Hope Town, Elbow Cay

Friday March 03rd, 2017

Yesterday was the last full nice day we were going to get this side of today’s cold front. We decided to take the Albury’s ferry over to Hope Town. The cost of the ferry is $30 per person round trip. The trip over takes less than a half hour and if reasonably comfortable in the old style ferries they use here. They are fiberglass wide bodied diesel powered boats. They are all named Donnie. Yesterday we were on Donnie VIII in the morning and Donnie VII in the afternoon on our return trip. I have seen a Donnie XVIII in the area. It must be confusing like naming all your kids Frank.

We had about a 15 minute walk from the dinghy dock to the ferry landing which is on the Abaco Sea side of Marsh Harbour. The walk was ok as the day was just warming up. We had a short wait after getting our tickets but the Ferry left almost on time after a couple found out we were going to Hope Town and they wanted to go to Man O War. They were quickly thrown into the sea and we were off.

The boat travelled at over 22 KTS and was a smooth ride in the light chop. The ferry was populated with tourists, cruisers, locals and workers. The workers live around Marsh Harbour and take the ferries to work. Living around the resorts would be too expensive.

The ferry will drop you off at one of four locations in the harbour at Hope Town. We wanted to tour the light house early before it filled up with the friggin tourists. We were dropped off with a family with a child, parents and grand parents. By the time we finished our tour of the Light they were just making it to the front door… perfect.

The Elbow Reef Lighthouse was built in 1863 and it is likely the last human operated lighthouse in the world. It still burns kerosene and the light keeper has to wind up the weights every two hours to keep the light rotating every 15 seconds. The four ton apparatus floats in a tub holding 1200 pounds of mercury allowing for very easy rotation. I could easily move the light by hand (until both a volunteer and ML slapped me).

The light was a fixed first order light until the demolition of the Gun Cay lighthouse made available a kerosene rotating Fresnel light that was installed here at Hope Town. The historical society that supports the light resisted the government fiscal decision to electrify the light and they are responsible for maintaining the kerosene equipment. The light is rated at 325,000 candle power and is the same light source installed in 1936. There is no admission fee to tour the light but the historical society eagerly accepts donations to help them maintain the light and the tourism it generates.


It was very refreshing that we were allowed to tour right up to the top of the structure. The tower is 89 feet high with 101 steps to get to the top. The light is actually at 120 feet above see level. “GP FL W(5) EV 15 SEC 120 FT 15M” means a group of 5 white flashes every 15 seconds, 120 feet high visible for 15 miles. They were painting up top but that did not close the structure only “watch out for the wet paint”. We did the obligatory selfies and a lot of other pics in the gallery below.

We enjoyed the hell out of our day on Elbow Cay and Hope Town. If you have lunch at a restaurant or hotel with a pool or a beach you can use the services of that facility. We had a nice lunch, I had the Bahamian Chicken in a bag. Not a cooking bag but a brown paper bag. So, you could get a beer in a bag, chicken in a bag and dine incognito.

We wandered and took pictures, sat on the beach and visited. A good day. More later


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