Spending three weeks in the Abacos was a great way to close out this cruising season in The Bahamas. We caught up with old friends on Man O War, spent time with new friends on Green Turtle Cay, paddleboarded, hiked, and enjoyed the best snorkeling so far.
On the flip side, the tide levels and the weather were significant constraints. We had a soft grounding approaching Hope Town’s harbor via the ”deep draft” route. When the rising tide freed the boat, we opted to anchor next to Parrot Cays and dinghy in to town.
From Hope Town we hopped to Man O War to spend time with our friends Gwen and Aric before they flew back to the states after spending six months in their lovely Bahamian cottage. They were our “marina neighbors” at Herrington Harbour North and it was delightful to spend time with them on the island.
Allan and I walked Man O War end to end over the course of a couple of days, not hard to do given its diminutive size. Having a couple of breakfasts at the island’s small cafe with Gwen and Aric was another treat, as was perusing the small museum attached to the cafe.
Overall, our Abacos itinerary was driven by finding protected anchorages given the frequent high-intensity thunderstorms rolling through the islands. We clocked a 61.9 knot gust and sustained winds of 50 knots at anchor during one early morning storm on Man O War. The wind clocked around from east to west, and several boats dragged around ”The Low Place,” or Old Scopley’s Rock anchorage, as lightning flashed in the dark and waves rolled in from the west.
After Man O War, we spent one night anchored at Great Guana Cay before moving on to Green Turtle Cay. Another front was about to roll through and we reserved a mooring ball for a week at Donny’s Marina in Black Sound—timing our entrance with the high tide.
Donny was a warm and welcoming host, organizing an ice cream expedition for cruisers, affectionately called ”Donny’s dock flock.” The ice cream was so good that we returned the next night, and would have gone back again except the store was only open a few nights a week.
From Green Turtle we hopped to Manjack Cay, where we spent a couple of chill days.
Manjack Cay has a large, protected anchorage with great mangrove paddleboarding, a cool art trail, and pretty good snorkeling, too.
Our next stop was Allans Pensacola Cay, where the snorkeling blew our minds and led us to stay an extra day. We drift snorkeled with the dinghy along the rocks at the west side of the anchorage, enthralled by large sea turtles, schools of large angel and butterfly fish, yellowtail snapper, Nassau grouper, a huge manta ray, and many others.
A large and fast-moving bull shark that had us quickly scampering out of the water and into the dinghy capped our aquatic adventure.
Our final stops were a night at Great Sale Cay and Grand Cay. We’d intended to head back to St. Augustine from Great Sale but altered course to Grand after learning from Katy and Joe that it shortened the trip time by a few hours, which translated into a 6 a.m. departure instead of our initial 3 a.m. blast off.
We made it home to St. Augustine in 34 1/2 hours, motorsailing all but three hours of the way. The highlight of the trip was Allan’s snagging a beautiful 4-foot mahi mahi, a fitting cap to the season.
Now, it’s time to get Vinyasa squared away until hurricane season is behind us. She needs a fresh coat of bottom paint, a nice deep clean inside and out, plus a sundry list of small repairs. We intend to explore the Caribbean next winter, so more about that next time!