Category Archives: Abacos

Powell and Allans/Pensecola Cays

Allans/Pensecola Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
Position: 26 59.315N, 077 41.209W
Posted by Bill

As we departed Green Turtle Cay, we topped off our fuel and headed to Powell Cay, a short 2 1/2 hour run. Powell Cay is uninhabited and has really nice beaches. We anchored at position 26 54.010N, 077 28.934W and headed for the beach for some wallowing, drink of choice…my evolving banana rum punch recipe. At one end of the beach there was an “encampment” of miscellaneous crap that fellow cruisers before us left and arranged to hang out. We have seen this several other places on remote parts of the Bahamas. I am not sure why people feel the need to do this. Perhaps they are just bored. I think it is disrespectful of nature and the beauty of these cays and islands. It adds no value, only detracting from the natural setting.
Typically, these “encampments” mark a trail head if there is one, so we followed the trail to the ocean side of the cay and soaked up the views. Then we came back and combed the beach for shells. Last year we briefly stopped here, but found the best shells here, and this year was no different. We got several conch shells and sea biscuits. We also saw tons of sea life in the water as we waded and wallowed. I also swam along the rocks near shore. There were tons of small tropical fish. Finally a bull shark chased me out of the water. Here is a pic of one of the beaches on Powell:
While we were here, I jumped in the water at the boat and put a new prop shaft zinc on, as the old one fell off somewhere along the line. For those readers that don’t know what this is, we have to keep sacrificial metal near the underwater metal on the boat. When in salt water, stray electrical currents will attack and dissolve metal, especially prevalent when you are tied to a dock and plugged into shore power. Zinc is easiest metal for the current to attack, so by putting zinc near the boat’s metal, the zinc is sacrificed and the other metal is left alone. The water was so clear and shallow, it was a good place to take care of this maintenance. It was like being in a giant swimming pool.

Today we moved on to Allans/Pensecola Cay, another couple of hours along the route home. This used to be two separate cays, but the gap filled in by nature over time. This is also a remote cay. The anchorage is very well protected from most directions, and once again, the water was so clear. We were anchored in 10 feet of water and here you can see our anchor chain on the bottom:
Here are a couple of other shots of the anchorage:

We dinghyed to another “encampment”:
The doll reminded me of something out of a Stephen King novel…creeeaaapppppyyyy! We ran in fear…lol. Close by, there was a tree that marked a trail head to the ocean side. Cruisers had hung crap on the tree marking it. At the end of the trail there were several trees where people hung “mementos”, in other words trash and crap:
Again, I rant, why in the hell is this necessary. How does it add to this scene along the same beach:
We really liked the anchorage here. There was a lot of grass on the bottom which does not help the holding in high winds, but it was very calm while we were here. It was also incredibly quiet and peaceful. Here was the sunset tonight:

Beginning the trip back to the US

Green Turtle Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
Position: 26 45.716N, 077 19.461W
Posted by Bill

A couple of days ago we made it through the Whale and docked at Leeward Yacht Club on Green Turtle Cay. The Whale was still a little lumpy, but we didn’t get our asses kicked too badly, so we were happy. We hung out at the pool the day we arrived, and yesterday took the dinghies over to White Sound and checked out the Green Turtle Yacht Club, followed by a walk to the beach on the ocean side. Then we dinghied over to the beach at the Tranquil Turtle Bar, a really nice beach bar, and had lunch. The beach is really nice there:
The view doesn’t suck either. From there we dinghied over to New Plymouth, the settlement/town on Green Turtle Cay, and walked around for a bit, then back to the boats for a relaxing evening. Mark and Jan came over, and we had drinks and yucked it up for a few hours.

In an hour or so, we will leave Green Turtle and work our way back to the US. We are planning to stop at Powell Cay, Allens/Pesecola Cay and Great Sale Cay. Then will leave Friday around noon and sail overnight to Fort Pierce Inlet at Fort Pierce, FL. The current plan is to motor up the ICW to Vero Beach Marina…one of our favorite stops. We will have spotty or non-existent cell and internet coverage after we leave today, so I won’t post anything else until we hit the US. My Verizon cell phone will be working again when we arrive, so you can text or call after Saturday.

