Our Itinerary and Experience
Left DC early in the morning and had a layover in the Orlando airport… Arrived in Marsh Harbor around 1330 and asked the taxi driver to stop at the grocery store and were happy with the wide selection of provisions (over an hour later we were finally ready to head to the liquor store). The power was out at the liquor store and we had groceries in the back of the taxi so we quickly grabbed a few bottles of wine and a case of Kalik. Chris was encouraged by our taxi driver to try a beer so he grabbed one for the road and I was not a huge fan so on to the next liquor store for a case of Sands for me… We arrived at the boat and were greeted by Angie from Cruise Abacos who helped us unload our luggage and provisions onto the boat and we all agreed to meet back up at 0900 for our check out. Next stop the Abacos Beach Bar for our first vacation libation (I ordered a goombay smash and Chris had a rum punch). Shortly thereafter we headed down the road to Snappas for our first taste of Bahamian food and my love affair with conch began! We had conch fritters to start and I tried the special minced fish (amazing grouper chopped up with peppers, onions and a spicy sauce), while Chris had a grouper sandwich.
We completed our overview of the boat with Angie and took Lil’ Anna (Mahe FP) out for a spin and before we knew it we had dropped Angie off at the fuel dock and were headed for Tahiti Beach. The water was amazing and I couldn’t stop looking for starfish and conch. Captain Chris manned the boat while I prepped a ploughman’s lunch. After spending the afternoon at Tahiti Beach we decided to head further South for the evening to Tiloo Cay where we anchored for the night and shared a bottle of prosecco while watching the sunset and prepping some lobster tails for dinner along with corn to throw on the grill.
The voyage to Little Harbor began shortly after the cruiser’s net morning report wrapped up, as I was anxious to have time to stop and snorkel at Sandy Cay along the way. There were a few rollers in the cut near Sandy Cay and I was feeling slightly nauseous so we quickly hopped in the dingy and headed around the corner to snorkel. The sea life was fantastic (especially the coral); however, I kept having water pour in the top of my mask and after multiple attempts to fix my mask Chris was done dealing with the drama and back to the boat we went. We continued our journey down to Little Harbor and the much anticipated Pete’s Pub. This was our favorite stop during our trip, from the sand floor of the bar to the infamous Blaster’s (and let me tell you I was completely blasted after just one Blaster)! We decided to share some coconut cracked conch for a snack and then headed over to the beach on the Atlantic side to take in the view. Since we had a mooring for the night and knew we had plenty of time to explore we hiked up to an old lighthouse and spent some time exploring the island on foot and checking out the sculptures. Of course we worked up a sweat and decided that this called for another Blaster before heading back to the boat. The highlight of our stay was paddle boarding and having five dolphins frolic with us for half an hour while we paddled around the bay. There were also lots of logger-head turtles poking up to stay hello. We decided to have a lazy evening on the boat and made some scallops, pineapple and sweet pepper skewers on the grill.
We woke up in the morning and decided to explore the caves in the area by paddleboard and ran across a few sting rays as we paddled into Pete’s Pub for Chris to have a breakfast Blaster, only the bartender said it was too early and they would open at 1100 (le sigh). Back to the boat to head for Sandy Cay and hopefully some better snorkeling. The weather conditions were better and Chris decided I should practice my skills behind the wheel while he dropped anchor. I was convinced that we were dragging so we reset the anchor for a second time this time with Chris behind the wheel. The second attempt at snorkeling was much like the same and I had mask malfunctions so it was short-lived and we headed back to Tahiti Beach for an hour before continuing down to anchor off Elbow Cay outside of Fire Fly for dinner. The food was incredible! We started with some fresh conch salad (chopped up conch with lime juice) and lobster wrapped in bacon, followed by our entrees of stone crab ravioli and fresh grouper for Chris. We shared a bottle of wine and watched the sunset, but our romantic evening was soon interrupted by a group of severely intoxicated 50 y/o women who were screaming and shushing each other all at the same time. We had two nice couples at the table next to ours who took a few pictures of us and as we were returning the favor and taking photos of them the intoxicated ladies started throwing drinks off the balcony in their direction (at this point one of their husbands showed up to save the day and paid their tab and dragged them out of the bar). Our sailing instructor told us you can either be the show or you can watch the show. I was glad to be the ones watching the show!
