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Old 11-05-2010, 18:03   #1
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Abaco Itinerary

First time bareboat charterers to the Abacos, but multi times in the BVI"s (10) Grenadines and Greece (1 month in 2008) need help with advice on short Abaco cruise.

We will be taking our adult (40's) daughter and 5 of her friends leaving June 2 from Marsh Harbor for 7 days....well, 6 really since June 2 is spent on board in Marsh Harbor, and some of her friends leave by plane in early a.m. on June 9. Four of the friends (2 couples) have never sailed. Her other friend (female) has sailed with us in Greece and BVI"S and loves to spend her evenings dancing the night away.

They are expecting us to be the experts but we are having a hard time. Seems there is a lot of conflicting and useless info out there. The Sunsail suggested Itin. has inaccurate info, and the Abaco forum just keeps saying "go to Nippers". Yes, we know about Nippers!!!

Just looking for advice so we don't spoil a special vacation for her friends. Our plan is to be at a dock each night in case the non-sailors can't find their sea legs, and so those who want to turn in early (that would be us) don't have to beg a dingy ride.

So, any advice would be welcomed. Day sails with snorkel stops, nights where there is Bahamian music to dance to, (yes, we know about Nippers on Sunday!) and good marinas.

Please help us not shame our darling daughter....a darn good sailor herself by the way.
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Old 11-05-2010, 19:04   #2
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Get a copy of Stephen Pavlidis's The Abaco Guide! Or a copy of the The Cruising Guide to Abaco, Bahamas. They are both full of where, when and how to have a good time. No shame involved. Just a good time. Relax a little.
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Old 11-05-2010, 19:25   #3
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The thing I love about the Abacos is that that there is such a diversity of offerings. What you should do and where you should go should be driven by your wants.

For snorkeling: Reefs with moorings east of the tip of Great Guana, Reef off Fowl Cay, Reefs north east of Elbow Cay, Reef off of Sandy Cay (prone to SE swell)


My favorite small towns: Hope Town, Green Turtle.

Anchorages you may have to yourself: Powell, No Name, north or south of Snake Cay Peninsula, Spoil (aka shell) island.

My favorite popular beaches: Great Guana, G.T., Treasure Cay, Tahiti beach.(Elbow)

Great Beaches more isolated; No Name, Ocean side of Manjack and Powell, Deep Sea, Behind riding Cays, Pelican Cays.

Other:

I love the trail system on Manjack. Catch a casting at the foundry in Little Harbour if you can. Dinghy the "creek" behind Deep Sea Cay.

I have some photos from my last trip of the Abacos here:

bahamasmariner.com/abaocs


I also recommend provisioning on your own. Take a taxi to the grocery store. It's both cheaper and gives you more options. (or walk down and take a taxi back). Get your booze at Marsh Harbor or the liquor store near the dock at Green Turtle.

Personally, I've been disappointed with Nippers though I have yet to experience their pig roast. I really like Captain Jacks on the dock in Hope Town as well and Pineapples and a few of the restaurants in New Plymouth on Green Turtle. Curly Tails at the Sunsail base has a fantastic sunset view of the Harbor.

There are many Abacos vets here so I'm sure you will receive many other great perspectives and insights. Have a great charter.

One other thing: Study the tides. It's the key to enjoying all the Abacos have to offer. It's very different in that respect from the BVIs.
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Old 11-05-2010, 19:26   #4
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Get Steve Dodge's 2010 Cruising Guide to the Abacos (White Sound press). It is the best guide -- every anchorage and port is photographed, and the list of facilities is up to date.

My wife and I cruised for a week in a 34-foot chartered powerboat from Marsh Harbor and had a wonderful time.

Many cays have good anchorages anywhere along the lee side. You can find deserted anchorages along Scotland Cay, Guana Cay and many other places if the wind cooperates. If the wind doesn't cooperate there are plenty of protected, delightful places to find a slip, a mooring or a place to anchor. Some harbors, however are too crowded to anchor and you will have to pick up a mooring or a slip at a marina.

For ports/villages, must stops would include Hopetown, Man 'O War, Green Turtle -- probably the north harbor with Bluff House but either harbor is great. Also Little Harbor at the south end of Abaco Sound is a real must stop. Treasure Cay is a little less charming than some villages, but the beach there is amazing and worth seeing. I like Seaspray Marina in White Sound on Elbow Cay, there are a couple of great ocean beaches within walking distance with surfing waves. Many people anchor at Bakers' Bay near the north end of Guana Cay.It is lovely but there is a big new development there that may make it a little less scenic.

I made the obligatory pilgrimage to Nipper's and wondered what the fuss is all about. So-so food and in October the no seeums were ferocious (how Nipper's got its name).

The area offers wonderful cruising -- the Sea of Abaco is quite sheltered, the water is clear and lovely, and many of the villages are cute, quaint and friendly with waterfront restaurants and gorgeous beaches on the ocean side. Have a great time!
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Old 12-05-2010, 05:53   #5
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The following 7-Day Itinerary is borrowed from The Moorings:

Day 0
Airline schedules and routing could take you almost day to get to Marsh Harbor on Great Abaco. If you live on the eastern seaboard of the United States and have reasonably direct airline connections to Miami, it is possible to arrive in Marsh Harbor just after lunch. If so, this part of the trip can be made on Day 1 and you can avoid having to overnight in a local hotel.

Day 1
From Marsh Harbor to Man-O-War Cay - After completing your briefings, sail across to Man-O-War Cay, Abaco’s traditional boat building town. Wander through the quaint little village and enjoy the hospitality of the locals and their local table fare.

Day 2
From Man-O-War to Great Guana Cay - Head north west to Fowl Cay Marine Park for a snorkeling stop. Continue on to Baker’s Bay at the northern tip of Great Guana Cay and anchor in the turquoise, tree-lined cove to watch a sunset that rivals any.

Day 3
From Great Guana Cay to Green Turtle Cay - Sail through Whale Cay Passage to New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay and visit the museum and famous sculpture gardens. Overnight in nearby White Sound and enjoy dinner at The Green Turtle Club.

Day 4
From Green Turtle to Treasure Cay - Sail north for an early snorkel stop at Manjack Cay, then continue on to dock for the night at Treasure Cay to sample the local seafood.

Day 5
From Treasure Cay to Hope Town - On to Hope Town, home of the famous candy-striped lighthouse. Wonderful snorkeling can be found just a few yards off the ocean beach and the picturesque village boasts many of Abaco’s best eateries.

Day 6
From Hope Town to Little Harbor - A short sail south brings you to the underwater wonderland of Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park. Drop anchor off Sandy Cay for snorkeling and lunch. Continue south to Little Harbor and experience the unique ambience of Pete’s Pub.

Day 7
From Little Harbor to Elbow Cay - Sail through Lubbers Quarters and lunch anchored off Tahiti Beach. Spend the night docked in White Sound on Elbow Cay. Dine at The Abaco Inn with the Atlantic laid out before you.

Final Morning
From Elbow Cay to Marsh Harbor - Set sail for the 10 mile voyage to The Moorings base, arriving in time for de-briefing by noon.
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Old 12-05-2010, 07:40   #6
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Be careful about sailing the Whale Cay passage to Green Cay, Manjack, etc. You may not be able to get back if the "rage" is blowing. A cat may be able to make it inside. Ask the Moorings for advice.

In addition to the above suggestions, Bakers Bay is really nice. But if you are commited to marinas you will be limited. These areas have marinas:

Marsh Harbor, Hopetown (limited), Elbow Cay (limited), Great Guana Cay (Nippers), Treasure Cay (lots of slips), Green Turtle Cay.

David
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Old 12-05-2010, 11:45   #7
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I think your daughters friend is going to have a hard time finding anywhere to dance the night away.

Are you chartering a catamaran? Your options will be greater due to their shallower draft. We power boated the area 4 years ago and liked Green Turtle, Great Guana, and Treasure Cay also.

Have you tried using Google Earth to research the area? If you sit down with a chart or guide book, Goggle Earth, and use the internet to search specific locations it is easy to come up with an itinerary. I will caution you, Google Earth is more addicting then the cruising forum. There's no end to it.
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Old 13-05-2010, 11:08   #8
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As far as dancing the night away, I agree with Palarran: It's not as common in the Abacos as in the BVIs. Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay are probably your best bets, but I've seen plenty of nights at T.C. when the music is blasting and nobody is there. You might find some dancing at Nipper's or Sundowner's on G.T., but again, I wouldn't count on it.

To me the magic of the Abacos is just the opposite: finding an island (or bay) all to yourselves. You don't find that in many charter destinations.
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Old 13-05-2010, 11:44   #9
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Great advice from a bunch of knowledgeable folks!

Posted this last year in another forum. I hope you find it helpful.

"I suggest you pick up a Dodge Cruising Guide before heading over. It will become your Abaco bible.

February weather can be really nice some years. Unfortunately, February-March is usually a pretty boisterous time in the Abacos, with lots of "northers" passing through. If the weather is good, the world is your oyster and anchorages become abundant. However, should the weather be unsettled, I suggest the following places to hang out in until the wind dies down.

Marsh Harbour is a great anchorage, but is open to a north wind.

Hopetown. Grab a mooring ball and have a blast! Great photo ops from the top of the lighthouse.

Great Guana is the home of Nippers (previously mentioned). Grab one of the Dive Guana mooring balls in Settlement Harbour and dink ashore. Sheltered spot, except in a west wind.

Treasure Cay. Anchor just outside the marina for $15/day and have full access to the resort's showers, pool, etc. Probably one of the most sheltered spots in the Abacos.

Little Harbour is the home of Pete's Pub and is a must see for the Abaco cruiser. Draft permitting you can slip into LH and actually swim back and forth from Pete's to the boat. However, given the amount of booze one is apt to consume at Pete's, I highly suggest taking the dinghy ashore. Will get a bit rolly in a north wind.

Man-O-War. Grab a mooring off Edwin's Boatyard. Great place to spend a day walking around the island. Look out for Miss Lola and her famous cinnamon buns. If the weather's good, anchor just north of the northern harbour entrance, behind the small rock outcroppings. From there you can dink into town or to the narrow causeway that fronts the Atlantic.

White Sound, if a lovely marina/resort is your cup of tea, Seaspray is the place to visit. Kept my boat there for three years. Always had a great time there, even when the wind kept me pinned to the dock. Junior will take good care of you.

I won't get into describing Green Turtle Cay, even though it's probably my favorite place in the Abacos. The reason for this is simple, The Whale.

In order to get to GTC you must leave the Sea of Abaco, via the Whale Passage north of Gauna, go out into the Atlantic, head north, then cut back inside once you are past the reef and the shallows. In the winter months, the passing northers frequently create a dangerous "rage" in the Whale. Only a nitwit would try to challenge these conditions.

Now, if you hit one of those glorious weather windows in February that allow you to transit the Whale, GTC is a fantastic place to visit for a couple days (plan on renting a golf cart). However, pay attention to the duration of your weather window! If it slams shut on you while your still at GTC, you'll never be able to get back to your charter base before you have to fly home.

The Abacos are a great cruising ground and it is impossible not to have fun there!"
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Old 16-05-2010, 09:16   #10
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Abaco Charter in May-What Gear to Take?

This thread is timely because I'm chartering a Moorings 4000 from Marsh Harbor this week, May 20.
Gear:
PFD-Can I fly into and out of the Bahamas with an inflatable PFD? The "confiscated" 2 rearm kits leaving Bermuda last year and I don't want my new kits "stolen".
BIBS-Do I need bibs? It was freezing when I was there in December but what about now? Can get cool there at night.

Any other gear recommendations would be appreciated, I want to travel light, and thanks much for the terrific input on this site.
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Old 16-05-2010, 11:47   #11
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Originally Posted by nautical62 View Post
As far as dancing the night away, I agree with Palarran: It's not as common in the Abacos as in the BVIs. Marsh Harbour and Treasure Cay are probably your best bets, but I've seen plenty of nights at T.C. when the music is blasting and nobody is there. You might find some dancing at Nipper's or Sundowner's on G.T., but again, I wouldn't count on it.

To me the magic of the Abacos is just the opposite: finding an island (or bay) all to yourselves. You don't find that in many charter destinations.
Nautical 62--Thanks again. I'm sure our preference would be secluded anchorages as well. We have been at this a long time, since the 70's actually, and most of our peers have moved on to more sedentary past-times. Some of the reasons we hear: "I'm not too steady on my feet anymore", "eating all that shellfish gives me gout", and "I'd rather rent a cottage and watch the sailboats."

So, we now charter with a much younger crowd, including our daughter and her friends. We are fortunate to have our little sloop (which we bought in Iowa-year "85" if I remember correctly) sitting in Lake Tahoe. On weekdays, and any day after Labor Day, we can find lots of quiet anchorages.

Hadn't heard of Sundowners...will look into that.
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Old 16-05-2010, 12:11   #12
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PFD - Can't legally fly with any compressed gas/air cylinders. Rely on the PFD's already aboard your charter.

TEMPS - Bring a light jacket, sweater, or sweatshirt. You won't need any heavy clothing. A rain jacket might prove helpful as they're getting into T-storm season over there.
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Old 16-05-2010, 12:28   #13
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I second what Alan said. I never bring my inflatable pfd for chartering.

This winter was very cold in the Abacos, but every time I've been in June, I have the opposite issue. Mosquitoes can sometimes be an issue in the summer usually just after sunset. If it's calm, anchor a bit further out. A micro-fiber wind shirt and light rain jacket are often all the insulation I bring for early summer sailing, but it never hurts to throw in something warmer like a polar fleece pull over or vest if in doubt.
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Old 16-05-2010, 15:37   #14
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Thanks for the gear advice, it's both much needed and appreciated. I'm in the habit of taking all my offshore gear and it feels odd to leave it at home. Out goes the boots, bibs, tether, PFD harness, mob lights, tool kit, etc., and in goes the snorkel, mask and fins.
This will be my first catamaran charter and I'm really looking forward to it.
I've been keeping my wife informed about the monohull/sloop debate and she already wants a cat but I swear, I can't picture wanting to change. We'll see.........
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