Hurricane Matthew, NASA aerial view


As Hurricane Matthew sweeps northwards, with Abaco in its path for the hit tomorrow, it’s an opportunity to take a look at the power and might of extreme weather, and maybe to recalibrate the word ‘awesome’ from its current diluted usage. The images used all relate to the state of play in the last 24 hours.

Hurricane Matthew_satellite view (NASA)

Satellite view at 14.00 EDThurricane-matthew-satellite-clip-wunderground

The concept of ‘awe’, historically and Biblically, comprised emotions such as wonderment, astonishment, terror and dread. Biblical translations use ‘awe’ and ‘awesome’ almost exclusively to refer to God or to His Works. In many Biblical instances of people being awed, they not only experience extremes of emotion but also exhibit palpable signs of fear – shaking, cowering, falling down, prostrating themselves.

Aerial view of Hurricane Matthew from the International Space Station, October 4hurricane-matthew- aerial view (ISS/ NASA)

The perfect example of the ‘proper’ meaning of awesome can be found in Genesis: ‘He (Jacob) was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”‘ Some translations use the word ‘dreadful’ in place of ‘awesome’ for this passage – in its old meaning of ‘full of dread’, not its watered down modern meaning as in ‘dreadful headache’ or ‘dreadful nuisance’ (the same dilution that has happened to ‘terrible’).

Hurricane Matthew Tracking Path (Wunderground)


In 1980 a man called Dr Robert Plutchik designed a ‘diagram of emotions’ in a floral wheel format. This device visualised eight basic emotions, with eight derivative emotions each composed of two basic ones. Awe is at 4.00 o’clock, showing the extreme of the Biblical meaning as a mixture of terror and amazement (think of the reaction of the shepherds while watching of their flocks, when unexpectedly interrupted by an angel…). There’s no place in the wheel for ‘awesome’ to mean ‘I really like that photo you took’. Or, ‘your soup is delicious’. Or, ‘I am so pleased to have made a plan to meet you at Pete’s Pub’.

Language is a living thing, and the hyperbolic application of powerful words to mundane emotions or objects is widespread and unsurprising. But a Cat. 4 hurricane really is awesome stricto sensu: it is both an amazing ‘extreme weather event’, and a terrifying one, as the header image and the many images of Matthew’s progress posted online amply  illustrate. The recent practice of  giving hurricanes comfortable names does nothing to dispel their power or the awe they inspire.  On present tracking, Matthew will reach Abaco some time tomorrow. From a safe distance, I wish everyone on Abaco and elsewhere in the target zone all the very best and a safe passage through the storm.



Credit: 'Watts Up With That" - Click image for Hurricane Irene page of this excellent weather & climate site


Astounding, breathtaking, amazing, stunning, astonishing, awe-inspiring, stupendous, staggering, extraordinary, incredible, unbelievable, magnificent, wonderful, spectacular, remarkable, phenomenal, prodigious, miraculous, sublime, formidable, imposing, impressive, mind-boggling, mind-blowing, out of this world, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, amazeballs, badass


Credits: Nasa / Goes, NASA / ISS, Wunderground, Craig Setzer


Abaco Parrot coin jpg

‘Bahama Parrot’ 1975 Flora & Fauna Colour Coin issue


Some time ago I did a series of posts about the lively and colourful wildlife stamps produced by the Bahamas Postal Service and its Philatelic Bureau, with numerous special editions over recent years featuring  birds, reef fish, butterflies, flowers and much more besides. In due course I amalgamated the posts into a dedicated stamp page – click link STAMPS

Whistling Ducks 1994  for Endangered WildlifeWhistling duck coin jpg

I have a vague theory that a country or government’s interest in the wildlife (and in the protection of it) that is enjoyed by its citizens can be measured by the quality of its stamp issues. Almost all countries must have stamps, and those that choose to celebrate their natural history on them deserve a cheer. The Bahamas has definitely taken the initiative.

Brown Pelican on Coat of Arms 1998Pelican coin JPG

I’ve now found a new example of my stamp theory – national coinage. And again the Bahamas has taken the lead, producing plenty of coins featuring natural history both before, since and in honour of Independence. Earlier this week I found one of the recent 10c bonefish coins lying bright and shiny in a drawer. Then I thought about some of the other coins – the flamingos, the starfish, the conch and so forth. The result is the first of three posts about the small change you have in your pocket – the coins your use every day (except maybe the very high value ones, like the $100 ‘Independence’ parrot below) – starting with an avian theme.

