An overnight sail away from busy South Florida lies some of the best cruising areas you can find anywhere in the world. The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is an archipelagic Caribbean state located within the Lucayan Archipelago. It comprises more than 700 islands, cays and islets in the Atlantic Ocean.The Bahamas lies north of Cuba and Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), northwest of the Turks & Caicos Islands, southeast of the United States state of Florida, and east of the Florida Keys.
With about 100,000 square miles of spectacular blue water just asking to be sailed upon, swum in and dived into, and entrancing islets worth exploring from every angle, these islands are a premier boating destination. There are no bridges connecting the over 700 islands, instead, boats are like family cars to the islanders. Many sail to work, make their living from boats, or pile the family into one for the regular Sunday drive and picnic.
Travellers either bring their own boats to the islands or rent a boat there, both of which are great options. Full-service marinas are available throughout most of the islands, with dockage, fuel and professional assistance, along with the emblematic Bahamian friendliness. Larger private boats usually make the Gulf Stream sailing by themselves, although comparatively smaller boats race across (especially in the summer, when it’s calmer) in fleets for mutual support. Bimini and the Abacos are the two most popular sailing destinations for private power boaters. Sailboats, which have a longer range, often cruise further south.
Charters are obtainable in the Abacos. There are operations in Marsh Harbour to fix you up with a sailboat or powerboat on which you can spend a week sailing the islands, dropping anchor wherever you please. If you are not ready to sail in a bareboat, you can charter a boat that comes complete with a crew. You just have to let them know where you wish to go and what you intend to do, and then you may either sit back and relax while they do all the heavy hauling, or you can help them sail the boat (which is the best way to learn).
You may decide to rent a small boat to for the entire duration of your stay on the islands. This way, you can be out on the water whenever you want, while still enjoying the flat-calm comforts of a land-based hotel. This kind of rental is available at nearly every marina in the islands, the largest selection of sport boats ideal for fishing and diving being at Abacos and Exumas.
If you do decide to go sailing in the beautiful Bahamian islets, here are a few spots you should mark on your navigational chart:
- Marsh Harbour
- Pelican Cay Land & Sea Park
- Hope Town
- Man-O-War Cay
- Green Turtle