August 15, 2015
Half Moon Cay turned out to be a great place to hang out for awhile. The north end of the island is a gold mine of reefs, perfect for snorkeling, spear fishing, and diving. We stayed anchored in West Bay, where cruise ships come several times a week to deposit guests for a day of fun on the white sand beach and inner lagoon. They arrive around 9am and the beach becomes a vibrant place, teeming with guests until late afternoon when they return to their boat and depart for their next destination, leaving our anchorage very peaceful and beautiful. While we are not allowed to go ashore to the cruise company facilities, we can paddle board and swim in the bay, walk on the beach when there is no cruise ship there, and take our tender around to the north side of the island where there are more beautiful beaches, totally deserted!
We enjoyed several wonderful dives and had the best spearfishing we’ve experienced so far in the Bahamas. Spearfishing can only be done with snorkel equipment, not SCUBA gear, so the big decision each day was whether to go diving or spearfishing! There was no bad choice!
Several other boats came and went from the anchorage. We spent a couple fun days with Jerry and Nola from the sailboat Moonsong. They joined us for a couple dinners and some snorkeling. They travel with a Labradoodle who also likes to snorkel – it was great fun snorkeling with a dog! He wears a life vest and has a special ramp so that he can get in and out of their tender – unfortunately the photographer neglected to get a photo of that!
Next, it was time to head back to the Abacos to begin to position for a crossing back to the US. This was a trip of about 120 miles, so we planned a late afternoon departure with an overnight crossing around the east coast of Eleuthera and then in to Marsh Harbour. We spent a couple nights anchored near Marsh Harbour and enjoyed some time ashore, visiting Maxwell’s Supermarket to stock up on fresh produce and enjoying a dinner out at Curly Tails where we had an excellent meal. Our crew intern, Amanda, also had fun meeting some locals and enjoying some Bahamian culture. I also searched for some geocaches in Marsh Harbour, and in the process discovered Abaco Grocery, the Bahamas equivalent of a small Costco – it even had some Costco brand products!
Our next stop was at the north end of Great Guana Cay, another anchorage with spectacular reefs for diving and snorkeling. There is also a fabulous beach, an easy paddleboard trip from the boat. But this end of Great Guana is part of a private development called Baker’s Bay. It caters to the rich and famous, is not friendly to cruisers, and is also not welcomed by many of the locals for the environmental impact it is feared to be having on the reef system.
After adding some more fish to our freezers, we headed for our next destination, Grand Cay, which would position us for the shortest crossing back to NC. This also turned out to be a great spot, with several other boats in the anchorage, a beautiful beach to explore, and a nice town not too far away. Our tender was up on deck for the passage back to the US, so we explored by kayak. Swimming in the anchorage was deterred by a very large population of jellyfish, but they did not seem prevalent closer to shore. Though we did not do any snorkeling or spearfishing here, others in the anchorage confirmed that it’s a great place for that, so we will add it to our list of stops for next time!
The weather was looking good for a passage to NC, a trip of about 470 miles with would take 2 ½ days. We departed on Tuesday, August 4 and arrived at Portside Marina in Morehead City on Friday afternoon. We gave the boat a thorough cleaning and have been catching up with a variety of friends. From here, we will head north to the Chesapeake Bay.
Here are a couple new videos:
This one is our guests, Ben and Amparo during their visit in June:
And this one is a video tour of Shear Madness: