“When I sit on the sea shore and listen to the waves beating on the sand, I feel free from any obligation, and I think that all people of the world can change their constitutions without me.”
—Henry David Thoreau
Many cruisers have asked that we provide a separate blog on dinghies and going ashore. So here it is! Whether it is to re-provison, visit a bar & restaurant, join other cruisers anchored for cocktails, or just explore an island, the ability to get ashore without trauma is vital in the Bahamas. Anchoring out is an inexpensive way to enjoy the Bahamas, and a dinghy is essential. I will just hit on what we take for our dinghy.
We use a small Danforth style anchor with about 25’ of line to secure our dinghy on the beach, as well as to hold the stern off many docks as we go ashore. We’d strongly suggest getting the $20 slip-on water shoes at West Marine for walking over limestone, which is prevalent on many of the islands. The clear bottomed view buckets, snorkels, masks and comfortable fins allows us to maximize our enjoyment of the crystal clear Bahamian waters. If you are “mature”, then a ladder to get from the water into the dinghy is helpful [needed at Thunderball Grotto in the Exumas.] We have included the pictures, so you can see these items. Don’t forget extra outboard motor oil, spark plugs and a spare fuel tank. We spent several weeks in the Berrys, and I ran low on gas for my dinghy. The fuel I bought off a local was at an insanely high price.
A spare fuel tank is much less expensive! It’s easy to store on the stern if you anticipate the possibility of being away from a fuel dock for awhile as you cruise.
Should you be purchasing a dinghy, get one that has enough horsepower to get up on a plane if possible. Sometimes the distance will make it too long of a trip if your dinghy is slow. Since we spend a lot of time in our dinghy, a St. Croix helm [see top picture] with back rest seats makes the trip luxurious for us! Our engine has both electric start and a pull cord should our battery die. If you are in the St. Pete area, Brad at Suncoast Inflatables is terrific. We have a 10’4” Achilles with 20 hp Tohatsu engine and St. Croix helm. We love it.
You may want to get a small Olympus camera that is good to 10’ underwater, which is fun. We paid about $240 for it five years ago and it still works great. A camera that is not at least water resistant in the Bahamas is a risk!
Finally, always have a good handheld VHF radio to take in case of an emergency. These are the things we have found that make our island and anchor out experiences most comfortable. We hope some of these ideas will be helpful for you, as well. If your dog retrieves balls, then bring plenty of tennis balls!
Enjoy the adventure!