Fish Hooks Restoration: The Front Yard

Once Fish Hooks had been moved backward onto its new foundation, we had a fantastic new front yard. The bad news? It was little more than a gaping hole filled with debris, broken concrete and centipedes — as unsafe as it was unattractive.

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A “before” shot of our new front yard

One important project during our last trip to the cay was to convert this pit into a safe and welcoming front yard. Knowing Fish Hooks is one of the first things visitors see when they step off the ferry, we want to be sure our house and garden are as attractive as possible.

As soon as the porch was complete, we got started on leveling out the yard. yard. Since garden soil is virtually impossible to come by on the island, we ordered some fill and sand from Wade Cash. And, as is his style, Wade exceeded our expectations. Instead of the plain rocky fill we anticipated, he turned up with a truckload of dark, rich earth.

He happened to be excavating a project site that week and had some soil to spare.

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Tom celebrates our good fortune

This dirt soon became the subject of much interest. At least a half-dozen of our neighbours stopped by to ask where they could get some.

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Charles Smith, our gardener, and his crew spread the newly delivered earth

With the rainy season due to begin any day, Tom and I realized that until we had a lawn to anchor it, we’d need to keep that precious dirt from washing away. Especially since several friends had jokingly promised to “liberate” any of it that ended up on the public roadway.

After a bit of thought, we knew just what to do.

When Fish Hooks had been moved a few months before, we’d set aside a couple dozen beautiful old stones. Some had been part of the house’s original foundation. Others were pieces of Ma May’s outdoor stone oven. At the time, we had no idea what to do with them — we just agreed they were too historic and beautiful to get rid of.

Now, we realized they’d make the perfect border across the front of the yard.

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The rock border in place

Originally, we’d planned for this stone border to be temporary — just until we installed a proper fence. However, we love it so much, we’re thinking of keeping it and working the fence and garden around the stones.

After the yard had been leveled out and the soil secured with this low retaining wall, it was time for grass. We chose Zoysia (it’s similar to Bermuda grass and is used a lot on golf courses), because of its resistance to salt, sun, drought and weeds, and for its fine, soft, carpet-like texture.

Charles planted small clumps of grass throughout the yard, promising that before long, it would spread and cover the dirt.

Sure enough, within a week or so, the rains started and the Zoysia began to take hold. The photo below was taken a week or so after it was first planted…

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… and the two pictures below were taken last week by our friends, Mandy Roberts and her son, Dillon. Tom and I are so happy with the yard to date — can’t wait to get back to the cay and begin planning out our garden!

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, fish hooks, zoysia, grass

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, fish hooks, grass, garden, zoysia

Abaco Potcakes Need Your Help

bahamas, abaco, potcake, stray dog, dog rescue, spay, neuter, veterinarianIf you’ve spent time in Abaco, you’ve no doubt encountered stray dogs, known locally as potcakes. In the past, many of these creatures were left, emaciated, injured and/or diseased, to fend for themselves.

Today, however, non-profit organizations such as the Abaco Shelter (aka Pop’s Shelter) and Royal Potcake Rescue rescue Abaco’s strays, giving them food, shelter, medical care and love, and finding them forever homes.

To help control the local potcake (and potcat) population, Abaco’s animal rescue groups are co-sponsoring a series of spay and neuter clinics over the next few months.

Clinics are scheduled as follows:

  • Marsh Harbour — October 24-26 at the Island Veterinary Clinic
  • Sandy Point — November 8-9
  • Foxtown — December 6-7
  • Green Turtle Cay — December 13-14 (cats only)
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Photo: Royal Potcake Rescue

Approximately 200 animals were sterilized at a similar clinic this past April, and organizers are hoping for comparable results at the upcoming events.

However, the success of clinics like these depends in large part on contributions from folks like you and me.

To donate online, visit the Abaco Shelter website or Royal Potcake Rescue Donations Page. (Royal Potcake Rescue is a 501(c)(3) non-profit rescue organization, meaning U.S. donations to this organization are tax-deductible.)

Donations can also be made in person at the Abaco Shelter (please make checks to Pop’s Shelter.)

