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Bahamas - part 2

Trip's Log 

Date: Apr 18 to May 18

Total Distance: about 500 nms
Destination: West End, Double Breasted Cay, Great Sale Cay, Pensacola Cay, Powell Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Great Guana Cay, Marsh Harbour, Tahiti Beach, Little Harbor, Lynyard Cay, Hopetown, Treasure Cay, Manjack Cay, Great Sale Cay, West End, Ft Pierce

video - The Abacos, Bahamas
video - Lynyard Cay

Palm Beach, Florida to West End, Grand Bahama Island

Map of the Abacos, northeast Bahamas

Apr 14-17 At Palm Beach, we waited for Ed and Joyce of One Love, our buddy boat to cruise the Bahamas together. When One Love came into the anchorage, we noticed that she was flying two American flags. When asked why the patriotism, the captain said that he had to fly an extra flag to compensate for the fact that his catamaran, a Fountaine Pajot 35, is a French boat. At the time, Franco -American relations were deteriorating by the day over the looming Iraq war, and with the SARS epidemic mounting, we couldn't have found a better time to escape from the problems of the world. NE winds becoming East at 5-10 knots with seas of 2-3 feet were forecasted for Friday, our day of departure.

Apr 18 At 5:30 this morning, we followed One Love out of our anchorage into the Atlantic. As soon as land was out of sight, the rolling got so bad (waves coming from bow and beam) we each took a Dramamine, a first in our five years of boating! These sea conditions would hammer us for the next four hours. Halfway into our passage, the seas turned flat calm. Some 53 nautical miles and nine hours later, we made landfall at West End on Grand Bahama Island. Checking in with customs at Old Bahama Bay Marina was simple and we did not feel like we were in a foreign country. The marina was deluged with boats from the U.S., the local people didn't look any different, and all spoke  English. Come to think of it, Miami was more foreign than West End! The marina was full, as we had arrived on a weekend without reservations, so we dropped the hook outside the marina, just like a dozen other boats.

The next morning, we took off for the Abacos, taking the Indian Cay Passage, which carries 5.5 feet at low water. We were using the MapTech Charts, and thinking Barracuda Shoal marker was the third piling (we had no idea that it was missing), we left it to starboard. We were cruising at 6 knots,  and quickly lower the throttle to idle when we saw the color of the water abruptly changed to show sand/corals as well as marks left by propellers. The depth sounder alarm promptly went off at 3 feet (we draw 3.5 ft), and the number disappeared off the display. After a hairy 5 seconds, we got back into deeper water. All we could do was hope that the propeller  survived whatever was underneath the boat. We took a deep breath, crossed our fingers,  and moved on. 

Headwinds slowed One Love down and the choppiness proved too uncomfortable. We stopped at Mangrove Cay to take a break for the night. Next day, we had a much smoother ride to Great Sale Cay. 

Apr 20 Not until we saw the utter beauty of Double Breasted Cay did we think we were actually in the Bahamas. Several megayachts and sailboats were already anchored there. We dropped anchor in a narrow bend between a huge sandbar and an island. A swift current runs through here, but we preferred to drop one anchor down rather than the Bahamian style with two anchors, and when we felt comfortable with the anchorage, we immediately hit the beach - soft white sand in shimmering turquoise water, and best of all, we had it all to ourselves. Paradise indeed! We waded and swam in the warm inviting waters and took pictures. When we got back to the boat, the captain checked the bottom, and proclaimed it was fine and ditto the propeller. What a relief! Later that afternoon, we took the dinghy to explore the countless coves. We saw myriads starfish, sea biscuits, yellowtail snapper, four-eye butterflyfish and various other reef species. And this was our lucky day - we scooped up a beautiful queen conch.

Satisfied with the day's activities, we cooled down with cocktails followed by dinner with Ed and Joyce. We played our favorite cd - In the Bahamas by The Barefoot Man, and he sang "It cannot get any better than this." We couldn't agree more. We were so enchanted with Double Breasted Cay we lingered there another day. 

A boat we saw at Trawler Fest in Maryland two years ago, Winnie The  Pooh, came in the next day. We chatted with Mark, the captain, about his trip. That evening, One Love invited them and another couple over  for cocktails.  The Barefoot Man was singing, the beers were flowing, and we were having a fabulous time exchanging stories and before we know it, it was pitch dark. None of us had thought to leave our anchor lights on. Except for some fish glowing in the water and stars twinkling in the sky, we could not see any of our boats. Mai Thai was a mere 30 yards away. One Love flashed a light out for us. We survived the dinghy ride back to our boats, but that night, we sloshed around so bad we were up most of the night. We left abruptly the next morning.

One Love wanted to see FoxTown, and we Moraine Cay, so we parted ways and will meet up at Powell Cay the following day.

Captain showing off his catch

Cocktails on One Love

Sunset at Allan-Pensacola Cay

Apr 23 At Moraine Cay, the vivid contrasting colors of the water was quite stunning, but not as impressive as the guide book said. Then again, after Double Breasted Cay, everything seemed downhill from there. We should have saved the best for last. Oh well. We pressed on to Allans-Pensacola Cay. The grassy bottom would give the captain grieve. He had to set and re-set the anchor four times! We ended up deploying the Delta anchor instead of the claw to get it to set. Too tired to go ashore, we stayed on the boat and witnessed a spectacular sunset. By night time, there were about a dozen boats anchored here. Still, it was so peaceful we slept like babies.

Apr 24 Off to Powell Cay to meet up with One Love. It was pretty shallow there, about 5 feet of water. Shantih, a Fountaine Pajot power catamaran, was anchored here. Its owners Ned and Letty hails from Amelia Island, Florida. We beachcombed for shells on the Atlantic side of the cay, and was practically surfing back to our boat. They saw us and invited us over for iced tea and a tour of their boat, and gave us a heads up on the settlements and the reefs. They come here for diving every year. We would run into Shantih again at Tahiti Beach and later at Hopetown.

charming New Plymouth

Apr 25-26 After a week of anchoring in the idyllic, but uninhabited islands of the Abacos, this was our first stop at an island with a major settlement - New Plymouth at Green Turtle Cay. Settlers of the Abacos fled here with their slaves after the American Revolution in order to remain British subjects. We pulled in right in front of the town harbor, and dinghied ashore. A charming town with traces of New England architecture, New Plymouth has everything a town needs - a post office, a bank, library, a museum, a sculpture garden, an antiquated jail, liquor store, grocery store, and several restaurants and bars. At Curry's Food Store, all the bread had a name on it (read: sold out). The next batch was coming out at 1600, and if we wanted some, we had better put our names down. Good advice. The bread was absolutely delicious! We spent the afternoon at  Pineapple Bar and Grill, a popular hangout complete with music and a salt-water pool. Their cracked conch was outstanding. While  there, we also ran into Jean, Wendy and their 2 kids. They had left Rickenbacker Marina in Miami a month before us. Small world. Wendy complained about having too much conchs and fish the last 2 weeks. Sophal suggested a trade - burgers for their daily catch. Unfortunately, the next couple of days brought nasty weather - winds of 20-25 knots along with heavy rain. We left without saying goodbye, much less making the trade. 
We'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line - Eileen or Sophal
Last updated: 07/28/2008
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