My wife, Kathleen O’Dea, and I just returned from an outstanding bareboat charter in the Bahamas. Along with Tradewinds Club members Marcus Libkind and Steve Rathfon, we spent a week on a Mooring’s Beneteau 42 foot monohull. Brandy secured the reservation with Moorings for us, providing a nice discount.
The trip couldn’t have been sweeter. There were no sailing challenges we hadn’t covered in all our collective Tradewinds classes. Sailing in the Abacos, the “Outer Islands” of the Bahamas –a notoriously shallow sea area–we had no trouble navigating with a five foot draft. While armed with paper charts, hand held GPS and a chart plotter (which didn’t fully work until the 3rd day), we still relied almost solely on our Ipad applications, INavx, Navionics and Garmin BlueChart. Marcus was our primary navigator. The cruising guide by Steve Dodge, Guide to the Abaco, provided precise course bearings and a wealth of tips for the cruiser.
Starting from Marsh Harbor we sailed to such exotic sounding places as Green Turtle Cay, Elbow Cay, Great Guana Cay, and Hope Town. Snorkeling at various points was the best we’d seen anywhere in the world. Clear, blue-green waters allow you to see your anchor dug in and the occasional turtle swimming by.
We had one day of consistent 35 knot winds with gusts of 44 knots. But with shallow seas surrounded by reefs and very little fetch, it felt no more challenging than a 20 knot day on SF Bay. After the morning cruiser’s net weather briefing advised sailors to stay put, we were out on our best day of sailing!
There are surely many other fine places to sail in the world, but the proximity of the Abacos, the cost, the sailing conditions, snorkeling, the beautiful little harbor towns and the Bahamian people, place this area at the top of the list for me.