Map of Abaco (part) - van Keulen 1728


I’ve posted several times about the desolate, unpopulated area on the southern tip of Abaco known as Hole-in-the-Wall. It’s a place of history and mystery – indeed arguably the most historically, geographically and nautically important location on the entire island. The material in this post has to an extent been combined from earlier posts a couple of years back, since when a great many more people have been showing an interest in the wildlife and history of Abaco (thanks!) and may be new to the history and significance of HITW…

Although Abaco is identifiably – though not geographically reliably – mapped from as early as 1550 (only 58 years post-Columbus), the earliest map of Abaco showing any actual named place is the van Keulen map of 1728 in the header picture. The importance of HITW (‘Hole Rok’ marked on the east side) is clear. Indeed it is the only settlement shown. Thereafter, the place is mapped variously as Hole-in-the-Rock, Trou dans la Roche and Hole-in-the-Wall, before finally settling on the last name. HITW was clearly a significant nautical landmark from at least the c16. You can read more on this topic at HITW – A SHORT HISTORY IN MAPS

Incidentally, note the early spellings including of the word ‘Cay’ as ‘Kee’ in the bottom right corner – doubtless an explanation for the pronunciation today, when one might otherwise rhyme the word with ‘Bay’.


The print above, dated 1803, is the earliest depiction of HITW that I have traced. For now, note the familiar ‘Hole’ between the two ships; and the outcrop to the right showing that another, larger ‘Hole’ had, by the early c19, collapsed. Remains of the outcrop, now badly eroded, can still be seen. Read more about pictures of HITW in SHIPS, MAPS & HITW , or in HOLE TO GAP, including a more recent print by Winslow Homer (below) which I contend is the proof that his famous painting ‘Glass Window’ in the Brooklyn Museum is of Abaco and not (as claimed elsewhere) the famous Glass Window on Eleuthera. Of which more another time…

Hole-in-the-Wall Picture

The sad fact is that although the name lives on and probably always will, in October 2012 Hurricane Sandy smashed the Hole in the Wall to smithereens, leaving what one can best describe as GAP IN THE WALL.

Here is the position of the Hole, shown before Sandy struck. Note the outcrop at the tip (bottom right corner), as seen in the old print above hole-in-the-wall-rock-abaco-location

One of very few photos taken from the sea that I have come across. There’ll be more, and much closer, in the next post Hole-in-the-Wall distance shot

The view from the lighthouse down to the ‘Land’s End’ promontory (RH)Hole-in-the-Wall Lighthouse Abaco (Keith Salvesen)

An aerial view of ‘Land’s End’ (with thanks to marinas.com for free use permission)Hole-in-the-Wall Lighthouse, Abaco annotated

The Hole, very shortly before Hurricane Sandy blasted away the bridge – the perfect place for a picnic…Hole-in-the-Wall Abaco ©Jessica Arrington

Or, as the storm approaches, maybe not…. Jack Bowers took this wonderful (and dangerous to acquire) sea-level shot – possibly the last photo ever of the intact arch427937_4820129308023_1041770732_n

Photos of the ‘Ex-Hole Now Gap’ taken within a very few days of the storm. Note the pale fresh stone HOLE-IN-THE-WALL ABACO post Sandy 1 Luc LavalleeHOLE-IN-THE-WALL ABACO post Sandy 2 Luc LavalleeHOLE-IN-THE-WALL ABACO post Sandy 3 Tara Lavallee

This post covers the history of Hole-in-the-Wall over the last 400 years or so, with links to earlier posts from a couple of years back. Then there’s a bit of a gap, I’m afraid, back to the LATE PLEISTOCENE EPOCH roughly 125,000 years ago when the landmass was formed… 

PART 2 will show how the ‘Hole’, the promontory and the lighthouse now look in 2015 from the ocean. During a recent highly successful whale-watching expedition with Charlotte & Diane from the BMMRO, we took the RHIB close to the point and took a seaward look at it from both sides, the first time I had done so. A few days before we’d been to Hole-in-the-Wall for birdwatching purposes by conventional means – the thirty mile round trip by truck along the track from the ‘Y’ of the Highway (NB no hire cars allowed). You can read an early post about this perilous adventure in TO THE LIGHTHOUSE…

