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Bruce & Beverly's Blog

Abaco in the Bahamas
By Beverly Kness
Posted on 2/26/2018 10:00 AM

Weather controls all our decisions here. Unfortunately, long periods of relatively calm days are
few and far between from October to March.  Periods of time when it is both safe and comfortable
to cross to the Bahamas are known as "Good Weather Windows".  We checked our weather apps
as weather controlled our decision of when to cross the Gulf Stream.  It looked like we should
have a good day to cross and we were thankful that it was a good smooth crossing. 

Our decision to cross was because of a good weather window and because Imagine This was ready
to cross also!  Chris and Amy on Imagine This have been to the Bahamas several times before and
the Ned Peppers and us liked the idea of going with someone who has experience in the Bahamas!  

The morning greeted us with a light breeze and partly cloudy skies.  It was a beautiful 72 degrees
when we pulled lines, at sunrise, to begin our travel from Ft. Lauderdale to West End
located in the northwest part of the Bahamas. 

Our speed picked up from 8.3 to 9.8 knots as we entered the Gulf Stream in the
 Atlantic Ocean.  We had 2-4 foot waves which calmed down nicely as the day went on.


Who should go to the Bahamas?  That is an easy question.  Everyone!  The warm climate,
beautiful beaches, friendly people and hardly any bugs ensure that you will have a great
time here in this collection of islands referred to as "The Bahamas". The only place in
the Continental US that even comes close to offering what the Bahamas has available
is the Florida Keys. The Florida Keys and the Bahamas are surrounded by warm water.  
The Gulf Stream rarely gets below 75 degrees and the rest of the Atlantic surrounding
the Bahamas rarely gets below 70 degrees. A small piece of land surrounded by 70
degree water just doesn't get cold in the winter even when a cold front comes through. 

The Bahamas were discovered in 1492 by none other than Christopher Columbus! He
landed at the southeast edge of the Great Bahama Bank.  While Columbus may have
"discovered" the Bahamas, it was already inhabited by a race of people called the Lucayans. 
It did not take the Spanish long to kill off and enslave all Lucayans. The slaves were mostly
taken to Cuba where they were worked to death and by 1600 there were no Lucayans left.   

On the map below: Seen from the top, the Bahamas most closely resembles a flat plate
under 8-10 feet of water.  Around the edges of this plate are islands.  The light gray
shaded areas of the Little Bahama Bank and the Great Bahama Bank are generally
less than 10 feet deep.  Dotted around the shallow banks are islands, shown in dark gray. 
Surrounded on all sides is the ocean with water thousands of feet deep.

After seven and half hours of crossing we arrived at our destination, Old Bahama Bay Marina, West End.
We plan to spent our time in the Little Bahama Bank area (Northern Bahamas also known as the Abaco). 
From West End we traveled around and to an area below where Marsh Harbor is marked on the
map and then back up to Marsh Harbor. Our plan is to eventually make our way back to
West End again to be in position to cross back to the states when there is a good weather window.

We put our yellow quarantine flag up when we crossed into Bahamian waters. 


The first thing we had to do upon arrival at a marina in Bahamas was to clear customs.
After clearing customs we took the yellow quarantine flag down and put our Bahamian flag up. 

It is customary for visiting boats to fly the flag of the county you are visiting, as a courtesy,
as well as our own US flag.  Clearing customs took about 45 minutes, which was about 40 minutes
longer than it took to clear customs when we entered Canada.  Finally we got into our slip!
We were in the Bahamas and we were happy to be here! We were thankful that we had a good
smooth crossing!  Our Canadian friends, who were required to leave the US after six months
in the states, got to the Bahamas with just four days to spare! They were thankful to be here too!

Below: Chris and Amy on Imagine This, Mike and Tammi on Ned Pepper and Bruce and Bev on Seaquest.

The following day we went to an anchorage at Great Sale Cay. Cay is always pronounced Key.

Below: Bruce is grilling our supper on the flybridge.  After supper we took our dinghies to
Imagine This and had Key Lime Pie that Amy made!  What a treat that was!


The sunset at the anchorage was beautiful!

We woke up the next morning to the sound of rain on the bow of the boat!  Rain! 
We hadn't thought about "rain" for some time!  It was 74 degrees and raining!  It didn't last
long at all, in no time the sun came out and dried the rain off of the boat. 
We had a calm, peaceful night at anchor, with good holding. The next morning the anchor came up
clean and our fleet of three boats made our way to Leeward Yacht Club Marina, on Green Turtle Cay.
In the Abacos water is available but metered at all marinas and runs from $0.25/gal
to $0.40/gal. We get a lot of salt sprayed on the boat while traveling so when
we get to a marina we like to wash the salt off of the boat.

