and the silent ruins
of a large estate.
Years ago, wooden
sailing ships of
the British Navy
here; today cruisers
wait for passage to
south of Eleuthera,
Far to the south and east, the “far out
islands” rise from the deep ocean floor,
beyond the banks. You’ll find isolated
jewels such as Rum Cay and Conception
Island. Sumner Point Marina at Rum
Cay has been closed due to hurricane
damage as of this writing. As you venture
farther southeast, more spectacular little
islands with limited protection beckon with even more remoteness. These
include Samana Cay, where Christopher
Columbus is said to have anchored;
Crooked Island; Acklins Island; Great
Inagua with its famous flamingo population; and Mayaguana – all beautiful
islands off the beaten track.
The Jumentos chain arches 90 miles
around the southeast boundary of the
Great Bahama Banks and has become
more popular in recent years for experienced cruisers looking to find pristine
islands as they once were. Many of these
islands have little all-weather protection,
tricky shallows, and few replenishing and
stocking opportunities, but make up for
it in sweet solitude.
You can’t always get what you want
The Bahamas, with their overwhelming beauty and thousands of square miles of ocean wilderness, offer a wonderful boating escape from the massive infra- structure and dense civili- zation of the States. But
what makes them compelling also makes
them challenging for unprepared boat-
ers. Go soon if you can, take good care,
and tread lightly.
For more than 19 winters, our technical editor Tom Neale, his wife, Mel,
and two daughters lived aboard in the
Bahamas, with many additional trips of
shorter duration. Today, the Neales live
on Chesapeake Bay and their daughters
are grown up, but the Bahamas is still the
family’s home away from home.
What are you looking for? Sportfishing? Hanging out with other
boaters? Diving and snorkeling? A remote nature experience?
Visit this article at BoatUS.com/Magazine to read Tom’s top
recommendations for each passion.
>>Obtain a detailed weather forecast every day. Heed it.
>>Winter cold fronts are often preceded by strong southwesterly winds and come
through as a strong, precipitous westerly, then nor’wester. Then winds often clock to
a nor’easter and blow hard for days.
>>“Squeeze plays” between large areas of high and large areas of low pressure may
set up strong winds, usually from the east, for several days.
>>The Bahamas offers little good protection in hurricanes and tropical lows. Even
enclosed harbors are vulnerable with so little land to weaken the effects of wind and
sea. Expect little help compared to U.S. waters.
Respect the ‘rage’
If there is a strong onshore swell, many cuts between islands and reefs become
treacherous. The onshore swell may be caused by local onshore winds or from a far-off storm. At sea the swell may seem insignificant, but as it mounts up in the shallow
waters near the cuts, it can become deadly. These swells can be far away when you
leave the safety of your harbor in the morning but dangerously upon you when you
want to enter the next inlet down-island. Watch the weather locally and far out. Ask
ahead for current local conditions and knowledge. If any question exists about the
safety of an inlet, don’t risk it.
Search and rescue
The Bahamas government has no search-and-rescue service equivalent to the U.S.
Coast Guard. The Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association (BASRA) is a dedicated nonprofit voluntary organization committed to saving the lives of distressed seamen and
airmen in the Bahamas. It is funded by donations. Go to basra.org to learn more.
For boaters traveling off the beaten track, consider renting an EPIRB or PLB from
the BoatU.S. Foundation before you go. Visit BoatUS.org for more information. — T.N.
Info on entry
menu), or call
for U.S. office
of the Bahamas Ministry
FEBRUARY | MARCH 2018 BoatU.S. Magazine | 51