|Places to sail
in the Bahamas.
This page updated: June 2008
Bahamas In General section
Northwest Bahamas section
The Berry's section
Cat Island section
Note: I don't repeat information you can find on charts or
in guidebooks. And I do focus on things that fit my cruising
style: I anchor out, use libraries for internet, don't go to restaurants and bars.
Bahamas In General
Richard Kollmann's "Cruising the Bahamas"
Excite about Bahamas
Sail Miami's "Bahamas Info Guide"
Bahamas courtesy flag
Paraphrased from "Cruising The Easy Way" by Bill Robinson
(on Amazon - paid link):
Bahamas are in the Atlantic, not the Caribbean.
- Grand Bahamas: few good harbors.
- Abacos: fine area, but get northers in winter.
- Central and Southern:
- Great bank, west of Nassau: shallow, unpredictable currents, can be rough.
- Cays south of Nassau: prime area.
"... you can't rely on Bahamian [navigation] lights.
None of the lights we've seen so far work."
On 3/26/2002, BASRA in Nassau said "[A couple of months ago,]
someone stole the light off the
Northwest Beacon pole, if you can believe it".
Bahamas guidebooks, from Al Hatch on Cruising World message board:
Several other people say Explorers are best.
I like the guides written by Steve Pavlidis, he has several titles,
The Exuma Guide
(on Amazon - paid link
covers just the Exumas. On And Off The Beaten Path
(on Amazon - paid link
covers everything else except the Abacos. I understand he has written
a guide to the Abacos
(on Amazon - paid link
in the last year or so, haven't seen it but
should be as comprehensive as his others.
... the Guide to the Abacos by Steve Dodge
(on Amazon - paid link
is a great value. It sells for around $10.
I've used the Yachtsman's Guide to the Bahamas
(on Amazon - paid link
but find it difficult
to use. Not as clear or as concise as the others I've listed.
Pavlidis and Dodge both have excellent sketch charts.
... the 3 chart books done by the Explorers
(e.g. on Amazon - paid link
are also worth the price; even though buying all 3 books is more expensive
than the Better Boating Chart Kit to the Bahamas
(on Amazon - paid link
they contain the
latest charts of the Islands and are, I find, infinitely better.
MapTech's 2001 ChartKit for the Bahamas mixes depths in feet, meters and
fathoms, sometimes on the same chart ! Most towers/beacons are not shown. Supposed
to be a greatly revised version out in 2005.
Customs / Checking In:
- As of 1 July 2003 the costs of a cruising permit for the Bahamas are: - $150 for all
vessels under 35 feet - $300 for vessels over 35 feet. A cruising permit is issued for 12 months. With
effect from December 1, 2003, the current fees shall be valid for two entries during any 90-day
period, which means that a vessel may leave the Bahamas and re-enter within the first 90 days of a
Cruising Permit's validity, without payment of any additional fee.
- Included in the cruising permit fee is a 3 month fishing
license. Extensions to this cost an additional $150 for 12 months.
- There are no overtime or other charges.
- Entry into the Bahamas must be made at one of the official ports of entry. The Q flag should be
flown within three miles of the port and no one should go ashore until pratique has been granted.
Clearance must be done on arrival, and officers are on call at all hours. The Bahamas can be
transited without clearing in until one arrives at a port of entry at a convenient time, but
during transit one should not enter a port or go ashore.
- On some of the outer islands, the customs officer may handle all formalities, but in Nassau and
other larger ports both the customs and immigration officials must be seen. Officials should come
to the yacht, but in smaller islands the captain will have to go ashore to find them. Crew must
remain on board until clearance is completed.
- Movement of vessels is strictly controlled in Nassau, Freeport and Georgetown, where all yachts
are required to clear with the appropriate Harbour Control (VHF Channel 16) when entering and
leaving these harbours. [My experience of Nassau and Georgetown: it's very easy.]
- Departure formalities are simple and boats may leave without formally clearing out although the
cruising permit should be handed in to a customs officer on departure. If this is not possible,
the permit should be returned by mail. However, as some countries, notably the Dominican Republic,
require a clearing out document, this should be obtained on departure from the Bahamas.
- The Fishing Permit is valid for hook and line fishing only.
Persons wishing to engage in spear fishing (by Hawaiian sling only) should request that
the vessel's Fishing Permit be so endorsed, in writing, on issue. ...
There is a one mile no-spearfishing zone around New Providence Island and the south coast of Grand
Bahama Island, with a 200 yard zone around all other islands. ...
Fishing may only be done with a hook and line, no more than six lines are allowed. Spears, fish
traps, nets (other than landing nets) and spearguns (apart from the Hawaiian sling) are
No underwater breathing apparatus may be used for fishing.
From Lee Haefele on The Live-Aboard List:
Your Bahamas permit is good for a year and has 2 entries within 90 days. I
read this to read within 90 days of first arrival, some of the officials
read it as within 90 days of leaving. Check to be sure your fishing permit
is for the whole time.
I did not have to show radio
license for VHF radio when entering Bahamas at Bimini 1/2002 or at West End 2/2005.
No questions asked about radio or licenses at all.
From Kent Adkins 1/2002:
> When checking in, do I have to take the
> big boat in to the dock, or just the dinghy ?
> Will most marinas charge me to stop there
> long enough to check in ?
Everyone that has gone and come back this year has expressed the
same thing I found. They are more interested in the check-in fee than
looking at the boat. If you go in with the dinghy and they want to see
the boat they can ride back with you. They never asked where my boat
was (it was at the dock not more than 200 ft. from the office). Cat Cay
does charge $50 to check in at their dock or $60 for an overnight stop.
If you are headed for Nassau you could wait until you got there to check
in or cross the bank and check in at Chub Cay. There is an anchorage at
Chub and when I was there in May folks were checking in at the fuel
dock. That sounds kind of funny but it seems everything happens at the
fuel dock. It's the center of activity.
There are very few anchorages in the Berrys. They are
beautiful during the day but I like being snug on my anchor by tea time.
From grandma Rosalie on The Live-Aboard List:
Chubb and Cat are both private islands where you have to pay to tie up
and check in. The amount is refunded or rolled over if you get the
dock for the night. That's one reason we didn't go there. ...
The only place I know of where one
customarily is NOT required to come in to a dock is
Morgan's Bluff on Andros. Sometimes people go there
specifically because they don't have to come into a dock.
I'm not sure what they charge if you check in at West End,
because I didn't ask, but I'm sure it is something,
even though it isn't a club set-up like Chubb is.
We have only left to come back from there, and we've
always checked out by mail.
I've seen people checking
in in Nassau, and don't recommend that either.
I'd really rather check in at Lucaya if I didn't do
it at Bimini. ...
There are 2 problems with checking in in Nassau:
1) There is a lot of traffic in Nassau and the officials
are very busy and are spread very thin. Everyone except
the captain has to stay in the boat until they get to you
to check you in, and I saw people waiting for more than
one day to get checked in.
2) You have to go past a lot of possible check-in places
to get there, and I would be uncomfortable about that.
You can't fish on the way for instance, without having
a fishing license.
There is one good thing about
checking in in Nassau:
The officials there know the rules and have the
authority to deal with almost any situation.
The outlying people were only giving 60-day permits
to people before they'd have to check back in (the boat
gets a year), but you could get the whole year for people
too in Nassau.
Not sure where I got this:
All of this presumes you do not want to go to Grand Bahama Island (West
End) and pay their inflated entry fees and excess overtime charges. For
years, the members of the St. Lucie Sailing Club have departed the St.
Lucie inlet, crossed to an area known as "white sands" to enter the
Little Bahama Bank, and then used Great Sale Cay as their first overnight
anchorage. The next day you can continue on comfortably and clear at Green
Turtle, a place the members consider to be the best and least likely to
occur overtime charges. Note, the most direct and shortest route to Marsh
Harbor from any point in Florida is Stuart and the SL inlet.
If you still want to go to GBI, then you can go south less than 20 miles
and depart from Jupiter Inlet. At one time, this was quite treacherous,
but it is now dredged, well-marked, and easy to leave at night. This
departure point gives you a better angle and boost from the Stream.
I entered the Bahamas at West End 2/2005 and there were no extra docking charges
or overtime fees. Very pleasant and easy.
