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Bahamas - Abaco

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The Islands Of The Bahamas offer boaters and sailors some of the most spectacular and breathtaking views in the world. Panoramic views of pink sand beaches, towering cliffs, clear blue waters, and colourful reefs await adventurers. With thousands of miles of uninhabited beaches and cays, visitors can literally get away from it all and enjoy the peace and tranquility so easily found in The Islands Of The Bahamas. But if boating is more of a sport for you, then The Islands Of The Bahamas has what you’re looking for, too! With are over 700 hundred islands and cays in The Bahamas, enough for dozens of yachting vacations. Here is one of our suggested programs departing out of the base in March Harbour.

Day 1: Marsh Harbour to Hope Town

We will regularly make reference to the Cruising Guide to Abaco, by Steve Dodge, which you may purchase at the base, located at Boat Harbour Marina. Our charter base's fleet is located on the dock adjacent to the land jetty opposite the words, Abaco Beach Hotel. The FYC Bahamas office and shop is located in the pink rectangular building located at the north end of the harbour. The slips are on the jetty near the fuel dock. The base will monitor VHF channel 66 daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. When you reach us, switch to channel 65.

If you are interested in visiting Little Harbour, we suggest you work it in here, before heading north on the rest of the itinerary which follows. Otherwise skip this and proceed to Hopetown, as outlined below. Adding Little Harbour to your trip may mean skipping some of the other stops suggested below, depending on the length of your charter. As always, weather. wind conditions and the tides can be a determining factor in your choice of plans. Several harbor entrances, including Little Harbour, are too shallow to enter at low tide. So check your tide charts before departing for Little Harbour and plan to enter at mid or high tide. Depart early morning for Sandy Cay, approximately 10 miles south of Marsh Harbour. Follow your Cruising Guide for courses and sailing directions. Anchor on the northwest side of Sandy Cay and dinghy over to the small boat mooring buoys on the east side. The reef is fantastic for snorkeling! It is part of the Pelican Cay Land and Sea Park and protected by the Bahamas National Trust. You could also dinghy across to South Pelican Cay about a half a mile east. It has a great beach and a chiki hut with informational placards about the fish and flora. Sandy Cay is not a recommended overnight anchorage, so take care to allow time to make it to Little Harbour, which is about another six miles south of Sandy Cay. If the tides are right, an alternative is to anchor off of South Pelican Cay. Little Harbour channel will only carry three to four feet of water at low tide but there is seven feet at high tide and ten feet once you are inside. The Johnston family's art studios and foundry are located here, along with "Pete's Pub", a great little watering hole, and "open air" restaurant and one of our all-time favorites. It appears to have been constructed out of whatever has floated in with the tides. Little Harbour is private property and also protected by the Bahamas National Trust, so do not take reuse ashore or dump anything overboard. There are caves to explore as well as an abandoned lighthouse and beach with a good snorkeling reef just a short distance offshore. It would be easy to spend a couple of days in Little Harbour and dinghy around the shallow creeks and little cays just west of Little Harbour. Remember, when it's time to leave, go with the flow.high tide!

FIRST DESTINATION - HOPE TOWN Proceed out of Boat Harbour Marina leaving FLR post on your portside (page 56.) If motoring, proceed on a compass bearing of 92 deg. magnetic towards the flashing green marker about three miles away at the north end of Parrot Cays - the distance to HPTWN (HOPE TOWN North GPS Way point) is about 4 miles. You will note that the water depth varies between 8' and 14'. This is an excellent sailing area. Hoist your sails and cruise around the area between Matt Lowe's Cay, Great Abaco Island, north of Lubbers Bank and west of Parrot Cays (Note on page 56 the "xxx's". These represent shallow scattered coral heads which you must steer clear of. Stay away from Johnny's Cay and the 3' to 4' sandbars to the west of Johnny's Cays). ELBOW CAY AND ITS APPROACHES/HOPE TOWN. Read carefully editorial pages 76 and 77 a couple times. Especially read "Anchoring/Mooring in Hope Town." In order to get a mooring in Hope Town Harbour, please call ahead on VHF channel 16 Hope Town Marina, (who have green buoys), Lucky Strike, which has red buoys or ABC Charters (who have large white striped buoys.these are located at the southerly end of the harbour so we recommend that you get a red or green buoy). The cost is $10 per night and you need to go in and pay for your buoy at the approximate dockmaster's office. Walk over to the world famous Hope Town Lighthouse. Climb (if you dare) to the top of the lighthouse with your camera for a spectacular view. The lighthouse was built by the British Imperial Lighthouse Service in 1853 which still uses a windup brass mechanism to send out a beam of light up to 20 miles. Dinghy to Captain Jack's Waterside Bar and Restaurant. Captain Jacks has a reasonably priced menu and local Kalik Beer or dinghy to the public dock and dine at Harbour's Edge or Hope Town Harbour Lodge. Hope Town Harbour Lodge has a beautiful pool and beach on the ocean. You are welcome to enjoy a cool drink, or tasty lunch, dip in the pool, or simply lounge in the shady hammock. If you feel like toting your snorkeling gear, this is a good place to do some off-the-beach snorkeling, especially for novices. Walk to the High Street and visit the famous Wyannie Malone historical museum. Walk a little further and see the interesting tombstones in the cemetery. All graves are above ground with names of early Hope Town settlers and interesting epitaphs. The old cemetery is located on the ocean side of Hope Town and the ocean view is speculator.

Day 2: Man O War

Man-O-War Cay (pages 50 & 51) is located about five miles northwest of Hope Town. Proceed to waypoint PTSET (Point Set Rock) on 132° Magnetic; then to MOWI (Man-o-War Nrl); then to MOW2 (Man-o-War Nr 2). Be sure to go east of Sandy Cay. So that you can visit the historic and very interesting Man-O-War settlement, without being dependent on the tide, proceed to anchorage areas between Dickie's Cay and Old Scopley's Rock. You will see other boats anchored. Take care not to drop anchor over the power cable which runs into the north end of the harbour. This anchorage is good for winds from north through east. Otherwise, it's recommended you anchor inside. Then dingy in to Man-O-War Harbour and tie up at any of the piers near the public dock. The residents are most friendly and there is no charge for tying up. Inside Man-O-War Harbour are the main and east harbours in the main harbour moorings are available to rent from Man-O-War Marina. However, both anchorages are quite crowded so we have suggested you anchor outside the harbor and dinghy in.

Day 3: Fowl Cay & Great Guana Cay

On the overview map on Page 36, Fowl Cay is the larger unnamed cay just southeast of Scotland Cay. Weather permitting, Fowl Cay is an excellent dive site with easy access for snorkeling and Scuba diving. Referring to Page 97, you can see there is only one recommended day anchorage. (The depicted routes out to the reef are meant for runabouts and you should not attempt to take you charter boat out there.) Drop the anchor in 8-10 ft. of water just north of the small white beach. Don't get too close.there's an area of much shallower water just off the beach. The little beach is perfect for the non-divers in your group. There's a tidal pool to explore and you can wade and swim. Occasionally, a ray or dolphin will cruise by. To get to the dive area you can dinghy around either end of Fowl Cay, however the north end is preferable as there is often a significant rip tide on the south end. Avoid the depicted "current" areas; these have been known to sweep low-powered boats (i.e. dinghies) right out to the open ocean. Pick up one of the moorings if available or drop your anchor in the sand (please, not the coral). Remember, Fowl Cay Preserve is a protected area so "take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but bubbles."

GREAT GUANA CAY Once you're finished with your dive, head 4 NM North to your overnight destination at Great Guana Cay (page 46). You have two anchorage choices if you decide to spend the night on the hook. The wind forecast will dictate where you should anchor. The Settlement Harbour provides better access to shore activities but the holding ground is questionable if the breeze pipes up. Fisher's Bay has better holding ground and there also are moorings from rent from Dolphin Beach Resort. Another option is to take a slip the new Orchid Bay Marina. (Call ahead on VHF 16.) Once on shore, the Guana Beach Resort provides a relaxing spot to enjoy conch fritters and a round of their famous "Guana Grabbers." They also have a pool and very nice dining room you may want to consider. The of course there's Nipper's Bar and Restaurant, rapidly becoming one of Abaco's most popular hangouts. Call them on VHF 16 and they'll send a golf cart, or for a real treat, walk up the School House sidewalk between Milo's and Tom's to the top of the dune where the path will open up to a spectacular view of Guana Beach and the Atlantic Ocean. Then turn right and walk down the beach to Nipper's. Guana Beach is also a great snorkeling location, right off the beach at Nipper's but especially to the South at "High Rocks."