Cuban Parrot for Independence 1973

Bahamas coinage is regulated and issued by The Central Bank of the Bahamas. In 1966, a ‘Numismatic Coin Programme’ was initiated through the banking department with the issuing of two specimen silver sets: a 7-coin and 9-coin set designed by a British artist Arnold Machin. These sets, being pre-Independence, were minted by the Royal Mint of London.

Magnificent Frigatebirds 19731973 Commonwealth of the Bahamas Proof Dollar

The NCP is responsible for many of the flashy ‘special editions’. As their website puts it: “Generally, proof/non-proof Gold and Silver commemorative coins are produced in collaboration with a promoter for sale to coin dealers and numismatists. In fact, many of the coin programmes commemorate events of both national and international significance, such as Bahamian Independence, the Olympic Games, the 500th Anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the New World, the World Cup; and have featured various wildlife themes.”

Sometimes coins featuring a particular bird will change either by having the design updated; or because a different value ‘flamingo’ is issued; or because the metal content (which directly relates to the value) is changed. A special high value gold coin may be struck, for example, with the design used for a lower value silver coin with the same or similar design. Here are some flamingo-based examples.

                              $2 undated                                                   $2 dated
Flamingos silver coin JPG



$5                                                                 $25

Flamingos gold coin JPGFlamingo gold coin JPG

$50 1973 Independence


The coins above are all based on a ‘two-flamingos-facing-above-a-rising-sun’ design. However, for the big money $100 coin the design was changed to 4 flamingos and no sun…

$100 dollar, with more flamingos for your bucksFlamingo coin, gold JPG

The last bird coin is a bit of an oddity. The Bank issued this $50 in 1974 piece with the listing ‘White Crown Pigeon’. However, it may look to you more like a Common Ground (Tobacco) Dove. That’s certainly how others have listed it. Comments welcome…

White-crowned Pigeon? Or Tobacco Dove?

298White-crowned pigeon coin jpg

And just to prove that currency notes can feature wildlife effectively…images-4

Sources include Central Bank of the Bahamas / Numismatic Coin Programme site, Numista, and random open source material to get clear pics of coins (if anyone wants to contact me to claim a specific credit / get an eBay etc image expunged, please do so before issuing death threats or suing)


Supermoon, Rio AP / Daily Mail


A supermoon is “the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth”. These huge, bright moons are not particularly rare, but they are undoubtedly spectacular. The most recent occurrence was on July 12, 2014 and generated many wonderful images around the world, such as the header image (AP / D Mail) which cannily  shows a shot from World Cup Land. The moon also brought a flurry of good photos from Abaco, for example these from Char Albury and Rhonda Pearce that were posted on FB. The visible detail of the moon’s surface is amazing – craters, seas, mountain ranges, lines and all. The source of radiance oddly appears to be  a large crater I’d never heard of, called Tycho.

Supermoon, Abaco (Char Albury)10488111_10152314020043720_423772678214367628_n

The event was a dream for selenologists (lunar scientists) and selenographists – those who study the surface and physical features of the Moon, and are involved in mapping and naming the lunar seas, craters, mountain ranges etc. A surprising amount of detail of the moon’s surface was visible even to the naked eye. Nowadays, orbiting spacecraft have made the scientific tasks much easier, and even the moon’s backside has been thoroughly charted (not to be confused with the frequent charting of The Dark Side of the Moon). In the UK we also noticed the phenomenon – a large, heavy moon hanging brightly in the sky. I took a few shots in the countryside where there is gratifyingly little light or air pollution, without thinking that the object I was focusing on was obviously much the same for everyone everywhere… Supermoon, Dorset Then I got to wondering what exactly I was looking at. I had a vague memory of some of the seas – Mare Imbrium for example – but I couldn’t remember any crater names at all. So I did a bit of research in an amateur serenographist kind of way and came up with this: Supermoon marked map This led me on to thoughts of the moon landings, and in particular Apollo 11. Wasn’t there something about touching down in the Sea of Tranquility? But whereabouts exactly on the supermoon? Here’s the answer. The moon below (from SOERFM) is at a different angle, but it can still be compared with the supermoons above. Apollo-11-landing-site Soerfm And what of all the other Apollo landings? Did they all aim for the same spot where Neil Armstrong staked his claim for mankind? Or were other landing areas tried by the Apollo moon missions? NASA has the answer: Apollo landing locator NASA Then I wondered about the names given to the seas and craters. Are they all modern or are some historical? I came across a wonderful map that shows that many names were given and recorded centuries ago. The moon map below is confusing – it is upside down compared with all the ones above. However, it is clear that by the c17, the naming of lunar geographical features was already largely settled. Almost all the names I added to the moon above can be found on this map of 1647. Double-click on it to get an enlarged legible view. It’s worth noting that it was published only 5 years after Galileo’s death.


