Here are photos of places we like to visit in the Bahamas. Most were taken during our 2016/17 winter there. Some were scanned in from film photos taken during past visits.
1. Getting there
Our usual route for crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas is to leave from Palm Beach (Lake Worth Inlet) and enter the Little Bahama Bank just south of Memory Rock. That's we route we followed this year (2016) heading out at noon on Wednesday, December 14. After two days of light winds the often treacherous Gulf Stream was as flat as I've ever seen it.
We arrived at the Memory Rock channel at 8:30 that evening and headed for Great Sale Cay, 45 miles further east. With a full moon we missed seeing the usual stars. Still, it was a lovely night crossing the smooth banks. We dropped anchor at Great Sale a little after 4:00 am and got a couple of hours sleep before leaving again.
Great Sale is a large, uninhabited cay. There's no reason to be there other than the well protected anchorage with excellent holding in white mud. The weather forecast threatened strong east winds ahead so we left again at 7:00 am to get as far east as we could. It was a fine day for sailing the banks.
Here's another shot of the Little Bahama Bank from 1999.
2. Northern Abacos (north of Whale Cay)
Being in a hurry to get further east we skipped many of the cays that we visited in earlier years. I've scanned in photos taken in past years.
The anchorage between the Double Breated Cays is narrow and has a strong current. You may want to put out two anchors here. Here's a photo of Double Breasted from 2018:
The anchorage at tiny Moraine Cay is for settled weather only.
When I first visited Moraine it was uninhabited. Now there are rental cottages.
Allans and Pensacola were once separate cays but are now connected into single, large, uninhabited island. Cruisers established a "Yacht Club" here.
The sign points to a path across the island to the ocean side here there is a typically beautiful white sand beach.
The beach is protected by an offshore reef.
There's also signing tree where cruisers hang mementos of their visit.
I added this one in 2004.
My wife and I added this one in 2016.
Powell Cay offers a large anchorage well protected from E, NE or SE winds. There are several fine beaches.
The island has some well marked paths for exploring. One goes to the bluff overlooking the anchorage.
Others go to some of the ocean side beaches.
The next good anchorage after Powell Cay is Munjack Cay. There are many alternative spellings of Munjack but this one is a good compromise.
There are a couple of houses on Munjack. The owners are very generous about letting visitors come ashore and wander the island.
Green Turtle Cay is where we like to clear into the Bahamas.
We usually go into Black Sound and tie up to one of Donny Sawyer's moorings.
It's a short walk into town of New Plymouth from there.
The Customs office, where we clear in, is open seven days a week.
The main street in town is a one-way loop.
There are three grocery stores in town. This is Sid's Market which is run by Sid's son Scott and daughter Martha. That's Martha closing up.
Curry's Market is in the photo below.
Just south of Green Turtle is a section of the Sea of Abaco that's too shallow for most monohulls. There we need to leave the protected banks, go out around Whale Cay and back in the other side. It's a short distance but in strong winds there can be waves breaking all across the openings. By Monday the strong east winds we had while in Black Sound let up enough for us to move on.
That's the Whale on a very mild day.
3. Southern Abacos
After rounding the Whale we went straight to Marsh Harbour without stopping at the Guana, Treasure or Man O War Cays. Here's a photo of the beach at Baker's Bay on Guana Cay taken in 1999.
There was once a $30 million resort here for passengers on the Disney "Red Boat" cruise ship. This "Treasure Island" opened in 1989 then was abandoned in 1993. When I first visited the site in 1999 a lot of the infrastructure was still there and being scavenged.
The ruins are long gone, replaced by a golf course and mansion development. Across the Sea of Abaco from Guana Cay is another development called Treasure Cay. Just north of the development, at Carleton Point, is an anchorage good for west winds.
Now we come to Marsh Harbour with a big, mostly well protected anchorage.
There's a floating dinghy dock.
Marsh Harbour has the only traffic light we see in the Bahamas.
There's a large hardware store.
And a US style supermarket.
There are enough Haitians in the area for them to be included in signage.
To get your cell phone working in the Bahamas, you need to visit the Batelco (BTC) office.
There's a new library under construction.
It's next to the fire station.
There are shops in town for anything you might need.
