Let me introduce you to the Abacos, Bahamas
So you may be familiar by now with our “love” for crowded events in Florida… Well, this is with no surprise that we decided to go on a short escape for the 4th of July! This was a very wise decision and an awesome adventure…
For 3 of us, the Bahamas is a second home but it was my first time in the Abacos and I can tell you that the stories I heard and pictures I saw did not give it justice; this place is truly magical and so diverse, it never ceases to impress you!
The journey started on July 1, when we left North Perry in our Cessna 172 with a flight plan including a fuel stop and check-in to the Bahamas in Freeport, Grand Bahama and final stop in Marsh Harbour, Abacos. Everything went according to plan, weather was beautiful and the shallow waters on the leg between Freeport and Marsh Harbour were truly stunning!
Arrival in Marsh Harbour was very smooth too; we got a taxi right outside the airport and headed straight for the supermarket to provision for the boat. This is a very challenging exercise for a French person to buy a piece of swiss cheese (most commonly used cheese in France) for about 6 times the price it costs in Europe… The struggle was real but we still managed to fill up the cart with all the right stuff (including chocolate and bacon). Once the groceries were loaded into the taxi, we headed for the Moorings base and couldn’t be happier to be by the water and enjoy a light breeze… the temperatures in the summer are ridiculous: 98°F (37°C). No need to mention that the ice cream we bought on the way melted before we had a chance to open the packaging.
As we were waiting for our boat to be cleaned, we decided to go for a late lunch and the crew made me discover Snappas, really cool little bar/restaurant on the water with live music, right by the base. We shared a few plates of conch fritters, just because… And very important detail, we tried the new Bahamian beer, recently launched, the High Rock! Yummy! I would describe it as a mix between Stella and Heineken with a slight island twist!
Once the lunch was over we headed back to the base to pick up our boat that was ready by then! Our magnificent Moorings 4800 “Haute Water” was waiting for us on the nearest dock, and it only took us a few minutes to load it with bags, groceries and a few pairs of fins before we took off.
Destination Hope Town, Elbow Cay || This place has so much to offer as you may already know. This was love at first sight for me and a real pleasure for the rest of the crew to be back in this little piece of haven… Everything you could want from a village in the island:
- Cute protected bay
- Very well maintained mooring buoys
- Restaurants and bars
- Grocery store
- Colorful authentic Bahamian houses
- Golf carts as the main mode of transportation
- Beautiful beach on the Atlantic side
- Elbow Cay lighthouse || This lighthouse deserves a lot of credit:
- One of the last operational kerosene-fueled lighthouses in the world
- One of only three manual lighthouses left in the world
- It has a weight mechanism that has to be hand-cranked every several hours to maintain the sequence of 5 white flashes every 15 seconds
- Its red and white stripes are non-mistakable and beautiful to the eye
After a quick dip in the water for refreshment purposes, we spent the evening simply enjoying the view and trying to photograph it all so that you guys can enjoy it later too! Bob, our drone, was up for the very first time, the GoPro on timelapse mode, the iPhones out and the Lumix for the high quality close ups… All electronic devices were out! From leaving the boat on the dinghy to stepping back on the dock after our walk on the beach, there wasn’t a minute of boredom. A simply magical first night out in the Abacos…
Day two started just the same way as day one ended, pictures and videos were being taken from the wonderful sunrise scenery that was offered to us… Pink sky, not one foot print on the beach and a little breeze to cool us down. The four of us were fully rested after a perfect night of sleep, lulled by the sound of the sea flowing on the hull. It was time to get some serious work done – Drone back out, GoPro on its second timelapse of the trip and some of us just playing models while secretly enjoying a perfect morning swim in the Atlantic!
Back on the boat – Food time! Full English breakfast for the occasion: Bacon, eggs, tomatoes and fried bananas (special touch) with a side of toasts… No left overs, which made me feel very good about my cooking skills!
One last ride into town to visit the local shops, including this really cool shop called Studio One – Hope Town Canvas; This shop makes all sorts of products with recycled sails (bags, purses, belts, luggage tags, even neckless, earrings, sandals, etc…) Very colorful and fun stuff!
And then the drama happened! Once back on board we decided to film a couple of jumps or dives from the aft deck of the cat… one of them ended up with a massive jelly fish burn on the hollow of my knee! A lot of boiling hot water, papaya cream and a lot of care and attention from the rest of the crew put me back in shape in less than two hours but what a shock! We never found the beast (for the dramatic tone only), he or she or it must have ran away full of guilt!
And just like that, we were on our way again!
Destination White Bay, Green Turtle Cay ||The wind went totally MIA when we left Hope Town which means that we ended up motoring the whole way up… At least we did enjoy a very smooth ride with perfect visibility in and out of the water, which made us very keen to stop for a bit of snorkel/drone fun on the way there. Our choice was unanimous and we anchored the boat right outside a wonderful place called The Lagoon, on Scotland Cay. White sand banks, little island, mangrove, turtles and stingrays were there for our pleasure only as we were the only people around!