Day 4: Baker's Bay

You can anchor overnight at Baker's Bay (page 46), weather permitting, or you can make a day trip out of it, either returning to Guana Settlement or pressing on to Treasure Cay. A good spot to anchor is just off the old "Treasure Island" dock once used by the "Big Red Boat's" water taxis. From there, dinghy in and enjoy some exploring, beach time, snorkeling, and perhaps a picnic lunch. You can also take the dinghy around the north end of the island where there's a beautiful and "very isolated" white sand beach. Park the dinghy on the bay side (be mindful of the tide change and take heed of the notes on page 130 and) it's just a short walk over to the ocean. There are a few coral heads just off the beach for snorkeling. When crawfish are in season there's a good change you might find some in this general area. On the way to or from Baker's Bay, you might think about a quick stop at Guana Seaside Village at Crossing Bay (Page 46). They have a quaint little hotel and bar with a fresh water pool and the view from the gazebo at the top of the dune is hard to beat. This has become a popular site for wedding ceremonies.

Day 5: Treasure Cay

Treasure Cay (Pages 40 & 42, at approximately 8 NM West) is a unique little resort community with a nice blend of more upscale amenities and beach life. As you enter the channel, favor the north side to find the deeper water. The anchorage provides good protection in all directions. You can rent a mooring from Treasure Cay Marina for $10 which includes free use of the marina shower rooms, or if you wish, you can rent a slip. The marina office closes at 5:00 p.m. There is a Reverse Osmosis water station behind the marina store where you can buy ice and drinking water. If you've saved empty water jugs you can get them refilled there for $.75. The "Tipsy Seagull" bar and pool area offers a great place to relax and there is shopping nearby. Anyone for golf? Treasure Cay boosts the only course in Abaco. A short walk will get you over to the crescent beach which some say is one of the most beautiful in the world. (Regrettably, it's in need of a cleanup following damage caused by Tropical Storm Mitch.)

Day 6: White Sound

For the sailors, you'll want to get an early start since it's about a four hour sail with favorable winds (Page 36, 56, 82 - 19 NM Southeast). It may seem like a long haul but White Sound is worth the effort. The entrance to White Sound is quite narrow and tricky so it's best to anchor your boat outside just off the two small islands and take the dinghy in to the pristine cove under The Abaco Inn using the depicted range markers. You can order lunch while you take in their beautiful overlook of the Atlantic. Sea Spray Marina is also a good choice for authentic Bahamian food. It's an easy walk south from Abaco Inn. There is also a shop in White Sound which sells locally made jewelry and paintings. Another option is to move further down Lubber's Quarters Channel and anchor off Tahiti Beach. You will usually find other boats anchoring in that general area. After anchoring off Tahiti Beach, take the dinghy south to Yahoe's, Abaco's newest fun destination for food and drink. We don't recommend taking a sailboat through Lubber's Channel on anything other than a rising tide, if at all. If you accidentally go aground on a falling tide, you'll be stuck for a good long time. It's best to stay up near Tahiti Beach; that way you'll be able to leave without depending on the tide.

Day 7: Return to Boat Harbour

Plan to return so as to arrive in Boat Harbour (4 NM northwest, Page 86, 72) between 9 & 12 or 1 & 4, the hours of operation for the fuel dock. (Take care not to stray south of the depicted course line from White Sound Mark to "BTHBR"; the Lubber's Bank gets shallow very quickly.) You'll need to stop and top off diesel and water before heading for the slip so give Boat Harbour dock master a call on VHF 16 to be sure they have someone at the fuel dock. Once at the fuel dock, give the FYC base a call on VHF 66 so they can have one of our crew standing by to point you to the right slip and help you with the dock lines. Once back at Boat Harbour and all snug in your slip, it's a great time to head over to the pool for a refreshing dip and may a delicious rum punch at the Abaco Beach Resort's own "Sand Bar" to wind down and toast the completion of a most successful and enjoyable charter on the Sea of Abaco. We think you'll agree with us when we say it's undoubtedly the best cruising grounds in all the Bahamas and one of the best kept secrets in the charter world.

Tropical Yachts
4906 N Travelers Palm Lane. Tamarac, FL 33319
Tel: 1 (305) 735-3460 & (305) 593-8687

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Please note: Information on this sheet is believed to be correct but not guaranteed