The Bahamas National Trust has an office here.
There are ferries to take workers, residents and visitors to all the neighboring cays.
Here's a shot of the Marsh Harbour anchorage in 2000.
It was getting hot in Marsh Harbour so we headed across to Matt Lowe's Cay for a swim..
Opposite Matt Lowe's is Man-O-War Cay with a small, completely protected anchorage that is filled with moorings.
Hope Town on Elbow Cay also has a fully protected anchorage filled with moorings.
There's no room to anchor in the harbor. We took one of Truman's rental moorings.
As in Marsh Harbour, there's a dinghy dock provided by the local yacht club.
Hope Town is filled with rental cottages and flowering shrubs.
There are cottages for the little people and a small "downtown" area.
It's a short walk to the ocean side beach.
We stayed in Hope Town one night then continued our way south. We passed by Tahiti Beach but here's a photo from an earlier year:
Lynyard is a narrow, 2.5 mile long, nearly uninhabited island between the two cuts, North Bar and Little Harbour, favored by boats heading south from the Abacos.
We went out Little Harbour Cut early the next morning heading for Eleuthera.
Along the way we pass by the village of Cherokee. It's too shallow for us to visit Cherokee by boat but I once rode my bike there from Marsh Harbour. Here are some photos of that very neat little town.
A few miles south of Cherokee is the new town of Schooner Bay which has a dock where you can spend the night to break up the 58 mile passage from Lynyard to Royal Island. We've stopped there twice and it's definitely worth a visit. I have photos somewhere but can't seem to find them. I'll add them later.
If you turn right at the southern tip of Abaco and sail up the Bight of Abaco you'll come to the village of Sandy Point.
4. Eleuthera and Neighboring Islands.
In 2017, we left Lynyard Cay at dawn and sailed a fast reach to Royal Island.
There was once an elegant mansion on Royal Island but it fell into ruins decades ago.
Since then there have been half hearted attempts at development but none have gotten very far. That's fine with us.
Royal Island Harbour is one of the finest anchorages in the Bahamas.
It can get a bit crowded at times.
A few miles away is the busy fishing center of Spanish Wells.
Just outside of Spanish Wells is a small island known as Meek's Patch. You can anchor on with side of the narrow cay.
To get from Royal Island or Spanish Wells to the banks side of Eleuthera, the shortest route is through aptly named Current Cut. If you head east after clearing the shallows near the cut, you come to the sleepy villages called the Bogues. Hear is Lower Bouge on a Sunday in 2006.
East of the Bougues is Glass Window. There was once a natural bridge across the opening. When it collapsed, a new bridge was built.
A few miles south of Glass Window is Gregory Town.
Further south, Hatchett Bay has a well protected anchorage behind a narrow opening in the rocks. The holding there is poor so the government put in free moorings. Unfortunately they weren't maintained. They're now being rented out by Francis who owns the Front Porch restaurant overlooking the harbor.
In 2017, after clearing Current Cut, we went straight to Alabaster Bay and dropped anchor.
We spent Christmas and Boxing Day there with Rick on Kelly Rae, a Crealock 34.
There's a very nice little inn and restaurant, CocoDiMama, on the beach. A few years ago, Marriott bought it and it's now closed.
This is one of the few Bahamian beaches where local families like to spend the day.
There's an old "fishing shack" where you can rest comfortably on the couch while waiting for a fish to bite.
A short walk across the island, past an abandoned tracking station, leads to the ocean side beach.
The tracking station is now occupied solely by goats.
After Boxing Day we bade farewell to Rick who was headed north. We moved six miles south to Governor's Harbour.
There's a fine old library there.
And a police station that was the setting for one of my short stories.
There's fishing and small boat sailing in the harbor where cargo ships unload at Cupid's Cay.
On the way from Governor's Harbour to Rock Sound, we stopped for lunch at Tarpum Bay.
We were hoping to get a conch salad from the stand outside this restaurant with an intriguing mural.
The conch stand was closed that day so we walked around town for awhile.
After lunch we continued on to Rock Sound.
We anchored near the Wild Orchids restaurant.
About 300 yards from the restaurant is a shopping center with a supermarket, hardware store and liquor store.