HOLE-IN-THE-WALL LIGHTHOUSE: THE LANTERN ROOMHole-in-the-Wall, Abaco - Lantern Room (Keith Salvesen)

Credits: S. Wright, RH, marinas.com, Jessica Arrington, Jack Bowers, Luc Lavallee, Tara Lavallee, open source images


Delphi Sunrise, Abaco 3


There’s a moment when certain photos suddenly look as if they are paintings. This may be especially true of skyscapes or seascapes – or both together. Here are some recent daybreak views from Abaco which could as easily have been painted from a bright palette. And in case you think the effects have been produced or enhanced by some photoshop-style jiggery-pokery, all these images are exactly as I downloaded them, and no ‘special effect’ settings were used to take them. I just pointed and shot… J.M.W.Turner, what could you have done with a Pentax?

Delphi Sunrise, Abaco 1Delphi Sunrise, Abaco 5Delphi Sunrise, Abaco 2Delphi Sunrise, Abaco 6Delphi Sunrise 4


Hurricane Irene 2011 - the eye right on course for central Abaco

Hurricane Irene 2011 – the eye right on course for central Abaco


STOP PRESS – UPDATE Following yesterday’s post (below), the hurricane’s tendency to track further away from the Bahamas is confirmed by later models, for examples this one from Wunderground. So I think we are officially ‘off-risk’. But Bermuda is definitely not… Anyway, read on a bit and you will find out how hurricanes get their names! 


Yesterday I posted on my FB page an NOAA hurricane tracking map update for Hurricane Gonzalo, currently rated Cat. 2 on the SAFFIR-SIMPSON SCALE. It is making its way north through the Caribbean right now, and at one stage the storm cone looked on a possible course for the Bahamas. Abaco has been spared a major cyclone for a couple of years. However memories are very recent of Hurricane Irene (2011) which passed directly over Abaco as a Cat. 3 storm; and Hurricane Sandy (2012) that passed marginally to the east with (at that stage) an intensity of a Cat. 1 before going on to wreak havoc further north. During those ‘extreme weather events’ I posted regularly about them, with tracking maps and photos. At the time of Irene there was remarkable little information around online and I got a huge number of hits – 5000+ in a day, 15,000+ in a week. I also replied to lots of inquiries from the Bahamas, US and Canada, both general (“How are things at Cherokee?”) to very specific (“Do you happen to know if my boat ‘Blowdakidzinheritanz’ moored in Little Harbour is Okay?”).

Hurricane Sandy Earth from Space 2

Hurricane Sandy over Abaco from the International Space Station

I  have been surprised at the response the map generated by way of ‘Likes’ and comments expressing relief… So from my current safe distance of precisely 4250.00 miles from Marsh Harbour, I am posting an update with helpful maps and a bit of general hurricane info. The agencies all agree that Gonzalo will hook east as it progresses northwards. The Bahamas outlook is promising, though for example Bermuda looks to be at risk.  There’s more on hurricanes on the page ABACO WEATHER. I always think that Wunderground produce the clearest maps for general purposes, though there’s a great deal more information to be had from the NOAA site, to which there’s a direct link in the Sidebar (I’ve moved it to near the top for the time being).


WUNDERGROUND 3-DAY TRACKING & WIND MAP at201408at201408_satat201408_radar



ACCUWEATHER SATELLITE VIEW & TRACKERHurricane Gonzalo Tracking Map  - clip jpg


Here is a reminder of how tropical storms and hurricanes are measured for intensity, as decreed by the S-SS, followed by the National Hurricane Center’s explanation of the gradations of relative intensities.

Saffir-Simpson Scale (Wiki) jpgT

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed. This scale estimates potential property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage. Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous, however, and require preventative measures. In the western North Pacific, the term “super typhoon” is used for tropical cyclones with sustained winds exceeding 150 mph.

Category   Sustained Winds Types of Damage Due to Hurricane Winds
1 74-95 mph
64-82 kt
119-153 km/h
Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.
2 96-110 mph
83-95 kt
154-177 km/h
Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage:Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.
111-129 mph
96-112 kt
178-208 km/h
Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.
130-156 mph
113-136 kt
209-251 km/h
Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
157 mph or higher
137 kt or higher
252 km/h or higher
Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.


