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Discussion Starter #1
We are leaving Oriental NC for the Bahamas on Friday. Anyone knows current situation in the northern Bahamas? Can we check in Freeport? How is Marsh Harbor when it comes to staying there for few weeks? Any information is appreciated.
 

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There are abaco specific forums...giggle it.
Id be wary of using current charts in some areas.
Landing south of there might be considered, relieving yourself of unknowns.
Northern bahamas are more affected by winter cold front changes...and comfortable water temps
 

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Yes, my original plan was to check into Bimini and cruise down to Georgetown. But I don’t like crowds and would gladly go to places with fewer services and fewer people.
 

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Think the outer islands.
But do the exumas to get a feel for it.
You can be on the shallow banks and do interesting things and find good protection.
During winter, good protection will mean a lot to you.
Take licks before you take big bites..maybe
 

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We did the Abacos then down through the family islands. Only I would skip San Salvador if I was to do it again. The anchorage is dicey and the marina was untenable forcing a exit at dark through surf. NOT good.

Eleuthera and Spanish Wells were nice. Should not have been effected by the storms. Further South stopped at Managuaya, pretty deserted place with a good anchorage. Not much to do shoreside. We laid there 3 days with 40 knots and were fine.

We felt very safe and almost no crime. We frequently rent a car for a day to tour an island from shore side.

Georgetown, Exumas was not as bad as we thought it might be. But we were with under 200 boats on the hook. I hear they can get close to 300 during race week whenever that is. So maybe someone could fill in on that.

We liked the Abacos best but I would give them a skip for a couple of years unless you need to do something to contribute.

We liked the Bahamas but are not wild to go back. Too flat and arid, but that’s a personal taste thing. We prefer DR, PR, Dominique, Guadeloupe, Martinique.
 

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You could clear in at West End... If it still exists.

To get to Marsh Harbor I would go outside, in New Providence Channel.
I've seen drone footage of Marsh Harbor and it's flattened. Totally. So they may want visitors to help.
If not, then it's easy to go to Nassau... It is pretty cool. Atlantis is totally weird but unmissable. High crime but I took the local bus out to the suburban mall and it was great.

The Exhumas are terrific. Georgetown is a Must See as the Snow Bird cruising community is crazy weird.

As @hpeer says, it's all flat and barren, plus the history, community and culture is totally fractured because it's too close to the USA.

However, it's the first country outside North America so it's interesting for that. And if you want solitude then sail 5 miles and you'll find somewhere deserted.

Watch the shallow waters where the hurricane may have stirred the bottom. I used AIS to track the local cargo boat - they draw 2 meters, I draw 1.8m. So I just saved their tracks as routes :grin
 

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If you will be in the Bahamas in November, you will find the normally crowded places uncrowded. That is a great time to explore the Exumas on your way to Georgetown, and even GT will be mostly empty.

I'd skip the N. Bahamas completely right now. They were totally destroyed. Even if they did have some services, I would not want to chance the unknown wreckage and the possible desperation. Marsh Harbor will likely be a fouled bottom from the marina and house wreckage.

Mark
 

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As @hpeer says, it's all flat and barren, plus the history, community and culture is totally fractured because it's too close to the USA.

However, it's the first country outside North America so it's interesting for that.
This is all true, but one positive thing missing is the Bahama waters, which are unique and spectacular. If you like fishing, diving, underwater photography, and the sort, the Bahamas are world-class. We've been all around the Caribbean Sea and have not found better waters, although diving around Bonaire and Roatan are very good. However, they do not have the Bahamas water colors - which are spectacular.

Mark
 

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Markofseaife
I used AIS to track the local cargo boat
How did you do that?

Somewhere else I read it a depthfinder that communicates to some app with BT or WIFI to make your own depth charts.

Both of these things could be helpful.

We draw 6-1/2’
 

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How did you do that?


We draw 6-1/2’
How I make a ships track into a route for me is very easy.
I use OpenCpn which allows you to record the track of a Target for up to 2 hours. I then just use my route tool to make a route that follows the part of their track thats useful to me.
I use it often, very often... the most recent was coming out of Belgium over their shallow sands to London. I had 2 charts, both different :) So I just watched for ships going through and saved their tracks. Cheating of course, the Royal Navy would look down their noses at me :)
Coming into an unknown port is much easier when I see a deep boat go in ahead of me.
BTW the Bahamas has excellent AIS range so I see everything at well over 30nms.

In the Bahamas its really easy because their cargo ships all look like this and draw 2 meters. There must be some water under their keel so 6 1/2 feet would be fine...




