March 25-30, 2018: Marsh Harbour, Abaco

On March 25, we left our anchorage off of Man O Way Cay and motored 3.76 nm to an anchorage just north of the entrance to Marsh Harbour.  The anchorage is on Mermaid Reef, and it was absolutely lovely.  We anchored in 12 feet of sparkling green water, and there wasn’t a breath of wind all day.  The snubber and anchor chain hung completely limp all day and night, which I’ve never seen before.

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Now that’s some calm, clear water.  I love being able to see the anchor chain.

We watched a day-long parade of charter boats (primarily catamarans) come in to anchor, take advantage of some dive moorings, and then take off after an hour or two.  The snorkeling along the reef is supposed to be nice, although we didn’t go in.  It was enough just to sit in the cockpit and enjoy the view and the amazingly strong open wifi signal we were getting from some nearby rental cottages.

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Here is the view of Mermaid Reef from the island.  We were anchored next to the huge motor yacht on the left side of the picture.  Could you get used to that? Yeah, me too.

On March 26, we headed into Marsh Harbour proper to take a slip at Conch Inn & Marina.  After getting settled in, we saw to the boat’s needs by fueling using diesel in our jerry jugs, refilling our jerry jugs, and washing the boat.  Conch Inn & Marina has slips for rent and also is the headquarters for The Moorings, a charter company.  All of the Moorings boats were catamarans, so we got to see all of the excited families who were going out on their charters.  It put a festive note in the air and ensured plenty of hustle and bustle on the docks.  Better than TV!

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Conch Inn & Marina is pretty high on the swank-o-meter.  It has a hotel, pool, dive shop, and really nicely manicured grounds.

Part of the reason we took a slip was to sit out some nasty weather in a secure spot, and that worked out well.  The boats on the transient dock were full of fun people, and we had a great time socializing with our neighbors.

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Snug as a bug in a rug.  s/v Coy Mistress to our left and m/v Vagabond to our right.

We particularly enjoyed three guys from Islamorada on m/v Vagabond to our right; they are all neighbors and friends who go on fishing trips together, and they were delightfully funny.  s/v Coy Mistress to our left had a cat and two huge Bassett Hounds aboard; each morning Huckleberry would stand (well, lie) guard on the foredeck to watch the proceedings.

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Huckleberry, 60 pounds of love machine.  Not much bothered old Huck.

There were also a number of Scouting groups that were on catamaran or sailboat “camps” that came into the marina to start or end their journey.  The kids were beside themselves with excitement, and the parents and chaperones were just about as giddy.  It was refreshing to see respectful boys, boys who made eye contact and greeted you with a “good morning,” boys with no cell phones in their hands.  It was a lot like the Bahamian children we see, all of whom look you in the eye and wish you “good afternoon.”

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This 50+ foot cat had something like 28 Scouts aboard, plus a Captain, Mate, and chaperones.  

Marsh Harbour is a great stop if you need to refuel, to provision, and to enjoy eating out.  There’s not a lot of sightseeing, although it’s always an adventure being in a new place.  For boats anchored out in the harbor, there is a free floating dinghy dock to the left of Mangoes Marina.

Within a 15 minute walk of the marinas on the south side of the harbor (Conch inn, Mangoes, and Harbour Village), there are two huge, well-stocked hardware stores (Standard Hardware and Ace) as well as a NAPA.

Propane tanks can be filled via drop-off service at Corner Value, about a ten minute walk into town from the southside marinas.  Bring the tank before 9 AM for a 1 PM return or after 9 AM for a  4 PM return.  A 10 pound tank is $12, paid in advance.  The whole process was as close to painless as it gets.  Of course, I wasn’t the one carrying the filled tank back to the boat; the Captain got that honor since his backpack is bigger than mine.

There are plenty of liquor stores in Marsh Harbour, and I think we went in every single one of them.  The Captain has perfected his rum punch recipe, and given how much of it I drink (medicinal purposes, of course—it wards off scurvy), we require copious quantities of Ricardo dark and coconut rum.  We felt that the best-stocked liquor store with good prices is Jimmy’s Liquor across the street from Mangoes Marina.  However, if you want Ricardo, you have to walk up the street to 700 Wine & Spirits ; at $16 for a liter of coconut rum and something like $11 for a liter of dark rum, it is worth the walk.

I made the long-suffering Captain walk a mile and a half to Home Fabrics to satisfy my fabric obsession.  If you are an itinerant crafter, Home Fabrics has every kind of craft supply that you could want.  Their fabric selection was dizzying and included quilting fabrics, fashion fabrics, home decorator fabrics, and every kind of thread and notion.  I exercised admirable self-restraint and only got a few yards of batiks.

There are two bakeries, Island Bakery and Da Bes’ Yet.  Both have mouth-watering white bread loaves for $3 and also offer coconut bread, wheat bread, rolls, pastries, and desserts.  We did our part to support each frequently so as to avoid contributing to any rivalry.  The coconut bread was not as good as the loaves at Charlie’s Bread on Bimini, but the pina colada cake at Island Bakery was good enough to bring a tear to the eye.

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Island Bakery in all its finery.  I can smell it now . . .

There is a cute little Asian grocery called, aptly enough, Abaco Asian Market.  The owner is Bahamian, and his wife is Thai, so the items they stock are authentic and top quality.  They grow some of the specialty herbs they sell, such as Thai basil, and the wife cooks and freezes dishes for sale.

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Abaco Asian Market had everything you could want, including ripped movies for $5.  Their gardens out front were full of vegetables and herbs.

The jewel of food shopping, of course, is Maxwell’s Supermarket, which looks like a Publix plonked right down in the middle of a big parking lot.  If you want it, they’ve got it, and it’s not as expensive as other places in the Bahamas.  Their fresh vegetable display alone was enough to make me slightly dizzy; note that new veggies come in Tuesday after hours for Wednesday sale.

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We got a kick out of this “police station” in the Maxwells parking lot.  This was  pretty lackadaisical even for the rather relaxed Bahamanian governmental standards we’re accustomed to.

And on the subject of eating, on the recommendation from an employee at Standard Hardware, we had lunch at Golden Grouper.  It’s an unassuming diner, and the food was absolutely delicious and quite inexpensive.  We ate there twice and had virtually the same thing both days (the ultimate compliment!):  a cheeseburger and fries for the Captain, and an egg/lettuce/tomato sandwich and fries for me, with the rolls and bread made by one of the local bakeries.  Round that out with the best sweet tea we’ve had since being in North Carolina and a bill under $20, and we couldn’t have been happier.

As always happens, after a few days in a city we had had enough.  Stocked with fuel, food, liquor, and fabric, it was time to move along to Hopetown.

About Sail Kestrel

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