“I’d rather die while I’m living, than live while I’m dead.”
I hesitate to share this article. Why? Well it’s simple: I don’t mind you reading my thoughts about the Abacos, I just don’t want you to cruise here. The reason is obvious… there are already too many damn, middle aged, bearded cruisers here in paradise, and we don’t need you!
I had to wait five minutes for a conch salad at Sandy Point last week, because some other bearded, middle aged, dropout yachtie had ordered one right before me. I had to fish for an entire hour off Elbow Cay before I caught a 48” wahoo, because some guy, who actually knows how to fish, caught all the dumb fish who don’t know a lure from bait fish. Even worse, I had to stand in line for a perfect steak at the Jib Room in Marsh Harbor last night. The coup d’gras was another yacht anchored no more than 200 yards off Lynyard Cay last Friday. The nerve of these people, coming to the Abacos to cruise while I am here! Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a kind, gentle, generous and humble soul, who is more than willing to share the Abacos; just don’t cruise here while I’m here!
If that is agreed upon, feel free to keep reading. If not, then please pick up a cruising guide to Newark, New Jersey, and read that instead. Now back to the Abacos.
To start, the Abacos are about 100 miles of clear water that is generally 8’ to 15’ deep. Your Garmin chartplotter, Explorer Charts, and Steve Dodge’s Cruising Guide are accurate and have all the information you need — aside from my brilliant, yet humble, comments below.
After crossing the Gulf Stream in moderate winds out of anything but the northern quadrants and proceeding along the northern edge of the Little Bahamas Bank, one comes to the Abacos. I divide the Abacos into two parts. The North Abacos are the Cays above Whale Cay Passage and the South Abacos are below Whale Cay. A quick tip from “Uncle Joe”: don’t go through Whale Cay Passage during a ‘Rage’! I learned this the hard way, and believe me, you will only do it once!
Joe's Abacos Fab Five
#1 Regarding the North Abacos, the must do anchorages are Powell and Manjack Cays.
The waters are clear and the beaches pristine. The small anchorage on the north end of Manjack is our favorite, when the winds are out of the south or east.
You can read about Mud Puddle Rose discovering Manjack Cay here.
#2 Once you have gotten your fill of the Robinson Caruso & Gilligan’s Island lifestyle, head south about 5 miles to Green Turtle Cay. Pull into White Sound and tie up at the Bluff House, anchor, or moor in the harbor. The Green Turtle Club is another fine option.
Sipping a ‘Tranquil Turtle’ at the Bluff House bar is a must.
The next day, rent a golf cart at noon for 24 hours, so you can return for provisions the next morning, and drive down to the New Plymouth Settlement. You can’t go wrong at any of the quaint restaurants, cafes, and shops. Note to the women: a great jewelry store is on the left as you enter New Plymouth and drive clockwise around the one way main street. Don’t forget to visit the famous Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar for the original ‘Goombay Smash’.
If you are driving the golf cart, have only one; if you are a passenger sitting in the cart, you can have two. You will see many people passed out alongside the road on the way back to the Bluff House who dared to have three!
#3 When you can confirm that Whale Cay Passage is calm, head down to the ‘Hub of the Abacos’. The first cay is Great Guana. Anchor in Baker’s Bay on the north end of the cay, where there is a spoil island for shelling to the west of the anchorage, and take the dinghy around the north end of Guana to the mooring for spectacular snorkeling.
Ignore the big homes being built on Baker’s Bay and gaze at the Milky Way at night. The famous Nipper’s Bar is up the hill from the Settlement, further down Guana, and if the ‘Barefoot Man’ is singing there, then enjoy the concert!
#4 Next on the list is tying up at our all time favorite marina, The Marsh Harbor Marina. Owners, Tom, Linda [aka Boo], and son, Stephen are terrific; and Jason, the Dockmaster, could not be nicer.
You MUST sign up for the Saturday Nite Steaks at their Jib Room. A full dinner for under $30, with the best steak I have ever had, must not be missed.
This is the best place to fill up with fuel and water, plus get provisions. Take a short taxi ride to Maxwell’s, which is larger than Publix or Kroger’s in the states, on Thursday for fresh produce.
From Marsh Harbor you can take a dinghy, on a calm day, to Hopetown to visit the Lighthouse [don ’t forget your camera] and Man O’ War to get hand sewn canvas bags at Albury’s Canvas Shop. Albury’s Ferry, marinas, moorings and anchorages provide a variety of ways to enjoy these cays in the ‘Hub of the Abacos’.
#5 Last but perhaps the best, we head south past Lubber’s Quarters and anchor at Baker’s Rock for Tahiti Beach;
Sandy Cay for super snorkeling at the dinghy moorings; and Little Harbor moorings for Pete’s Pub and the Bronze Castings Gallery. Lynyard Cay is our favorite anchorage in this area. The “Blaster” at Pete’s Pub, served by Carol, is not to be missed. The 8’ triangular bar under a Tiki Hut on a sand beach with a ‘blaster’ in hand and a fish sandwich makes this our favorite bar. Pete Johnston’s Bronze Gallery is inspiring to say the least.
Upon departure, head out North Bar Channel and troll up to North Man O’ War Channel on a calm day. Catch a Wahoo or Mahi; but remember you need to leave, because Mud Puddle Rose is arriving soon. As Ferris Beuller said at the end of his movie, “Go away!” Better yet, be cautious and rational … wait another 15 years … then I’ll be too old to give a damn … until then, “Carol, pour me another Blaster.”