On Friday the weather had calmed down and we saw a good opportunity to go through the Whale on Saturday, so we said goodbye to our hidey hole for a welcome change of scenery.
The plan was to anchor at No Name Cay for the day and night, but as we approached I looked over and was entranced by the beach on the southern end of Green Turtle Cay near Gilliam Bay. Jeff asked if I wanted to go there instead, but I said that we had already decided on No Name so we stayed the course. I couldn’t stop looking over at the other beach though, which really did look much nicer, so we made a U turn and anchored by the prettier beach instead.
We had the anchorage all to ourselves, and it was lovely.
We enjoyed a nice walk over to the Atlantic Ocean side, spying bits of coral in the sand and looking at the starfish in the water. We even saw a sand dollar. I picked it up and one small bug came crawling out. Then two, then three, and within seconds a bunch emerged so I dropped it back in the water with a squeal. As we walked along the beach we joked that the first bug was the lookout who sounded the alarm to summon the troops when he saw the human holding their home. Their defensive strategy worked. We definitely weren’t going to keep that one!
As we walked in the other direction we found a great flat area that had been almost dry at low tide. The tide was starting to come in, and it was hypnotic. I could have watched it for hours.
After a quiet night at anchor we went through the Whale with no issues at all – yes! We had 2-3’ swells on the beam approximately 6-8 seconds apart which was easy-peasy. It was obvious how it could get pretty snotty if you didn’t wait for the right conditions, and we were glad we had been patient.
Entering the Sea of Abaco again, it was clear that this was a busier part of the Abacos. We saw more boats on the water than we had seen the previous 12 days farther north, and we enjoyed looking at the new scenery. Originally we were going to head to Treasure Cay for a few days, but we didn’t feel like beating into the wind for 12 nm so we changed our minds and went to Marsh Harbor.
Marsh Harbor is the third largest town in the Bahamas with 6,000 people. It has a very large anchorage with good holding, with its only drawback being that swimming in the water isn’t recommended. Picture many boats anchored in a harbor with no pump out boat. Enough said.
It’s an excellent place to stock up on provisions with several large hardware stores and grocery stores. We ended up walking to Maxwell’s, an American-sized supermarket only 15 minutes from the dinghy dock. Prices on goods varied from comparable to the U.S. to substantially more expensive. We picked up a few items including fresh produce and burgers to grill for the night. It was a good stop and we made a mental note to come to Marsh Harbor again if we needed provisions in the Abacos.
On Monday we raised the anchor with Hope Town as our destination. We had heard great things about Hope Town, and our Shenny friends Dan and Marcia from s/v Cutting Class have spent the last six winters there so we were looking forward to seeing what it was all about.
Hope Town’s inner harbor is filled with moorings so we found a spot at the anchorage right outside, texted Dan and Marcia to let them know we had arrived, and dinghied over to their boat. It was great to see them, and they gave us some excellent tips on things to see in the Abacos before giving us a tour of Hope Town.
What a great place! Hope Town had a nice feel to it, and we can see why Dan and Marcia enjoy it so much. It was incredibly cute, everyone was nice, and there was a surprisingly large number of things to do for such a small town. There were amazing beaches, a lap pool that you can use for a nominal fee, pools at marinas you can hang out in even if you’re not staying there, and pickle ball twice a week. The Cruisers Net on VHF 68 had a lengthy list of upcoming events, and we jotted down several that were of interest if we are still in the area.
The Atlantic side beaches reminded us of Bermuda.
Hope Town also has several well stocked grocery stores, including Vernon’s (who makes delicious fresh baked breads and pies), shops to poke around in, and reverse osmosis water at the marina for 35 cents/gallon which we took advantage of to fill our tanks. Honestly, we loved it there and we were finding it difficult to tear ourselves away. It was easy to see how you could base yourself there for the entire winter as Dan and Marcia do.
Leave we must, however. We had heard on the Cruisers Net that Marsh Harbor was having a Junkanoo that weekend. We definitely wanted to see that, so after four nights it was time to reluctantly say goodbye to Hope Town for now – but not before going to the flea market! We picked up two DVD’s and three books for $5. We will absolutely come back. After all, we still need to go see the lighthouse!
Excellent turn out at the flea market; Bahamian mac and cheese – yum!
Next stop: Marsh Harbor again – this time for the Junkanoo!