Check out the page ABACO WEATHER


Hurricane Irene 2011 Bahamas Map Accu jpg Hurricane Sandy Map Bahamas 2012 jpg



Storm Tracker 13


As Tropical Storm Arthur blows northwards increasing in strength, Abaco has begun to get its sunshine back. TS Arthur, then defined as a Tropical Depression, hung around over the Northern Bahamas for four days or so before finally clearing. In the past I wrote daily posts about Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy at a time when information was surprisingly hard to come by. Now everyone is on Facebook and it’s easy to post (or find) cyclone reports, maps, path projections and so on. I’m always struck by the contrast between the bleak, dark-clouded snaps that people put up on their FB pages and the cheerfully coloured weather maps that mark the passage of the storm. Here are a few for Tropical Depression Arthur when over Abaco and moving north, taken from the most useful mainstream sites. My favourite is the National Hurricane Center NOAA where the graphic information is presented in a number of formats. However MIKE’S WEATHER PAGE is a good first resort for information – ‘Like’ it and you’ll get the reports you need. For a plethora of graphics on every hurricane aspect, move on to his website http://www.spaghettimodels.com 

Tropical Storm Arthur Weatherbug 2Tropical Storm Arthur Weatherbug 1 Tropical Storm Arthur Weather Underground (props to MOWMuseum Abaco)Props to Man-o-War Museum which posted the image above on FB. The purple pin is Abaco

Tropical Storm Arthur Accuweather GIFThere’s nothing like a GIF to show which way the wind is blowing…

Tropical Storm Arthur NOAA 2Tropical Storm Arthur NOAA 1

IMG_2787IMG_2789 - Version 2

Whenever there’s a bad storm or a hurricane, it’s worth visiting the NASA ISS site for dramatic images from the Space Station. The following link will take you to a dramatic photo of Hurricane Irene in 2011 HERE There’s a search facility on the site. This is a fine image of TS Arthur, illustrating the characteristic swirl pattern of a tropical storm.

Tropical.Storm Arthur NASA_ISS Props Reid Wiseman & Chris ChadwickJPG

Compare the bright graphics above with the reality for those under the massed clouds in strong wind and scything rain… Cheers for these vividly gloomy images to Julias Sawyer, Cindy James Pinder and Albury’s Ferries (who post almost daily images of Abaco weather as the ‘Donnies’ ply the seas between the main island and the outlying Cays with their passengers and cargo…)

TD Arthur, over Abaco Julias Sawyer Tropical Storm BPS Cindy James Pinder TS Arthur Albury's Ferry Service

I can’t resist adding an ‘Abaco summer weather’ photograph taken by Amanda Diedrick on Green Turtle Cay. There was a passing bout of bad weather was a couple of weeks back, and Amanda managed to take this extraordinary photo of a bolt of forked lightning apparently burning straight through a small cloud. It’s difficult to get a good lightning shot without special cameras, compartic lenses, Fitzallan filters, aperture reticulators and the like. She did it!*

Lightning Bolt GTC Amanada Diedrick

The start of the summer season is a good time to roll out the Saffir-Simpson Scale, from which you will see how the various intensities of storm are graded. It’s colourful as well.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Credit: ‘Watts Up With That” – an excellent weather & climate site

 *All camera terminology is invented to make it seem as if i know what I am talking about. Beyond ‘Point and  Shoot’, I’m lost…


Storm Jude Newhaven Lighthouse


Today is the Feast of St Jude. Patron Saint of lost causes and (more modernly) depression… and, some suggest, IBISES.