From Rick on Cruising World
message board 5/2000:
... try not to
check in at out-of-the-way places, the cruising permit and the
immigration cards are different at every location ... cay/gun now [5/2000] charges fifty bucks to tie up at
the dock to clear in, chub still charges $25 to tie up to clear in,
and who in the hell wants to get stuck at chub ?
From Louis on World-Cruising mailing list
> Is there a limit on time from entering territorial
> waters until checking in ?
According to my 2002 Bahamas cruising guide, you must clear with Customs and
Immigration "at the nearest port of entry." This must be done within 24
hours to avoid any penalties. ... The exception that would allow you to
clear in at Nassau [from Florida] is if you cannot safely approach the nearest port of
Bahamas radio: AM 1540.
Shipping Parts In:
Sending a broken part out of country for repair: take the broken
part to Customs, get an export permit, then send it out.
This will make getting it back in much simpler and cheaper.
From Rick on Cruising World
1. As soon as you clear in and can do this, get three copies of your cruising permit.
2. Mail them to someone that you trust in the states that can obtain parts if you break down, such as
injector pump, specific water pump, or something else that you will FIND HARD TO GET IN BAHAMAS
WHICH IS JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING! When your 'agent' in the states has this document he goes and
gets your parts, and puts the following on the box VESSEL IN TRANSIT, REPAIR PARTS ONLY! and in
a glassine-type stick-on put in a copy of the cruising permit, VISIBLE ! and
then another copy in the box. It also must have a invoice with actual price you are paying;
don't try and fudge this cuz they will find out! This way all you pay is stamp tax and that is 7%
and that is a hell of a lot better than 25% duty!
If you call the Ft Lauderdale West
Marine store, they used to do this for yachts and is worth a stop to talk to them and see if they
do this. DEHL air is good, UPS air is good, and even priority mail is okay. I have used FEDEX
with great success. And most Kinkos and most other office-type stores can do this.
From someone in Marsh Harbour 3/2005:
For any heavy parts, UPS and Fedex rates are exorbitant. Consider having the
parts shipped to Yellow Air Taxi in Fort Lauderdale, and having them bring them over.
From "Destiny Calls": [of the Windward Islands,] "the highest prices
and lowest quality are found in the Bahamas".
From Frank Burrows on The Live-Aboard List 12/2001:
The Bahamas including the Abacos have had analog cell coverage for a long
time. The problem is that not every US cell phone provider has roaming
agreements with Batelco. You can call your provider or Batelco in the
Bahamas at 242-294-4000 to verify if your carrier has coverage. There was a
Ms. Kuntz that you could call direct at 242-294-6941 and she could verify
that your cell number was set up in their database. I use Verizon
and they do work in the Bahamas. I don't know about any of the other companies.
In 3/2002, MCI Worldcom calling card does not work for a Bahamas-to-Bahamas call.
From Grandma Rosalie 1/2003:
In 2001, I could not use AT&T digital, but I could use Verizon analog
bag phone. I could also use a SAMS phone card, but the minutes melted
away (500 minutes became less than 25 minutes). My Verizon phone
however cost no more than in Florida.
In 2002, Batelco refused to use any phone cards but theirs, but the
other phones worked the same.
I heard that this year, Batelco has been privatized, and no longer has
an agreement with Verizon. I don't know if they have an agreement
with anyone. I have also heard (but have not checked) that analog
service isn't available any more.
From Robert Reib on Great-loop mailing list
Most regular calling cards (not prepaid) will work in the Bahamas. However,
the rate charged is much higher than you might expect. Using an AT&T card
requires you to dial a special number. The connection fee may be as high as
$2.50 and then you are charged $1.95 per minute after that. It is all
controlled by Batelco and goes through their billing service.
Some of the inexpensive prepaid cards with rates like $0.20/min work for a
while, but as soon as Batelco finds out about them they terminate the
service. Over the years we used Boat US cards, Sams Club, etc, but found
they stopped working within a week or two. Last year the prepaid Wal-Mart
card worked at $0.60/min for a couple of weeks. For the most part don't
plan on any prepaid calling cards working in the Bahamas.
Nearly every community in the Bahamas has public phones which accept the
Batelco prepaid calling card at about $1/minute. It is about the best deal
you can get in the Bahamas.
Some cell phones will work in the Bahamas, but most won't. For your cell
phone to work, your carrier must have a written agreement with Batelco.
Most companies do not. Do not count on your cell phone working in the Bahamas.
You can go to Batelco and sign up to make your cell phone work. However,
this requires a significant deposit (which you usually do not get back) and
the cost per minute is very high.
If you feel you must have a cell phone, Batelco now has a program where you
can purchase a cell phone from them which will work on their system with prepaid
air time. As you use up the minutes you can pay for more at any
Batelco office. This program is called QuikCell and costs $199 for the
initial setup with phone and $40 worth of airtime. Calls within the
Bahamas are $0.40/min during the day and $0.20/min at night. Still not
Finally, remember that the cell phone will only work when you are within
range of a cell tower in the Bahamas. Obviously there are a lot of places
where you will not be within range of a tower.
For most cruisers to the Bahamas the best bet is the Batelco card. They
work (most of the time) in most communities in the Bahamas. Just don't plan
on anyone calling you.
From DBM on Cruising World message board:
Re: Bahamas in summer:
I go in May/June/July only;
later brings a serious threat of hurricanes.
Frontal passage occurs through April in the Abacos
though I hear it's nice then. Diurnal heating brings
airmass thunderstoms, though not as frequently as
in Florida (smaller landmass, less convection).
The diving/snorkeling is best because winds are
light and the waters at their clearest. Gulf Stream
crossing windows are almost continuous from May
on, but later in the period the SE trades can set up and blow for days.
My experience of prices:
Prices vary from place to place, but generally are 50% to 150% higher
than in USA.
0% higher: cheddar cheese.
50% higher: meat.
100% higher: saltines, potato chips, cheese curls, milk, soda,
paper towels, spaghetti sauce, canned chili.
200% higher: Ritz crackers, toilet paper.
Beer of all types is about $45 for a 24-case in 2005.
USA-origin stuff is high-priced; British-origin stuff is more moderately priced.
Fish is very expensive, which makes no sense to me.
The numbers above vary by location: in the big Solomon's supermarket in Marsh Harbour,
many prices are not much higher than in USA. In smaller towns and ones further
from the USA (such as Georgetown Exumas), prices are very high and quality and availability may be low.
Availability also varies by location. Many smaller and more remote towns have
fresh produce, milk and eggs only for a day or two after the weekly mail/freight boat arrives.
Things I couldn't find anywhere: sail-repair tape; Wasabe (green mustard).
My experience of free water availability:
Free good water at:
- Nassau (across street from Friday's).
- Black Point Exumas (one block from dock).
- Georgetown Exumas (at dinghy dock).
Free very salty water at:
- Rock Sound on Eleuthra (near southern dinghy dock).
No free water at all:
Jim and Diane about
first day: Miami to Cat Cay, and
Gun, Chub and Cat Cays, Nassau
Andraecium's "Our First Bahamas Cruise!"
Snow Goose in the Bahamas
From Bryan on Cruising World message board,
about crossing from Florida to Bahamas:
... You really only have to worry about Northern winds when crossing,
as they run into the stream going north and kick up steep waves.
The wind is very rarely from the North in the summer, so
you shouldn't have to worry about a "window" (of winds coming from the south)
which is an issue to deal with for winter crossings.
When the wind is from the South, you don't really need a "gentle breeze." ...
My experience of Bimini 1/2002:
- Area outside entrance into north harbor is not as shallow
as charted; I found 8-15 feet in most of it. But it's
a very exposed, rolly anchorage in S through W wind.
- Channel into north harbor is really nasty. I took 3.5 foot
draft in on rising tide and I was sweating. Go along beach,
and when you get to two jetties on right, stay about 10
feet off the end of the jetties. Then stay as close to
beach as you dare, until nearing harbor mouth, then
come out into middle of channel. Locals are doing
huge business towing boats off the shoals. [But supposedly
dredged in 2002; supposed to be 8 feet at low tide now.] [BUT BUT:
shoaled in again by hurricanes in summer of 2004!]
- Still receive VHF WX from Florida in Bimini. Still
get NPR on FM 91.3. Local chatter is on VHF 68. Various
marinas monitor 16; some monitor 9 or 18.
