Published annually in full colour, the Cruising Guide is the Abacos' most popular cruising and nautical information publication. The Cruising Guide includes maps, sketch charts, navigation and boat handling tips, on-shore directories and feature articles of general interest to serious yachtsmen as well as casual boaters. In short, The Cruising Guide contains just about anything you could want to know about what to do in and on the waters of the Abacos.
From its crude start almost a decade ago as a small boater's guide to Abaco, this exceptional publication has grown into a highly respected Abaco cruising guide, the only one currently dedicated to this area. There are few yachts cruising in Abaco without a copy aboard.
The numerous annually-updated charts of Abaco in this guide include new hydrographic data from surveys by the author. Those who cruise Abaco swear by them.
This best-selling guide provides you with navigational advice on getting to, and cruising in, the popular Abaco chain in the northern Bahamas. It offers color aerial photos, reliable on-site GPS waypoints, annual tide tables, lots of helpful advertising from local companies, a magazine feature section, and "yellow pages" for Abaco. It's one of the best bargains around.
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This on-line cruising guide includes narrative portions of The Cruising Guide To The Abacos as well as sample graphics of aerial photography, harbours and-or approaches to the Abacos' more popular destinations.
Unfortunately, due to file size limitations and the internet's inherent inability to reproduce fine detail at 72 dpi, we will not be able to offer on-line examples of The Cruising Guide's numerous large scale reference charts and associated detailed GPS coordinates.
The Cruising Guide to Abaco, Bahamas is the best selling cruising guide to the most popular cruising area of The Bahamas.
Annually updated by Steve Dodge, who has 25 years of experience in Abaco, it provides the most accurate and most recent information on Abaco for fly-in tourists as well as cruisers. All charts are in color, and most harbour charts are complemented with colour aerial photographs. The Cruising Guide to Abaco provides a complete system of GPS waypoints for Abaco, as well as for the passage from Florida to Abaco, providing tried and proven routes.
This site provides an overview of the cruising area with some samples of the kind of information presented in the Cruising Guide itself. Thirty-seven color charts are included in The Cruising Guide to Abaco, Bahamas: 1999.. The site also provides a place for exchange of information about Abaco by cruisers, with opportunity for discussions about passages and anchorages. Cruisers can exchange information, and we hope they will make suggestions for improvements in the cruising guide as well.
Copies of The Cruising Guide to Abaco, Bahamas and other White Sound Press publications can be ordered through this website. Click on the appropriate place to the left.
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Other ordering sites for The Cruising Guide to Abaco, Bahamas are Bluewater Books and Charts and Amazon.com. The book can also be purchased through BoatUS or West Marine, as well as many fine marina stores in the southeastern United States.
Walker's Cay to Carters Cays
(including Great Sale Cay)
Boats drawing 4' or more and transiting the area from Walker's Cay to Carters Cays must take care to avoid the shoal between Walker's and Grand Cays, the Double Breasted Bars which are about 5 NM S of Double Breasted Cays, and the large shoal extending from the Rhoda Rocks and Pelican Rock. GPS waypoints are shown on the Guide's chart for this route. It extends generally S from Walker's Cay to Triangle Rocks, then SE to Barracuda Rocks, ESE to Little Sale Cay, and then E to Carter's Cays. This route is not the shortest distance between Walker's and Carters, but it is clear of obstacles and carries over 6' MLW (except for the final approach to Walker's over the bank there, which carries about 5-5" MLW). Waypoints for this route are listed below the chart.
Possible overnight anchorages along the way (within about 5 NM) include Grand Cays, Double Breasted Cays, and Great Sale Cay. Grand Cays is the next anchorage to the SE. Grand Cays has a settlement with restaurants and stores, and fuel service is available. Beaches on the east side of the cays are beautiful, and bone-fishing is good in the entire area. See the harbour chart on Guide's page 19 for more detail.
Double Breasted Cays is a beautiful collection of small cays and rocks. An anchorage offering protection from the west, north, and east is available near the NW end of the archipelago. See the harbour chart on Guide's page 20 for more detail.
