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Old 25-12-2010, 08:42   #1
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Please Help: Cruising Advice in the Abacos

Merry Christmas All! My husband, another couple and I are Bareboating a 37.2 Beneteau (6 ft draft), through the "Moorings", leaving out of Marsh Harbor (flying Bahamasair from West Palm) for a 5 day cruise. My husband and I have been sailing for 2 years through a club (33ft Hunter), in the St Augustine area in the ICW and Atlantic Coastline from Cumberland Island to Palm Coast. We have taken ASA 101,103,104.Another member of party is German and has had extensive (but not recent) sailing experience in North Sea, Atlantic, and Mediterranean. We are interseted in sailing, pretty beaches, snorkleing, hanging, original, avoiding tourist traps...
Any advise? What not to miss? What to avoid?Bareboat does and don'ts, etc? All advise and help appreciated. Much thanks in advance!
Sybil
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Old 25-12-2010, 09:13   #2
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Have a good time and don't run aground.
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Old 25-12-2010, 11:00   #3
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I've done exchange time on several occasions through the Moorings, Abacos as well as sailed other boats there.

I think the key to enjoying the more out of the way places in a monohull is knowing the tides and being comfortable without having a lot of water under your boat at low tide. In the winter months, it's helpful to understand the typical cold front patterns.

Some of my favorite snorkeling destinations: Reef just out from the NE corner of Great Guana, Fowl Cay reef south of Great Guana, The reefs NE of Elbow, and the reef near Sandy (sorry can't remember the name)

Places I've had a beach, cove or even an entire island to myself within the charter range: Pelican Cays, Snake Cay area, No Name Cay, Spoil Cay, North two anchorages on Manjack, Powell.

Even the more common destinations are not necessarily just tourist traps. I like both New Plymouth and Hope Town for short visits as well as Pete's Place in Little Harbour. I've especially liked catching them doing a casting at the foundry there.

There's some images on an interactive map on my website - sorry it's still very much a work in progress, but may give you a feel for some of the locations.

bahamasmariner.com/abaocs

The Moorings will probably provide you with Dodge's guide to the Abacos, which I feel is the best. I prefer provisioning myself in Marsh Harbour which is very easy to do. I usually walk to the store and get a cab back. The explorer chartbook is very good, but it's basically the same information you'll probably have in your onboard mapping GPS.

I prefer doing a sleep aboard to staying in a motel, largely because it's cheaper, but it also familiarizes me with the boat more prior to heading out. Check the dinghy and dinghy motor the give you to make sure it starts well for you. It's probably one of the areas I see the least consistency in and it's easy to exchange if it's problematic. Also test your autopilot as it's easy to not think about until you are out a ways and they are fairly prone to break down.

Have a great charter. I really love the Abacos.
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Old 25-12-2010, 11:15   #4
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Sorry...no chartering experience, but I crewed on a delivery of a Cal 39 out of Marsh Harbour once about 15 years ago. I remember arriving at the docks and finding the waterline about 12" above the water - the boat was sitting in soft mud at low tide right in its slip. Watch your depth! The crystal clear water might have your heart in your throat as you sail over coral heads that look as though they're just below the surface.

Maybe have one of the Moorings staff take you out and get you acclimated the first day?

Have fun!
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Old 25-12-2010, 13:00   #5
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Good advise and we really appreciate the tips! Thank you for taking the time. I'll head over to your web site.
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Old 26-12-2010, 06:20   #6
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Listen each day to the cruisers' net at 8:15, channel 68. Lots of useful info there, and be sure to introduce yourselves in the "arrivals" section. 68 is the hailing channel there; use it to contact your party. Most businesses monitor 16. You can get a taxi on 06.

The cruisers' net will provide you with passage information. This is the area where Rule 62 (Google for info, this forum has some threads on it too) was lost; the passages can be benign or deadly, swapping places in a day's time.

Are you most likely to want to go exploring, or diving, or sailing, or all three? An earlier reply gave some diving info; the one at Sandy is about a mile west of the top of Tilloo or the bottom of Lubbers; two reefs with dingy balls. There are balls on the ones north of Guana and off Fowl Cay (just south of Scotland Cay).

With that sized boat you should be able to get into Hopetown and Man'O'War, both good to explore. Be sure to do the lighthouse in Hopetown, and look in on the boatbuilding on 'War. If you're there near sunset, and have chatted them up, the keepers will let you help with the lighting of the diesel fired lamp, a real experience.

By the time you're there, likely the Jib Room will have its Thursday PotLucks. That's almost directly across MH from the Moorings, and a great way to meet cruisers. Take the time to get to know some cruisers; you'll develop lifelong friendships if you do. Typical is sundowners (bring your own to theirs, they'll bring theirs to yours) aboard, and boat card exchanges (bring some business cards and hand-write the boat name, as it's a charter) - that way you'll have a way to remember who you met, and they, you.