- Anchorage inside north harbor is a bit noisy: next
to power plant, occasional local motorboats roaring through,
next to seaplane area. Fairly protected.
But much of center and west side of it is very shallow;
only usable strip is on east along the seaplane area.
Probably about 15 boats max.
- Immigration and Customs are next to each other,
in pink building behind government dock. If that
Immigration office is closed, go to the other
Immigration office in the police building to the north.
I did Immigration first; not sure if order matters.
- You don't need a printed crew list; everything is
done on their forms. For each person, you'll need to
provide name, address, nationality, passport number,
date of birth. For the boat, you need to show USCG documentation certificate
or some other proof of registration/title, and provide some
details including net tonnage and number of cabins.
You'll have to provide dinghy type and outboard motor size.
- Customs will want the boat either in a slip, or
at their nasty concrete dock (deploy lots of fenders),
not in the
anchorage. So after I went to the trouble of moving
from anchorage to their dock, they didn't bother
to inspect the boat.
- $100 paid at Customs for cruising permit (6 months
max; whatever you ask for they will cut down a little)
and fishing license. Will take check or cash; no credit card.
- Can beach dinghy on beach next to ferry dock
at Customs building, or dock at seawall between
anchorage and police building and south of
electric company. (At least, I did so and
had no problems.)
- Internet access for 20 cents/minute using their
computer at Batelco office (just north of electric
company). There is only one computer.
Can put floppy in machine. Connection
is slowish (maybe 15 kbps ?).
- Slips range from 70 cents/foot/night to $1.25/foot/night.
Plus $10 to $20 per day for electric (mandatory in some marinas).
Water is 40 to 45 cents/gallon.
Dinghy dockage about $5/day.
All marinas had lots of empty slips.
Some marinas: Blue Water Marina 242-347-3166,
Weech's 242-347-3028, Big Game Fishing Club.
From Tom and Mel Neale: there aren't good anchorages in the very
western edge of the Bahamas; after crossing the Gulf Stream,
you should keep going for another day to get to safer areas.
Supposed to be good: Honeymoon Harbor at Gun Cay.
My experience of North Cat Cay 3/2002:
- Anchored on east side near shore just outside marina. Lots of powerboat
wakes, jet-skis, some small freighters, occasional plane. Generator plant
running nearby. Good holding, protected
from NW/W/SW/S and some SE.
- Route from Russell Beacon to north of Sylvia Beacon to Cat Cay
was fine; never saw less than 6 feet at low water.
- Cat Cay Club marina has no dinghy dock. We found an empty slip
that had a ladder. We snuck in and dumped garbage in cans.
- Highest prices we've seen in the Bahamas: gasoline $3.21/gallon,
diesel $2.44/gallon (none available), soda $1/can in any quantity,
My experience of Chub Cay 1/2002:
- Chub Cay Point anchorage is small; probably 12 boats
max on east side of channel. Barely protects from SSE;
better protection from E. Other anchorage further up the channel
probably has 3-4 feet at low tide.
- Anchorage at east end of Frazer's Hog Cay: much more
space; tricky olding on grass; protected from SW/W/NW/N;
no-see-ums close to land.
- There is a nice marina complex at the west end,
called the Chub Cay Club, with gasoline/diesel fuel dock and
decent food store. There is an
airport. There is a marina and restaurant
at the east end, called Shipwreck. That's it.
- I dinghied ashore into the Chub Cay Club, and tied up the dinghy
underneath the dock right in front of the store.
- Intermittent reception of VHF WX from Florida. Still
get NPR on FM 91.3.
- Chub Cay Club, 242-325-1490.
Slips $1.35/foot/night, electric $0.35/KWH, water $0.35/gallon, cable TV $5/day.
Plenty of empty slips 1/2002.
Internet access using your own computer for $3/minute !
Good harbor: Little Whale Harbor; lots of conch.
Woodie on Too Lazy II says he's heard that ciguatera is a problem at Chub Cay.
From Bryan Sawyer on Cruising World message board:
I think that the coolest anchorage we have ever visited was in the Berry's
at a place called Devils Cay. We wiggled in there with our friends
on a Pierson 53. Just room for the two boats in between four little islands.
On the inside you can dinghy over to the "Blue Hole", a place where
the top of a cavern caved in years ago. It is deep and clear.
We hauled tanks up there and dove it. It was cool (but I wouldn't
hassle with the tanks again, it is a pretty good, steep walk).
There are also ruins of an old church right around there that is
pretty interesting. Watch the tides and exactly where you are
going in, it was a little tricky but very well worth it!
The marina at Great Harbor Cay is pretty cool (it was a good resturant)
and there are some great very very deserted beaches there.
The place for quiet and fishing!
From SASSY 1/2006:
I hear the Customs is awful at the Great Harbor Marina.
From a crew who's used to having the utmost of friendliness and accommodating
Bahamians, in Chub Cay for 10 or more years, were forced (as Chub is closed)
to this year's trips (now until July) to dock at Great Harbor:
The people are nasty, customs is taxing unmercifully for our own beer/wine
and threatening one particular guy to impound his boat because he doesn't like
his attitude ... unbelievably unfriendly, not at all accommodating, it would appear that
the people in general over there do not want any visitors or tourists docking at
their marina. Which kind of defeats the purpose of having a marina at all.
Pulled up anchor, not going back ... plenty of people following behind I'm sure ...
they are waiting for you to do something out of turn ... be on alert, be careful in Great Harbor.
WE MISS YOU CHUB!
All of you ...
From Kevin McTeague on Cruising World message board:
Great Stirrup was once a favorite but Bertram's Cove has been ruined
by the cruise lines as a "Private Island".
Although the staff has been friendly to us and allowed use
of the showers and even lunch when the Norway was at anchor.
The lighthouse has long ago been automated so no more drunken
parties with the keeper. Great Harbor has a nice marina and hotel,
but the entrance is from the 'banks side' and is a long drive in
shallow water but is a safe place. Halfway down, DO stop at
Frozen and Alder Cays: uninhabited but pretty beaches and
GREAT fishing on the east side. ...
From Ric on Cruising World message board:
The Berry's are our favorite chain after 30 years of cruising
the Bahamas. Much less crowded, and we love isolation.
Very friendly and helpful natives, very safe.
Unless you just want to go to Bimini, clear in at
Great Harbor (one of the best hurricane holes in
the Bahamas, good restaurant, clean fuel, 2 daily
flights from Nassau for guests) which is very easy
and pleasant. We either cross the banks at night,
or anchor just outside the entrance to Bullock's Harbor,
going in to clear in the AM. I agree, skip Chub.
Next night, anchor S of the Great Stirrup lighthouse - good
fishing as you sail N of the islands toward this spot.
Next, anchor in Queen's Bay, just N of Hawksbill - beautiful
shallow bay with wonderful beach, and a great beachside
bar and restaurant with great burgers - no protection
from N to E though. Beautiful anchorage just E of Market Fish Keys.
Next is Devil's, already described - but room for 6-8 boats.
Dink to Flo's restaurant for great lunch, and fresh Bahamian
bread if you order ahead, or anchor in Little Harbor which
is only short way from Flo's - Chester, Flo's son runs the
Have not anchored at Frozen or Adler, but some do.
Little Whale is just S of private Island that the caretakers
will let you explore if owners are not there. Usually can
trade for fish and/or lobster here. This is good jumping-off
place for Nassau, or can go to Frazer's Hog anchorage before Nassau.
Spend more than 3 days in the Berry's though - we have spent
a month there several times and loved it.
"Chose not to go to Nassau Harbor. It’s so crowded you have ask
permission, via radio, from Nassau Harbor Control before entering
or leaving the harbor."
Several people on rec.boats.cruising newsgroup
say avoid Nassau because of problems with safety, crowds and pollution.
My experience of Nassau 1/2002:
- When approaching harbor, contact Harbor Control on VHF 16
to ask permission to enter harbor. They'll switch you to VHF 9;
tell them boat name, US registration number, last port of call,
your destination (marina or anchorage). Not a big deal.
- I anchored just west of East Bay Yacht Basin, near
Crocodile's [now Friday's] restaurant and BASRA. Very strange behavior
of boats due to current and wind; adjacent boats pointing
in different directions, my anchor ended up directly
under my boat, etc. Holding is bad, try to get anchor
in white sand patches, and look underwater to see if it is set.