Great Sale Cay has a bight on its west side which offers good protection from west, north, and east winds, but is open to the south. It is a favorite overnight stop for boats making the Abaco-Florida passage. The approach to it is straightforward-the only obstacle is a shoal extending westward from Great Sale Cay. Give it a wide berth. Another possible anchorage is just east of the cay-but this offers protection only from the west and north, being exposed to the east and south.
It is also possible to go more directly from Walker's to Grand to Double Breasted, and then on to Little Sale and Carters. Head east from Walker's along the south side of Tom Brown's Cay and then turn south, heading toward Elephant Rock. Leave it to starboard and pass between Elephant Rock and Burying Piece Rocks, and then go SE to Grand Cays. This route is shown on the Walker's Cay chart on Guide's page 18. Watch carefully for the shoals off the northwest shore of Grand Cays (see the chart on Guide's page 19). Double Breasted Cays can be approached directly from the waypoint GRAND. From the waypoint DBLBRE note that a straight courseline to LTLSAL, the waypoint north of Little Sale Cay, passes over the edge of the bank extending south from the Rhoda Rocks and Pelican Rock. Alter course to the west to avoid the edge of the bank.
Boats transiting this area from Carters Cays to Moraine Cay or beyond must avoid the Carter Cay Bank and also the shoals stretching southeast from the Fish Cays. Waypoints for a suggested route are shown on the chart, and coordinates are printed below.
The preferred route from the Carters Cays to the Fish Cays requires a detour to the south around the Carters Cay Bank, which extends about 7 nautical miles ESE from the Carters Cays. There are several islets and rocks along its northern edge-the Pawpaw Rocks, the Pawpaw Cays, and Grouper Rocks. It is possible to go on the Atlantic side of the bank, but access to Carters Cays is more difficult from this side, so the Sea of Abaco route is generally better.
The Fish Cays have some nice beaches along their northern shores, and offer a fair weather anchorage between the two middle cays. Approach from the west across a 4' bar and anchor between the cays in 8-10 feet of water.
Boats transiting the southern portion of the chart are also provided with GPS waypoints. The suggested route passes south of Veteran Rock and West End Rocks, and north of the Hawksbill Cays. West End Rocks are generally plainly seen, but Veteran Rock is low-lying and difficult to see--we passed it several times going back and forth from Abaco to Florida before we saw it. Pay close attention and keep a sharp lookout when near it.
Along this route the only reasonable stop is Fox Town, which is on Little Abaco Island south of the Hawksbill Cays. Go west around the outermost rocks extending from Hawksbill Cays and proceed SE toward Fox Town. Fuel, lodging, restaurants, and groceries are all available here. It is also possible to anchor just south of the Hawksbill Cays and dinghy over to Fox Town.
Larger scale charts of Moraine Cay, Carters Cays, and Fox Town are available in the Guide. Note that approximate course lines are provided for the Cave Cay-Spence Rock route to the Bright of Abaco. Give West End Point a 4.5 mile berth (off chart to west) to round West End Bars, then head for the northern tip of Cave Cay. Keep a sharp lookout and negotiate on a rising tide if you draw more than 4' controlling depth for this part of the route is about 5-6' MLW. The route around the east side of Cave Cay and south to Spence Rock and the deeper waters of the Bight of Abaco will carry only about 4' MLW.
Boats transiting this area need to avoid three shoal areas: the first is a very large area which extends southeastward from the area of the Fish Cays, which are off the Guide's chart west of Moraine Cay, and stretches to the south of Moraine Cay, the second surrounds the Hog Cays, and the third lies southwest of the northwest point of Spanish Cay. Also, the north coastline of Little Abaco Island is shoal and sprinkled with small, low islets. One should stay a mile or two off shore. Fox Town is the only settlement on Little Abaco Island which has an anchorage for boats drawing over 1-2'. Center Of The World Rock, lying about two miles north of Little Abaco Island, is about halfway between Crab Cay and Foxtown. It is marked with a white post.
Moraine Cay is a beautiful reef anchorage exposed from the southeast to southwest, but offering good protection in other winds. It has a beautiful beach and the reef offers excellent snorkeling. See the harbour chart on Guide's pages.
Allans-Pensacola has an abandoned missile tracking station, some nice beaches, and a good harbour at its northwest end. See the harbour chart on Guide's pages.
