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Published: November 22nd 2010
The Abacos 2010 - The Second Time Around
After an exciting crossing from Spanish Wells we decided to enjoy a couple of days in Little Harbor, a small bay with all around protection. On Tuesday morning the skies cleared and the wind was light and from the Southeast. We motored out the channel and decided to make some fresh water since the wind was too light to sail. It was a short two and one half hour jog up to Lubbers Quarters, a small island just off the South end of Elbow Cay. We found a quiet spot in crystal clear water about ½ mile off the island. Our friends on Tamaki sailed in about 30 minutes later and anchored nearby. After lunch we launched the dinghy and headed ashore to do some exploring. The shore looked pretty rough so we tied up at the pier of a local watering hole called Cracker P’s. After checking out that spot we found several paths leading into the trees and spent the next 90 minutes walking around the island.
The next morning we decided to head back to Hope Town, which is on the North end of Elbow Cay. Since
it is only about 6 miles we opted to unroll the jib and slowly sail up the shallow channel between Elbow Cay and Lubbers Quarters. This provided us with a great chance to see all of the spectacular homes lining the shore of Elbow Cay. We anchored just outside Hopetown harbor rather than spend money on a mooring inside the harbor. It was only a 5 minute dinghy ride into the secure harbor. We enjoyed a nice walk around the town and stopped to buy fresh bread, still warm from the oven at Vern’s neighborhood grocery store.
The following morning we needed to raise anchor and head over to Marsh harbor, the big town of the Abacos. It is only 8 miles from Hope Town but has a big grocery store, banks, and a good Laundromat. That evening we walked over to the big marina at Boat Harbor to see if we had any friends there. Unfortunately, we found the marina half empty. It seems like the good weather we were enjoying prompted many cruisers to head back to Florida since it was now April 1st.
That night we heard from our friends Doug & Sharon on “About
Time”. They had just arrived from Spanish Wells and were planning to be in Hope Town the next day so we made plans to meet them and Tamaki back in Hope Town. We had a good reunion and celebrated everyone being in the Abacos by having dinner out at the Harborside Restaurant in Hope Town harbor.
The next day we jumped up to the neighboring island of Man-O-War Cay. This is a very interesting island with a tradition of shipbuilding. They are a deeply religious group of people and they have a ban on all alcohol. They are very friendly and quite industrious. While there we caught up with more old friends from Georgetown, Frank & Pattye on Dream Weaver. Frank is a retired Navy Corpsman and serves as the town doctor in Georgetown every winter. They had just come from shore and brought us some fresh “sticky buns” made by an eighty six year old lady that sells pastries on the town dock. That afternoon we heard that there was going to be a huge gathering on another nearby cay the next day, Easter Sunday. The highlight event was a Easter egg hunt on the coral reef in
front of a local resort called Nippers. Nippers has several levels of decks with two swimming pools, several bars, good food and live music. Our group decided that even though we were enjoying Man-O-War, the place to be for Easter was Nippers on Great Guana Cay.
The Easter Egg Hunt turned out to be a big event with kids from most of the surrounding islands. Nippers was packed with people of all ages and while we found the activities fun it was next to impossible to get anything to eat. Therefore, we moved to another resort on the bay side of the island called Grabbers, which had a much less crowded restaurant and had a “rake & scrape” band scheduled to play all afternoon. This was a local band that had instruments like a wash board, a large crosscut saw, and bongo drums. They put on a great show.
The following day we shifted out to the end of this cay to a lovely place called Bakers Bay. We anchored off a new golf course which was part of a new development. The Bakers Bay resort is a world class development with million dollar lots, and a brand
new marina with the smallest slips being 80’. The place seemed to be set up for billionaires to bring their megayachts. There must have been slips for 100 large yachts but only three were tied up while we visited. That evening we organized a meet & greet on the pier in front of the golf course for the crew of the ten boats anchored in the bay. Several guys brought guitars and we spent several hours watching the sunset and singing along to the music.
From Bakers Bay we crossed over the Sea of Abaco to a harbor on the mainland side called Treasure Cay. This is a development of winter homes, mostly owned by Americans and Canadians. They have a great marina, a spectacular white sand beach, and even their own airport. The second day we were at Treasure Cay we heard a weather report calling for a very strong cold front to come pushing through in a couple of days with strong Northerly winds expected for several days there after. The Abacos chain is split into two sections with islands either being on the East side or West side of a short but dangerous ocean passage called
“The Whale”. To go from east to west boats must first exit the Sea of Abacos through one Cut in the reef , run about 2 miles and then enter back through Whale Cay Cut into the West side of the Sea of Abacos. If the wind is out of the North at more than 10 knots the Whale Cut is impassable. Many yachts of all sizes have been rolled or sunk trying to get through the Whale at the wrong time. We decide that we should move on through the next day before conditions deteriorated.
Luckily the conditions were perfect when we made it through the Whale, but by the next day it had changed to a much rougher experience. We decide to wait out the bad weather at Green Turtle Cay on the West side before trying to head back towards the states. Since the forecasts were now for winds approaching 40 -45 knots with the expected frontal passage, we opted to rent a mooring in Black Sound on Green Turtle. Black Sound is very dark and this is because the bottom is covered with a dark thick sea grass. The grass makes anchoring nearly impossible. Our
group of three, Tamaki, About Time & Double-Wide, arrived around noon and had no trouble finding available moorings but by that evening all of the moorings in the harbor were filled and the boats that arrived the following day were forced to tie up at one of the three marinas in Black Sound and pay the much higher daily rates.
We wound up spending seven days on the mooring in Black Sound. The big front slowed down and did not push through until three days later and then the wind howled for four more days. We passed the time with many impromptu cruiser parties, renting a golf cart for the day to tour the entire island, daily beach walks, and shopping trips into the little town of New Plymouth. Also, one of the small marinas had a really cool pool bar called Pineapples and they featured a great band called the Gulley Roosters.
Finally, on the 16th of April we decided to head for Florida. We left Green Turtle in 20 knots of NE wind heading west across the Sea of Abaco. Because we were on the bank and protected by the islands from the ocean swells it
was a very enjoyable sail. By 2:00 we were passing “Center of the World “ rock. Our plan was to anchor at a deserted island called Great Sale Cay. We neared the island just before dark and the wind had backed to the East and dropped to about 12 knots. The forecast was now calling for slowly diminishing winds overnight and light and variable for the next day. We decided to push on across the Great Bahama Bank while we could sail. By 05:45 the sky was just turning light and we were leaving the bank and heading into the Gulf Stream. Our goal was to reach Fort Pierce inlet 72 miles away before dark.
As the sun rose the wind died completely. Time to fish. We rolled along in calm winds but with a large six foot swell from the Northeast with about a ten second period. Just after lunch Nancy looked astern and yelled, FISH ON!!!!! We began rolling in our long hand line. As I pulled in the line I could see a huge blue & green mahi-mahi jumping out of the water trying to throw the lure. It took us about 15 minutes to get
the fish aboard. It turned out to be a 41” long mahi, the biggest one we have landed so far. That solved one problem, fish for dinner tonight.
By 16:15 we were entering the Fort Pierce jettys. We anchored off the Harbortown marina glad to be out of the rolling seas and glad to be back in the United States again.
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