Use two anchors at 150 or 180 degrees.
Lots of wakes from excursion and
ferry boats. Noise from cruise ships, freighter loading
docks, passing boats.
- Prevent theft at night: always keep dinghy on davits,
remove easily stolen items from deck.
- Kids may mess with your dinghy ashore; lock everything.
- Dinghy ashore to Crocodile's restaurant [3/2005 I'm told the name
has changed to Friday's, and now they charge $5 for dinghy-dockage unless you have a drink there].
Good dinghy dock, free garbage dumpster, free city water across the street.
And the food's supposed to be good, too.
- [I'm told 3/2005 there is another dock west of there, $2/day for dinghy-dockage].
- The main street along the water is Bay St; the next one
in, parallel to it, is Shirley St. Doctor's Hospital is on Shirley
at Collins (between Armstrong and Deveaux). There's a medical clinic
further up Collins.
- The tourist office is at the cruise ship docks,
about 12 blocks (1 mile) west at Bay and East Streets. Free restrooms,
free maps, a no-fee ATM there.
- There are several cyber-cafes near the tourist office / cruise ship docks area, including:
Bahamas Internet Cafe, on Bay just east of East St. $0.15/minute, 7 or 8 machines.
MTWR 8-5:30, FS 8-11, Sun 10-4.
Login, on Bay just east of East St, upstairs inside Tikals Tees.
$0.10/minute, 40 or so machines.
- Taxi from tourist office to airport is about $25.
- Library is on Shirley near East Hill.
- City Market supermarket is on Rosetta east of Sears Rd / Montrose Rd.
go straight south across street, across park, slight right and then
left onto Sears, up over hill to Rosetta, left onto Rosetta and
go another 1/4 mile.
- Another City Market supermarket is on Bay St about 1 mile east of Crocodile's,
in a shopping mall (just past Brown's). Might be able to
dinghy in to Texaco and go to it. Also a Radio Shack, pharmacy and
a modest Home and Garden store in that shopping center.
- Supermarket prices: about 40% to 100% higher than Florida supermarkets.
40%-50% higher: milk, granola, crackers, meat.
100% higher: soda, parmesan cheese, potato chips, cheese curls.
Unavailable: most lettuce, some herbs.
- Infrequent reception of VHF WX from Florida, and NPR on FM 91.3.
Bahamian FM radio: 102.9 (The Island) and 104.5.
- Diesel is $1.44/gallon at Hurricane Hole Marina (between bridges, on Paradise Island).
Gasoline was $2.79/gallon (I think).
Water is $0.20/gallon at Hurricane Hole Marina, but when
we bought fuel they didn't charge us for the water.
- Mercury outboard motor dealer: Lightbourne Marine, 242-393-5285.
Abaco's Community Message Board
Abaco's Message Board
Traveling to Abaco in Your Boat 2005
Messages on SSCA discussion boards:
> We are novice sailors who liveaboard (bareboated a week in BVI)
> looking to cruise for Jan and Feb on our 36 Pearson. We were
> going with another couple who declined due to Northers.
> We still want to go but are unsure whether to go to
> Abacos or further south. We are leaving out of Ft Lauderdale.
> Any suggestions or advice?
After many trips to the Bahamas, the best advice I can give is to forget the Abacos
since the fronts can weather you in many times. Head for the Exumas and get south
as quickly as possible. Once to Georgetown the fronts make that area a little less.
Watch your weather crossing the gulf stream and make sure you have at least a three
day weather window. Otherwise WAIT. Hope this helps.
I agree. Winter in the Abacos can be very chilly.
Stay in GT through at least the cruiser's week, then SLOWLY work your way back north.
There are dozens of wonderful stops in the Exumas that you don't want to miss.
Get Pavlidis book
(on Amazon - paid link
and Explorer Charts (I would forget BBA Chart Book).
At the top of the Exumas, jump N and go through Abacos (Dodge book).
Lots of nice anchorages.
There are several paths to get to Exumas from Ft Lauderdale.
Do an overnighter (lv in PM before dark). You're guaranteed to have company crossing from FL.
If you're not used to overnighting, then it's fun and very comforting to see mast lights
and to touch base on VHF occasionally when it's pitch black. Ideally, you make the
crossing at full moon with 12-15 knots SW, but that only happens in magazine articles.
Wait for wind under 15 with no northerly component and keep going. Don't do the waters
with bumpy bits at night (we've crossed the Banks at night at Memory Rock a number
of times with no apparent ill effect).
From David on Cruising World message board:
We made the crossing from Miami to West End a few years ago, leaving in late February.
Cruisers cross at all times of the year, but from late Dec to early March you
have to wait for a good weather window. We returned in mid April once it
began to get too warm and muggy.
Your 6' draft will be limiting and so you will have to cross at Memory Rock
as your post indicates rather than at the marked channel just north of
West End - the depth in that channel is accurately noted on the Maptech
and Explorer charts at barely 5' at low tide. You will also be limited
in your ability to enter some harbors with that draft. A typical
itinerary would be Miami to Great Sale Cay via Memory Rock. Then
Great Sale to Allan's-Pensacola and then to Green Turtle Cay.
Hang out at GTC and listen to the Cruisers Net for info on the
Whale Cay Passage before you go around the Whale to the southern Abacos.
Although we haven't done it, we listened to other cruisers on Herb's
weather net who returned by exiting the Abacos to the north from
Man O' War Channel, or Whale Cay Passage and headed up and rode the
stream north. The main problem will be avoiding the stream in a
northern component wind. Fronts come through the middle Atlantic
well into May, so watch your weather closely and if a front is on
its way, duck into an all-weather inlet until it passes.
From Rick on Cruising World message board:
You can go to abacos, but weather is abacos is same as in melbourne: COLD.
Go further south and then go back thru abacos in warmer weather.
Abacos are nice and they can be fun, but the weather fronts are and
can be a real ass-kicker in feb/march but usually weather fronts do
not make it past nassau and the exumas are friendly and warm.
Go south, young man, go south! Abacos is fla east!
From Larry at Dockside Lounge:
Abacos have no coral-heads, depth is 10 feet everywhere,
lots of good anchorages, but they do get Northers, can get cool in winter.
From Alan Brown on SSCA discussion boards 9/2004:
I just returned from a 3-month cruise through the Bahamas, the last month spent cruising the
Abacos. I was greatly impressed by this northern part of the Bahamas! My observations.
If you think of the Sea of Abaco as a shallow, inland sea, full of islands, and protected from the
open Atlantic, you'll understand the cruising ground. Everything is conveniently close together
and a 7-mile passage between islands would be considered a long day.
It seems as if the Abacos were designed for easy, no-hassle cruising. Good anchorages are
everywhere and inexpensive marinas and mooring balls can be found in just about every harbor.
Beachfront restaurants and bars are all over the place and the daily Cruisers Net (VHF 68) will
let you know where many of them are located and what their daily specials will be.
Marsh Harbor is a great place to provision, with grocery, liquor, and hardware stores all within
walking distance. Convenient dockage can be had for as little as $.50/foot and holding in the
harbor is excellent. There are dinghy tieups all over the harbor area.
Hope Town, and it's famous lighthouse, is a great place to visit. You can stroll the narrow
streets and visit the beach. However, don't look to do your laundry here! One operating washer and
dryer does not a laundromat make! Do your laundry in Marsh Harbor.
Perhaps my favorite stopping-off place was Treasure Cay. I anchored in their man-made basin for
$8/night, while the wind blew 20 knots outside. I had full use of the resort/marina
facilities and smiled to myself each time a 100-foot motoryacht passed behind me on its way into
the marina. Great bar, restaurant, shopping, and dive shop!
Although I spent a month in the Abacos, I barely scratched the surface. So, instead of sailing
back to FL and puting the boat into storage, I left it over there in a very well-protected and
sheltered marina. I'll resume my cruise next spring and visit those islands I didn't get a chance
to visit this time.
My experience, Feb/March 2005:
- "Abacos Guide" by Steve Pavlidis
(on Amazon - paid link)
is great; essential for navigation.
- In February and March, generally too cold to swim. And lots of fronts coming through.
- No towns worth seeing until you get to Sea of Abaco along Great Abaco Island.
