Bare Boat Charters,
Boating and Cruising In The Abacos
By Jim Kerr Abaco Life Editor
Sunset came to
our anchorage in Baker's Bay along the north end of Great Guana
Cay in Abaco and we watched it with awe and silent appreciation.
We relaxed with
drinks on the bridge of our power boat charter. This vessel was
more like a luxury condo at sea. It had air conditioning, a salon
with designer furniture, teak cabinets and deck, colour TV, a
CD player and VHF radio. The galley featured a microwave and
gas oven, range, refrigerator-freezer and a big stainless steel
sink. The master stateroom featured a large center island bed
and the "head" came with a sink, mirrors and plexiglass-door
shower that would make any Hyatt proud. A second, smaller guestroom
was there for company - in case friends dropped in for the night.
Even though it
was capable of 18 knots, we kept the yacht at a leisurely seven
along the lee coast of the outer Abaco cays on this four-day
trip and I put my feet up as we cruised along past houses, sandy
coves and little settlements. It was the kind of tranquil afternoon
that sometimes lulls a boater into forgetting responsibilities.
I'm the first
to admit, being in charge of a boat that costs in excess of $200,000
makes me a bit nervous. I know Abaco waters pretty well after
22 years of coming here, and I've bareboated many times, but
this type of vacation does involve a certain amount of tension.
I've always found, however, my apprehensions are assuaged by
charter personnel and dock masters who remain unflapable when
you call on the VHF with a little problem ... keeping in mind
that sinking the boat on a reef is not a little problem.
Our second night
out we anchored just outside the entrance to Hope Town harbour.
The moonless night was filled with a zillion stars, a few meteors
and an occasional satellite coursing across the black sky. We
had taken the dinghy into town for dinner at a waterfront restaurant
called Capn' Jack's, and back on board under that dark canopy,
we found that ours was the only boat parked out here. After Baker's
Bay - a popular anchorage - it might have been a bit lonely except
for the comforting and reliably repetitious beam from the Elbow
Cay Lighthouse that flashed its familiar message. Shortly after
dawn, early- rising fishermen sped out of the harbour in whalers
and sportfishing boats while we sipped our morning coffee on
Although it was
just the two of us and we were glad of it, this is one of the
most outstanding family vacations you could ever have - assuming
you are qualified and comfortable handling both a boat and the
kids at the same time. It's not your standard family car trip
to Disney, of course. You need seamanship and boating expertise,
but the look on your 12-year-old's face when he or she emerges
from the sapphire green sea holding a starfish for the first
time is a reaction few theme parks can elicit.
You can get the
same result by just renting a 21-foot speedboat for the day and
you need less experience. Abaco's waters are ideal for vacation
boating whether you're in a small boat or the live-aboard variety.
The boating areas are well protected, land is never out of sight
and there are lots of land-based restaurants and shops when you
want to come ashore. Wide-bodied catamarans have kids bouncing
on the trampolin-like deck netting, and swim and snorkel platforms
off the stern allow easy on and off for everyone from six-year-olds
to grandparents. Beaches feature shallow water with plenty of
sand castle-building material, and you can spend hours or days
shelling, beachcombing, swimming and sunbathing.
in Abaco have more than 35 yachts for bareboating - defined as
a sail or motor boat that comes fully equipped, but which the
charterers themselves operate. A few local captains are also
available for hire, either for the whole charter or until you
get competent and feel comfortable to handle the boat yourselves.
The Moorings, located at the Conch Inn Marina in Marsh Harbour
has 21 monohulls and catamarans ranging from 35 to 46-feet. Abaco
Bahamas Charters, the oldest and smallest bareboat company in
Abaco, operates a fleet of monohull sailboats out of Hope Town.
There are also a dozen boat rental businesses in Abaco that have
boats ranging from 19 to 26 feet available on a daily or weekly
in Abaco is generally good all year, although it can turn nippy
in January and February for a day or two. The rest of the year
is ideal. The tradewinds are good for sailing and the water is
warm and clear for snorkeling and diving. For more information
on charters and boat rentals, as well as other Abaco features,
go to "Subscription Information" on this web page for
information and instructions on how to susbcribe and receive
the current issue. For additional charter, cruising and boat
rental information within Go-Abacos click here.