Position: 22:21.00N 73:00.50W
Date: Wednesday 23rd April 2014
We left Providenciales at around 06:20 on Monday morning under cloudy skies and with light headwinds. We managed to make reasonable speed for the first couple of hours but it was clear that if we were to arrive at our destination at a time of day when there was still sufficient light to be able to see the coral heads that the pilot book indicated littered the entrance to the anchorage, then we would have to travel faster. The only way to do this was to use turn on the engine and motor. During the day the clouds thickened and for a couple of hours we were treated to heavy rain and associated wind squalls. Fortunately, by the time we reached the entrance to Abraham’s Bay the rain had stopped and some of the cloud had gone allowing us to see our way in.
Abraham’s Bay is large, about five miles long and a couple of miles wide. The island of Mayaguana determines its northern and eastern limits and a coral barrier reef defines its southern and western boundaries. The main entrance is at the western end of the bay where the abyssal ocean depths reduce rapidly to just a few meters and then gradually shelve from around 4 metres at the entrance to a couple of metres some five miles further east of that point. Inside the barrier reef all is brilliant clear turquoise waters over a sandy bottom but with a number of randomly distributed coral heads showing black through the water.
We travelled very slowly all of the way into the bay, with Eileen on the bow looking for coral heads and me at the helm driving the boat around the obstacles in our path and constantly checking depth readings. After about 40 minutes we had gone as far into the bay as our keel depth would allow and we dropped the anchor in quite idyllic surroundings.
The next day (Tuesday) we used the dinghy to go ashore to the small community of Abraham’s Bay where there was a customs office where we could check into the country. The cruising permit was expensive at $300. However at least one of the staff who issued the permits was also operating a nice little scam on the side. After we had filled in all of the forms, but before the permit had been issued, the woman behind the glass barrier at the customs office left her station and came around to my side of the partition. She then put into my hand a very scrappy piece of paper torn from a school notebook upon which were written in biro a number of boat names. She told me that she was collecting money for a school trip to Atlanta, and that all of the other boats that had checked in had made a donation; would I care to join them? It was staggeringly unprofessional. I made a small ‘donation’ which as far as I could see went straight in to her purse. I hope it eventually made its way to the school kids, but I suspect that his is unlikely.
We then took a walk around the small town which was, well, rather small. There was very little there to see. In a few minutes we had seen just about all that there was to see, so stopped for a drink in the only bar we could find and then walked back to the dinghy. By now the wind had picked up and we had a very wet trip back to the boat, motoring about a mile and a half into a stiff breeze with waves continually splashing into the dinghy.
A view from the eastern end of Abraham’s bay looking west over the shallow water.
The main road into town.
The centre of the town of Abraaham’s Bay
The water in the bay was exceptionally clear