- New Plymouth (Green Turtle Cay) and Hope Town (Elbow Cay) are very pretty and scenic little towns.
- Marsh Harbour has the best provisioning and marine/hardware
stores in the Bahamas (although I've never been to Freeport).
- Grand Bahama Island: north side is shallow; south side is deep,
and has reef with good diving and snorkeling.
- Bight of Abaco (W of Great Abaco Island): deserted, isolated;
NW entrance past West End and Spence Rock has 4 feet at MLW.
Towns / notable stops:
- Freeport / Lucaya (SW corner on S side of Grand Bahama Island):
- Freeport Harbour: commercial; almost no yacht facilities.
Can't check-in here; customs officials are at Bell Channel Bay (10 miles east of main harbor) ?
Or at Port Lucaya Marina ?
- International Bazaar: shopping area in Lucaya.
- Rand Nature Center: outside downtown Freeport; nature trails; take guided tour.
- Hydroflora Gardens.
- West End (NW corner of Grand Bahama Island):
Dock at government dock / fuel dock to check in or out. Dock is about 250 feet long;
in front of red building and pink building down W side of marina.
Customs open 9-5 (approximately) seven days a week, no overtime charges.
No questions about any kind of radio license in 2/2005.
No extra charges (e.g. $50 for docking) in 2/2005.
No decent anchorages, really. Holding is bad, and shelter is minimal.
No-see-ums every summer evening at sunset.
No store 2/2005; still rebuilding from hurricanes.
- From West End to Mangrove Cay:
From Wade's Page:
Indian Key Light is NOT a channel marker.
Indian Key Light, about a mile north of West End, is awash at low tide,
and the area around it in all directions is shallow as well.
Watch your depth and stand well off to the west. If making for Indian Key Pass,
do not make the turn NE until you have found the initial unlit marker and
have it on the correct heading.
The pass is just north of this light and its marks are not lit.
- Fox Town / Crown Haven (W end of Little Abaco Island):
Anchorage fairly open, but protected to NE.
Small town, still recovering from hurricanes 2/2005.
No internet access 2/2005.
Ferry with fresh food arrives on Thursdays.
Several one-room grocery stores.
Fuel available, but you'll have to use jugs in dinghy. Diesel about 70 cents/gallon higher than in Florida 2/2005.
- Spanish Cay:
- Coopers Town:
All the docks destroyed 2/2005; you'd have to be pretty motivated to
- Manjack Cay:
Dock for nature trails is in NE corner of cove on NW corner of the Cay,
about lat 26.50.100 long 77.23.200. Easy trail to pagoda on ocean beach,
and ocean beach is nice.
- Green Turtle Cay / New Plymouth:
- Black Sound:
- Entrance very shallow, probably 3.5 feet at low tide.
- Moorings cost $5 or $10 per night; call Donny's Boat Rentals
or Roberts Cottages or others. Also some room to anchor; probably need two anchors.
- Other facilities: Abaco Yacht Services on E side;
Other Shore Club And Marina and Roberts Marine on W side.
- Engine/outboard work: Abaco Yacht Services on E side;
Roberts Marine on W side.
- White Sound:
- Entrance very shallow, probably 3 feet at low tide.
- In 2004: Green Turtle Club had free internet access.
- New Plymouth:
- Cute little town; fun to walk around in.
- Internet access: 50 cents/minute at library; open MWF 2-5, Sat 9-12.
- Internet access: $5 for first 10 minutes, then 25 cents/minute at Coldwell-Banker
business center near town dock. $10 per "seating" for WiFi access: you can sit
and use WiFi as long as you like for one "seating".
- Two nice little museums: historical museum ($5) and reef-relief museum (free).
- Several restaurants and snack shops, couple of hardware/marine stores,
several food stores. All small, but pretty well stocked. Bank open MR 10-2.
- Garbage: big grey dumpster at NE corner of town, and another on the town dock.
- Small book exchanges: at library, and at Coldwell-Banker
business center near town dock.
- Green Turtle Ferry: VHF 16 or 365-4166; $12 roundtrip to Treasure Cay; does 7 trips each day.
- Mail boat from Nassau usually comes in on Wednesday; brings groceries.
- Boat from USA comes in every two weeks; brings groceries, freight.
- Often can hear Abaco cruiser's net each morning at 8:15 AM on VHF 68.
- Often can hear weather forecast each evening at 7:30 PM on VHF 9.
- Sketchy weather info on FM 93.5 around 7 AM, 8 AM, and between 6 and 7 PM ?
- Four fuel docks on the Cay; diesel about 50 cents/gallon higher than in Florida 2/2005.
- Whale Cay passage:
Transit in settled weather.
Maybe best at or just before high tide ?
Maybe biggest factor is: avoid big swells coming in from ocean storm.
Ask for condition report on radio before going.
Don't Rock passage: Maptech charts say it's silted in; don't try it. But
in 2/2005, cruisers went through and reported 5.5 feet in mid-tide and 7 feet at high tide.
- Treasure Cay:
Dinghy ashore into Treasure Cay marina, to E of dockmaster's office, at seawall marked M-11, M-12, etc.
Small shopping center on marina grounds, about a block NW of restaurant:
Batelco office, post office, liquor store, nice medium-sized supermarket.
Library: about a block W of shopping center; MTWRF 3-5; internet $3 for 15 minutes; no newspapers or book-exchange.
- Great Guana Cay:
Fisher's Bay: watch out for shallow rocky area charted WSW of anchorage; no longer has a stake on it.
Settlement Harbour: mostly filled with moorings, but a few people manage to anchor.
Town: grocery store, small hardware store, a few snack/restaurant places.
- Marsh Harbour:
- Almost no moorings; great ! Nicely shallow too.
- Cruiser's net each morning at 8:15 AM on VHF 68. Weather forecast right at beginning.
- Weather forecast each evening at 7:30 PM on VHF 9.
- Sketchy weather info on FM 93.5 around 7 AM, 8 AM, and between 6 and 7 PM ?
- Floating dinghy dock at base of Union Jack dock, one block W of Batelco tower.
- Too many stores to list: several supermarkets (Solomon's SuperCenter is the closest and best),
half a dozen auto/hardware/marine stores,
several small electronics-type stores,
bakeries, boutiques, liquor stores, etc.
Best and most accessible collection of stores in the Bahamas, I think.
- Internet: about $15/hour at OII office one block inland from Union Jack dock; MTWRF 9-5.
Also at family grocery at the stoplight. Another up near Scotiabank ?
- Library: very small, volunteer-run, members-only; have to be a member even to sit
and read a book there. On Gottlieb Rd; walk up Don MacKay and turn
left just before the RBC bank. TWR 3:30-5:30 if volunteers are available.
- Fuel at gas stations: diesel about 70 cents/gallon higher than in Florida 2/2005,
gas about $1.20/gallon higher.
- Propane refill: $18 for 20 pounds at Corner Value hardware; in by 1 PM, back by 4 PM.
- Water: 20 cents/gallon at Marsh Harbour Marina fuel dock.
- Fuel: Full-service fuel dock at Marsh Harbour Marina on north side of harbor;
call on VHF before going over; extra 5% charge for credit cards.
Gasoline available next to Union Jack dock.
- Garbage: several private dumpsters, including one near Union Jack dock,
but no public cans.
- Book exchange: tiny one at OII office.
- Buck-A-Book: in a green container, behind Kentucky Fried, in strip mall
behind Scotiabank, on Don MacKay Blvd. MTWRFSS 4-6.
Book sales and donation only; no exchange or buyback.
- Abaco Regatta: late June / early July.
- Aluminum can recycling: next to Buck-A-Book.
- Oil disposal: at Shell gas station ?
- Lead-acid battery disposal: at AID hardware store.
- Marsh Harbour Boat Yards; 367-5205.
- CJ's Welding and Machine Shop: waterfront at end of Key Club Rd; 367-4011.
- No-fee ATM: at First Caribbean bank.
- Emergency messages: if someone needs to get an emergency message to
a cruising boat, they can send email to "cruisers" at "oii.net", with
a subject line like "emergency message for boat 'boatname'". Put
plenty of details in the message (names of people on board, type
and size and color and home port of boat, where it's expected to be, etc).
Local people will try to contact
the boat on VHF to pass the message to them.
- Donate to "Trauma One" ambulance: next to Price Right supermarket;
PO Box 20594 Marsh Harbour Abacoes.
- Man-O-War Cay:
Inlet is very narrow.
Both harbors are small, and totally full of moorings and boats.
Town is nice, and views from high points in town are fantastic.
- Elbow Cay / Hope Town:
- Harbor is full of moorings; some anchored boats.
Completely full 3/2005; I anchored outside.
- Lighthouse: very nice, and free (donations welcome). Don't miss it.
- Historical museum: $3.
- Aluminum recycling: at Sunshine Park.
- Little Harbour:
Entrance has about 3.5 feet depth at low tide, about 6 feet at high tide.
Lots of moorings and boats. Moorings are $15/day 3/2005. Some room to anchor among the moorings,
using two anchors.
Nice sculpture gallery, and a beach bar. Not much else here.
- Cherokee Sound:
I day-anchored on NE side of Duck Cay in SW wind, and I'm still not sure if I went around or over
reefs when entering and exiting. Be very careful here.
- Crossing from Abacoes to Eleuthra:
Strong eastward current in Northeast Providence Channel when I crossed it.
Heading south, it's much safer to round Little Egg Island into Royal Island,
rather than entering Ridley Head to Spanish Wells.
Woody on "Too Lazy II" says ciguatera is not a problem in the Exumas.
- Allan's Cays:
Good harbor, but small and often crowded. Iguanas on beach.
- Highburn (Highbourne) Cay:
Weather report on VHF 6 at 0730.
- Norman's Cay North Harbor:
Powerboat with 4'3" draft ran aground
just inside narrow entrance at high tide; accompanying boat with 5' draft bumped.
Norman's Cay south area: more sheltered than it appears from chart;
some bad holding on grass. East entrance is fine.
Lots of young conch in the shallows.
Good snorkeling around crashed airplane, and just south of smaller dock.
Nice walking ashore, through abandoned buildings, around to other beaches.
- Hawksbill Cay south area:
Sheltered from NE/E/SE only; good holding.
- Warderick Wells:
North area is moorings only ($15-$20/night 2005; call "Exuma Park" on VHF 16);
middle area (Emerald Beach) is anchoring only;
southeast area (Hog Cay) has 4 moorings and anchoring is allowed.
North (mooring) area: not much room, and strong tidal currents; get directions to your mooring ahead of time,
and maybe wait for slack water.
Middle area (Emerald Beach): sheltered from N/NE/E/SE wind,
but somehow any strong swells nearby eventually get in; can get very rough and rolly.
Good holding; lots of room.
Southeast area (Hog Cay): very sheltered except from strong NE wind.
Mooring assignments done at 9 AM on VHF 16 and 9. Priority given to park "supporters".
Wi-Fi internet access $10/day 4/2005.
Potluck/BYOB: Saturdays at 4:30.
Book and video exchange in the park HQ.
Nice hiking trails. Wear sturdy shoes: very rough limestone.
- Cambridge Cay:
Great snorkeling spot "Seaquarium".
- Staniel Cay:
Approaching from W toward Happy People Marina, as directed by guidebooks: the church roof is red, not pink, the
steeple is thin and short, the cross on it is tiny, and the flashing marker to align with it is very hard to see.
Small anchorage S of Yacht Club just off beach is tiny and shallow and has two moorings, but some boats anchor there.
Hard to find shelter from SW or W wind; maybe try north of Fowl Cay. Cut between Fowl Cay and Big Major's Spot is
deep but has shoals right past each end.
4/2005: Club Thunderball is closed, and Happy People Marina is mostly closed.
Staniel Cay Yacht Club is the only game in town.
In 2002, marina slip is $1/foot/night; water is $0.40/gallon. Have heard that slips
are unusable in strong W wind; everyone has to leave.
Dinghy ashore to public beach south of yacht club, or into north side of yacht club itself.
Village has grocery store (pink building a block in from the ferry dock),
a general store (building with green stripe, past ferry dock into cove to high wood dock;
hardware/marine stuff and a few groceries),
a library/museum (usually open 10-4 on Wednesdays when mail boat is at ferry dock).
Small book-exchange at the library.
Garbage disposal at yacht club: $2.50/bag 4/2005.
No bank or ATM.
Mailboat comes in Tuesday night.
Yachties do a weather broadcast on VHF at 8 AM (announced on 16, broadcast on 14).
Snorkeling in Thunderball grotto: go at low slack tide, tie dinghy to mooring ball, feed crackers to fish.
Pig Beach: southernmost beach on west side of Big Major's Spot; pigs swim out to get handouts ?
Saw five wild pigs on the beach 4/2005, and lots of orange halves that someone had fed them.
Waypoints for shortcut from Staniel to Black Point, from "Too Lazy To" (I haven't tried them):
in at N 24.08.80 W 76.26.85 (keep first island close to starboard),
out at N 24.10.20 W 76.27.20 (keep last cay close off port);
about 4 foot depth at low water.
- Black Point:
Large settlement; free good (RO) water across street from dock;
free garbage barrels throughout town.
Internet access $6/hour at Lorraine's cafe, maybe $7/hour at Scorpio's.
Call Lorraine's on VHF 16 for dinner reservations;
most meals $10, lobster $17; the food is okay, not great.
Two small grocery stores, Scorpio's bar/nightclub, De Shamon restaurant.
Interesting "Garden of Eden" sculpture garden at SW end of town.
Heard AM 1300 from Marathon FL.
Can hear weather at 0800 on VHF 14 from Staniel.
- Farmer's Cay:
Supposedly free RO water at dock.
Doesn't look like much else of interest is there.
Straightforward cut but very exciting when strong current opposes swells.
Inside channel to north has some 5-foot water.
- Rudder Cut Cay:
Exposed to SE, S, SW. Good holding, lots of room, 6-12 feet of water.
Can hear weather at 0800 on VHF 14 from Staniel.
- Adderly Cut:
Couldn't get an anchor to hold at Leaf Cay: sand over coral.
Channel down NW side of Lee Stocking Island to research station is very close to shore.
- Georgetown (from my experience 2/2002 and 4/2005):
- When approaching harbor on a weekday, contact Harbor Control on VHF 16
to ask permission to enter harbor. They'll switch you to VHF 9;
tell them boat name, US registration number, where arriving from.
- Harbor rules:
- Don't anchor in (unmarked) channel.
- Show an anchor light.
- Don't use anchor float.
- Don't dump food or fish parts.
- No spearfishing.
- Town anchorages:
- Kidds Cove or off Regatta Point: shallow, great sand holding.
Dinghy ashore under bridge to Exuma Markets. Good free dinghy dock.
- Peace & Plenty hotel: looks like good holding, but
have to circle Regatta Point to dinghy ashore.
(But, from Ilana Stern: "You can actually tie up at the
side of the mailboat dock as long as you stay out of the way - there's a
ladder you can tie to. Holding is good there, sand.")
- On Stocking Island (NW to SE):
- Hamburger Beach (under concrete beacon): 20-foot water off
SE end; shallower in middle and off NW end. Hamburger stand and bar.
Trail to nice "ocean" beach on other side of island.
Nice but long nature trail.
- Volleyball Beach: about 13 feet deep.
Chat 'n Chill bar and grill and about 5 volleyball courts.
Not supposed to bring your own food and drink ashore; supposed to buy it.
- Sand Dollar Beach: ???.
- Other area: Red Shank Cays: very protected, Georgetown Marine boatyard.
- Marina: Exuma Docking Services.
- Water-taxi: generally runs between town (houseboat dock) and Volleyball Beach (Chat 'n Chill), but
probably would be flexible. No fixed schedule; runs only during daylight; $5 roundtrip; VHF 16.
- Tides: times match Nassau tide times within 20 minutes or so; usually about a 3-foot range.
- Two biggish food stores in town: Exuma Markets (cheaper) and Shop-Rite Mart.
Another small grocery and a meat store and a vegetable market.
Find out when "the boat" is arriving (usually Tuesday);
some things such as milk and eggs
run out before then, especially during Regatta weeks.
- Supermarket prices: about 60% to 200% higher than Florida supermarkets.
100% higher: potato chips, cheese curls, milk, soda ($15 for 24 in 2002),
paper towels, meat, spaghetti sauce.
200% higher: white cheddar cheese, Ritz crackers, toilet paper.
Beer of all types is about $40 for a 24-case in 2002.