The Hog Cays are a group of small cays and rocks on a shallow bank, but there is deep water and a reasonable anchorage off the southwest corner of the southeasternmost cay. There is also a very small harbour on the north side of this same island; its narrow entrance carries 8' MLW.
There is an anchorage protected from the east and south located west of Crab Cay. Round the northern end of the cay and go either side of a shoal area (2-5' MLW) running roughly parallel to Crab Cay. Anchor in 8' MLW. There are no beaches and no development in this area, but plenty of small islets and shallow water for dinghy exploration.
Spanish Cay's full service marina is open, and it is a port of entry on weekends. It has a hotel, a restaurant, an airport, a dive shop, tennis courts, and other amenities. See Guide's pages for more detailed information about Spanish Cay.
The deepest water for boats transiting this area lies about one-half mile off the coast of Great Abaco Island because shoals extend southwestward from Spanish and Manjack Cays, and there is a 3' MLW shoal in the center of the Sea of Abaco SW of Ambergris Cay.
See Guide's page 26 for more information regarding Spanish Cay. Powell Cay is uninhabited. It has some beautiful beaches and good shelling, especially along its southern shore. Coopers Town, a community of about 900, is on the mainland of Great Abaco Island 2 miles southwest of Powell Cay. It is a roadstead without a harbour. Fuel, groceries and liquor are all available. See the intermediate scale chart of Powell Cay and Coopers Town on Guide's page 28 for more detailed information.
Ambergris and Little Ambergris both have some good beaches, and there is a good place to anchor just west of the northern tip of Ambergris, but Ambergris Cay is private. There is a wrecked airplane in about 5' of water just southwest of Bonefish Cay. It is easy to spot because the wing protrudes several feet above the water.
Manjack Cay is uninhabited and offers three reasonably good anchorages. One is in the bight formed by Manjack and Crab Cays; the other two are at the northern end of Manjack. Entrance to all is straightforward. There are good beaches and beachcombing at Manjack, and a mangrove-lined creek at the southern end is an interesting place to explore in a dinghy. A new development at the northern end has a dredged channel (7' MLW) to a dock and nice new roads to a beautiful ocean beach on the north side. Some of the land in this development has been made into a park; visitors are welcome.
North Manjack Channel is a good route to seaward. From a point roughly midway between the northwest point of Manjack and the un-named rock one mile southeast of Ambergris Cay, head 28°M. The opening in the outer reef is about a mile wide and has a depth of about 20'.
New Plymouth and Green Turtle Cay
Green Turtle Cay is a small island with a population of about 450, but it offers visiting yachtsmen exceptional variety with several different anchorages, and an excellent array of restaurants, hotels, marine services, and shopping facilities. Restaurants in New Plymouth include the New Plymouth Inn, the Plymouth Rock, Laura's Kitchen, Islands Restaurant, the McIntosh Restaurant and Bakery, and the Wreckin' Tree Bakery and Restaurant. At White Sound the Green Turtle Club and Bluff House both offer excellent dining. See the business directory on Guide's pages for a complete list.
Complete boatyard services are available at Abaco Yacht Services on Black Sound, which has a large Travelift. Marine fuel is available at the Other Shore Club, the Green Turtle Club, and the Bluff House. Abaco Yacht Services is a Yamaha dealer; Dolphin Marine is an OMC distributor and an Evinrude dealer which maintains a large inventory of parts. Roberts Marine is a Johnson dealer located on Black Sound.
There are three grocery stores-Sid's, Lowe's, and Curry's-and two hardware stores-Roberts Hardware and New Plymouth Hardware. There are several gift shops in town.
The Albert Lowe Museum houses artifacts and photographs which tell the story of the history of New Plymouth and of Abaco. It has ship's models built by the late Albert Lowe, and paintings by Albert's talented and well-known artist son, New Plymouth native Alton Lowe. The Memorial Sculpture Garden features bronze busts of persons who have played important roles in Bahamian history, and a centerpiece sculpture depicting the arrival of loyalists from the United States. Also, there is a gallery with paintings on display in a section of Alton Lowe's hilltop home, which is located east of New Plymouth.