In addition to financial support, clinic organizers are seeking donations of the following items:

  • # 10 scalpel blades
  • 3×3 or 4×4 cotton gauze pads
  • Alcohol
  • Bleach
  • Bottled water
  • Canned dog food
  • Coloured duct tape
  • Cotton balls
  • Disposable gloves
  • Flea and tick spray
  • Gallon-sized Ziploc bags
  • Garbage bags
  • IV catheters – cats 24g x 3/4″, dogs 29g x 1 1/4″
  • Kennels – all sizes
  • Markers
  • Paper towels
  • Pens
  • Povidone-iodine
  • Q-tips
  • Scrub brushes
  • Sheets and towels
  • Slip leashes
  • Surgical drapes (disposable or cloth)
  • Syringes & needles – 1cc majority, 3cc, & 20 or 10cc
  • Tarps
  • Thermometers
  • Tweezers
  • Vet wrap

If you can contribute any of these items or if you’d like more information about the clinics, contact the Abaco Shelter at (242) 367-0737 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., or the Island Veterinary Clinic at (242) 577-0397, Monday through Friday.

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Post-op recovery area at the April 2014 spay and neuter clinic

 Free Vaccine Clinicdog 9

In conjunction with the Marsh Harbour spay/neuter event this weekend, Island Veterinary Clinic is offering a FREE Vaccine Clinic on October 25, beginning at 9:00 a.m.

Two hundred units of vaccine  will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dogs must be older than six weeks and should NOT have been vaccinated this year. All dogs must have a (free) check-up before vaccination.

For more details, contact the Island Veterinary Clinic Monday through Friday at  (242) 577-0397.

Green Turtle Cay 101: Playing Here (Part One)

The latest post in the Green Turtle Cay 101 guide to getting here, staying here, dining here and playing here.

Given its diminutive size, Green Turtle Cay offers a surprisingly broad range of recreational activities including world-class boating and water sports, as well as historic sites and cultural events. In this post, we’ll focus on the cay’s gorgeous beaches.

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Bita Bay

Whether you prefer calm, shallow waves lapping at the shore or wild surf crashing onto the sand, you’ll find a beach to love on Green Turtle Cay. And with beaches on all sides of the island, there are sheltered spots to sun or swim on even the breeziest days.

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Map of Green Turtle Cay Beaches

Though most of the cay’s prettiest beaches are located beyond the hill east of town, there are a few small beaches within the New Plymouth settlement. The sandy strip that runs along the south shore of the settlement (known as the South Beach) is great for morning walks. At low tide, gravestones washed by storms from the cemetery above are visible on the sand.

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New Plymouth’s South Beach

Opposite Harvey’s Island Grill on the shore of Settlement Creek is a small, sandy beach, where you’ll often find the local kids playing. And a few dozen steps away, on the west side of Settlement Point, is a tiny sliver of beach perfect for low-tide shelling or a quick dip.

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Beach West of Settlement Point in New Plymouth

Across Settlement Creek, there’s a small beach at Pineapples Bar and Grill where you can take a cool dip while you wait for lunch.

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Beach at Pineapples Bar and Grill

My favourite Green Turtle Cay beach, Gillam Bay, is located just east the settlement. To get there, follow the paved road up the hill from town until it turns left. Instead of proceeding left, continue straight ahead onto the sandy path, past the ball field on the right. Follow that path down to the water.

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Gillam Bay

Gillam Bay is ideal for an early morning walk, since it offers a spectacular view of the sun rising over Pelican Cay. You’ll find amazing shells, sand dollars and sea biscuits at the water’s edge.

Unfortunately, in recent years, erosion has taken a toll along the eastern side of the island. Gillam Bay has been especially hard hit. Having said that, as you can see from the recent photographs below, the beach is still amazing. It’s best accessed via the cement steps at the end of the sandy road at or near low tide.

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Gillam Bay with Pelican Cay in Background

Though a lot of sand has washed away from Gillam Bay over the past decade, the good news is that it hasn’t gone far. The beach on the south side of the Gillam Bay point has grown dramatically — and it’s gorgeous.

A leisurely stroll around Gillam Bay point to the south side and back takes an hour or two, and is easiest at low tide. If you’d rather a shorter walk, a couple of marked footpaths cut across the peninsula. Look for the small white signs with black arrows and follow them through the brush to the beach on the point’s south side.

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South Side of the Gillam Bay Point

North of Gillam Bay is Long Bay Beach, which can be accessed from several points along the main road, including the street directly across from Abaco Yacht Services. This beach is great for walking, beach combing and, on calmer days, snorkeling.

Further north is another of my favourite Green Turtle beaches — Bita Bay. Though unmarked, it’s fairly easy to find. If you’re heading north from town, keep an eye out for a wooden, shark-shaped “Bita Bay House” sign on your right. Shortly afterward, you’ll spot the sandy path that leads to Bita Bay beach.

