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Sailing Northern Islands

sail north area
Starting with our favorite, Little Harbour, Great Abaco Island Little Harbor is a small, completely protected, circular bay nestled in south end of Abaco Sound - the long stretch of shallow waters that stretches along Great Abaco Island, and is protected from ocean swells by the barrier islands. These waters are a favorite cruising ground, particularly for less experienced sailors.

Little Harbor Entrance

The entrance to Little Harbor is shallow, less than 5 feet at low tide, 7 feet at high tide. The bottom is sand and good holding. The bay is surrounded by sandy beaches and beaches on the ocean side. Possibly the most popular attraction of Little Harbor is the museum and foundry of the noted sculptor Randolph Johnson and his talented family. And you can’t miss the food and camaraderie at Pete’s Pub beside the foundry. We always have a blast there!

Marsh Harbour

From Marsh Harbor and Hopetown the approach along the Sound is described in the guidebooks, it is shallow but mostly the bottom is sand so running aground is only an annoyance, not a danger. From the ocean the safest approach is through North Bar Channel east of Sandy Cay. The entrance across Little Harbor Bar should only be attempted in calm weather on a rising tide. After crossing the bar it is necessary to turn 90° N.

Georgetown, Exuma

Georgetown Elizabeth Harbor is a channel 9 miles long running NW to SE between the barrier islands and the south end of Great Exuma Island. It is mostly shallow, no more than 20 feet deep anywhere - mostly 6 to 12 feet, with a sandy bottom. The entrances at each end require careful navigation between reefs and shoals, study the detail charts and guide-book instructions carefully before entering.

Stocking Island

Georgetown is the largest town on the island and provides a few small hotels, a small marina with fuel and water and a well stocked supermarket with it's own dinghy dock in a sheltered lagoon. Air service enables an exchange of crews. The several delightful anchorages, sheltered from the Trade Winds and ocean swells by the barrier islands, particularly the largest of them - Stocking Island which offers beautiful sandy beaches, both along the Harbor as well as on the ocean side.

Elizabeth Harbor

During the winter months Elizabeth Harbor becomes crowded because, for many, it is the end of a Bahamian cruise.

After a few weeks relaxation, most turn around to go back north. Even some of those who started out with the intention of sailing to the Virgin Islands, never get any further! There are many activities provided by The hotels, or organized by the yetis themselves. The season ends with a week long regatta complete with races, treasure hunts, barbecues and dances. In April local Bahamian sailors congregate for the Family Islands Regatta of native built boats.

The most protected anchorages, in fact hurricane holes, are three circular basins on Stocking Island. Needless to say late arrivals will not find space in them.

Crab Cay Anchorage

However ample anchor space exists along the mile long beach at the south end of Stocking Island, which is calm except during a norther. Then it is desirable to find refuge in three protected harbors along Crab Cay, the largest of them Crab Cay Anchorage.

Considering the large number of yachts that assemble in Elizabeth Harbor it is strange that no one has built a repair facility. The resident yachtsmen help each other out with spare parts and tools. If greater repairs are needed, it is necessary to go 25 miles to Stella Maris Marina on Long Island, the only facility South of Nassau which offers haul out service and competent technical help.

Calabash Bay

One reason why you will rarely see more than half-a-dozen yachts at Conception Island is that it is a long 40TH slog to windward from the closest popular harbor at Georgetown, Great Exuma. The usual plan is to make an overnight stop at the well-protected anchorage in Calabash Bay under the lee of Cape Santa Maria at the northern tip of Long Island. Head towards Point and then, when close in, turn east towards the anchorage off the white beach.

Keep a close watch on weather forecasts. If a norther should be threatening, move out of the North Bay anchorage. Sail around the island and enter the eastern lagoon close by Wedge Point. Keep a sharp lookout for coral heads and anchor in about 10 feet on a sandy bottom off the beach 1 mile north of Wedge Point. This anchorage also provides access to good snorkeling on the reefs that extend almost 3 miles to the east.