Thanks to fellow cruisers for this detailed update on the Abacos:
We sailed up from Eleuthera last Sat to have a look see the Abacos for ourselves on our way home. Spent three days in Hopetown which was quite uplifting all round. Initial shock coming in the channel with the front row of houses dead ahead on both sides of the range markers almost all totally gone. We met a nice couple who now have a Dickerson 37 but lost their Morris 36 and the house they had closed on two weeks before Dorian which was in the second row facing the channel. They have partially rebuilt using the salvageable materials from their old house which was picked up from its foundation and tossed across the narrow lane fronting their property. A nearby three-story house was picked up from its foundation and deposited in their front yard. Most of this area now is nothing but concrete slabs. Their Morris 36 was on a mooring and it ended up on the shore to the south of the sailing club.
All things considered Hopetown is doing well, still plenty to do but they have done amazing things. The Methodist church which had the spectacular view of the Atlantic from large windows behind the alter suffered only roof damage which was so heartening. We were there for Easter services a few years ago and had been mightily worried since Dorian. Both Hopetown Inn and Marina and Lighthouse Marina are in excellent shape with all new docks. No wreckage of boats is left anywhere around the harbor. Not a lot of boats around, moorings were about half empty.
On the way across to Marsh Harbor it was another story. The big new fancy home on Matt Lowes Cay is gone and several large hulks are on the property. It appeared that the narrow opening between Matt Lowes and Sugarloaf Cay is much more open than we remembered. Almost all the houses along the thin peninsula extending to John Cash Point suffered major damage, ditto the rest of the north shore of Marsh Harbor. Stretches along this shore were totally devoid of any vegetation with many houses only having walls standing. Newer houses fared better, older houses forget it.
Coming into Marsh Harbor was like entering a totally foreign place. The western shore north of the commercial piers had nothing but dead tree trunks as far as you could see. Entering the Harbor there are about half a dozen sunken boats in and around the anchorage areas. Tonight there are barely a dozen cruising boats here. Jib Room is nothing but a huge sand pile although it looks like they have finished new docks. On the other side of the Harbor it is just plain hard to pick out any familiar landmarks, with the still empty pilings standing alone. We thought we could figure out Harbor View Marina docks which look like they have been rebuilt but the Harbor View building is no more except for a small building at the head of the pier.
We had to go to Customs at the commercial port to check out. The floating dinghy dock at Union Jack which used to be provided by the sailing club is no more, but north of that concrete pier there are new fixed docks with ladders every few feet to leave your dinghy. Walking out to the main road the first thing you see is the strip mall where there used to be a liquor store and other shops, the buildings just shells, no roofs. Standard Hardware was ripped open, part of the roof torn off. The wholesale liquor store across from Standard is nothing but a concrete slab. Intersection where the traffic light used to be just has a lowly stop sign.
After clearing out with Customs we walked up Don Mackey Blvd. Abacos Treasures the lovely gift shop on the left is just a shell with no roof. All along there was not a single business left, Dove Plaza destroyed. The two story building beyond Dove Plaza looks like its roof survived and several businesses were open. Where Island Bakery used to be is a brand new two story building which could be a motel of small apartments once finished. From there we walked back past the old Price Right building which amazingly still had a roof and looked in good shape although it was boarded up. We did not walk to Maxwells but have heard it is pretty much the same now as pre Dorian.
All in all, very sad to see how badly Marsh Harbor suffered although the opposite is the case with Hopetown.
Forget to mention how healthy things looked around Boat Harbor when we went by there on the way to Hopetown.