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South end of Bita Bay

Thanks to the reef and islands that shelter it, Bita Bay is generally calm, even when the ocean beyond is raging. It’s terrific for snorkeling, especially for kids, as there’s a small reef just a few feet from shore (visible in the above photograph.)

bahamas, abaco, green turtle cay, bita bay, beach

North end of Bita Bay

Along the northeast coast of Green Turtle Cay stretches the Ocean Beach. Where some of the island’s eastern beaches enjoy partial shelter, there is literally nothing but deep blue sea between this beach and Africa! It’s gorgeous, majestic and windswept, but can be too rough at times for swimming.

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Ocean Beach with waves breaking on the reef beyond

Slightly north of the Green Turtle Club is tranquil Coco Bay. From the Club, head north on the road east of Brendal’s Dive Center. When that road ends, turn left and follow the road as it curves right. Coco Bay will be on the right side.

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Calm, Quiet Coco Bay

Best enjoyed at or near high tide, Coco Bay is shallow, sheltered, warm and almost always calm — making it a good choice on windy days. The grassy area just off shore tends to attract ocean life such as conchs, starfish, bonefish, turtles and rays.

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Coco Bay

At the far western end of White Sound, overlooking the Sea of Abaco, is the Bluff House Beach. To get there, continue along the road past Coco Bay and take the first left. This road meanders along the north and west sides of White Sound and ends at the Bluff House Resort. Once you reach the resort, turn right and follow the road down the hill to the beach.

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Bluff House Beach

As you can see from these photos, Green Turtle Cay’s beaches are far from crowded — more often than not, you’ll have a beach entirely to yourself.

And though overzealous or uninformed property owners occasionally post “private beach” signs, by law, all Bahamian beaches are considered public property to the high-tide line. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid trespassing on private waterfront properties, but there are no “private” beaches on the cay.

For Sale: The Abobo Too

If you’re in the market for a boat, our friends Louise and Claude have a deal for you. They’ve decided to sell their beautiful vessel, the Abobo Too.

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Louise and Claude, aboard the Abobo Too

Tom and I have long admired the Abobo Too, and we were glad to finally get to know her owners during a visit to Green Turtle Cay last winter. Though Claude and Louise are based in Nova Scotia, they and their two pooches, Fifi and Caramel, have spent many winters cruising the Bahamas.

After more than a decade of cajoling by their kids, however, they’ve decided to sell both their Nova Scotia home and the Abobo Too and move across Canada to Victoria, B.C., to be closer to family.

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Abobo Too

Built in Nova Scotia and launched in 2003, the Abobo Too has a wood epoxy hull and oak trim. She’s registered in the Bahamas and, during the off-season, is stored at Abaco Yacht Services on Green Turtle Cay. (The boat yard has guaranteed a space for the vessel if her new owner wants it.)

Here are some additional details:

  • Length overall: 13.40 metres (44 feet)
  • Length on deck: 12.20 metres (40 feet)
  • Length waterline: 12.20 metres (40 feet)
  • Draft: 0.95 metres (3 feet 2 inches)
  • Beam: 3.70 metres (12 feet)
  • 4 diesel fuel tanks — 2 tanks of 360 litres (90 US gal) and 2 tanks of 240 litres (60 US gal) — for a total capacity of 1200 litres (300 US gal)
  • Drinking water – 2 tanks of 230 litres (50 gallons)
  • Fly bridge
  • Queen bed in forward cabin, additional accommodation for an adult on the settee in the main salon
  • Kitchen includes a propane 3-burner stove and oven, microwave, Norcold Refrigerator Model N500.3 (2003) and stainless steel counters.
  • Includes 10-ft Boatex Sailing Dinghy with 3.3 Hp Mercury outboard (2009), Kuuma B-B-Q with 5 lb propane tank (2012) and two 3-speed Raleigh folding bikes
  • Asking price: $90,000

To be honest, if Tom and I weren’t midway through our Fish Hooks restoration, we’d seriously consider buying the Abobo Too. Sadly, the timing isn’t right for us. But we’d love to see her find a terrific new owner.

If you’re interested or you know someone who might be, email Claude at claude.l.lalonde (at) gmail.com or call (902) 748-1909 for more information.

P.S. Though I love boats, I know little about their inner workings and am therefore not able to answer questions or provide assurances related to the Abobo Too. Having said that, I’m sure Claude and Louise would be happy to provide full details and answer any questions you might have.