It is also the day of the most violent storm to hit the UK since 1987, with hurricane force winds recorded on the south coast (Force 12 on the BEAUFORT SCALE) and plenty of Force 11 ‘violent storm’ readings. There has been widespread damage to trees, cars and property, with 2 deaths so far reported, and one person missing at sea. Public transport is returning to normal, after the wholesale cancelation of flights, trains and other public transport services. 300,000 homes have had power outages. I fully realise that Abaconians have far more frequent and far worse hurricanes visited on them, the latest being Sandy last year and Irene the previous year. This is in no way a competition, but I thought some images from the UK over the last 24 hours or so might be of interest and dispel the notion that Britain is a country of benign 365/24/7 soft drizzle and gentle rain…

Brighton Pier, Sussexbrighton_2715167k

In 1987 a popular BBC weatherman had the misfortune to say on air “Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way… well, if you’re watching, don’t worry, there isn’t!”. That evening, the worst storm to hit South East England for three centuries caused record damage and killed 19 people. In contrast, the weather agencies were ahead of the game on this occasion, so Britain was well-prepared for the onslaught…

131025jet              131025winds2

The storm looms over the Dorset and Sussex coasts…Storm Jude massing off Dorset coastStorm Jude

The whole length of the south coast takes a hit, from Cornwall to KentImage 1Britain Stormstorm-weather-mari_2715597kstorm-boat-weather_2715542kNew England Makes Preparations For Hurricane Sandy ImpactStorm Jude Newhaven Lighthouse 2readers-storm-port_2715656k

And the coast of WalesStorm Jude Wales

Inland, there is damage to building and property. This crane fell onto a Government building in LondonStorm Jude collapsed crane, London_70749840_786671a0-9df9-45da-9066-6f73bb46e830 readers-storm-11_2715776k

A large number of trees have fallen, many onto cars in residential areasstorm-weather-tree_2715589k ad_119148649 readers-storm-tree_2715620k

Schools have not been closed, but some pupils needed to take an unorthodox route_70748775_81e1d53b-f22c-4738-9929-6389dac477e7 readers-storm-10_2715781k

More minor incidents involved some garden trashing – dammit, that’s our garden…Image 2

These 2 photos were taken on the Chesil Beach in Dorset, where Mrs Harbour and I were a couple of weeks ago, and which I posted about on my companion non-Abaco blog HERE. Below them is a photo of the same location I took then, for comparison.

Storm Jude Chesil BeachStorm Jude Chesil Beach 2chesil-bank-6

The highest wind velocity, around 100 MPH, was recorded at the Needles, a well-known geographical landmark on  the west side of the Isle of Wight in the English Channel. Here is a photo I took there a year ago, when things were calmer. The Needles, Isle of Wight


Saint Jude, St Peter’s Rome

CREDITS Many & various: news agencies; BBC; folk who have uploaded their pics onto news sites, both national & local, for wider viewing; anyone not covered by the aforementioned...


TS Chantal small





TD Chantal dissipated NOAA

UPDATE NOAA 11.00 EDT July 10

The storm path seems to be drifting gradually westwards. Abaco is now clear of the currently predicted path, rather than slap bang in the middle…

Chantal NOAA 10.7 11.00

UPDATE NOAA 6.00 EDT July 10



UPDATE INTELLICAST 17.00 July 9  Intellicast 9.07.13 17.00


The 9th July, the season of storms starts to loom, and Chantal is first off the meteorological starting blocks. The reason I am posting this now is because the present 5-day predictions (see NOAA charts below) has Chantal heading directly for the Bahamas in general, and Abaco in particular. So this may be one to keep a weather eye on over the next few days…

NOAA GraphicNOAA imageTS Chantal 9.7 1 NOAA Image




En route from London to New York yesterday we had to take a northerly route over Greenland (we were in a plane, obviously) to avoid Nemo. I took the pics below from 36k feet from the galley window. The landscape was simply a vast wilderness of mountain, forest, snow and frozen lakes & rivers. No idea how they will look in Blogland. I’ll tidy this up – or bin it – next week when I can use something bigger than an iPhone to post with.

Thanks to people who have commented / asked Qs (including the person from Newfoundland who wants to know about flamingos). Replies shelved until next week. It’s raining heavily in NYC today, which should see off the remains of quite a heavy snow dump (later note: it didn’t!).Newfoundland : Labrador aerial view 2Newfoundland : Labrador aerial view 1Newfoundland : Labrador aerial view 3  Newfoundland : Labrador aerial view 6Newfoundland : Labrador aerial view 4Newfoundland : Labrador aerial view 7This last close-up image looks almost surreal, with a frozen river appearing to cross over itself…