the boat. It made for an exciting dive, though!
After diving another day, we went south to Lubber’s Quarters and had lunch at Cracker P’s. Cracker P’s is an Abaco bar and grill named after a local recluse who made Lubber’s Quarters his home back in the early 1900s. The story goes that Paul John Simmons was born 1879, and lived in Lexington, Georgia after fighting in the Spanish American War. In 1915, an “unfortunate event” occurred when his family duck began “terrorizing” the neighborhood, culminating in a fight between Simmons and Oglethorpe County Sheriff Hickory Cartwright. In the ensuing struggle, Simmons shot and killed the sheriff, becoming a wanted man. He then fled to Florida and caught a schooner to the Abacos, where he made his new home. After a couple years in Marsh Harbour, Simmons became a close friend of the Abacos commissioner, Mr. Lucene Pinder, and his family. Eventually Paul John took the Pinder name, becoming known as “Cracker P Pinder” before he settled on Lubber’s Quarters. There, he fished and farmed; he was known as an excellent shot with a rifle, and he planted many sapodilla trees, the fruit of which is used in Bahamian Barbecue Sauce. He would pole a boat to Marsh Harbour once a month for supplies, where folks would bring him meat and fish in exchange for the vegetables he raised. Cracker had a limited wardrobe, rarely washed (supposedly he often went naked while on Lubber's Quarters) and became somewhat eccentric as he grew increasingly reclusive and solitary. He was seen less and less as the years went on, and his legend grew the less he was seen, until his death in 1954. There's a photo of him above the bar:
"Cracker P" of Lubber's Quarters
Ok, so I was wrong about no history today -- couldn’t help myself! It's always interesting to hear the history and background of places we visit, and this was no exception! Plus, we had a great lunch of grilled conch burgers and fresh grilled snapper: a perfect way to round out a day of diving! Can't complain, now can we?
Sunset over Marsh Harbour

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