Green Turtle Cay is small enough so that one can cover a good part of the island on foot, but bicycles can be rented from Noel and Ivy Roberts. Ivy is the manager of the Albert Lowe Museum, and lives nearby.
The area from Green Turtle Cay to Marsh Harbour is probably the most popular cruising area in Abaco-perhaps the most popular in the entire Bahamas. It is about 20 miles long and about 5 miles wide and offers the cruiser incredible variety-snug harbours, beautiful beaches, ocean cruising, quaint villages, good diving, excellent restaurants, good anchorages, fancy marinas, and good shopping. All continuous suggested course lines on the Guide's chart carry at least 6' MLW.
Boats drawing more than about 3' transiting the area must avoid the shallow bank extending from Treasure Cay (which is actually located on the mainland of Great Abaco Island) to Whale Cay. The prefered route in moderate weather is outside Whale Cay. The inside routes (shown as discontinuous lines in the Guide charts) carry only about 2-3' MLW. For more detailed information regarding Whale Cay passage, see Guide's pages.
After re-entering the Sea of Abaco there are shoals extending from the new Spoil Bank Cays, created when a cruise ship channel was dredged at Baker's Bay at the north end of Great Guana Cay in 1989. There are some additional shoals between these new cays and Treasure Cay. There are no other large obstacles to navigation in the area.
There is a daytime anchorage at No Name Cay, which is uninhabited. Head for a point near the northern end of the cay on a heading of about 40 degrees to avoid the bars extending SE from Green Turtle Cay and W from the SE end of No Name Cay. When about mile offshore, turn to starboard and anchor off the entrance to the island's lagoon. A shallow rocky bar at the entrance of the lagoon bares at low water-so exploration is by dinghy only at half tide or better.
There is another daytime anchorage to the west of the north tip of Whale Cay, which is also uninhabited. Like the anchorage at No Name Cay, it is exposed from the S to the NW.
Treasure Cay is a resort community. It has a marina, condominiums, privately ownedvillas and homes, stores, various services, and one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Transient boats are welcome at the marina, or may pick up a mooring or anchor in the fully protected basin on the way to the marina. For more information, see Guide's pages.
Great Guana Cay also has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It is long, wide, and sparsely developed. A favorite anchorage at Guana Cay is Baker's Bay. It was developed as "Treasure Island" for cruise ship visitors, but the "Big Red Boat" stopped visiting in 1993. There is less activity now--and more serenity. See Guide's page for more information.
Great Guana Cay has two more viable anchorages. The settlement harbour offers excellent protection from the prevailing easterlies, but is exposed from the S through the W. Guana Beach Resort has a marina dock there but, like the harbour, it is bumpy when the wind is from the SW. The harbour immediately north of the settlement offers better protection from the SW, but is exposed to the NW. There is a dock for dinghies at the Guana Beach Resort at the head of this harbour. For more information, see Guide's page.
The harbour at Man-O-War Cay offers complete protection, and Man-O-War Marina has slips for transients. Complete repair and maintenance services are available from Edwin's Boat Yard, which has a sail loft as well. There are two grocery stores, and several clothing and gift shops. The harbour is a busy place, and it can sometimes be difficult to find swinging room. For more information, see Guide's pages.
Marsh Harbour is the largest protected deep water anchorage in Abaco. It is the third largest city in The Bahamas, and is growing rapidly. It has four banks, numerous restaurants, and a wide variety of stores. For more information see Guide's pages.
Author's Note: Hope Town residents ask that you leave an open channel space about 70 yards wide along each shore of Hope Town Harbour for boat traffic; please do not anchor in this area. The harbour is often quite full, and it is usually best to pick up a mooring rather than anchoring. To assure that a mooring will be available, call in advance (VHF 16) to reserve one. Moorings are maintained in the harbour by Hope Town Marina (Club Soleil), Abaco Bahama Charters, and Lucky Strike.
Click here for Cruising Guide's detail chart and aerial photoography of Hope Town harbour. For a draft of 5-6' MLW from a spot north of the Parrot Cays, head toward Eagle Rock (yellow house with satellite dish). When the narrow concrete road is straight, turn and head directly toward it (bearing of 149° M), as though you were going to drive onto it. Two white posts on the northeast side of the road form a range, and have red reflectors for night-time use. The channel is sometimes marked with red and green balls. Turn to starboard into the center of the opening to the harbour. For a draft of 6-7' MLW from the same spot north of the Parrot Cays head for the old rock quarry and then turn northeast as indicated on the chart. Proceed into the harbour as explained above. From the south: For a draft of about 5' MLW proceed northeastward toward the waypoint HPTWN until on the appropriate range for Eagle Rock. Then proceed as described above. For 6' MLW draft favor the Elbow Cay side of the area between the Parrot Cays and Elbow Cay.
Hope Town is clearly one of the most picturesque settlements in the Bahamas. Its candy-striped lighthouse was built by the British Imperial Lighthouse Service in 1863, and still uses a wind-up brass mechanism to send a beam of light which can be seen for up to 20 miles. The town has many charming old houses, some of them beautifully restored. The ocean beach, just to the east, has powdery pink sand and is protected by an extensive offshore reef. Founded by loyalists in c. 1785, the community maintains the Wyannie Malone Historical Museum, which has many interesting artifacts, photographs, and documents.
Hope Town provides all services for visitors. There are 2 grocery stores-Harbour View Grocery and Vernon's Grocery. Vernon's includes the Upper Crust Bakery where pies and bread are baked daily. Vernon's business slogans-"Let Them Eat Key Lime Pie" and "Pies 'R' Us" exemplify his delightful sense of humor. Harbour View Grocery is on the waterfront, and has its own dock. Both stores are well stocked; what one does not have can likely be found at the other. Lowe's Fish Market, located up Nigh Creek, sells fresh (frozen) fish.
There are two marinas-Lighthouse Marina near the harbour entrance and Hope Town Marina further in along the harbour's west side. Lighthouse Marina offers fuel, wet and dry storage, and has a well-stocked marine store. Hope Town Marina has wet storage and the Club Soleil Resort and Restaurant.
The Hope Town Harbour Lodge is also a resort-restaurant complex, and has recently been completely refurbished. It offers snorkeling just off its ocean beach and pool bar. Other bars and restaurants include Harbour's Edge, located on the water north of the main (upper) public dock, and Cap'n Jack's, located further north on the water. Munchies and Hollywood Temptations offer snacks and light meals, Rudy's Place, located just outside of town serves dinner, and the Abaco Inn and Boat House Restaurant, both located at White Sound, serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All offer excellent food and friendly service-and provide the visitor with exceptional variety in a small town.
There are several excellent gift and souvenir shops-the Ebb Tide Shop, Kemp's Souvenir Center, Island Gallery, El Mercado and Fantasy Boutique. The Ebb Tide offers Androsia Batik clothing, and all have a good assortment of other clothing, jewelry, T-shirts, books, and various gift items. Island Gallery specializes in art prints, paintings, island clothing, and jewelry.
Bicycles can be rented at Harbour's Edge Restaurant and the Hope Town Harbour Lodge, and golf carts are available from Island Cart Rentals (366-0448) and Hope Town Cart Rentals (366-0064). White Sound is a 3-mile ride; Tahiti Beach is another 1+ miles over some rough road. Hope Town Point is a short ride north of town. Motorized vehicles (including golf carts) are not allowed in town.
Lynyard Cay to Hole-in-the-Wall
North Bar Channel and the opening between Little Harbour and Lynyard Cay are both viable routes between the Sea of Abaco and the Atlantic Ocean. See Guide's pages for more information. Once in the ocean, care should be taken to give a wide berth to the Boilers, a reef lying off the coast of Great Abaco Island between Little Harbour and Ocean Point. Cherokee Sound offers limited protection to the west of Cherokee Point, where there is often a surge, and the route to the small inner anchorage only carries about 3' MLW. For more detail see Guide's pages.
The coastline of Great Abaco Island from Cherokee Sound to Hole-in-the-Wall is forbidding and hostile, offering no secure anchorages or protection for boats. It is about 27 NM from Cherokee Sound to Hole-in-the-Wall. It is possible to anchor just west of Hole-in-the-Wall to gain protection from the prevailing easterlies, but this anchorage is completely exposed to the S and SW.