Seven year pitch
The shutters have now rolled down at the Delphi Club, marking the end of our seventh eventful season. And it ended on a particularly high note, with a family house-party that will be remembered for a long time to come.
The Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, England is sometimes referred to by the red-top press as the Oxbridge of rural sciences – not, I suggest, for its production of brilliant Nobel laureates, but more for its fine architecture and the sometimes tweedy garb of its students. But where its real fame lies is in the extraordinary, legendary, world-class, gold-medal-winning capacity of its students to party.
Drop fifteen of these RAU students into Abaco for two weeks of fishing, fun and frolics and you end up with a combination of Dead Poets Society, Animal House and Hangover 2. Of course, they were charming and equipped with impeccable manners. But their all-round vim and eagerness to try anything provided Abaco with a challenge - to demonstrate the breadth of its menu of fun activities. And Abaco delivered.
An island-hopping boat trip, with multiple stops for reef snorkelling and, yes, more beer, featured tours of the ancient Hope Town lighthouse, the sail workshop on Man O’War Cay, the culinary offerings of Lubbers Quarters (conch and fresh tuna to the fore) and water-sporty antics of every kind.
There were, inevitably, outings to all the beach bars – Nippers on Guana Cay, Pete’s Pub in Little Harbour, Nancy’s in Sandy Point and Coco’s at Treasure Cay. But all trips involved more than just eating and drinking; there was acrobatic diving – into freshwater blue holes, off docks, off the back of boats, off anything – as well as dancing, singing and fraternising with whoever came along (including persuading many locals that the visiting mob was an international rowing eight that had rowed across from England).
There was offshore kayaking, body-boarding, water polo, beach cricket, volley-ball and rounders (baseball’s British ancestor). There were bonfires and fireworks, along with copious midnight star-gazing. When all else failed (and for reasons that remain largely unexplained) the boys dug giant holes in the beach – a farming thing?
Fishing, however, remained the central theme. Many of the nine boys were fly-fishers, although few had ever fished in saltwater before and a couple were complete novices. Happily, Alec, Ferg, Hugo, Henry, Jack, Peewee, Sparky and Zander all caught loads of bonefish, sharks and barracuda, and much more besides, as did those of the girls who took to the water, with Emily’s big cuda and Millie’s brace of nice bones particular highlights. Only Sam, a novice, failed to score, piscatorially at least, in his two outings – it can happen.
And dear tweed-capped Henry lost half of his first cuda... to another bigger cuda.
Jason in the kitchen had, somewhat reluctantly, to un-refine his menus a little to cater for the gargantuan appetites involved, but it gave him an opportunity to unload surplus stocks of just about everything, while Max the manager was busy restocking the bar with beer, Baileys and Bombay gin on what seemed like an hourly basis.
The whole fortnight was in striking contrast to the Club’s normally more sedate and sophisticated focus on entertaining an older generation of fisherfolk and their non-fishing friends, for whom birding, butterflies and good Burgundy replace a billion Blaster cocktails.
All life is here.
Roll on October
After a decent hiatus to allow the hurricane season to strut its stuff, the Club reopens in mid-October to host our first big wedding. Then it’s open to all-comers from October 23rd onwards.
There are still plenty of openings in the big-number fishing weeks from late October to mid-December and there is still space over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. We do have a few whole-lodge bookings lined up for the spring, but there are rooms and boats available in most weeks. Drop us an email.
Our new prices may be found on the website at http://delphi-bahamas.com/cms/prices-delphi-bahamas/. Note that some of our packages have actually come down in price, including those for shorter stays, for solo anglers and for non-fishing companions. We are determined to continue to be very competitive and to offer exceptional value for money.
Both Max and Jason are staying on for another season – praise the Lord – and our very experienced guide team remains intact, with the welcome addition of Perry in Sandy Point who has opened up new fishing horizons for our guests. Max, too, is constantly discovering new fishing spots, for both wading and boat-fishing.
If it’s variety of species you’re after, the menu of options gets longer by the week. Max has a couple of great new tarpon spots and we are gradually getting to grips with the best places for permit, though they remain the most difficult of species. Max’s brief for the summer – under threat of being banished to a life of office work - is to not only nail a big one, but to take exceptionally good photos of it. Will he deliver? I suspect he might – he really does hate accounting.
A nice mutton snapper for Randy Eppler and a huge cubera snapper for Mark Price & friends
Dana Lowe has come on in leaps and bounds as a guide over the past two seasons and now often tops the daily catch league, outperforming her father Donnie (to his great delight, it must be said). We think she’s the only female guide in the Bahamas and she’s very popular, especially (but not only) with female anglers. She has just come back from a holiday in Ireland, where she was hosted by Club members Alex and Trish Findlater. It apparently rained all the time (what’s new?), but she hooked a salmon and had a blast.
A nice brace of bones for Club member Toby Thacher
Abby Pyne and Naomi Price with their first ever bonefish
The latest draft of the proposed Bahamian bonefishing regulations reflect some significant tempering of the nasty tone and controversial provisions of the first draft, but they remain, in our view, deeply unsatisfactory. We await the results of the latest round of consultations and remain hopeful that good sense will yet prevail in a country for whom tourism is the most important industry.
Welsh rugby legend Sir Gareth Edwards came fishing at the Club again. A delightful man, he signed a copy of his new autobiography for rugby-mad guests from Colorado.
Emily Swift's first cuda and Sir Gareth Edwards signing his new autobiography for Naomi Price
Our project to photograph the butterflies of Abaco remains in gestation. We now have good pics of many beautiful species, but we are having great difficulty in identifying what some of them are. In that we have been greatly helped by a world authority, Dr Jacqueline Miller from the University of Florida, and by Neil Brett Davies, an experienced expert from Vancouver. The problem is one of chickens and eggs, in that there is no definitive publication on the topic, which is partly why we want to do it. And it’s complicated by the apparent presence of a number of Bahamian variants and sub-species, and a proliferation of different names for what appear to be the same species. We will plough on.
Meanwhile, our Delphi Club Guide to the Birds of Abaco continues to sell at a respectable pace and we are now down to the last few dozen copies. I am certain this will become a collector’s item.
A red-legged thrush and an unexpected avian guest in the pool
There have been lots of welcome changes in relation to air access to Abaco, with the direct Delta flights from Atlanta to Marsh Harbour proving very popular. Bahamasair is gradually replacing its aging fleet and I recently flew on one of its new ATRs – a huge improvement. For those travelling from Europe, BA has brought in more capacious Boeing 777s on its London to Nassau route and the prices are generally lower than before.
Much work will take place at the Club over the summer months, not least the long-overdue upgrade to our broadband wi-fi system. We are promised, at vast expense, a dedicated new system via fibre-optic cable that guarantees download speeds of 8mbps throughout the Club, shared with no other users. Although the system has been much delayed and is currently bogged down in technical glitches, we do hope to have it up and running for next season. OK, so 8mbps may not sound much for those of you who enjoy superfast broadband speeds in many cities throughout the world. But, believe me, it will be a massive, tenfold improvement over our current wildly unreliable and painfully slow set-up. I can’t wait.
Bear the dog is bearing up and learning not to bare his fangs at anything except crabs. The beach is looking beautiful and bees have taken over the bird boxes (as well as this newsletter).
I’m off to England and Ireland for the summer, Max heads for Iceland and Greenland (yes, Greenland), and Jason is staying put in Abaco to work on his Caribbean cookery book. All good wishes from all of us for the coming season – we do hope to see you at the Club.
A less welcome visitor to Club waters
Heading out into the blue: the perfect bonefish morning
Fireworks on the beach
Photo credits: Sorry, but I've totally lost track. I took some; the kids and their friends obviously took a lot; Mark Price took a few; and John Pyne must have taken the one of his daughter Abby's first bonefish. Thanks to all - and apologies to those not named.