Marsh Harbour, The Abacos

Tue 24 May 2011 17:33
Once the thunderstorms had cleared, we sailed into the Abacos Sea though the Man of War cut.  A further hour’s sail to Marsh Harbour where depths were shallow, but we managed to anchor with 0.3m under the keel, with a further 2.5 hours before low water.   With Chart Datum at 2.0m and Nimue drawing 2.1m  we were ‘winging’ it slightly and knew we would touch the seabed at low water.  However, we hadn’t counted on the spring tides with a minus range and at low water we were sitting firmly in the mud, whilst everyone around us was swinging nicely!  Later we moved to find slightly deeper water in time for the next low water!
Otherwise, it was a safe anchorage and on a trip ashore we saw our first sign of civilisation for weeks. Even a trip into the local hardware ‘come everything’ store was a real luxury and Chris and I were picking things up like ‘kids in a sweetie’ shop.
Marsh Harbour was a great place and we managed to find everything we needed to re-supply the boats.


Nimue anchored in Marsh Harbour


One of the nicely decorated fuel docks

Crunch time, we were now in an official port of entry and anchored right outside the customs office!  As we were intending to stay for a week, Chris and I convinced the boys that we really should ‘check in’ to avoid having any issues with Customs.  We did manage to clear through immigration on foot,  but had to move the boats to a typical dilapidated working dock to clear through Customs. We were met by some friendly Customs officials and Chris and I followed one of them into one of the store sheds with an office the corner.  After a multitude of paperwork, the big question  “ now you need to give me U$300 in cash”.  Our response was that we were only passing through and surely this was an excessive amount to pay for a few weeks in The Bahamas.  After a few words about how unfair this was, we still ended up having to pay, but at least we have a license until May 2012, so we may come back!


Nimue & Scott Free outside the Customs Dock (above & below)


The daily cruisers VHF ‘net’ was a bit of a farce in terms of previous ‘nets’ we had experienced throughout the Caribbean, as it was mainly used for advertising bars and restaurants  Anyway we did fancy a day trip to Nippers Bar & Grill on Great Guana Cay to have a taste of American tourism.   An hour’s trip on Albury’s ferry and we landed in a very pretty holiday resort. A short walk across the island to Nippers located in a lovely position over the Atlantic.  Wow, what a place and experience; this was the place to go to see and to be seen.  We booked for the recommended Sunday Pig Roast buffet (massive) and just enjoyed people watching.   When it got too hot, we wandered down to the beach and swam out to a recommended reef to snorkel, where Michael bumped into a lovely baby turtle.


Dock at Great Guana Cay


Came across the decorated tractor en route to Nippers


Colourful ‘Nippers’


Found a good spot to have lunch (Michael and Chris)


Pig roast buffet


Michael (top left) and Steve snorkelling


Nippers in full swing!


As our R&R drew to a close we were weather watching for our trip north to the USA.  We did in fact use the services of Chris Parker (meteorologist) to confirm the weather window, but also to give us advice as to the best place to cross the Gulf Stream to North Carolina. 
Michael and I were always looking to see other cruisers dinghies, as Merlin (our dinghy) as previously mentioned was ‘not up to the job’.   We saw a dinghy we rather liked, so knocked on the side of a recently arrived American flagged yacht.  Out sprang Kenny, who couldn’t have been more friendly.  We of course got into deep conversation about where we had come from and where we were going and he seemed rather interested in cruising with us to the USA , but was waiting for Sarah, his friend to arrive. 
Comfortably armed with a good 5 day forecast and details of the Gulf Stream crossing, we set off for the 500nm journey to Beaufort North Carolina with Scott Free and followed by Kenny and Sarah on Loon (named after an North American Bird)!


Leaving The Abacos through the Man of War cut


Michael deploying the towed generator for the journey to the USA!