Man-O-War Heritage Museum

Preserving History & Heritage on a tiny Island.


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41st Independence

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Independence means different things to different people. For some it is breaking away from tradition and for others it’s starting new ones. On July 10th, the Bahamas celebrated its 41st year of independence from Great Britain and the Monarchy. Although we still are a British Commonwealth and Elizabeth is still “our” Queen,

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we are definitely independent. And at the risk of sounding political… I’m not so sure independence is all it’s cracked up to be. But that’s a story for another day.

Man O War Cay celebrates independence BIG TIME! If you have not been here on July 10th you are missing something special. Old fashioned family fun day at its best!

Let the games begin, and I mean that literally!
Sack races,

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egg & spoon,

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tug of war,

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and running.

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start in the morning around 8am. Then when it feels like it can’t get any hotter everyone moves to the harbour for the swimming races.

Next are the competitions for manly men, like sawing wood

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hammering nails and

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conch cracking.

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All leading up to the most exciting event of the day……. The slippery pole!!

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The goal is to rip that tiny piece of canvas off the end of the pole, which by the way is nailed into the end of the pole!! This is no easy task! You (the contestant 😀) are shimmying out to the end of a very long pole which is dangling over the water. Oh and did I mention that the pole is greased with TONS of crisco. Yes you read it right….lard. So not only is it a challenge just because your opponents are trying to knock you off the pole and into the water, but you have no leverage because your hands feel like you just ate a bucket of KFC. And the grand prize is the satisfaction of beating out all the others and WINNING at all cost.

The day ends with the awards ceremony,

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And a fabulous fire works display put on by Lucas Albury.

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He always does an awesome job!
I have been working on this for a few days now, and I really didn’t think it would be too difficult to write all this down, but it has been a big challenge. I mean how do you put into words how awesome it is to be part of a community that knows the real meaning of community. An island that is the envy of all 700 islands when it comes to celebrating independence. And honestly no other island does it better, not even the Capitol! People from all over come to Man O War for this day. It’s the way independence should be celebrated. Happy and grateful for the place we live, and free to celebrate the way we choose…. with family and friends.

This day is made possible because of the hard work of many people. Too many for me to mention for fear of missing anyone. But I can say that all of the photos in this story are from Charmaine and would like to thank her very much.

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Boat Building

Man O War Cay has a long tradition of boat building, starting back in the 1800’s. In Fact, evidence of that tradition is in our harbour today. On one of our many spectacularly clear and beautiful days, we went out to take photos of the wooden boats in our harbour, 

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This is the oldest one I saw, called the Yippee, (I wish I knew where some of these names came from) Its really not a good photo. Unfortunately it is way up in a boat shed down at the end of Eastern Harbour.
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*She was built in 1948 in Mr. Morris’s boat shed.*

Everyone who knows me, knows I’m not as smitten with boats as my husband. But I have to admit, after today I had a new appreciation for them. Its a marvel how what starts out as a few tree branches and some boards becomes something so beautiful and useful.

I guess my attraction is in the craftsmanship and the history of these floating pieces of art. The artistry comes in the form of clean lines and subtle nuances in the way the wood is manipulated so that even a person with minimal boat building knowledge (like me) can appreciate it.

Boat building is an industry as old as these islands. One that was masterfully handed down from one generation to the next. I can only imagine what it must have been like as a young man working alongside a Father or Uncle, learning a craft mastered by these men. Long days honing a craft that would be admired by so many of that time and even more so in later years.

Here are a few we spotted in the harbour, bobbing in the gentle breeze, shinning like a new penny. (even if the paint was chippy) I must admit, I do have a “thing” for chippy paint and things formerly loved.

First, the William H. Albury, named after her builder.   You can learn more about her here on our Museum web site,   http://www.mowmuseum.com/William_H._Albury.html

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Look at those wooden rings used for hoisting the sail.

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The pirate on the side was put there by the former owner in Jamaica, who purchased her to give “pirate tours”. David Wright has since bought her and brought her home. You can read about his 26 day journey from Jamaica to Man O War on his facebook page here  www.facebook.com/svWmHAlbury

Next up,  Rough Waters

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She was built approximately 1975 by Uncle Will in his boat yard, and is now owned by Matthew Janes.

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If you would like to see her under construction, go to the Museum’s web site. It is full of great photos.   http://www.mowmuseum.com/Rough_Waters.html

Lively Lady was built at Edwins boat yard in the early 1960’s.

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Lady Di was built by Sam Albury (date unknown) and is currently owned by David Wright.
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 Sea Fever is currently owned by Jay & Jan Manni. It was originally built by Uncle Will for his own use in 1966,  Now this is the shinny penny I was talking about!!  She is beautifully taken care of.  I just wish I could have gotten a better picture.  Its hard to single out just one boat when it is tied to a dock. Jan is the daughter of Edwin and you can read more about Ewins boat yard and some of the boats built there  http://edwinsboatyard.com/Our_History.html

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 Tribute, currently owned by David Wright……..I see a trend forming here 🙂  I think he told me he owns 6 boats!  Here is a little more information about her journey.  http://tomspock.com/Journey%20website/Tribute/Indextr.html

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Caniption  I never could find anyone who knew when she was built.  I do know Mr. Morris build her for Vickie Judd and she passed it down to Lucas Albury.  She is currently at the Ferry dock, but I have it on good authority that she wont be at the ferry dock for long.

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Check out the initials engraved in the name plate BMA, Benjamin Morris Albury

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These two gals were built by Rowland & Hartley Albury about 35-40 years ago.  Thanks Irene & Second Chance

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This last photo is of the original dingy for the William H. Albury.  Or at least thats my story and Im sticking to it.  I think.

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Man O War Cay is the sum of all parts.  The history, heritage and people here make it all so special.  I learn something new almost every day.  Whether its learning to love wooden boats, or connecting the dots as far as family relations go or even learning the best Johnny cake recipe.     Family values run deep here and I am forever grateful that the Sojers have welcomed me into their family.


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Tropics

As if the heat isn’t enough, the formation of the first named storm, Arthur, gently reminds us that we live in the tropics.

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(We are that tiny purple dot)

Which makes me grateful for our water tight roof, expertly crafted by Shane Albury about two years ago. I really wish I had a picture of him, sorry.

As with most (not all) tropical storms, at the moment we are being soaked with torrential rain and at times blustery wind. The kind of day you might expect in the winter when one of our “cold” fronts moves through. The perfect day for a cup of coffee or some other equally caffeinated drink only found in the coziest of coffee shops. Which we will be able to offer SOON! I think it’s pretty awesome that I have been approached by some of our local baker extraordinaire’s who are excited to be able to sell their goodies at our coffee shop, which is an extra added bonus!

I can’t wait to get this ball rolling!! Can you tell?? 😀