If you venture outside (presuming your mono will be too deep to go inside), Green Turtle is a nice exploration, and has a fantastic museum and library (different buildings). Manjack has ex-liveaboards who go out of their way to be friendly to cruisers, including the use of their beach, windsurfers, sunfish and the like. Unfortunately, their freely shared WiFi (they maintained two amplfiers, strictly for cruisers) has become a pay repeater for one of the services there.

If you want to stay connected, Bahamas WiMax and Out Island Internet both have scads of repeaters throughout the area and work well, albeit at a price. In Marsh Harbour, if you walk to the stop light (turn right from Moorings), then turn left, the building a couple of blocks up, with what looks to be a white fronted windows with "winners play here" or some such on them, buzz yourself in and plop down at the free terminals there. It's an online gambling place but they are happy to have cruisers there using their terminals for free. Morning coffee, even!

Listen on the net for BuckABook; if it happens to be manned (usually only a few hours a day), there are literally thousands of books there for a buck each, all proceeds going to support the Wild Horses of Abaco, a pure strain of Spanish Barbs going back to Columbus' time, the most endangered horse in the world. You'll get directions to it if you want, but it's right up the street from Moorings, literally, taking the road across from Mangoes and Moorings, in an aqua shipping container.

North and West of MHH is easy sailing in nearly any conditions, as there's room to tack. South you have some convoluted trails if you're not an extremely shallow draft, but well worth the trip to go that way, too. Go to nearly the end of Lynyard and look for what looks like a camp; dinghy in and you'll see our diesel jug with our names, hanging on a tree, along with many other cruisers' memos, marking the beginning of the very short path to the ocean side, which is great beachcombing and walking, if you're into that.

In Hopetown, you can go to the Hopetown Lodge's bar and walk down to the beach from there, as well, for an entirely different beachwalk. If you're in Great Guana, you can anchor off or take a mooring in Settlement Harbour; up the hill to Nippers is a great view and more beach, but not much combing, as it's cleaned. On a calm day, bring your snorkel gear for the reef. Be sure to try the frozen Nippers, a rum punch. You'll find a similar drink at Snappers, along with all the NFL you might care to watch, which is just to the left off the government dock there, too. Pirate's Cove, at the base of the hill to Nippers, will offer free internet AND US/Canada phone to cruisers, along with a chance to play with their MinPin if you're into dogs. Tell Jerry and Chorene that Skip and Lydia said HI!! Breakfast, lunch and dinner there, along with a bar, and a small subset of BuckABook, too.

As to bareboaters, if you behave like a cruiser - that is, make it a point to integrate the community, both landside and afloat, you'll be welcomed with open arms. Dress is strictly casual, but bathing suits ashore in the communities is a no-no - but just fine at the Guana eateries, and, of course, the marinas, as they're beach or pool oriented.

Marsh Harbour is sort of our hurricane season base, so I have somewhat of a bias along with perhaps a deeper knowledge base; you'll love it. Feel free to come back with any specific sorts of questions you may have...

L8R

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Old 26-12-2010, 06:57   #7
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Old 26-12-2010, 08:28   #8
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Sibyl, google 'Barometer Bob' for Abacos info, from there take the link to cruisers net, then you can listen from home to get the 'feel' of things, Enjoy it.
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Old 26-12-2010, 08:42   #9
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Don't cross the Whale Cay cut without listening to the morning Net to see if a rage is underway. We crossed the day after a rage had rolled a boat, and had an "exciting" surfing experience, even though the "all clear" had been given.
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Old 26-12-2010, 09:13   #10
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Pay attention to your charts for reefs
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Old 26-12-2010, 09:58   #11
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Originally Posted by maxingout View Post
Have a good time and don't run aground.

LOL

What great advice!

Did you notice that Dave put first: "Have a good time".

Thats what its all about
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Old 26-12-2010, 10:22   #12
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Old 26-12-2010, 10:23   #13
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Quote:
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Sibyl, google 'Barometer Bob' for Abacos info, from there take the link to cruisers net, then you can listen from home to get the 'feel' of things, Enjoy it.
Out Island Inter.Net CrusiersNet, click the "listen live" with the appropriate time (8:15AM), delayed 1-3 minutes from live, and chose from the prior 3 days, too, on other links...

L8R

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Old 26-12-2010, 11:24   #14
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Since you've stated you want to find more out of the way places and avoid the tourist traps, I'd spend a lot of time investigating that before you leave. The Moorings chart briefings will focus on the more popular spots and the briefer may not have suggestions for more out of the way places.

They will cover topics like radio channels, where to get weather, the cruiser's net, their protocals for the Whale Cay Pass, and things like that, so don't get too worried about tracking that all down before hand.

If you wish to visit Powell and Manjack, (north of Green Turtle), you'll probably be asked to sign a form stating you realize it is out of their covered area. Personally, for me that's well worth doing.
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Old 26-12-2010, 14:57   #15
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Thanks

GreetingsL&R,
Thanks so much for taking the time to write us all of this detailed information. Very helpful and much appreciated.
Sybil
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