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Quaint Harbours , Windswept Beaches and a Shallow Sea

Posted by on March 13, 2015

The Sea of Abaco is defined by a series of cays that create a protected waterway roughly 5 miles wide and about 100 miles long. The outer cays shelter the inner waters from the winds and often rough seas of the Atlantic. The Sea is mostly shallow (5-15’ deep), with warm, clear water and a sandy bottom. Spread around this area is a series of well protected harbours.  Those we visited include White Sound (Green Turtle Cay), Marsh Harbour (Great Abaco Island), Settlement Harbour (Great Guana Cay), Little Harbour (Great Abaco Island) and Hope Town (Elbow Cay). Each place has its own character, from the bustle of Marsh Harbour to the upscale vibe of Hope Town and the ‘back in time’ feel of Little Harbour.

Most of our visit has been spent in these harbours on mooring balls or at very nice marinas. Usually they have resort amenities and an active social scene among the cruisers there. Often we joined the crowd for ‘sundowners’ on the dock, to swap stories, share a barbeque dinner, and watch the beautiful sunsets.  Many of the locations also have a well-known local watering hole where we spent some time (notice a theme here?), such as Nippers (Great Guana) and Pete’s Pub (Little Harbour).

After the relatively cool temperatures we experienced in early February the weather became more seasonal, with highs reaching the mid to upper 20’s and with gentler trade winds from the east. We enjoyed walking Great Guana’s 5 mile long beach, one of the most impressive we have visited in the Caribbean. It was even calm enough to snorkel the barrier reef there. Another highlight was our visit to the peppermint-striped Hope Town lighthouse. Built in 1838, the 120 foot tall structure is the world’s last operating kerosene-fueled beacon. When it was built, then residents feared it would end their profitable wrecking practice.

After 5 very enjoyable weeks in the Bahamas it was time to return to Florida to continue our explorations there.The Captain had been monitoring the weather forecasts closely, watching for the right opportunity to make the Gulf Stream crossing from Grand Bahama’s West End to Lake Worth (Palm Beach). Calmer days are infrequent at this time of year, so when March 6th looked promising we made a long day’s run (118 miles) across Little Bahama Bank from Green Turtle Cay to the West End. Although it was quite choppy on the Bank, we were able to achieve a 14 knot cruising speed for most of the way, and made the trip in 8 hours. Fortunately the next day’s weather forecast held, and the Gulf Stream crossing was relatively smooth.

The following pictures cover the remainder of our time in the Abacos up to our arrival at Lake Worth.

Our Marsh Harbour marina - office, captain's lounge and pool on the left, with Snappa's bar & grill on the right.

Our Marsh Harbour marina – office, captain’s lounge and pool on the left,  Snappa’s bar & grill on the right.

Competing for dinner - these small herons like to come by in the evening to bob for the small fish; the large one in the background .....

Competing for dinner – these small herons like to come by in the evening to bob for the small fish; the large one in the background …..

.....is a 20+ pound Tarpon,  also attracted by the feeding opportunities; the underwater lighting was provided by the large sportfisher moored next door to us.

…..is a 20+ pound Tarpon, also attracted by the feeding opportunities; the underwater lighting was provided by the large sportfisher moored next door to us.

On the way to Great Guana Cay, which is only  about 10 miles from Marsh Harbour; rough seas are evident outside the little cut here.

On the way to Great Guana Cay, which is only about 10 miles from Marsh Harbour; rough seas are evident outside the little cut here.

The broad expanse of beach at Great Guana Cay, which goes on for miles, with only a few seaside houses along the way

The broad expanse of beach at Great Guana Cay, which goes on for miles, with only a few seaside houses along the way.

Pastel colours are common in the Bahamas; at Nippers, which overlooks the Atlantic beach, they went a little wild (in keeping with its reputation).

Pastel colours are common in the Bahamas; at Nippers, which overlooks the Atlantic beach, they went a little wild (in keeping with its reputation).

In contrast, the more sophisticated ambiance of Orchid Bay Marina; they host $10 ribs night on Wednesdays, and the restaurant was hopping.

In contrast, the ambiance of Orchid Bay Marina is more sophisticated; they host $10 ribs night on Wednesdays, and the restaurant was hopping.

Another view of Great Guana's Atlantic shore.

Another view of Great Guana’s Atlantic shore.

While exploring Great Guana on our bicycles we discovered the 'Dream Tree'....

While exploring Great Guana on our bicycles we discovered the ‘Dream Tree’….

....to which we added our own contribution; we luckily happened to find the old float on one of our beach explorations.

….to which we added our own contribution; we were lucky to find this robust old float on one of our beach explorations.

Our next stop was Little Harbour.....

Our next stop was Little Harbour…..

Where we were proptly invited to a beachside cocktail hour by the local rsidents.

…..where we were promptly invited to a beachside cocktail hour by the local residents.

The famous Pete's Pub; it is owned by the son of a Canadian-born artist who is well known for his bronze sculptures produced in the foundry he established here in the 1950's.

The famous Pete’s Pub; it is owned by the son of a Canadian-born artist who settled here in the early 1950’s; his bronze sculptures, still produced in the foundry he created from scratch when this was a very remote place, can be found throughout the Bahamas and in many private collections around the world.

While in Little Harbour we explored the blue holes which dot the mangroves of nearby Old Robinson's Bight; blue holes, famous with cave divers, are underwater cave systems that are connected with the open ocean; this one was 6 miles 'inland' from the Atlantic.

While in Little Harbour we explored the blue holes which dot the mangroves of nearby Old Robinson’s Bight; blue holes, famous with cave divers, are underwater cave systems that are connected with the open ocean; this one was over 6 miles ‘inland’ from the Atlantic.

 

Hope Town lighthouse overlooks the picturesque harbour and village that is its namesake.

Hope Town lighthouse overlooks the picturesque harbour and village that is its namesake.

These are the pressurized kerosene tanks that provide fuel....

These are the kerosene tanks…..

.....which provide pressurized fuel to this amazingly small wick; thanks to the power of the fresnel lenses, the light can be seen from as far away as 20 miles.

…..that provide pressurized fuel to this amazingly small wick; thanks to the power of the fresnel lenses, the light can be seen from as far away as 23 miles.

There were many great views from the top; behind us is Hope Town harbour, and in the right foreground is the very nice resort where we stayed.

There were many great views from the top; behind us is Hope Town harbour, and in the right foreground is the very nice resort where we stayed.

....which has a large pool, nice open-air restaurant....

Hope Town Inn & Marina has a large pool, nice open-air restaurant….

.....and beautiful grounds.

…..and beautiful grounds.

Enjoying good times with fellow cruisers at 'On Da Beach' - Sue, Carey, Phil and Joe.

Enjoying good times with fellow cruisers at ‘On Da Beach’ – Sue, Carey, Phil and Joe.

Scooting by the more sedate yachts making the early morning crossing from the West End of Grand Bahama across the Gulf Stream to Florida.

Scooting by the more sedate yachts that were making the early morning crossing from the West End of Grand Bahama across the Gulf Stream to Florida.

Our next post will include the Florida ICW all the way to Key West, and hopefully the Dry Tortugas.

2 Responses to Quaint Harbours , Windswept Beaches and a Shallow Sea

  1. Michael

    We have a PDQ also and are in the process of doing our Bimini over. What color did you guys go with?

    • john-and-ria

      Hi Michael,

      Our bimini colour is sand, very similar to the shade we chose for the canvas covering our aft deck and bbq. Our exterior seat covers are cream, and the boot stripe accent colours are forest green and gold.

      Cheers,

      John

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