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Marsh Harbour, Bahamas –

Abaco’s Crown Jewel By Rebecca Burg Lunch stop on Bay Street


entered on the east coast of Great Abaco Island, Marsh Harbour is the third largest town in the Bahamas. Not only does the area provide a large, sheltered anchorage, but it’s a common stop for provisions and parts. When first poking your bow around the rocky Inner Point, swing to the left and steam east-southeast to avoid the commercial shipping channel. The layout is easily discernable on the charts. For boats that are not checked in, it’s preferable that they proceed to one of the marinas instead of the busy commercial dock. At the fuel dock or in a slip, customs and immigration can be called in to clear the vessel. Entry fees are still $150 U.S. dollars (cash only) for boats under 36-feet and $300 for boats 36-feet and over. This includes a fishing license. There are good full service marinas to choose from, or boats can anchor in secure holding over the mud and clay-like bottom. Free dinghy access is a square wooden raft near the Union Jack public dock. Securely lock the dinghy at night. Despite being the third largest town, Marsh Harbour only has one stoplight. On the bustling Bay Street, cars rattle by pretty quickly, driving in the opposite lanes than what


May 2009


Americans are accustomed to. Grocers, hardware, liquor, dive and tackle shops, clothing stores and restaurants are all within convenient walking distance. Many boaters bring folding, wheeled dollies to transport an ample load of provisions while ashore. Taxis are hailed on VHF 6, and they’re familiar with the Union Jack dock. Local businesses are contacted on VHF 16, which, as in the States, is also used as an emergency frequency. Cruisers in the know hail each other on 68 and then switch to a working channel. In the mornings, an hour-long “cruiser’s net,” broadcast on 68, keeps boaters informed. This helpful resource for mariners comprises weather reports, local events, relevant announcements, restaurant specials and requests for help with things like locating a lost dinghy. Water-based tourists are thrilled by the Bahamians’ amicability and by the fact that boats of all kinds are enthusiastically welcomed. American cruisers, often tormented every few dozen nautical miles of travel in their home waters by marine law enforcement, are amazed almost to disbelief by the friendlier attitudes of the Bahamas. Also, anchoring is not restricted, and boats aren’t incessantly harassed while they’re waiting for the next safe weather win-

Southwinds May 2009

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