It's about a mile from the downtown area.
There's a laundramat in town.
The big tourist attraction in town is the Ocean Hole, a small pool that's 600 feet deep.
There are underground passages between the pool and open water. Reef fish hang out near the edge hoping someone will toss in some old bread.
You won't find the locals there. They'd rather play dominoes at the beach bar.
Each year there's a Junkanoo competion between Rock Sound, Governor's Harbour, Tarpum Bay and Hatchett Bay. Here's the Rock Sound crew putting together their float for the 2009 competion that was held in Rock Sound.
The Exuma chain was once my favorite part of the Bahamas. It is still dramatically beautiful with exceptionally clear water. But the northern Exumas, from Highbourne Cay to Staniel Cay, have now been taken over by hordes of mega-yachts packing jet skis and other water toys. Fast catamarans shuttle tourists from Nassau back and forth. We now pass quicky through the northern Exumas.
To get to the Exumas from Eleuthera we worked our way through narrow channels to Cape Eleuthera then sailed across the deep Exuma Sound to Highbourne Cay. We spent the night anchored in North Cove along with one of the many power yachts which now outnumber sailboats in the northern Exumas. There's a nice beach in the cove but it's a long dinghy ride over very shallow water.
Here's my previous boat, Midnight Mail, anchored at Highborne Cay in 2002.
There's a nice, little, shallow reef near the anchorage known as the Octopus's Garden.
The nearby Allens Cays have a population of rock iguanas that has become a major attraction for tourists coming from Nassau in fast boats.
We generally avoid those crowds and postpone our visit with iguanas until we get to Bitter Guana Cay further south.
In 2003, Midnight Mail stopped in at the once notorious Norman's Cay.
In 1978 Carlos Lehder of the Medellin drug cartel used Norman's Cay as the base for smuggling plane loads of cocaine. He built a 3300' runway protected by armed guards. His fleet of small planes stopped there frequently. Not all of them made it to the runway.
Here's what remained of his compound in 2003.
Just South of Norman's Cay are Shroud Cay and Hawksbill Cay. These once popular anchorages are now filled with moorings rented by The Exuma Land and Sea Park. Here's Midnight Mail anchored at Hawksbill in 2002.
The park headquarters are at Warderick Wells where the anchorage is now completely taken up by moorings. Cruisers often leave mementos, usually a piece of driftwood with the boat name, at the rock cairns on Booboo Hill. Here's Booboo Hill in 1986.
In 2017 we skipped all the cays in the park and sailed south over the Great Bahama Bank straight to Bell Island.
There are few navigation aids on the banks. With good light they're not needed. You can tell the the depth of the water by its color.
Midnight Mail anchored there in 2006.
The once beautiful Bell Island was bought by the Aga Khan, privatized and and uglified.
We anchored on the other side of the island in Harbour Bay.
Many cruisers like to stop in at Staniel Cay.
There are so many mega-yachts there now that we generally avoid it.
Our next anchorage in 2017 was at our favorite town in the Bahamas, the village of Black Point on Great Guana Cay.
It's a big anchorage, protected from all but west winds. Each year we find more boats anchored there than before.
When we arrive there our first stop in town is usually Ida Patton's laundromat.
Ida's husband Terrence built it a few years, along with a dinghy dock and gazebo for patrons.
There's even nice view from inside.
This is Ida giving some old mug a haircut.
There are two boats that carry mail, goods and passengers to and from the town. It's rare to see them both in at the same time.
The former constable Lawrence Adderley and his wife Althea run the small grocery store. The constable salvaged this mast for mounting an antenna at their house.
The town has some fine racing sailors who campaign in C Class Bahamian sloops. This is one of the boats: Smashie.
This is Frederika getting worked on.
There are two fine restaurants in town. Dianne at Deshamons is an excellent cook. We had dinner there on our first night of this visit.
We had lunch, a very good pizza, at Lorraine's Cafe the next day.
Here's Lorraine with her dad Basil and her mom Peermon outside the cafe in 2006.
Basil had been a sailor and fisherman. He later took over from his father the job of caretaker at Chicken Cay where I first met him. He passed away in 2015. Peermon bakes the best coconut bread in the Bahamas and is now the pastor at the Gethsemane Baptist Church.