USA-origin stuff is high-priced; British-origin stuff is more moderately priced.
Nicotine gum is 1/3 to 1/2 the USA price !
Fish is very expensive, which makes no sense to me.
- Other stores: Top II Bottom marine and hardware store,
UPS, two laundromats and a cleaners,
dive shop, Minns (dive and marine stuff; across from Peace & Plenty hotel),
unimpressive vegetable market near commercial docks,
Mom's bakery van, two medical clinics, a dentist, a veterinarian, a masseur.
Most stores closed sundays; Exuma Markets open until 1000, Shop-Rite Mart open in morning,
laundromat open until 1200.
- Good (RO) water is free at Exuma Markets dinghy dock.
- Free garbage dumpsters between Exuma Market and bridge.
- Diesel $3.40/gallon (about $1.10/gallon more than Florida) 4/2005.
Gasoline $4.29/gallon (about $1.50/gallon more than Florida) 4/2005.
All fuel has to be jerry-jugged; no fuel dock.
There is a dinghy-dock for the gas station to the right inside Victoria Lake.
And you can dinghy in to the gas station at the marina.
- Propane refill: Forbes customs brokerage, across from Mom's Bakery van: $18 for 20 pounds, MTWRFS 9-5.
They have a dock in Victoria Lake.
- Used oil disposal: you're encouraged to take it back out of the islands with you.
But to dispose it here, there may be barrels on pallet on roadside
near commercial docks and vegetable market; look for them before bringing oil ashore.
- Bottle/can recycling: on west side of lake, across from Eddie's Edgewater Cafe.
- Cruiser's net: VHF 68, at 8 AM.
- Internet access:
- At Forbes customs brokerage, across from Mom's Bakery van: $10/day, $30/week in 2005.
Can bring your laptop and plug in Ethernet cable, or use their two computers.
You may not get credit if you sign up for a month and then their service
goes down for a week or more. Printing and photocopying is 50 cents/page !
- At Two Turtles for $0.20/minute using their computer in 2005; minimum charge $5 if using credit card.
- Exumas Web Cafe on west side of Victoria Lake, past Batelco and auto service place: $18/hour in 2005!
- At Batelco office, have to bring your own computer, and calling
an 800 number is $1.30/minute in 2002 !
- At Peace and Plenty hotel: $5 for 30 minutes in 2005.
- At Palm Bay Beach Club?
- At business center near Mom's Bakery van: $5 for 30 minutes in 2005.
- In 2002, FedEx International Economy from Florida Keys took 7 days,
cost $56 (!) for 2 pounds, and
cost a $5 handling fee at Exuma Markets (had to come from
airport by taxi; FedEx doesn't deliver). Exuma Markets, PO Box EX 29031.
- In 2002, USPS Global Priority Mail took 7 days from New Jersey, cost $8 for less than 1 pound.
In 2005, same price but didn't arrive after 18 days; I abandoned it.
It goes through the Bahamas post office, which is not reliable.
- FedEx packages to: Forbes customs brokerage; $3 charge;
Forbes Enterprises, PO Box Ex29039, 242-336-2857, forbesenterprise4 at yahoo.com, MTWRFS 9-5.
- DHL packages to: Top II Bottom marine and hardware store; $??? charge.
- Outgoing Bahamian mail reportedly takes 3+ weeks to get to the USA.
- There is a box for outgoing USA mail at Exuma Markets, but it may sit
there for a while before being hand-carried to the USA and posted.
I think you're supposed to leave mail unsealed.
- Phone: most pay-phones don't take coins, only cards or 800 numbers.
Ones that do take coins (and also work) take US coins, not Bahamian.
Some pay-phones will not call some 800 numbers.
Some pay-phones will not call non-800 toll-free area codes such as 888 or 866.
Phone to Nassau from Batelco office was about 50 cents/minute in 2002.
Faxes received for free at Exuma Markets.
Faxes sent to Nassau for $1/minute at Exuma Markets in 2002; $2.10/minute at Batelco in 2002.
- Photocopying: 25 cents/page at "business center".
- Library: next to Two Turtles; MTWRFS 10-12. Book-exchange, but have to buy membership for $3.
- Radio: do boat hailing on VHF 68.
Current weather data from heliport on 134.775 MHz (most shortwave radios can't get this).
Don't do HF email during 0700-0900 and 1500-1700, to avoid interfering with marine HF nets.
- Typical cold front takes about 20-24 hours to go from Nassau to Georgetown ?
- Apparently, a "rake and scrape" is a band using improvised instruments.
- Cruiser's Regatta Week: mid-March. Boat races, beach games, etc.
Opening night party was fun; free food and drinks !
Stores mark up prices about 10-20% a week or two before Regatta Week.
ATM may run out of cash; grocery stores run out of eggs/milk/bread.
Supposedly, so many boats leave harbor at the end of Regatta Week
that anchorages to the north become very crowded.
- Family Island Regatta Week: late April. More interesting than Cruiser's Regatta Week.
Starts with student race on Tuesday, last race on Saturday.
On town side of harbor, on race days, do not anchor north of line from government dock to Moss Cays; you'll be told to move.
Art exhibits, concert, dance, etc.
ATM may run out of cash; grocery stores run out of eggs/milk/bread.
- John Schofield's "A modest odyssey -- Georgetown in the Exumas"
Georgetown Cruising Regatta
But when I was in Georgetown 4/2005, someone got ciguatera poisoning from fish at a local restaurant.
From letter from Marti Brown in
11/2007 issue of Seven Seas Cruising Association bulletin:
There have been cases of malaria in Georgetown in summer 2007; CDC recommends taking
Chloroquine (see the CDC web site).
From Tom and Judy:
The Exumas during hurricane season ... it was beautiful.
Several periods of time with
water dead calm and crystal clear. Very little other boat traffic,
so anchorages were empty and
virtually private. Good hurricane holes at Normans Key
and in Georgetown, as well as on the
moorings at Exuma Park - our current base. A fortunate
year  again without even any near misses for
the Exuma's. We'll probably ride out next year here as well.
Bruce on "Karma Kat" spent 2004 hurricane season in Georgetown, and thinks
it's a great place to spend hurricane season.
- Harbour Island:
Maptech chartkit says inside passage from Spanish Wells to Harbour Island,
especially from Ridley Head to Hawk's Point, requires good coral "eyeballing"
skills and good light, and good sea conditions.
Pilot costs about $60; maybe $90 for two boats.
Dunmore Town is supposed to be very pretty, and full of rich people. Lots
of megayachts in the marina.
- Spanish Wells:
Some harbor control on VHF 16, mainly concerned with large
traffic at ferry dock.
Moorings: call "Cinnabar" on VHF 16. Only 6 moorings, and very
little room to anchor inside harbor. Moorings just inside east entrance to harbor.
Map of town: sign across street from waterfront, near ferry dock, maybe 4th St ?
Internet: at Computer Concepts, at north end of 13th St.
Only one computer, $10/hour, must use in 1-hour seatings.
Food Fair supermarket: between 18th and 19th Sts, on main road.
Pinder's grocery store: waterfront, maybe 6th St ?
No liquor in town; nearest is at James Bay ferry dock on Eleuthra.
Marine store: Spanish Wells Marine + Hardware, across from fuel dock,
just east of south entrance to harbor.
A couple of auto and electrical stores.
Museum: 8th or 9th St on main road ? Weekdays only.
Go into Island Shopper store next door to get someone to open the museum for you.
Four fuel docks; all closed on Sunday. Easiest to get to is at
Spanish Wells Marine + Hardware, just east of south entrance to harbor.
- Meeks Patch:
Nice anchorage in WNW to SSE winds.
A couple of free moorings.
Some tables and chairs ashore.
- Royal Island:
Enter through narrow opening to west of small rocky cay, not through big inviting opening to east of it.
No moorings in the anchorage 3/2005.
From Ilana Stern: "Royal Island anchorage is well-protected from all sides, but the
holding is tenuous and if you're not anchored really solidly you might end
up loose in a blow as some friends of ours did. We didn't have a problem
although it took a while to get a good set in the grassy bottom. The ruins
ashore are fun to explore."
My CQR 45 anchor with 3/8" BBB chain dragged in 20+ knots of wind. Several other
boats had to re-anchor too.