Map of the Moon by Johannes Hevelius (1647)


Photos: Charmaine Albury, Rhonda Pearce, RH, SOERFM, NASA; other credits as noted in text



Strangely, our time on Abaco is usually punctuated at regular intervals by the ingestion of libations of an intoxicating variety. Basically, wine and beer. This has many positive  benefits: for example, it has a tendency to make ones own jokes seem a great deal funnier; and it can definitely aid casting confidence for an afternoon of bonefishing… Looking back over some recent photos, I found one I took on the Delphi beach during the ‘Permit Bagging’ week at the north end. I was amused by the sophistication of this shoreline collection of “essentials” belonging to one of the permit casters (RF – you!). The beer was an unsurprising beach-fishing accompaniment – the box of Romeo y Julietas was the main item of interest.

Beer post 6

There can be few beers more perfectly named for its surroundings than Sands, although it can be drunk out at sea just as easily…Beer post 4

My own favourite is Kalik – though admittedly after a while my discernment of the subtle differences between the 2 brands may become somewhat dulledBeer post 3

This guy seems to be enjoying his lunch on a perfect day out fishing offshore… Oh! Wait – it’s me…Beer post 1

Kalik by Kaitlyn Blair (F:B) copyI enjoyed this imaginative beer-based image posted by Kaitlyn Blair on FB

The title from this post comes from  a slogan for Double Diamond beer circa 1970 and the associated excruciating advertising. It caught on, and in almost any social situation at least three people were likely to say “I’m only here for the beer”. Even Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace (where one of the droll wags was, by royal prerogative, Prince Phillip). Here, in all its glory, is the ‘fons et origo’ of the expression…


This is & will remain an ad-free site. No monetary payment is received for products featured. Oh. Thanks. Mine’s a Kalik please. 




with guest expert PHIL LATTERLY

The Bahamas ‘does’ extremely nice stamps, in particular ones featuring the rich and varied wildlife of the islands. The islands spread from the subtropical climates of the north, on a level with Florida, to the near-tropical islands of the south. This ensures plenty of scope for designing pretty sticky bits of paper to stick onto other bits of paper. One of the small pleasures in life, near-lost to the tyranny of the email…

The sets of wildlife stamps are issued by the Bahamas Post Office. I’ll add to this collection piecemeal (including some from my own modest collection). The very latest commemorative issue heads the display.


BREEF 20th Anniversary Issue – November 2013IMG_2918

REEF FISHESBahamas Reef Fish StampsBahamas Bonefish Stamp (old-style)Bahamas Marine Life Stamps 2012


February 2012: WWF Flamingo Issue

Best seen on Inagua, the island where they breed. Less often found elsewhere, and sadly now only as occasional ‘vagrants’ on Abaco. Flamingo post with wonderful pictures of adults, babies and nests HEREBahamas Wildlife Stamps Flamingos


Found mainly on Abaco (the resident underground nesting variety) and Inagua (conventional nesters), where they breed. Small groups are now found elsewhere, e.g. Nassau, where there is a local monitoring programme, but I’m not sure that there is evidence of breeding there. Any info welcome… One (of several) lavishly illustrated parrot posts HERE

 Impressive commemorative issues for the BAHAMAS NATIONAL TRUST


Bahamas Wildlife Stamp Osprey

The KIRTLAND’S WARBLER is one of the rarest birds of the Bahamas, a winter resident that breeds only in a small area of Michigan. The entire population is numbers only a few thousand birds. The number of sightings annually on Abaco is very small – fewer than a dozen, and in some years none at all. Increasing knowledge about their favourite haunts is now improving the recording rate. I know of two seen this year, on the same day… a birder’s lifetime achievement.