Here's where the boys in town get the coconuts for Peermon's delicious bread.
The ladies in town often use the shade in front of Peermon's house to plait palm fronds into belts that are shipped to Nassau where they're made into bags for the tourists.
Across the road from Lorraine's is the Scorpio Bar where Zhivago Rolle and DJ both make an excellent rum punch.
The roosters believe the town is theirs but they're quite tolerant of any people or goats who think otherwise
In front of Willie Rolle's house is a sculpture garden of unaltered driftwood that Willie, Basil Rolle's brother, finds in the bushes. He calls in the Garden of Eden.
At the back of his house is a true garden of Eden with all sorts of fruit trees growing out of potholes in the rock.
Here's Willie working on his garden.
With a very strong cold front nearing, we moved into the marina at Cave Cay a few miles south of Black Point.
We had never been here before so our first order of business was to walk across the island to the nortside beaches. In the Bahamas the ocean side is always called the nortside regardless of the compass and the banks are the soutside.
It was a long walk but with dramatic views of Exuma Sound and the mostly rocky shoreline.
There were some small beaches on the nortside.
They were too far away on a path strewn with sand burrs. We swam at one of the soutside beaches instead.
We stayed two nights in the marina then returned to Black Point when the wind clocked to the northeast. Exuma Sound was much too rough to venture out on our way further south. Winds were 20-25 knots, gusting to 30 and in frequent squalls to 35 knots.
There's a blow hole, an underground passage to the sea, near that same spot that shoots up a geyser of spray with every wave. It also blows out any seaweed or plastic trash floating nearby.
In 2017 we were in the Black Point area for two weeks while unusually strong winds made the cuts to Exuma Sound not quite impassable but very unpleasant. Black Point is a fine place to be while waiting but, for a little variety one day, we went three miles north to Bitter Guana Cay.
There are about 30 rock iguanas on the cay who waddle down to the beach, hoping to be fed something, when anyone comes ashore.
We had a few cabbage leaves for them which they seemed to appreciate.
We returned to Black Point and did some volunteer maintenance at the school. Below is the classroom where we repaired a window.
South of Black Point is Little Farmers Cay. There are rental moorings available on the east side. In 2002 I anchored on the north side, near the airport.
When we finally did leave Black Point in 2017, we anchored outside Cave Cay. We took a short dinghy ride to visit the large grotto when schools of fish and sea turtles abound.
The next day we sailed slowly to Georgetown. At the entrance to Elizabeth Harbour, I took photos of the water as the depth changed. These are the colors you see throughout the Bahamas at depths of 80, 60, 40, 30, 20 and 10 feet.
We anchored in Kidd's Cove and dinghied through the tunnel to tiny Lake Victoria.
The supermarket maintains a large dinghy dock in the lake behind the store.
With gale force west winds predicted, we re-anchored behind the old Peace and Plenty Hotel.
Most cruisers like to be anchored across the harbor near Stocking Island. It can get very crowded there with 200 or so boats in the harbor. We prefer quieter, less crowded anchorages. Here's Midnight Mail in 2002 with Stocking Island in the background.
6. Long Island
When the cold front passed, we took advantage of the following NW winds to sail east to to Long Island.
We have good friends, Mike and Dawn Arbo, who used to spend much of their winters in Thompson Bay on their Island Packet named Anahata. Now they have a small house there.
This is the view of Thompson Bay from their back porch.
Just up the road from Dawn and Mike's is Tiny's.
Jason opened the bar and restaurant in June of 2016. The food there is excellent. The beers aren't bad either.
Basil Fox and his son Roger have a dock that they allow cruisers to use for their dinghies.
There's a very good grocery store a short walk from the dinghy dock.
The Souside Bar and Grill is an even shorter walk.
There are three ocean side (nort'side) beaches you can walk to.
Here's one of them.
Near the southwest corner of Long Island is the small town of Gordon's. I stopped there in 2005.
There's a nice beach there.
And two wrecked Haitian boats on the shoals.
Near the southeast corner of Long Island is Clarencetown. I stopped there in 2003.
The Jumentos are a chain of small cays southwest of Long Island. Nearly all are uninhabited. The entire chain has a population of less than 100.