Everything was perfect in this lagoon except for one thing: trash. I was stunned by the amount of garbage laying on that island. So while the photoshoot was going on, I decided to start picking up anything I could see and bring it back to the boat with us in order to throw it away in the appropriate place on the main island (aka The garbage bin). From fishing nets to engine oil bottles, with a variation of beer bottles and cans of Coca-Cola in the middle, this was a very successful collection of very harmful items for the wildlife in that lagoon… Once the mission was accomplished, the two cases of garbage loaded on the dinghy, we could finally enjoy a bit of snorkeling.
That mangrove was a den of beautiful fish and conches crawling around. Even the coral and rocks were absolutely breathtaking…
But the afternoon sun in the Bahamas can be very brutal when you are snorkeling (even with a long sleeves UV protected top) and it was time to go and hide our faces in the shade of the boat’s aft rooftop. After a couple of snacks and a lot of water for hydration, it was time to get going again!
In less than an hour we were in Green Turtle Cay and anchored Haute Water in a gorgeous place called White Bay. Once settled and the engine off, beers and crepes were on the table. The crepes were a “must-have’ on this trip and we enjoyed the delicious French gourmet dish so much that we had some for breakfast the next day too! As we were recalling all the wonderful moments of the day, the sunset slowly faded and we called it a day!
A new morning, a new place, time to explore! Engines on, anchor up, crew on deck for a very very short leg to New Plymouth, Green Turtle Cay.
Adorable typical Bahamian village with the essentials and most importantly, Bahamian bread! This was the other non-negotiable item on the food list and we found it! Dinghy dropped at the dock, drone up and temperatures that felt like reaching 100º (F), we started our walk through town and were not disappointed by the charm and local feel of this place. It wasn’t long before we all agreed though, that the AC of the boat would be very welcome, as well as a good breakfast! And off we went again…
Destination Hope Town, Elbow Cay (no it’s not a mistake…)|| We loved it so much… we couldn’t resist another day! Especially because the jelly fish episode made us postponed the visit of the lighthouse. But we made one more stop on the way.
As we left Green Turtle and approached the passage to the Atlantic, we spotted a cute little beach on our starboard side and decided to stop for a while and enjoy a quick snorkel and maybe, why not, another drone flight! Might as well…
Another paradise beach, totally empty except for the pelicans hanging on the trees above our heads… Then we realized that it was obviously lunch time for the birds around us while schools of fish were storming along the shore and birds diving in and out like fierce predators… what a beautiful show!
The afternoon was flying by and we had to head out quickly in order to get to Hope Town before sunset. We really wanted to get to the lighthouse before it closed. Well, that didn’t work out that night but we still enjoyed a gorgeous sunset after playing with the drone for a little while by the lighthouse. The local cat even granted us the pleasure of his company. Such a sweetheart and you could definitely tell that was not his first rodeo with tourists!
But we had to ditch kitty cat for some food, which lead us to Captain’s Jack restaurant in the marina. Conch fritters and beers is pretty much what you live off of in the Bahamas! This delicious, although not very original meal, was followed by an excursion to the beach for a real breathtaking sea of stars in the Bahamian sky. No pictures were usable simply because it was a full moon that night…
Our second and last morning in Hope Town was another success. The lighthouse was open, and although the rest of the marina decided to show up at the same time as us, we still went up and enjoyed the view for a bit. The view from the top was absolutely gorgeous and we couldn’t get enough of it! But the crowd quickly made me want to get on my way back down… Time to get to a quieter place, also known as the water!
Destination Tahiti Beach, Elbow Cay || Now this is a dream beach – no need to mention that we still had the 4 knots of wind straight on the nose so still no sailing. Once there and the anchor dropped in a nice little patch of sand, we realized that the crowd was in a real 4th of July mood! By that I mean, blue and white outfits standing in the water waiting for the sun to add the red touch to complete the picture!
While waiting for yet another memorable sunset we got the paddle board in the water, the masks and snorkels in the dinghy and headed for the beach! We found a nice shaded area under a palm tree and started enjoying our last afternoon in paradise; raced a couple of turtles under water, took turns on the SUP, flew the drone and watched the power boats leaving, one by one as the afternoon was coming to an end.
Once most of the crowd was gone, we took a moment on the boat to enjoy snacks and a couple of beers before heading back to the beach for our last evening of tranquility.
A really early wake up call was scheduled for the next morning, so we all called it a day and got some well deserved and needed rest.
Destination The Moorings Base, Marsh Harbour || 6am – Head sail out! Finally… Our gift that morning was a radiant pink sunrise and a small breeze accompanying us back to base. The guys took care of the sailing while Michelle and I organized the boat and finished packing.
And then, just like any last day of a vacation trip, everything happened very quickly after that…
- Boat parked at the fuel dock
- Bags offloaded and boat closed
- Taxi to the airport
- Easy take off from Marsh Harbour
- Pit stop in Freeport to check out and get fuel
- Another smooth flight across the gulf stream
- Arrival in Opaloka to clear customs
- Last leg to North Perry
- In the car
Destination Home sweet home || What a weekend…
Thank you to The Moorings for a great boat and to the Abacos for the hospitality!
And a big Thank You to you guys for following our adventure!
The One Epic Adventure Crew