We really don’t want to leave the Bahamas as the weather is just finally getting nice…go figure. We have work to do on the boat and on our house at Lake Erie, so we need to get back to Southport NC, where we will dock for the summer.

Last day in Marsh Harbour

Marsh Harbour, Abacos, Bahamas
Posted by Bill

We have enjoyed our stay here and really like Mangoes Marina. We seemed to have this mentality about Marsh Harbour that relegates it to a short stop, only to provision, and then move on. I am not sure why, but we have misjudged the place. There are some good places to eat and a great snorkeling spot (Mermaid Reef) in addition to the excellent provisioning options. Since we have been to all of the surrounding cays before, we chose to wait here for a calm crossing around the Whale (Whale Cay). To travel from the southern part of the Sea of Abaco, to the northern Abacos, you need to go out in to the Atlantic Ocean, around Whale Cay, and back in through Whale Cay Cut. It is only about a 45 minute trip around the Whale, and the cuts are wide and deep, but Whale Cay Cut faces the dominate swell direction of the Atlantic. In addition, the ocean depth goes from thousands of feet to under 20 feet in a short distance. Add the effects of wind and tide, and the Whale can be one of the nastiest cuts in the Bahamas. With the last front that came through, the Atlantic swell has been up for a week, and given the fact that we have had quite enough ass kickin’s this year, we are waiting for a nice quiet passage around the Whale. We were going to leave today, which was borderline Whale conditions, but we need some tide to get into our destination at Green Turtle Cay, and we had a really tight schedule…not a good thing in the cruising life, so we opted to stay one more day. Starting tomorrow, we have an 8-10 day window of excellent weather and seas, at least according to the forecast….FINALLY!!!!!

While we have been here, we have done our provisioning. The main grocery store, Maxwells, is just like a large supermarket in the States, and one of the few in the Bahamas. They have good produce every day, a great selection of meats, and even carry some Kirkland (Costco brand) products. The prices are higher than the US, but the selection is comparable. They also have several well stocked liquor stores, a large hardware store, a marine store and a couple of banks. Besides liquor, produce and perishables, we didn’t need that much. Tricia did a great job of provisioning before we left the US, she really figured it out this year. That plus having our Engle freezer has kept us in good shape. Our marina has a mandatory $5/day charge for water, so I washed the boat the other day. It really needed it…caked in salt. Like an idiot, I left the portal (window) above the stove open, thinking it wouldn’t be affected by the area I was working on, and soaked a good portion of the galley (kitchen), which generated a cleanup project. I felt bad! In our usual routine, we have checked out the different happy hours and continued our study of the many Rum Punch recipes throughout the Bahamas. Had a really good one last night at Rum Runners, made with Bacardi 151 and Peach Schnapps…only $5 during happy hour! We have also really enjoyed having Kurt and Sharon with us again. Most nights we end up hanging out by the pool at the marina and shootin’ the shit. The other night, Kurt and Sharon thawed a large chunk of wahoo that they got in the Berry Islands, we thawed some tuna, every one made some sides, and Mark cooked up the fish. We had a great cookout up by the pool. On Wednesday we went to the barbecue and limbo night at the Jib Room restaurant. It wasn’t very crowded this time which made it even better. I still can’t believe how Desmond does the limbo as low as he goes. His final round under the limbo stick is done with the stick on fire, and he lights a cigarette as he goes under:

Tomorrow we will begin our trek back to the US, working our way through the northern Abacos over the next week. If the forecast is accurate, we could be back in the US by next weekend. The current plan is to work our way over to Great Sail Cay and do an overnight crossing to the Fort Pierce inlet, making landfall in either Fort Pierce FL or Vero Beach.

Hope Town to Marsh Harbour

Marsh Harbour, Abacos, Bahamas
Position: 26 32.798N, 077 03.179W
Posted by Bill

We waited out the last 3 days at Hope Town to let the latest “winter” front pass through. By this time of year, these fronts are usually history, but NOOOO, not this year. We had winds to 30 knots out of the north…once again. Hope Town is a good place to weather these out. It is very protected and there is lots of stuff to do on shore. We did some wallowing at one of the pools, and also much drinking and eating about town. Our 2 favorite places to eat were Wine Down Sip Sip, and Hope Town Lodge. Great food, and Sip Sip has the best happy hour on the island. The best prices to buy liquor were at Captain Jacks. We also did the usual climb to the top of the lighthouse:
We also took several walks on the beach:

After the front passed, today, we moved over to Marsh Harbour. There are great places to provision here, including Maxwells grocery and several liquor stores. We decided to take a slip here. It has been since Bimini that we have been at a dock, spending most nights at anchor or a mooring buoy, and this was a special treat. In addition, one of our best friends Kurt and Sharon on Byrd Ketcher were arriving at the same time…reunion!!! We had fun doing a mini pub crawl and hanging out at the marina. Too bad we missed good friends Hayden and Radeen on Island Spirit, and Maris and Linda on Amekaya. We are missing them by a day. Tomorrow we will do some provisioning, and then head to the Jib Room for the Wednesday rib dinner and limbo. We had great fun there last year and are looking forward to doing it again!!!

Tahiti Beach and Hopetown

Hopetown Harbour, Elbow Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
Position 26 32.279N, 076 57.617W
Posted by Bill

We spent a very relaxing couple of days at Little Harbour, and frequented Pete’s Pub daily. This was a great place to weather the front that came through as it is very protected. On the 12th we slipped our mooring and motored about 2 ½ hours up to Elbow Cay, anchoring at Tahiti Beach, position 26 30.226N, 076 59.119W.
Other than getting our asses kicked in the open cuts, the trip was easy and comfortable. This is one of our favorite spots in the Abacos. It has a great beach, clear water, a good anchorage for prevailing winds, and across the way is a great bar, Cracker Ps. We spent the afternoon wallowing on the beach with some friends we made in Little Harbour. In addition to Mark and Jan on Island Bound, there was Curt and Cindy on Classic Cyn, and Rockey and Ann on Corrina, and two other couples that were friends of Curt and Cindy…but I can’t remember names and boat names…perhaps the rum punch. We actually have almost a week of settled weather! Haven’t seen that in forever. The 13th was a work day. Mark made water and we were down about 90 gallons of water, so I jugged water back and forth in the dinghy for several hours. Then I borrowed Curt’s hooka, which is an air pump with a scuba regulator, so I could dive and clean the bottom of the boat. Later in the afternoon we headed to Cracker Ps. We remember this being a great bar with good food, but they scaled back the menu and the drinks weren’t as good as we remembered, so we were disappointed.

There is yet another coming in Saturday through Monday (when are these winter fronts going to stop!!!!), so yesterday we upped anchor and went to Hope Town and grabbed a mooring to wait out the weather.
We really enjoyed Hopetown last year LINK, and it is well protected for heavy weather. After a walk about town, and a long walk along the beach, we had drinks and dinner at Wine Down & Sip Sip. They had a great rum selection, good happy hour, and homemade flatbread pizzas that were outstanding! Highly recommend it. Today we are going to climb to the top of the lighthouse and maybe sit by the pool. Looks like we may be here for almost a week.

We are starting to look at how we are going to travel to make the crossing back to the States. Our intent is to cross in early May and make it back to Southport NC by the end of May, where we will spend the summer again.

Little Harbour in the Abacos

Little Harbour, Abacos, Bahamas
Position: 26 19.613N, 076 59.894W
Posted by Bill

The last day in Spanish Wells, we rented a golf cart for a day and drove around the island. One of the places we stopped was a grocery store that was further up the island, one which we hadn’t gone to since it was so far on foot. This store was the size of a small grocery store in the US and was stocked really well by Bahamas standards. Having wheels, we loaded up with heavy stuff and some fresh produce (very hard to get in the Bahamas). Afterwards, we rode across a small one lane bridge to the adjacent island, Russell Island. There was a restaurant called Sandbar that was right on the water that we checked out. It was really nice, but expensive. We had lunch there and found out that they had a happy hour later, so we came back for happy hour.
They had a specialty drink called a Mexican Hipster that we all really liked, that had jalapeño infused tequila, simple syrup, lime juice and muddled cucumbers. As Borat would say…”Great success!”. On the way back to the dinghys we stopped at Budda’s for dinner. We sat at the bar next to some locals, one which had what I diagnosed as a version of Turret’s Syndrome. He let out a signature “woooo” at the top of his lungs at random, and was one of those people that latch on to you in conversation, and makes it impossible to politely exit. On top of that he was drunk. From our boats, every day we would hear someone on shore yelling “wooooo”, and we couldn’t quite figure it out. Now, we know.

By the forecast, we had a 1 ½ day window on the 8th and 9th to make it to the Abacos, so we left Spanish Wells on the 7th and staged in an anchorage called Royal Island Harbour on nearby Royal Island. Staying here would cut an hour off of our trip to Abaco, giving us a padding of day light in case we had to go slower than planned. The harbor is protected from weather from all directions and was totally quiet. There are a couple of homes on the far west end of the island and an abandoned, under construction, resort, and nothing else. It was calm and quiet, and a beautiful day, and we enjoyed just chilling and looking at the view.

The next morning we got up and took off about 6:45 AM. Sunrise over the harbor entrance:
When we traveled outside of the protection of the reefs, the seas were rolling about 3-5 feet with a dominant wave period of 9 seconds…typical ocean swells. The further north we traveled, the larger the swells were, and the last 2/3rds of the trip was in 5-7 foot swells hitting us on the beam. Without any wind, they rolled the boat from side to side, and made for an uncomfortable ride. We ended up getting some wind and picked up the prevailing currents (in our favor) about 3/4ths of the way there, and made good time overall, making landfall at about 4:30 PM. We wanted to get into Little Harbour (360 degree protection) and grab a mooring ball, in anticipation of the next weather front moving in on the 10th, but we needed at least a foot of tide to get through the harbor entrance, which wasn’t going to be there until around 7 PM. So, we anchored off Lynyard Cay and waited. At 6:30 we upped anchor, slipped through the entrance and grabbed a mooring. If you read the blog last year, you may remember that Little Harbour was one of our favorite places in the Bahamas. It is quiet, picturesque, and the home of Pete’s Pub. Pete’s is the quintessential beach bar; no floor – just sand; picnic tables; old, signed T-shirts that people have left, are hanging everywhere. The view is great, food is great, and they have a killer rum punch!
The caves in the background are ones that the family lived in when they first came to the harbor. They eventually built houses, the bar, and an art gallery.
Pete’s Pub:
We have seen lots of turtles, lots of dolphins (rare in the Bahamas) and this manatee in the harbor:
The beach behind Pete’s is beautiful, but unfortunately, like most beaches that face the Atlantic Ocean, trash (mostly shoes and plastic) litters the high tide line…sad, sad, sad, what we are doing to our environment:

We will wait out the next weather front here at Little Harbour and then start moving up the Abacos. The week after the front is showing settled weather for the forecast period…finally!!!

Chasing another window

West End, Grand Bahama, Bahamas
Position: 26 42.079N, 078 59.467W
Posted by Bill

The weather has been really crazy in that no one can seem to predict what is going to happen, even for the current day. Winds coming from all directions. Rain, when there is a zero percent chance. Etc…..

It has been difficult to determine when to make a move to cross back to the States. We need at least a 3 day weather window, and after spending a couple of days more at Green Turtle, we got another chance to move.

We left on the 22nd and sailed over to Crab Cay (position 26 55.145N, 077 35.671W), a really nice anchorage, which we had mostly to ourselves. Nice and remote. Here was the sunset behind Sofia Jeanne and Byrd Ketcher:
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The weather was beautiful.

On the 23rd, we originally planned to stop at Great Sale Cay, as it has excellent protection from all sides but the south, and we had a slight chance for some weather. On the 24th we were planning to go to West End on Grand Bahama via Indian Cut, which is less than 5 feet at low tide, and low tide would have been close to our arrival time if we stopped in Great Sale. Instead, we decided to go past Great Sale and stop at Mangrove Cay, a small cay that offers less protection, but allowed us to traverse Indian Cut on a favorable tide.

The tide to Mangrove was with very little wind and flat seas. I had the autopilot on and stood at the bow of the boat for hours just looking into the water. We were in 9-12 feet of water and you could see everything on the bottom of the Little Bahama Bank. It was just like sailing on a pane of glass…incredible!
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There just wasn’t a way to capture it to share. That was the best I could do.