Off to Hope Town with plans to stay for a few hours and then head further up the island chain, but after a few hours we still had so many places left to explore and loved the island so much we decided to stay for the night and secured a mooring from Lucky Strike. We met the owner of Jilly Q (David) who was on a nearby mooring and a wealth of knowledge about the area. We ate at Cap N’ Jacks for lunch and tried the specialty of the house the “Jack Hammer” which may have been our favorite drink throughout our trip. We spent time checking out the shops, popped over to the beach for an hour and of course I couldn’t leave the island without some of Vernon’s Key Lime Pie and Coconut Bread. Later that afternoon we went to the Hope Town lighthouse on the opposite shore (only one of two kerosene lighthouses left in the world) and managed to climb all 101 stairs to the top to check out the view of the harbor and watch a storm start to roll in. The raindrops started just as we arrived back on Lil’ Anna so we stored all of our cushions and I soon discovered who the real cruisers were as they all ran out to scrub their decks while we watched from indoors warm and dry. That evening we went into town for dinner at Harbor’s Edge and Chris had a lobster tail, while I had the lobster pad thai (both excellent) oh and of course some conch chowder to start (I don’t think a meal for me would be complete without some form of conch). The drinks with dinner were meh, but we decided to head back to Cap N’ Jacks for a nightcap and one more Jack Hammer before calling it a night. We were already in bed when the band started playing at 9pm, tired from our day of adventure and exploration.
After much angst on my part about the weather forecast of 15-25 knots and 100% chance of rain Chris convinced me we would be fine and we left the safety of Hope Town for Great Guana Cay. It turned out to be a great day of sailing with a reach and speeds up to 7.5 knots. The party started at Nippers where we imbibed in the famous cocktail before heading to Grabbers where we of course tried the Grabber (not our favorite drink). We shared some fresh poke and of course what meal would be complete without an order of fresh conch with a sweet/spicy sauce and a tamarind jerk sauce. Just as we were debating whether to head back over to the other side of the island for another Nipper or back to the boat for a nap we were offered a ride on the Nipper Mobile which decided things for us… We ran into some fellow cruisers on a Helia 44 named Blues Traveller and spent some time socializing and a few more Nippers were consumed. (Check out the picture of Chris after two Nippers and then see what happens after you have FOUR)! Our boat neighbors (four couples) invited us over for dinner and we had lots of fun enjoy the company of fellow cruisers. Of note, I also learned what the term “Boat Bites” meant today after noticing several unexplained bruises and thinking I may have broke my toe on the netting while trying to catch a mooring. The anchorage was a little rolly and less protected than we expected, but sheer exhaustion kicked in and we snuggled in for the night.
We started off bright and early to Treasure Cay with our archenemy (The Hangover). The sail over was a broad reach and we were able to catch about 6 to 6.5 knots. We caught a mooring ball and headed to Coco’s restaurant on the beach. Can anyone guess what I had for lunch? Wait for it… A conch burger! We were pretty sure the drinks were made with dingy fuel instead of rum and we left them untouched. The beach is one of the top 10 in the world and didn’t disappoint, unfortunately the wind was kicking and after finding ourselves being coated in sand from head to toe we decided to head to the pool where we fell asleep in the sun (oops). Good thing we had applied plenty of sunscreen that morning. We had a low-key dinner on board of burgers and spent the evening reading in the cockpit as the winds were blowing close to 20 knots.
Today was our last full day on the boat and we decided to head to Man O’ War Cay, which I cannot say enough great things about this island. The people were some of the friendliest I have ever met in my travels, outside of Minnesota of course J We stopped in to a small restaurant (Hibiscus Café) 15 minutes before they were scheduled to close and were welcomed with open arms. We ordered a conch sandwich to share and some appetizers. After about 20 minutes the chef came out and apologized for the delay, he let us know that he had run out of conch so he went home to grab some from his house. After lunch we wandered into the shops and spent some time watching women sewing bags and other products out of old sails at Albury’s and then I stopped into a cute shop and found a dress that I was not sure would fit. The owner offered to take me to her house to try it on… I loved the hospitality and how genuine everyone we encountered on the island was during our visit. My only disappoint was hearing that Lola was no longer making her infamous cinnamon rolls. We spent the night in a very quiet anchorage and enjoyed some shrimp tacos for dinner after exploring the area on our paddle boards. The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and reminiscing about our vacation and planning our next adventure as we watched the sunset.