We will really appreciate FREE water when we get back to the states!  Almost all food and supplies
in the Bahamas costs more than in the states so we stocked up as much as possible before we came. 
Eating out is always an option. However, eating out in the Bahamas can be very expensive and at
times the food is not cooked the way we are accustomed to.  It all adds to the experience! lol     

From Great Sale Cay we went to Lee Ward Yacht Club on Green Turtle Cay. 

I was surprised that "Sale" in (Great Sale Cay) wasn't spelled "Sail".  lol
From Green Turtle Cay we went to Orchard Bay Marina on Great Guana Cay.


From Great Guana Cay we went on to Treasure Cay Resort and Marina on
Treasure Cay.  We rode our bikes around the island. Vehicles drive on the left side
of the road on the Islands so we had to keep that in mind!  Most streets are so narrow
that the chief form of transportation seems to be golf carts or very small cars!

We met up with Steve and Debbie on Gypsies Palace at Treasure Cay. 
One afternoon we took our dinghies out to explore the area.




During the evening while we were at Treasure Cay, the electricity went off.  It didn't take
long to notice that because the AC in the boat stopped working!  In the morning we
found out that the entire island was with out power!  As we left the island that next morning
we thought it was sure too bad for the people still at Treasure Cay to be without electricity,
 but we were happy we were leaving that island for our next destination, Man-O-War Cay. 

When we arrived at Man-O-War Cay we found out that when you pay for one night you
get one night free so the decision to stay two nights was an easy one!  Also, we were
happy to hear there was a festival in town on Saturday!  How fun is that!

The ferries brought loads and loads of people to the island for the festival!

It wasn't long after we arrived on Man-O-War Cay the electricity went out there!  It was then
that we found out that several of the islands were without power and that the islands were sharing
power by rotating turns. The islands are without power for 4 hours and then have it for 2 hours. 

We never did hear why the islands were without electricity but the islands
shared the power for several days. We hear this happen often. 

In the photo below: 
notice the cat sitting on the scarves that are available for purchase in the marina store. 



It is almost eerie how clear the water is!  We easily can see fish, stingrays,
turtles and sharks, right next to our boat while docked at the marina!
It wasn't exactly "JAWS" but still it was right next to our boat!  

Albury's Sail Shop is a family-owned business that has been operating for three
generations on Man-O-War Cay. The sail shop is well-known for its colorful fashionable
items that are all made from a sturdy canvas fabric, traditionally used for sails. 
Items are only available from the store on the island, they are not available on-line.  lol


The shop was small but loaded with handmade bags of all colors, shapes and sizes. 
The ladies were sewing bags in the same room where all the bags were displayed and sold.


Our fleet of three made our way to Hope Town Marina.  Enroute we passed over
an area where our depth finder suddenly showed the water to be 20+ feet deep. 
This was very unusual. The water is a deep blue in this area.


We arrived at Hope Town Marina!


Can you see what the sign, on the cottage below, says?

It means:   Too good to be true.   lol

The streets are narrow and they drive on the "wrong" side of the road!  ha.

Below: The Hope Town Clinic.

We played Bingo at Captain Jacks! 
It was unique how they used bottle caps for the Bingo cards and instead of calling the
numbers under the letters  B I N G O, the numbers were called under the letters J A C K S. 

We didn't win!   lol   


It rained a little during the night.  
The next morning Bruce tilted the dinghy to allow the rainwater to drain out
the plug and look who showed up to get a drink of fresh water!

It is funny how the Manatee positions his self so that the fresh water
drips right into his/her mouth.    

Our journey continued to Marsh Harbour.  Marsh Harbour, with a population of about 6000, is
the largest town in the Abaco, and it is the third-largest town in the Bahamas, exceeded in
size only by Nassau and Freeport. There is an international airport in Marsh Harbor.  We
are looking forward to our son, Derek, flying in to the Marsh Harbor Airport this week! 
It was fun to run into fellow loopers Steve and Debbie on Gypsies Palace, here in Marsh Harbor.

We plan to stay in Marsh Harbor for 1-2 weeks.  We eventually plan to make our way back
to West End to get in position to cross back to the states, when there is a good weather window.


Green Turtle Bay
Port St. Joe