We have been at Man-O-War Cay for the past four days, having Sophia’s bottom painted. The hull looked pretty good last August, just before we bought the boat and had it hauled for the survey. Just three and half months later, it had grown a slimy, shaggy coat.
Man-O-War was the best place to bring it, for a number of reasons:
- The people of this island are famous for their expertise in boat building and repair; and Keith Albury, who has built boats here since 1960, directed our project and engaged personally in much of the labor.
- When we called around, we learned that Edwin’s yard could do the job right away, while Marsh Harbor and Green Turtle could not start until January;
- Edwin’s yard is cleaner and quieter than any yard we have ever seen before (and we’ve seen a lot—Sophia is not our first boat);
- All the workers at Edwin’s are assiduous, courteous, and knowledgable; and, finally,
- Man-O-War is gorgeous.
The apparatus for hauling a boat fascinated us. A large wooden frame affixed to metal runners, like railroad ties, slides down under your boat at high tide. The side braces adjust to the width and shape of your hull. Then a machine operating a belt and pulley system hauls the boat up on the hard.
We arrived Thursday morning, and the guys started scrubbing away by 7:30. They water-sanded the bottom as they cleaned it, and had hand-brushed the first coat of primer on by the end of the day. They worked all through Friday and finished at the end of Saturday. On Sunday morning, we splashed back into the water.
For a place with such a bellicose name, Man-O-War is sure peaceful. Situated near Elbow Cay and Marsh Harbor on the “mainland,” Abaco, the islet is a mere 2.5 miles long and, at its narrowest point, only 30 feet wide.
The sheer rock path passing though “the low point” lies barely above water at high tide. The locals say that the islet began as a place to farm, but was later settled by a few pious, Protestant families who still live here today.
Nearly all the roughly 300 permanent residents are related to one another through the Albury or Sweeting family. You can tell they are one big clan, as most of them look alike: tall, light-haired, and heavy-set, with broad faces and small, closely set eyes. Friendly and helpful, the residents of Man-O-War welcome visitors and cruisers, but not drunkards.
The majority are still boycotting the restaurant at the marina, Dock & Dine, for selling beer and wine, even though they managed to ensure a provision requiring a person who buys a drink to purchase something to eat with it. We don’t mind having to buy food, since it’s fabulous. Be sure to try the pizza, which is made from scratch each day!