‘Tis the season for many cruisers to be thinking about a path from the East Coast of the US, south through the Bahamas and onto the Virgin Islands. Wondering where to go?
John Herlig, who teaches “Bahamas Out Island Points of Interest and Navigation” at Cruiser’s University (Annapolis Boat Shows) is part of The Boat Galley team and recently helped a reader with a suggested route through the Bahamas.
With several months at your disposal, I would suggest crossing over via the north route and into the Abacos. You can easily stage this out of Lake Worth Inlet in West Palm Beach, Florida. You have a number of options for clearing in, from West End on Grand Bahama to the Green Turtle Club on Green Turtle Cay.
The Abacos offers you a lot of fun, with short hops, cute towns, and interesting islands to tour. The hop from Little Harbour, Abacos, to Eleuthera, is a fair day’s sail, but very manageable.
Eleuthera & the Exumas
You can decide in Eleuthera how much of the island you wish to see, eventually making your way from there and into the Exumas, the postcard of the Bahamas. The Exumas presents a slew of beautiful islands, easily accessed from the protected west side and extending from the uninhabited northern cays within the Exuma Land and Sea Park and all the way down to George Town, Great Exuma.
There are also ample spots to seek protection as fronts roll through. It is always amusing to see the boats cluster up when a norther is bearing down. Do be aware that the Exuma Land and Sea Park requires payment within its boundaries for moorings OR even just anchoring.
Long Island is a relatively short hop from George Town, and the stores of Salt Pond offer some of your last decent provisioning options before you shove off. There will certainly still be items you will want to have grabbed back in George Town—nothing will match those options until you get to the Dominican Republic or to the Virgins.
Conception, Rum, Acklins, and Crooked Islands all await you with beautiful anchorages and snorkeling, but no legitimate provisioning. Depending on your eventual path towards the Virgin Islands, Matthew Town on Great Inagua offers fuel and some moderate provisioning as well, and the dockmaster at the government docks is a gem.
While the Bahamas no longer requires you to clear your boat out, if you will be stopping in any non-US port, you will need clearance papers. You can do this at any Customs and Immigration office for a cost of $75.
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