We had a slight bit of rain and the wind picked up over night into the mid-teens. We made the move to West End in choppy seas and winds up into the 20’s, not what was forecasted of course! We went through Indian Cut with lots of water under us…never saw less than 7 feet, and out into the Atlantic Ocean for a run south to the marina. That part of the trip was rough. Big rollers on the ocean were hitting us on the starboard beam and rocking the boat pretty bad. We went into them for a ways so that we could run the final leg with seas on the quarter, and we made it into Old Bahama Bay. Old Bahama Bay is a really nice resort and marina with several restaurants, a pool and a nice beach. The grounds were well kept and the lodging was upscale. It was hot and we hit the pool with cocktails to wallow. The only problem is that the slip rental is very expensive. Not someplace you want to have to wait for a week for weather. Tomorrow winds are supposed to be 5 to 10 knots out of the S and SE, with north swells to 2 feet…let’s hope it holds, as there is not another window for 7 to 10 days!

Treasure Cay

Treasure Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
Position: 26 40.239N,077 19.036W
Posted by Bill

Treasure Cay is one of those places that everyone says is a “must see” when traveling the Abacos. They reportedly have one of the nicest beaches in the world. We spent 2 days there anchored out in the harbor. It is well protected and the holding was pretty good, but it is a crowded anchorage. We had fun watching the boats come in and try to anchor, some getting it done in one try, and others taking 7 or 8 tries.

Anchoring can be a very difficult chore. Depending on the sea bottom, one type of anchor works better than others, so you need to carry several types and know which one to pick. Then you have to let your anchor chain out in stages so that it doesn’t pile up and keep the anchor from setting properly. Then you have to have the right amount of chain out to insure you pull the anchor into the seabed at the proper angle to make it set. This depends on the wind conditions and the depth of water.

Fortunately, ours set the first time and we set out to check out the nice pool at the marina, and also do some wallowing on the beach. The beach was really nice, but not as nice as the one we had at Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands. Here we are wallowing:
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Kurt made some Skyline Chili the second night we were there. That was awesome! Been a long time since I had that.

Staying there a couple of days allowed me to finish our taxes and get them submitted. Yay, glad that is done. Despite being able to do it all remotely via internet, it was still a pain in the ass getting it done.

Other than the pool and the beach, there wasn’t a whole lot to do and see at Treasure Cay. They did have a row of small shops behind the marina where there was a liquor store, a well stocked grocery store, and other miscellaneous businesses. There are also several vacation rental units in the area that looked really nice. Something to consider if you can’t get there by boat.

The main reason we stayed a couple of days is that we were waiting for the perfect weather to cross the Whale. The Whale is the passage around Whale Cay that you have to take to get between the southern part and northern part of the Abacos. You go out into the Atlantic Ocean on one side the Whale Cay and come back in on the other. This is where the Atlantic meets the shallow waters of the Sea of Abaco, and high winds or a large NE or E swell can cause what is called a “rage” in the inlets. It is as bad as it sounds, believe me. Tomorrow looks like the perfect day to “do the Whale” so we will time the tides and make a run of it.

Great Guana Cay and Nippers!

Great Guana Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
Position: 26 39.885N, 077 06.693W
Posted by Bill

Great Guana is also one of the smaller cays in this part of the Abacos, but they have 2 bars that are pretty popular, Grabbers and Nippers. On Sundays, Nippers has a pork BBQ party, so we picked up the last 3 mooring balls in the harbor and stayed 2 nights for the party.

It was packed with people that came in on boats and the ferry. The party was fun, and we drank rum all day. Not good for the budget though! There is also a beautiful beach at Nippers.
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Man-O-War Cay

Man-O-War Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
Position: 26 35.398N, 077 00.077W
Posted by Bill

Man-O-War is a very small cay with a small population. It has a great protected harbor with a very narrow and shallow entrance. We used the tide to make it in and after poking around the harbor found mooring balls to tie to. They have really good repair facilities for most boats and also a boat building business here, Albury Brothers Yachts. They are center console power boats that have a great reputation:

The cay is well kept, no garbage, and the houses are nicely maintained. There are concrete streets that are wide enough for a golf cart, which is the primary mode of transportation. This is pretty typical throughout the Bahamas. Pics:
Banana trees:
A gorgeous beach on the Atlantic side:
Check out the name of this house that was on the beach:

It was a pretty place, but not much going on there. It is also a dry cay, so no bars or liquor stores. Needless to say…we only stayed one day…lol!