Dave on "Miou" 3/2005 says the Atlantis casino people just bought Royal Island.
Sometimes can hear weather report from Highburn Cay on VHF 6 at 0730.
Sometimes can VHF weather channels from Florida.
Ruins ashore are extensive; lagoon on north side is nice.
Small picnic area and beach on outside south side of island, approx lat 25.30.300 long 76.51.600.
No good snorkeling close to outside west end of island; have to go miles NE to get to reefs.
- Current Cut / The Current settlement:
Pass through Current Cut at slack tide.
Current runs to the NW when tide is falling.
If S wind has been blowing for a while, water piles up on S side of the island,
generating a 1 to 2 knot current running to the NW even at "slack tide".
Can dinghy ashore to beach on north side of the island,
at approx lat 25.24.900 long 76.47.200; look for a
road perpendicular to the beach. Then walk to town.
Grocery store, houses, wharf in town. Ferry dock in the cut.
- Glass Window:
Very rolly in Mutton Fish Point "anchorage" if there are swells from any direction out in the sound.
Not easy to get ashore. Small beach just north of Mutton Fish Point, but then a tough climb up to the road.
- Gregory Town:
Reasonably pretty town. Lots of hills.
- Hatchet Bay / Alice Town:
Harbor entrance is scarily narrow, but straightforward.
Some moorings, but plenty of room to anchor. Best depth and space at NW end.
Dinnghy ashore to wooden docks on back side of wharf.
Marina / marine services business is defunct 3/2005, destroyed by hurricane; no one charges for use
of seawall or docks, and moorings are free and government-installed.
Some debris in water along the seawall.
Sometimes can hear weather report from Highburn Cay on VHF 6 at 0730.
A couple of small grocery stores, laundromat, clothing stores, liquor store, water/ice store.
- Pelican Cay:
- Governors Harbour:
Rolly even when wind is from the south. Very rolly when large swells outside,
regardless of what direction they're coming from.
Go ashore to beach at south end; too shallow on the east, nowhere to land on the west.
Town has some pretty houses and nice view from top of hill.
Two grocery stores, liquor store, hardware store, bakery to the south, library near the beach.
Free water taps on the street in the west (peninsula) end about a block in from
the ferry dock, but that's a long way from anywhere you could land the dinghy.
- Tarpum Bay:
- Rock Sound:
Dinghy ashore to wooden dock south of ferry dock; shallow at low tide.
Or to waterfront tiki bar 1/4 mile north of ferry dock; entrance surrounded by rocks; 200 yards south of stores.
Or to beach 3/8 mile north of ferry dock; have to walk through people's backyards; just north of stores.
Free water tap ashore at wooden dock; too salty to drink 3/2005.
Good water $1/gallon at gas station near wooden dock.
Internet access at gas station near wooden dock; $5 for 15 minutes.
Small book exchange at gas station near wooden dock.
Ocean Hole park a block south and three blocks inland from wooden dock; "bottomless" tidal hole; feed bread to fish.
Water hole and caves: about a mile south out of town, down trail directly across from Allen Chapel church.
Shopping center near north dinghy landing has nice hardware store, nice auto-parts store,
medium-sized supermarket, liquor store, bank, gas and diesel pumps.
Small farm/fishing/lawn supply store about 1/4 mile north of shopping center.
Liquor store about 1/8 mile south of shopping center.
Haven's bakery: just north of wooden dock, inland one block and then south 1/2 block; afternoons only.
Hall's grocery/hardware store: a couple of blocks inland from wooden dock.
Lumber store: 1/2 block inland from gas station near wooden dock.
No marina or fuel dock. Three gas stations in town; diesel at two of them.
Lots of public garbage cans on the street.
Can hear weather report from Highburn Cay on VHF 6 at 0730.
Starve Creek: bottom is all rock.
- Powell Point:
Seems to be entirely occupied and controlled by Cape Eleuthra Marina.
Slips 75 cents/foot/night 4/2005 ?
- Little San Salvador Island:
Private island, and West Bay is a cruise-ship port: no anchoring.
- Arthurs Town:
- Bennetts Harbour:
- Smith Bay:
- Fernandez Bay:
Shore is a private resort.
- The Bight / New Bight:
Attraction: the Hermitage on Mount Alvernia.
- Hawks Nest Point:
Good guidebook for parts of this area:
"A Gentleman's Guide to Passages South" by Bruce Van Sant
(on Amazon - paid link).
My expected route from Georgetown to Caicos: Georgetown, Calabash, Conception, Rum, Mayaguana, Provodenciales.
My impression from charts and several cruisers: not many enclosed anchorages in this area. Sometimes you can
sneak inside a reef to get protection, but that can be tricky.
Met cruiser in Georgetown 5/2005 who strongly recommended Explorer charts
(on Amazon - paid link)
for this area, not Maptech charts. [I used Maptech charts and had no problems.]
- Conception Island:
Maptech says: Lots of reefs and rocks, and not recommended for overnight anchorage in unsettled weather.
Van Sant says: good anchorages on NW and E, can stay as long as you like, shifting from one to
other as weather dictates. Some of the best snorkeling in the Bahamas; loveliest island in the Bahamas.
Part of the Exumas land/sea park: no fishing or shelling.
- San Salvador:
- Rum Cay:
Maptech says: Port Nelson anchorage: swells and "a varied bottom".
I know you're not supposed to do it, but I entered the harbor at night using
depth-sounder and GPS, and it was easy to do.
In 2005, E end of harbor is shallow and doesn't have deeper holes shown in Van Sant's
sketch; I think the 2004 storms moved sand into the E end.
Wooden dock is public dock; dinghy dock on NW side of it. Garbage can ashore near dock.
Sumner Point Marina: enter only in calm weather and good sunlight; marker poles are red-right-returning.
Don't swim or snorkel in the marina: huge sharks looking for fish-cleaning scraps.
Diesel and gas at fuel dock; prices about the same as in Georgetown.
Water is 50 cents/gallon in 2005.
Two small grocery stores in Port Nelson. Last Chance grocery store MTWRFS 9-4 Sun 9-10:30.
Internet access: $8/half-hour in Last Chance grocery store.
Book-exchange: in Last Chance grocery store.
Van Sant says: Best snorkeling/diving/fishing in the Bahamas.
Snorkeling/diving attraction: wreck of the HMS Conquerer, on the reefs off Sumner Point.
From The Aldebaran Travel Log:
"... anchored in Flamingo Bay. A minefield of coral heads,
but the water was deep and you could easily see
the coral and negotiate around them."
- Long Island:
The charts and guides seem to say you can't go down the
west side of Long Island past Salt Pond: too shallow.
- Calabash Bay:
- Great Harbour / Clarence Town:
Van Sant says: if you go here, you're going to have an uphill slog to Mayaguana.
- Little Harbour:
- Between Rum Cay and Crooked Island:
From Rum Cay: 55 miles SE to Crooked Island; 100 miles SE to Plana Cays; 130 miles SE to Mayaguana.
Latitude 23.30: Tropic of Cancer; start of the tropics.
Seems to be a major shipping route choke-point between Long Island and Crooked Island; lots
of ships; keep a good watch here and between Rum Cay and Samana Cay.
- Crooked Island / Landrail Point:
- Long Cay / Albert Town:
- Acklins Island:
From "Delirious": avoid Attwood Harbor. Looks good on paper, but it's rolly,
and dangerous if the wind shifts.
From "Fidelis": Attwood Harbor: best place they stopped; fabulous beach and reefs.
- Samana Cay:
Van Sant's descriptions of the anchorages are not encouraging.
- Plana Cays:
Not much shelter; pick anchorage based on direction of swells.
I think there's a W- or NW-setting current of 1/2 knot or so running from Mayaguana to Plana Cays.
- Mayaguana / Abraham's Bay:
Reef protects the bay at low tide, but lets in some swells at high tide.
I went out the east entrance in calm conditions at low tide with a 3.5-foot draft, and had
no problem. I don't think I'd ever come in that entrance in anything but the calmest conditions,
and maybe not even then.
Approach to town pier is extremely shallow even 100 yards out. Don't even try to dinghy
in near low tide: you'll have 3 to 6 inches of water.
Administration / Customs / Batelco building about 1/4 mile from the pier; garbage can there.
Little else in town that I could see.
- Great Inagua Island / Matthew Town:
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