Although I’m not as much of a Parrothead as I used to be, I’ll always stop to listen to my favorite Jimmy Buffett song, One Particular Harbor. He never names the harbor, though I suspect Jimmy’s favorite is somewhere in the South Pacific.
Mine is much closer to home. Ever since I laid eyes on Hopetown in the Abacos in the mid-90s, I knew it was my particular harbor. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about this tiny harbor that calls my heart home, but its charms are many.
You spot the stalwart little Elbow Reef Lighthouse from a far distance. When we first visited here, we’d see it from the ferry taking us from Marsh Harbour to Elbow Cay. Often, flights out of the Abacos passed over the cays, so you couldn’t miss the candy-striped beacon. From sailboats, it was a landmark that helped direct us into the harbor. Everywhere you walk in Hopetown – and walk you will, because motorized vehicles are very limited in the village, and the “streets” aren’t wide enough anyway – you spot the tower from between houses and trees.
Once you reach the harbor, through shoaly waters, you find protection from almost all directions – saving you from the seas and the winds. It’s snug and safe.
When you come ashore, you find Hopetown, which is saved from being Disney-precious by the fact that real people live and work here; there are such intrusions of reality as trashcans, liquor stores, and peeling paint. Nevertheless, the Cape Code styled houses sport gingerbread and the colors of a child’s paint box, and the picket fences are festooned with bougainvillea, hibiscus and allamanda.
If the human-sized houses don’t tickle your fancy, little Lizard Lodge, a replica of the “big” house in whose yard it sits, will.
As just about every other Abaco cay, it’s never a long walk to get to the ocean, though here, you may find a picket fence or a memorial garden overlooking the beach.
We bought the first of our three Sabre sailboats in 1999, the first year we sailed in the Abacos (as opposed to visiting by land). When in Hopetown that year, we spied another Sabre named Watermark (hi Joyce!) and began hatching our plan to go cruising on our own boat in the Bahamas. Now it’s our own Calypso which is hanging out in that One Particular Harbour.
Calypso is the bottom blue boat, snug in Hopetown.