Sailing Southern Islands
Conception IslandThis is Bill Biega’s favorite island in all the Bahamas and Caribbean. Uninhabited and protected as a National Land and Sea Park, it is sanctuary to an enormous variety of birds, fish, turtles and coral. The best anchorage is in the northern bay, just south of the coral reefs of West Cay. The bottom is sand and shoals gradually towards the beautiful, sparkling white, mile long beach. Anchor close in. The anchorage is safe and comfortable under normal conditions with the wind out of N. through E. to S. The snorkeling in the reefs that extend another 4 miles to the north is superb. A walk along the NE coast up to the top of the cliffs will be rewarded with an outstanding view of the gorgeous colors of the ocean waters as well as of the shallows of the interior lagoon. The interior lagoon is accessible only by dinghy through an entrance 2 Miles south of the anchorage.
San SalvadorLittle San Salvador This small, deserted island is used as a stopover by sailors voyaging between Eleuthera and Cat Island. It is a beautiful deserted island, which even offers palm trees in addition to the usual vegetation of causarinas, palmettos and machineel. A short walk from the gorgeous crescent shaped beach you will find the ruins of an old plantation. Hens, now gone wild, still roam the bushes and it is possible to find an egg or two. The anchorage offers good protection from all directions except the west and north-west. It is said that the snorkeling is good on the north side of the island, but personally I have never tried it. The interior lagoon is only accessible to dinghies.
Fortunately winds rarely blow W and NW for more than a couple of days during a norther, because there is no easy place to run to. The closest shelter in a westerly blow is the marina at the Cape Eleuthera Resort 30NM to the NW. Davis Harbor can also provide shelter for smaller yachts at 21NM in the same direction.
Cat IslandCat Island, 48 miles long, has several nice anchorages along the western coast protected from all but westerlies. There is a pleasant restaurant, Armbrister Resort, in Fernandez Bay - best anchorage at north end of the bay in shelter of Fernandez Cay. Going south to New Bight go at least 3 miles off shore to avoid a shallow spit.
New BightIn New Bight the half hour hike up to the Hermitage atop the highest point in the Bahamas (204ft.) is definitely worth the effort.
Hawksnest Creek, around the south-west corner of Cat Island, is a well protected hurricane hole with a marina at which fuel and limited supplies may be obtained. Being well protected it is also buggy! It is a good stopping point before continuing south to Conception Island or to San Salvador. Whether entering or exiting come in straight to the entrance from about 3 miles off shore to avoid the nasty reefs along the south coast of Cat Island.
Hawk's Nest CreekComing from the north, the last possible stop is at Hawk's Nest Creek at the SE corner of Cat Island. This creek offers a secure anchorage in any kind of weather (even hurricanes), but being protected is also buggy.
A small marina provides fuel and water. From there it is 30NM on a course of 132° mag to Conception Island, an easy day's sail under prevailing NE to E trades, but a windward slog if the wind has shifted to the SE as it generally does at the end of March. However, after leaving the Hawk's Nest Creek entrance, steer 143° for 4 miles to give the dangerous reefs a safe clearance.