Bahamas Stamps Kirtland's Warbler (eBay)

This swallow is endemic to the Bahamas

Found on Abaco only as an occasional visitor.

stock-photo-a-bahamas-stamp-featuring-a-burrowing-owl-on-the-face-10479643 copy

WATERFOWL                Credit as shown


Bahamas Wildlife Stamp Set

Bahamas Wildlife Stamps Sept 1984Bahamas Wildlife Stamp Set - Bat, Hutia, Raccoon, DolphinBahamas Potcake Stamps (First Day Cover)

4 BUTTERFLIES & INSECTSBahamas Butterfly Stamps

Credits: A compendious credit to sundry online sources including Bahamas PO, Bahamas Weekly, eBay and other sales / promotional sources, ads and the like, and unknown sources. I rarely find myself having to use this broad sweep approach: if your pic is here and you are upset, apologies, contact me to express your displeasure &co and I’ll take it down of course. But these are only non-rare small bits of paper; and this is a humble non-profit making info site of limited appeal in a Big Wide World. OK with that?



Bahama Yellow has its place in the history of motoring, especially in the sixties and early seventies. Maybe it was considered swinging. It is undoubtedly groovy, verging on ‘far-out’ or even ‘outasight’. It seems to have made its first appearance on motor manufacturers’ colour palettes in the mid-sixties. It differs slightly in shade from ‘New York Taxi’ yellow (and indeed ‘Banana Yellow’). The colour’s association with speed, cool, expense and hip hasn’t prevented its later use for somewhat less sleek private cars and taxis in eastern Europe… This post is an expansion of an existing page on the RANDOM drop-down menus, and is (1) nothing to do with wildlife (2) only very tenuously linked to the Bahamas and  (3) meant to be a mere light-hearted digression…


1968 Model (The Motoring Journal)

In the mid-60s Bahama Yellow was very far from the favourite colour choice , perhaps making it more elite… On the other hand, the colour palette shown here isn’t very tempting – if those were the true colours on offer, I might have considered a different car altogether… I’m particularly unimpressed by the nasty mud-coloured one that 9.5% people apparently selected for their classy sports car.


Porsche 912 1968 Motoring Journal1968_Porsche_912_5_Speed_Coupe_Color


A DBS with Sir Roger Moore KBE, 007 carefully examining his fingernails for ‘bugs’  in his “Persuaders”  days, before his eyebrows got themselves an agent and took up an independent acting career. Sharp suit, Rog! A bit on the… er… fashionably tight side, maybe?



Is it just me, or did this model (1969) have a serious design defect in the hood / trunk catch department? 

1969_bahama_yellow_plymouth___hood_up_by_kitteh_pawz- (thanks KP)This one has regrettably done a ‘Tiger Woods’ with a fire hydrantBahama Yellow Car 3

While this one never really got going at all…plymouthroadrunner1969bahamayellow (


Described in ads (Car and Classics; Pistonheads) as Bahama Yellow. It’s not really though is it?


(yes, I realise it’s a toy, but it will do for present illustrative purposes)

Aha! At last I’ve found a real one – 1971 Model (MCG Motors). Still looks like a toy, though…144292_f3e9c621c1_low_res-2

POLONEZ  c1980

imagesBahama Yellow Car 5 Bahama Yellow Car 2 Bahama Yellow Car 1 Bahama Yellow Car 4

Credits: as annotated or general ad / promotion /unattributed images

NEW ENTRY NOV 2013 I recently stopped at a motorway “petrol station” (in England, where no one says “diesel station”. Or “gas…”. Or even the all-embracing “fuel…”) for a leg stretch and to be honest, some revoltingly delicious crisps. Next to me was a sort of sporty-ish looking Bahama Yellow car. I neither knew nor cared what make it was, but I had to photograph it (iPh*ne). It turned out on inspection to be the unmemorably-named ‘Ford ST’, apparently a brand new model (though this one looked as though it had been round the block a few times, and possibly made contact with the block in the process). I found a gleaming stock image too. This question is, would someone (not me, obviously) look ‘cool’ in this car? Would Roger Moore happily get behind the wheel? It looks quite fun to drive; but then, so does a tractor.

