Saturday, May 7, 2011

Northern Abacos to West End, Grand Bahamas

West End, Grand Bahamas
26 42.05 N 078 59.52 W
(click on each photo to enlarge)

Today is Saturday 5/7/11 and we are underway motor sailing from Great Sale Cay in the Northern Abacos to West End, Grand Bahamas. We plan to cross the Gulf Stream and be back in the USA tomorrow afternoon. We thought we should post one more blog since it has been awhile.

Since our last post on Tue 4/19/11, we ended up staying in Fisher’s Bay on Great Guana Cay for a total of 8 days. Our anchor was dug into a sand patch quite well. We had great internet from the boat, and great swimming in a small patch reef about 300’ behind the boat.

We were not in any hurry to stray too far from Marsh Harbor while we waited for a replacement sea water pump being shipped in from the US. On Tues 26th we motored 7 miles back to Marsh Harbor, returning to Mangoes Marina where the part had arrived. Replacing the pump was quite easy but Mark did need to borrow the marina bicycle to go to a garage in town to have a gear pulled off of the old pump shaft to install on the new one. We were back in business in no time. We did a little more provisioning that afternoon knowing it was probably our last chance to visit a real grocery store until we get back in Florida.

Treasure Cay Beach
On Thu 4/28/11 we left Marsh harbor and had a nice down wind sail to Treasure Cay. We anchored in a protected little basin off the Treasure Cay Resort marina. As luck would have it they were hosting a sport fishing tournament which we figured out as we watched a procession of about 30+ large sport fishing boats (60’-75’ Hatteras types) made their way into the harbor between 4 -5pm. We awoke the next morning to the wakes of the same boats leaving for another day of fishing. There is a gorgeous white sand beach on the Sea of Abaco which is said to be one of the top 10 beaches in the Caribbean. We enjoyed afternoon Margaritas at the marina pool which is open to cruiser’s anchored in the harbor.

Kathy "phoning home"
from the only pay
phone on Green Turtle cay
On Sat 4/30/11 we traveled from Treasure Cay to Green Turtle Cay. The Sea of Abaco in this area is too shallow, with shifting sand bores, for all but smaller boats to navigate. To get to Green Turtle you must travel back out through one channel into the ocean pass and around Whale Cay before re-entering  the Sea of Abaco through Whale Cay Cut. You need to pick a weather window through this area carefully avoiding any large seas or winds from the north as it can produce breaking waves in the cut called a Rage.

Serenity giving us a farewell pass as
they depart the anchorage FL bound.

All the Cays to the north and west of Whale Cay are considered the Northern Abaco island chain. We picked a calm day to travel to Green Turtle, arriving by lunch and anchored in White Sound at the north end of the island. Our friends, Mo and Polly on Serenity were at the Bluff House Marina and we enjoyed a Bon Voyage dinner with them on Sunday night – they left  on Monday bound for Florida by (this past)Wednesday.

The goverment dock of New Plymouth
We spent a few days exploring Green Turtle by foot and dinghy as usual. Black Sound is the southern anchorage which we explored by dinghy. New Plymouth in Settlement Harbor is the main town on the island. With pastel colored houses, picket fences and cut coral stone walls it reminds you of a quaint New England fishing village. In fact the town is “sister city” to none other than Key West, FL.

Bronze busts of notable Bahamians
in the Memorial Garden
 Some homes were actually disassembled and moved to Key West after one of the hurricanes came through the area some years back. We visited the museum, the Memorial Sculpture Garden and their 200 year old cemetery.
Lunch at Pineapple's

Kayaking at Manjack Cay. Carina
anchored behind Kathy.
  Mark has been looking to replace our existing dinghy now for some time with a new rigid inflatable boat (RIB). The air floor developed a slow leak sometime around February that needs re-inflating every 5 days or so. It could have been repaired once we get back to the states but it was the final excuse for us to upgrade to a RIB. A dealer in Stuart FL offered the best price and availability for the RIB we were shopping for.

We're going to miss these
crystal clear waters. Darker
water behind is grasssy bottom.
  Going to Stuart drastically changed our itinerary and intended landfall in Florida as we had intended making our way much further north. So that brings us to where we are now. We were looking at a favorable weather window for crossing the “Stream” in the Saturday to Monday timeframe.

At Miss Emily's Blue Bee Bar.
Claim to fame originator of the
Goombay Smash Drink
 With that in mind, on Tue 5/3 we moved from Green Turtle to Manjack Cay just 5 miles away. Manjack is home to lovely beaches, coves, hiking trails and a couple of wrecks and shallow reefs for snorkeling. There are only a few homes on the island and no services. We had a great two days of swimming, hiking and kayaking before moving along to stage for the crossing.

We left Manjack Cay on Thursday, 5/5, bound for Crab Cay off Angelfish Point which is the northernmost point on Great Abaco Island. From this point it’s all west-bound. The Sea of Abaco becomes the Little Bahama Banks extending west 100 miles to The Straits of Florida.

Old Bahama Bay Marina L
 On Friday, 5/6 we made our way 40 miles to Great Sale Cay which is the jumping off point for many boats enroute to the mainland US. We shared the anchorage with 8 other boats all of which departed shortly before of after dawn.

Old Bahama Bay Marina R
We raised anchor around 7am and arrived at our final port of call in the BahamasWest End, Grand Bahamas by 2:30PM.

Reality Check for us Americans:
Bank in Green Turtle Cay open 2 days a week for 4 hours/day.
Fuel at Guana Cay is $5.95 cash, $6.25 credit card / gallon.

No comments: