Voyage 2019: Chapter 2

Winter 2019 [Bahamas]

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20 Jan 2019, Enjoying New Plymouth and her People, 26 45.576 N/ 077 19.44 W

Junkanoo is over and life should be a bit slower. That is good. Here we are in GTC in the first light of 2019. For the next two months we will sit back (except for our walks) and soak in the life and times of GTC and especially the settlement of New Plymouth.
One sad note concerning our visit is that St. Peter's Church is without a priest. The Bishop from Nassau transferred Father Bowes from our parish to Nassau. Problem is they didn't provide this parish with a permanent replacement. We have had temp priests and deacons and they are very good but occasionally we have priest-less Sundays. Sad!

20 Jan 2019, New Plymouth Settlement, 26 45.576 N/ 077 19.44 W

New Plymouth is the only village in GTC. It is located on the south side of the Cay between the Sea of Abaco and Settlement Harbour. The commericial district, grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries, churches, government dock, BTC, and residents comprise much of New Plymouth. GTC is an island isolated from the more populous islands to the south due to the Whale passage. Inclement weather can force even the larger freighters to delay their passage through the Whale.
Many of the building have historical significance. Some are a bit run down but many others are going through a slow but steady restoration. The picture to the left is the beginning of a new house on the hill between the Harbour and Black Sound. We walk by it every day. Cori and her husband are having it built. Development can be slow due to logistics, manpower, materials, and cost. But it will happen.
Fundraisers are the lifeblood of the settlement. There isn't much Government money to go around and so the New Plymouth folks make up the difference. The image to the right is a picture of a fundraiser at Amy Roberts Primary School a couple weeks after Junkanoo. It was to help fund some of the spring activities of the school. Fundraisers help pay for Christmas activities, parades, assistance to residents in need, and a host of GTC concentric support.
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New Plymouth has a flag football team that is actually quite good. We had the opportunity to watch them play at the football field near Gillam Bay Road. They were playing Marsh Harbour, Man of War, and Hope Town. Our team was winner of the day. Later, they won the regional championship. Good team with great coaching, including Coach Ronale.
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Kids here play like we used to when we were kids. We always see kids playing basketball, riding bikes, playing other outside games without the aid of electronic doo-dads. Kids go to and participate in church and family celebrations. They, like their parents, are polite and kind. Nice place.
Once in late January we had a significant wind event with winds 25-35 kts. One of the older telephone poles in the settlement fell during the storm. Within an hour, the pole was removed, and the cables were rerouted. Parliament Rd. was closed for less than an hour. New Plymouth has a fire house, an EMS, and trained volunteers to support most emergencies. The Bollo ferries will respond to emergencies at all hours to get those in need to the airport at Treasure Cay.
Transportation on the island is mainly via golf carts and boats (dinghies for us cruisers). There are several public docks in New Plymouth and several more at the 'distant' White Sound. We rent a golf cart a couple of times a trip to site see and explore the beaches. More often, we use our dinghy to check out the island (when weather permits). Traveling off-island usually requires a Bollo ferry ride to Treasure and then a rental car.
We will not be sailing south next year but we will be in GTC by airplane and ferry. We will stay at a friend recommended cottage in New Plymouth. We are going to start and act our age and limit our sailing adventures to above 38 N latitude. Gotta get old someday. Not there yet but we are getting there.

Dorian Update (15 Sep '19): On 1-3 September, the Northern Bahamas was destroyed by a CAT 5+ hurricane with wind gusts in excess of 210 mph. Almost without exception, every building in the Abacos was destroyed or seriously damaged. GTC was blessed in that there was no loss of life or serious injury. Great Abaco Island was not as fortunate but a final number is not yet available.
The picture on the left was taken on Parliament St. in New Plymouth facing towards the Point. The wreckage on the right was a gift shop, called the Treasure Chest, and a hardware store. As of mid September, there is no power or water. Solar powered Reverse osmosis (RO) units will soon be operational in White Sound and the Government dock. The USA (Coast Guard, Navy, Marines, and Air Force); UK (Red Cross, Navy) are either there or are steaming to the Abacos.
The picture to the right is taken at the top of the Hill, where the BTC, Fire House, and school are located. When last we were there, we could see the beauty of New Plymouth. Now, not so much so. The residents are heartbroken but determined to resurrect New Plymouth and GTC. Communications to points outside of GTC are slowly returning. We are hearing more of the horror and determination as the details unfold.
The picture on the left is a fishing vessel that was previously tied up near the Point. Now it is laying on Bay St. The first picture in the gallery is the remains of Sundowners. Strange that the covered deck survived while the building went to the wind. While many of the buildings did not fail completely, othere turned into rubble. Several homes had little outward damage, but most everything inside compromised by sea water, mildew, and mold. One of the first deliveries to GTC was lots of bleach.

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