FORD ST (2013)Ford ST Bahama YellowFord-Focus_ST_2013_800x600_wallpaper_06

RH note: I am not a car expert. I can remember only the colour / shape of our cars from day to day: estate, dark blue; small, ‘arrest-me’ red. I couldn’t care less about the models or indeed registrations (until I have to tax them. Then I go outside and take a look). Please don’t email me with well-meant histories of classic cars of the ’60s… this post is just a motor ignoramus’s survey for ‘fun’ (toxic concept…)


Matterhorn from Domhütte - 2.jpg


The header photograph is not in fact anything to do with Abaco. Apologies for any confusion. It’s the Matterhorn, towering over the border of Switzerland and Italy, complete with high altitude, year-round snow and sub-zero temperatures. Abaco has its own excellent skiing, of course, but solely of the watery sort. However, recently the question arose as to exactly where the highest point on Abaco is situated. All sources agree that the altitude is a dizzying 134 feet, with some equating that with 40 meters and others with 41. It would be nit-picking to use the straight conversion of 40.8432 meters.

I once did a post comparing the altitude of Abaco with Mount Everest – if you have the patience, you’ll find it HERE. A check on G@@gle throws up a fascinating site called PEAKBAGGER. Click on the link and it takes you to the Abaco entry; but elsewhere on the site there is a mass of remarkable worldwide altitude information that you could easily spend an hour or 2 investigating. The essential info for Abaco is this:

  • Elevation: 41 meters, 134 feet
  • Name: “Unnamed High Point”
  • Latitude/Longitude: 26° 34′ 6” N; 77° 8′ 14” W 26.568399, -77.137319
  • 3rd highest point in the Bahamas
  • 54th highest point in the Caribbean
  • 1014th highest island point in the world (which seems very unlikely, somehow)
  • Nearest high point is on Eleuthera
  • No ‘ascents’ by registered ‘Peakbaggers’ (this is now on my bucket-list for easy personal achievements)

Peakbagger’s map places the high point close to the Highway north of Marsh Harbour. This puzzled me, partly because I remember Ricky Johnson showing us a significant rocky outcrop deep in the pine forest of south Abaco. Also, the land relief shown on the Peakbagger map suggests a higher ridge to the north-west of the red circle.Abaco High Point Map 1

So I did what any Abaco researcher would do – I contacted Sandy Estabrook, éminence grise behind the wonderful ABACO ESCAPE website. Within a very short time he got back to me with a clipping from a nautical map, confirming the high point’s location as the one given by Peakbagger. Abaco Nautical Chart

Far more importantly, it turned out that Sandy actually ascended the summit in 2009 with a friend and without oxygen. His expedition journal states simply “Heading South along Queens Hwy, Frank pointed out a hill on the Sea of Abaco side of the road. It had quite some elevation of over a hundred feet or more it seemed. (I have not seen a higher place in all of Abaco). And atop the hill was a tower that I was told was built by real estate interests some years ago for prospective clients to view the surroundings. We climbed the tower and I took a couple picts”

The tower will be familiar to travellers passing by on the Highway. I had read that this was a good place to look out for birds, and had assumed it was some sort of fire-watching tower. The use of a tower to scope out land for development is an ingenious one, but the landscape is mercifully still undeveloped. Here are some photos from the vantage point.

View roughly south-east from the tower to Hope Town. The lighthouse is just visible to the right.Frank View from Tower 84 copy

Looking north-east, with Great Guana Cay just visible on the horizonFrank View from Tower 82 copy

The view north(ish) along the ridge, with the Highway snaking up to Treasure CayFrank View from Tower 83 copy

AERIAL VIEWSMount Abaco 5 copyMount Abaco 3 copy

Normally, high points acquire a name at some time. Even quite low ones. Perhaps Abaco’s high point deserves one. In which case, Parrot Peak? (But the parrots, while symbolic of the island, don’t frequent the area). Hummingbird Hill? (Tiny and perfectly formed). A134? (Uninspiring). All suggestions welcome…

STOP PRESS Within 24 hours, John Bethel has kindly to say “I have always known this hill to be called Pidgeon Hill”. So, it has a name already. I’ll try to find out some more about this – for example whether the name is historic or recent. Can anyone add anything to this?

Thanks to Sandy Estabrook and to Peakbagger

 Abaco Escape logoPeakbagger Logo