March 19 – 24, 2018: Marsh Harbour Anchorage and Man O War Cay

On March 19, we left our anchorage at Lynyard Cay bound for an anchorage on the southern or “back” side of Marsh Harbour, Abaco.  There was a nasty cold front on the way, and that was the best spot to hide given the expected wind direction.  Because we figured the anchorage would get crowded, we left in the morning so that we could get a good spot before everyone started arriving in the evening, which is the typical timing here.  The trip was only 13.5 nm and took us 3 hours, which was an incredibly weird sensation given the last few legs we’ve sailed.  I could get used to this island hopping!

We anchored in the “Boat Harbour” anchorage, which is (not surprisingly) just off of Boat Harbour Marina.  Two other sailboats arrived simultaneously with us, and as the day wore on, more and more boats came in.  Fortunately it is a large anchorage; the only drawback to being farther from shore is less protection, but at least people have space to spread out responsibly.  Eventually we ended up with at least 20+ boats; apparently we weren’t the only ones who thought this was a smart place to be.

We ended up staying three days in the anchorage without leaving the boat.  The spot is lovely, with the clear water and sandy bottom that I’ve come to treasure.  Since the winds were coming across land, the fetch was seriously reduced, and the anchorage was a comfortable spot to wait out the weather.  Even so, it was too rough to dinghy around John Cash Point into Marsh Harbour itself, and the only other way ashore was to take the dinghy to Boat Harbour Marina’s dinghy dock.  They charge $25 per day to use the dinghy dock, but that gives you a $25 credit to use at their restaurant or gift shop.  Unfortunately, you can’t use the showers or laundry, and we decided that it wasn’t worth the money.  If we could have cleaned ourselves and our clothes, it would have been a different story.

After waiting out the weather, on March 23 we headed northeast to an anchorage off of the west side of Dickies Cay, next to Man O War Cay.  It was another lovely, short hop of 5.43 nm that took 1 ½ hours, and our anchorage was the usual clear, 13 feet of water in a sandy bottom.  From that anchorage we were able to dinghy a short ways into Man O War harbor and go ashore into town.

Man O War Cay was one of Crown territories where British Loyalists settled during the American Revolution.  The island is known for its boat building, and like Spanish Wells, it has a small, tight knit community.  Here, many of the people are Alburys, descended from Benjamin Albury (a shipwrecked sailor) and Eleanor Archer who married in 1821.  Man O War is  known as having a strongly religious community, and there are multiple churches for about 300 year-round residents.  The island is the only “dry” island in the Bahamas, meaning that no liquor is sold or can be publicly consumed on the island.  The island itself is about two and a half miles long and quite narrow (generally 100 meters or less).

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The homes on Man O War are almost all painted pastel colors.

Coming into Man O War harbor is a delight.  There are quaint homes with docks abutting the water, which is a dreamy blue green.  It’s quiet and peaceful.  The cross streets come right down to the water, and the island is hilly, which is a change from the generally flat contours we’ve seen thus far.

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The view from the water as we came in the harbor.

The harbor has some mooring balls, but they seemed ridiculously close together to us.  Given how many good anchorages are available and how quick it is to dinghy in, I wouldn’t take one of the mooring balls.

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Jeez, no thanks.  I like meeting other people and everything, but not by playing bumper boats.

Man O War is a fun island to stroll, and the sense of age is palpable.  The wooden houses are tidy and cute, and bougainvillea and trumpet vine drape riotously over walls and fences.

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Stonework fences along the road were common, and this one incorporated an ancient tree.

The street signs are all carved wood and frequently reference people’s names.

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We strolled Lover’s Lane, which was framed with lush greenery and conch shells.  The roads are very narrow, and the speed limit across the island is 10 MPH, which suits the mostly golf-cart driving populace well.

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Lovers Lane had one of the first hills we’ve climbed in a long time.

Since it is a hub of boat building, we saw many workshops and boat yards filled with boats in various stages of construction and repair.  We visited the Man O War Grocery, which was well stocked, even including frozen vegetables and meat.  Next door at Russel & Sands Convenience Store, there are limited fresh-baked goods.

Albury’s Sail Shop sells bags of all sizes made from Sunbrella, and the sewists are on-site working on wonderful old industrial sewing machines.

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The scene in Albury’s Sail Shop:  bags, bags, bags of all conceivable colors, styles, and sizes.

Then for me, the piece de resistance:  Sally’s Seaside Boutique, where I bought yards and yards of Androsia fabric, a batik handmade in Andros.  I search for quilting fabric everywhere I go, and when we are done with this Bahamas trip, a souvenir quilt will be in the works.

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The harbor side of town has outlets to the water on virtually every street.

There are not many restaurants on the island, but we can highly recommend the Hibiscus Café.  We had an unbelievable lunch there for a very reasonable cost:  conch fritters to start, a hand-breaded chicken tender sandwich and fries for the Captain, and a grilled cheese sandwich with a slab of Bahamian macaroni and cheese IN BETWEEN THE SLICES OF CHEESE and fries for me.  I mean, seriously, my sandwich was like cheese porn.  The sandwiches were on amazing homemade bread, and the sweet tea made these Southerners think we were home again.  We staggered out of there like drunks, our waistbands screaming in protest.

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An awfully cute Post Office.

Most of the services that would be of interest to cruisers are available at Man O War Marina.  We used their free dinghy dock, which is centrally located in town.  They sell gas and diesel, and RO water is available at the fuel dock $0.45/gallon including VAT.  Garbage costs $1 per bag to dump.  Visitors to the marina can buy  a shower for $5.25; the shower must be taken during business hours, 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Also, visitors to the marina can buy laundry tokens during business hours and do laundry 24 hours per day; each token is $5.50, and it takes one token to wash and one to dry.

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The dinghy dock at Man O War Marina.

Man O War Cay was a great little stop, and we enjoyed our time there.  If you like strolling through a quaint village, eating yourself sick, and looking at gorgeous water, Man O War Cay should be on your itinerary.

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The ocean side of Man O War Cay.

About Sail Kestrel

We are two full time cruisers aboard our Island Packet 35 sailboat, Kestrel.
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