Yes, Ive heard of the depth gauge that updates your own charts. Ive heard Superyacht put it in the Tender and send it through ahead of the Superyacht and it transmits back the data. Pretty cool!
 

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Use Noonsite to stay current with rules and local information. They call Georgetown chicken harbor but there’s always something cool going on at volleyball beach. Approach is a bit convoluted but good for even deep draft boats. Cruisers morning net is excellent and folks quite helpful.
Compared to the rest of the Caribbean the Bahamas are expensive and mostly repetitive. Skinny water sailing does get old. So have little desire to go back.
 

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Id consider to make a telephone call to the Bahamian Embassy in DC to obtain the latest info on operating entry ports, major hazards to navigation. Of course being the Bahamas, official info must not be taken as 'gospel'.

Since 'the usual' track from West Palm / Lake Worth to the Abacos is to enter (the banks) through 'Memory Rock' which over the past few years has become more shallow .... Id ask for the condition of that pass onto the banks ...or if Spanish Cay (Marina) or Green Turtle (Marina) are open for entry, you might want to telephone them directly (My usual entry port for this track is Green Turtle Club Marina). The alternative would be to clear in a West End (Old Bahama Bay Marina) and ask for the current info on safely entering the Little Bahama Banks, etc. Note do NOT enter Old bahama Bay on a stong W-NW blow unless youre confident in navigating through rages.

Explorer or e-charts derived from Explorer charts are the bible for travelling the Bahamas.

Like you I dont like crowds, so for my most recent visits Ive enjoyed entering at the Abacos and then sliding south from there ...Abacos (Lynyard Cay) --> Spanish Wells / Royal Harbor and then south. Sadly, I think Bimini (and New Providence Island) is become too dangerous for boaters due to the current drug trade.
 

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Fair winds Krisscross! Please keep us posted. We live in Lighthouse Point now (just North of Lauderdale), send me a PM and we'll have a beer if you're in the neighborhood. We almost made a run for the Keys last week, but chickened out due to potential 3m seas. We ended up flying to the Caymans for some anchorage reconnaissance and diving instead.
 

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Update 9Nov19 ..... Abacos advisory

Sailing Friends of mine are reporting dire conditions for most of the Abacos Islands:
Most all marinas and marine services - devastated, probably taking YEARS to recover.
Marsh Harbour and nearby was totally devastated, minimal electricity and municipal water available. All 'servoices are dysfunctional All the marinas in the inside harbor are totally destroyed, no fuel available. The big "super market" in Marsh Harbour is 'flattened'. The big "Boat Harbor" Marina on the east side (towards Hopetown) is totally destroyed as is much of the 'resort'.
No info on Hopetown nor Man-O-War nor Green Turtle - enclosed harbors.
Bahamian government relief is reported to be dismal to none.

Charts are useless in many areas due to severely shifted bottom. No info on the infamous Whale Passage.

Overall it sounds like it will take years for the Abaco Islands to recover back to normal.
 

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The dorian devistation, along with winter cold fronts, will push more cruisers to the exumas.
The fronts can be a tuff cookie to deal with. Dont want to get trapped
The berry islands are better than good if you have good weather.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Fair winds Krisscross! Please keep us posted. We live in Lighthouse Point now (just North of Lauderdale), send me a PM and we'll have a beer if you're in the neighborhood. We almost made a run for the Keys last week, but chickened out due to potential 3m seas. We ended up flying to the Caymans for some anchorage reconnaissance and diving instead.
Thank you! Will do. I am anchoring in Port Royal SC tonight.
 

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The big "super market" in Marsh Harbour is 'flattened'.

No info on the infamous Whale Passage.

Overall it sounds like it will take years for the Abaco Islands to recover back to normal.
I assumed the same, and that the store might not even reopen at all, but apparently they were one of the first facilities to get back up, and they are opened and stocked now: https://littlehousebytheferry.com/2019/11/08/marsh-harbour-maxwells-reopens/

The Whale Passage was always a deep water cut, so I don't expect it to have changed much. I wouldn't put much faith in any other channels, though.

If I had to bet, I'd bet on those "years" to be counted on two hands and not one.

That was a terrible, terrible storm. I can't even imagine.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Looks like you got lost in the southern hemisphere? :)

Mark
Ha ha! indeed... but somehow the picture looks right when you click on it.
I'm running away from the cold but the mornings are numbing and frost is in local forecast for tonight. Wicked north wind whips up big waves in the bays. Gale force winds yesterday in Charleston harbor. Lots of boats going south on ICW. I have not seen anybody going north in days.
 
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