Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Watercolor Artist Brigitte Bowyer Carey of Abaco, the Bahamas

I would like to introduce Brigitte Bowyer Carey of Abaco, the Bahamas, an accomplished artist and a good friend of ours. Her beautiful watercolor art of the Bahamas is now available on the internet at Island Watercolors. She paints a variety of Bahamian subjects including marine scenes, landscape, seascapes and Bahamian T’ings. My personal favorites are the island houses and lighthouses, especially those depicting the colorful settlement of Hope Town and its candy striped lighthouse dating to the 1800’s. When you are in Abaco, be sure to visit the Abaco Inn or the Hope Town Harbour Lodge to see her work. 

From Germany, Brigitte was educated as a graphic designer, although her first love has always been painting. When she discovered watercolors, she knew she had found her passion. Her style of painting is referred to as “wet on wet,” meaning the paper is wet and one drop of paint blooms and creates wonderful images all over. Her unusual landscapes and seascapes are on display the world over and her collectors include novelist Pat Conroy and Mr. and Mrs. Sean Connery. She has a studio in her home on Tilloo and her paintings and prints are in galleries throughout the United States as well as the Bahamas. She also does special commissions for clients.

We met Brigitte and her husband Donnie many years ago. Donnie, a Bahamian, knows more about native plants than anyone I’ve ever met and their gardens are spectacular at their cottage, Hunkaloo. We first met them when they were building their cottage, near our home Lazy Days on Lubbers Quarters. We became fast friends and have shared many good times together, including some that will be in my upcoming travel adventure memoir, Living on Island Time, Retirement in Abaco Spiced with Food, Friends & Rum.  

Bahamian watercolors by Brigitte Bowyer Carey of Abaco

Bahamian Blue Heron

Grouper in the clear waters of Abaco

Old Hope Town House in Abaco, the Bahamas

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Diving & Snorkeling in Abaco, the Bahamas

Visit Sandy Cay National Park  and see more diving & snorkeling underwater sites at Pelican Cays Land & Sea Park & Sandy Cay Reef in Abaco, the Bahamas. 

Barry the Barracuda

Grouper - notice the cleaning Gobi on its eye

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Bahamian Grouper and French Angel Fish in Abaco

Bahamian Grouper

French Angel Fish

This Bahamian Grouper and French Angel Fish (photo taken by one of our our guests at Sandy Bottoms) are just two of the fish you might see snorkeling and diving at Sandy Cay National Park at Pelican Cays Land & Sea Park and Sandy Cay Reef in Abaco.

For better viewing, click photos to enlarge.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Martha Stewart visits Abaco and samples Bahamian conch fritters

Martha Stewart has a blog and she talked about Abaco and showed thirty something pictures including the flight over. I happened to catch it because I have a link to her blog on my site, My Carolina Kitchen, and saw in the headlines that she mentioned Abaco.

It's titled it My first day on the island of Abaco, a quiet and friendly place.

She described Abaco as a very quiet, nothing-to-do kind of place and said she had a surprisingly nice time there. She was a guest of friends of hers, the Dowdle family. She went deep sea fishing, bone fishing, wild pig hunting, swam in the blue hole and visited Green Turtle Cay.

There are photos of Ruby Clarke, the cook who promised to write all of her recipes down so Jimmy (Martha's host) could create a cookbook for prosperity. There is also a picture of her with Freeland, the driver. There are numerous photos of the flight over and the beautiful clear waters of Abaco from the air and nice sunset pictures.

While Martha was there, she sampled Conch Fritters, which she loved, prepared for her by Ruby Clarke, a local Bahamian. Conch Fritters are a local specialty. The fritters are a conch and flour batter seasoned with onions, celery, green bell pepper, (these three vegetables are called the “trinity” in Creole cuisine), tomato paste, thyme and baking powder and deep fried and served typically with a red cocktail sauce flavored with horseradish and hot sauce.

I have two excellent recipe sources for Conch Fritters. One is in Gourmet Bahamian Cooking by Marie Mendelson and the other is from Rudy’s Place in Elbow Cay (sadly now closed and missed by all). Rudy’s recipe is in A Guide and History of Hope Town by Steve Dodge & Vernon Malone, 1990 version, and Gourmet Bahamian Cooking is still in print.

Now Martha knows the secret to Abaco, as all of us do that have visited. Get sand in your shoes and you will return. Abaco lovers such as myself have kept this wonderful place our little secret paradise. Thank you Martha for visiting and finding it the quiet, laid back and friendly place that it truly is. As the Bahamians say, "Martha's done reached."

To read more, here's the link to her blog:

Monday, January 5, 2009

All About Abaco Island and the Barrier Cays

The Abacos are a boomerang-shape cluster of islands in the northeastern Bahamas located about 160 miles east of the south Florida coast, a short one hour flight. The Abacos are the most popular of the "out islands".

Abaco is one large island with a group of barrier cays (pronounced "keys"), occupying the second largest landmass in the Bahamas. The chain of barrier cays is located about two to five miles offshore of the mainland and provides a protected body of water from the Atlantic Ocean which is the Sea of Abaco. The Sea of Abaco with its naturally protected waters has helped the Abacos become the sailing capital of The Bahamas. The Sea provides a safe & well protected environment to pursue the many water related activities the area has to offer. Marsh Harbour, the third largest town in the Bahamas, is considered the commercial center of the area. It is well stocked with shops and services to fill your every need.

The Abacos host internationally known regattas and there are numerous game-fish tournaments, providing a fisherman’s paradise. Offshore fishing, reef and bottom fishing and bone fishing are all very popular with anglers. However, there is much, much more to do than just fish or sail our gorgeous waters. There are numerous other activities including diving, snorkeling, surfing, island hopping, beachcombing or just plain-old relaxing.

Island-hopping is one of the favorite attractions. The various cays are about 10 – 40 minutes apart. Each is charming with a character all its own and different from the next. You must see them all. There are numerous deserted cays, coves, beaches, creeks and bays just waiting for you to relax and explore in your run-about. There are quaint fishing villages reminiscent of New England but in pastel colors. There is a candy-striped lighthouse dating back to the 1800’s. The third largest barrier reef in the world surrounds Abaco. Sandy Cay National Park & Fowl Cay offers some of the very best diving in the world.

The Abacos are uncrowded and unspoiled with no high rises or gambling. It is a very casual, laid-back, relaxed atmosphere and perfect for vacation getaways and longer stays. The dress is casual and the life-style is friendly. The local Abaconian people are warm and friendly. Fall in love and you’ll return again and again. Many have decided to make this their second home and there are services available to make your transition into our out-island lifestyle smooth and pleasant.

There are numerous resorts and private rental cottages, all catering to your needs for a relaxing, casual & fun-filled vacation. Some are on the mainland and others are scattered throughout the various cays.

Beautiful sunny days can be found no matter what time of the year you choose. Average temperatures range between 70 – 75 degrees from December to May and 80 – 85 degrees the rest of the year. Art galleries, gift shops, well-stocked grocery & liquor stores, full service marinas and numerous restaurants are found through-out Abaco.

Come to Abaco & let the sand get in your toes. Bahamians say, "If you get sand in your toes, you’ll return again and again."

Written by Sam Hoffer - Photo of starfish taken by Meakin Hoffer in front of our home, Lazy Days, on Lubbers

First published in Latitudes Magazine, 2003, American Eagle’s in-flight magazine.

For better viewing, click photo to enlarge.