On the banks side of the chain the sailing is usually a pleasant beam reach.
The first anchorage you come to is at Water Cay.
Flamingo Cay,about 10 miles further, has three anchorages. The one below is the northernmost of the three.
The middle anchorage there is called Two Palms.
One of the plans died so it's now One Palm.
There's a path to the top of the island where there's a nice view of the third anchorage from the navigation light.
You could anchor at Man-O-War Cay or Jamaica Cay further south but we never have. Here's Jamaica Cay.
Nurse Cay has anchorages on the west and south side. The south anchorage, below, has some nice reef patches.
Right after Nurse Cay comes Buenavista with a long, beautiful beach.
After Buenavista is Raccoon Cay, one of our favorites. There are several small beaches on the west side which are all good anchorages.
The wild goats that live on Raccoon played a part in one of my short stories.
Johnson Cay is just around the corner from Raccoon.
The southernmost anchorage in the Jumentos is Southside Bay at Ragged Island.
This where the big town of the Jumentos, Duncantown with a population of 72 in the latest census, is located.
If you go ashore on the western shore of Southside Bay you'll find Percy Wilson's place. Percy collects old boats, cars, trucks and even a DC3 that he once put to use as a restaurant.
8. Cat Island
A short sail from the northern tip of Long Island brings you to sparsely inhabited Cat Island. The village of New Bight has plenty of room to anchor off the beach.
This is where the Cat Island sailing regatta is held.
Aside from the beach bars and restaurants and a small convenience store, there's not much in the village. Here's the main crossroads.
A short walk from the cross roads brings you to Mt. Alvernia, the highest peak in the Bahamas. Father Jerome built his Hermitage at the top.
On the other side of Bonefish Point from New Bight is Fernandez Bay with a very nice, very expensive resort and restaurant.
Continuing north, we like the sleepy little village of Bennett's Harbour.
Despite its small size, Bennett's Harbour has a fine library.
Further north still is Arturs Town where Sydnet Poitier lived until he was 10.
The first year I sailed to the Bahamas I crossed the Gulf Stream from Biscayne Bay to the closest Bahamian island.
I arrived at South Cat Cay in the dark and anchored when the depth meter showed 10'. In the morning I found a flying fish on deck.
From there I went to Bimini to clear in.
After clearing Customs and Immigration, I headed across the Great Bahama Bank toward the Berrys.
When it started to get dark, I dropped the hook, no land in sight, and spent the night on the banks.
In the morning I continued on to the Berrys. Along the way I caught this fine fellow with my Cuban yoyo.
My first stop in the Berry was Great Harbour Cay where I anchored in Bullocks Harbour.
On the other side of Great Harbour Cay, near the airport is the Beach Club.
In 1999 I stopped at New Providence Island to pick up mail. Rather than anchoring in Nassau Harbour, I stopped at West Bay.
From there, I rode my bike to Nassau and back.
When I got back to West Bay my outboard had been stolen. I spent the rest of that winter rowing my Avon inflatable.
Crooked and Acklins Islands are about as remote as you can get. This is Snug Corner on Acklins.
Conception Island is isolated, uninhabited and protected as a Bahamas National Land and Sea Park. There is a beautiful beach and a reef with groves of stag-horn coral.
Inside the island is a lagoon that can be entered in a shallow draft dinghy. It's a feeding area for green and hawksbill turtles.
I've visited other parts of the Bahamas including Little San Salvador, Rum Cay and Mayaguana but cn't seem to find the photos I took there. If they show up, I'll add them later.
Here are some photos of various C Class Sloop Regattas. Most are from the "Ocean Race" which is a pout to point race stating near White Point south of Black Point and ending at Little Farmers Cay.
The race starts with the sloops at anchor and the sails down.
When the starting gun goes off, one crew member pulls up the anchor while another raises the main.
With small keels and a large sail area, hiking boards are needed to keep the boats upright.
If the wind picks up, you need a couple of large crew members.
Most of the larger towns in the Bahamas hold an annual regatta and have a permanent regatta site. Here's the one in Salt Pond on Long Island.
This is a party at the regatta site at Black Point.
Between races the boats live in someone's back yard.