Anchoring isn’t recommended in much
of the harbor because of poor holding,
strong currents, fast boats, wakes, and
crime issues. There are several marinas;
if Nassau has to be on your cruising
itinerary, many boaters select a marina
on Paradise Island. The southeastern
entrance channel is only around 8 feet
deep in one spot where coral heads and
rocky bars dictate precise navigation.
To the southeast, the Exuma Cays
curve in a northwest-southeast direction.
The Exumas have only a few small all-
weather marinas. Most anchorages are
unprotected from westerlies, so they’re
only good for settled weather. The few
that are sheltered from westerlies are
between rocky islands and plagued by
swift current and scoured bottom. The
islands are generally rocky with low veg-
etation, sparse population, and a few vil-
lages. Nevertheless, each year more and
more boats visit.
They’ve become so popular that
celebrities and other wealthy people have
purchased entire islands or large portions
of them. It’s reported that the Exuma
Land and Sea Park, once a stronghold of
environmental protection, now features
such private islands, and personal watercraft from mega yachts often roar up
and down the pristine channels. Staged
“paradise” picnics on the beaches, replete
with instant tents, bars, and lounges,
entertain charter parties with all their
water toys. Anchorages once enjoyed by
>>Never anchor in reef or anywhere your anchor rode may get tangled in coral.
>>Leave 360-degree swing room for other boats, the shore, and reefs. Boats swing differently depending on their windage, bottom configuration, eddies, and current.
>>The best bottoms consist of deep, soft white sand. You’ll see these from the bow
of your boat. Don’t be misled by bottoms of white rock, marl, or shallow white sand
>>Anchoring in grass usually results in dragging when the wind increases and damaging fish habitat.
>>Nylon line can be cut by small rocks or reef. Use as much chain as your boat can
>>Don’t anchor on a lee shore (the shore toward which the wind is blowing). Learn and
watch the weather; plan your anchorage for 24 hours. It’s not unusual for Bahamian
winds to shift over that time. What starts as a protected anchorage could become a
risky lee shore.
>>Study an accurate weather forecast every day, and plan overnight anchorages
accordingly. — T.N.
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a few are now becoming more crowded.
Heading down the chain, cruisers like
to stop and enjoy the out-island friendliness of the small villages of Staniel Cay,
Black Point, and Little Farmer’s Cay.
Village restaurants sometimes announce
special menus on the VHF. Small grocery
stores have limited supplies, and Staniel
Cay’s Isles General Store has marine and
general hardware as well as groceries.
And the Blue Store and the Pink Store
have also expanded their stock to accommodate the greater number of cruisers
The Staniel Cay Yacht Club offers
good meals, fuel, water purified by reverse
osmosis, and a nice bar as well as cottage
rentals. Indeed, the entire village is open
to many home rentals. Fowl Cay Resort
is one of several resort islands with rental
houses and cottages, and it also has a
restaurant available to the public by reservation. Snorkel into Thunderball Cave
off Staniel and enjoy viewing thousands
of protected fish. Part of the James Bond
movie of that name was filmed here.
At the southern end of the Exumas,
the “mainland” island of Great Exuma
is a popular boating destination with
a good but busy harbor. Its George
Town boasts supplies and high island
civilization. Exuma Market provides
dinghy docking, town water, and other
services while across Lake Victoria, the
well-stocked Shop-Rite is another good
choice for stocking. FedEx, UPS, boat
supplies, and many other helpful goods
and services are available. Almost 400
cruising boats are often in its Elizabeth
Harbour for the annual spring Cruising
Regatta, a weeklong festival run by the
cruising community in conjunction with
the Bahamian community.
Heading easterly from the Exumas
you’ll find more islands and variety. To
the north, Eleuthera is known for its
oranges and pineapples. Cruisers often
visit the busy village of Spanish Wells
with its fishing fleet, marinas, marine
railways, and supplies. Harbour Island,
guarded by the treacherous reef known
as Devil’s Backbone, is also popular for
its pink sand beaches, quaint pastel-color
buildings, the historic village of Dunmore
Town, marinas, fishing, and relatively
upscale living. Royal Island with its
enclosed harbor broods with thick foliage