Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Marsh Harbour to Great Guana - 2017

--Blogpost written by Bob

This blogpost covers are trip between Marsh Harbour and Great Guana Cay as well as the two nights we spent on Great Guana Cay.


Today is Monday, not that it is different from any other day of the week for us.  It is April 24th and we're glad that it finally stopped raining and the sun is out.  All our hatches are open and our boats fans are all running to get rid of the dampness inside our boat from yesterday--it comes from the damp atmosphere.

I bailed out about 4 inches of rainwater from the dinghy before breakfast this morning.  (Officially, we got 3-1/2 inches of rain yesterday.  One of the dirt dwellers on the Cruiser's Net mentioned that yesterday's rain added 40,000 gallons of water to his cistern.)   The sun is out and it is 76 degrees already at 8:30 AM.  We have a nice 10-knot breeze out of the west southwest--a different direction than we've experienced lately.

We learned on the Cruiser's Net this morning that a 50-foot sailing catamaran arrived in Marsh Harbour yesterday on its way from New Zealand to the United Kingdom.  (I would think that they will go from here to Bermuda before crossing the big pond.)

Before leaving Marsh Harbour, we decided to get a mooring in Fishers Bay on Great Guana Cay--it is northeast of Settlement Harbour (a short dinghy ride away) and should be less crowded.  (I anchored in Fishers Bay when I was here 25 years ago, not having moorings available at that time.)

We raised our anchor (with assistance from our trusty anchor windlass--we should name her Wendy!) and headed out of Marsh Harbour toward Great Guana Cay at 11;30 AM.  Great Guana Cay is a distance of approximately 7-1/2 nautical miles, across the beautiful Sea of Abaco from Marsh Harbour.

This is a GoPro shot of our bow wake as
we motored to Great Guana Cay.

When we got to Fishers Bay we didn't have enough protection from the wind.  In trying to pick up a mooring buoy, Maggie dropped the boat hook into the water and had to jump in after it to retrieve it.  After that debacle we decided to get a mooring in Settlement Harbour where we thought it would be better protected from the wind and waves.

A view of Settlement Harbour on Great Guana
Cay from our mooring.

This is the beach bar at Nipper's...

...and the ocean beach at Nipper's.

We arrived in Settlement Harbor on Great Guana Cay at about 1:30 PM and had lunch on the boat.  We took the dinghy into Dive Guana and paid our mooring fees for 3 days in advance and then walked up the path to Nipper's.  Nipper's is a large ocean front beach bar with two fresh water swimming pools, a dance floor, and a beautiful ocean beach.

Our dinghy's outboard had two "difficult starting" episodes today.  It eventually started both times but after many, many pulls on the starting cord.  I had previously I filled up the dinghy's fuel tank from the jerry jug--it's high-octane aviation gasoline I brought from Annapolis.  I hope it didn't get tainted.  (Tomorrow, I will check the fuel filter before starting it--it is intended to be replaced when dirty but I will try to clean it since I don't have a spare outboard fuel filter.)

Orchid Bay Yacht Club & Marina next to our mooring here in Settlement Harbour has 66 slips but only has seven boats berthed in the marina (10.6% utilization) at this time while marina's in Marsh Harbour are still full.  (On our second day on Great Guamna, three more sailboats took slips at the marina.)  There is a new marina being built on the north side of the Harbour but it is clear that there is not enough demand for slips to make it a success.


Last night was a rough night for sleeping!  The wind changed direction slightly (probably from the southwest) so as to come right into the harbor's entrance and then it picked up in velocity.  The boat "hobby horsed" on its mooring most of the night.   As the boat experiences so much motion, our two anchors mounted on the bow rollers bang together and their heavy clunking noises add the sleep-disturbing activity.  In the middle of the night it rained for maybe 15 minutes, enough for us to get up and close the hatches.  As the sun came up this morning, Tuesday, April 25, a couple small power boats (probably on their way out fishing) passed us, rolling us side-to-side.  

As I have my morning coffee sitting in the cockpit all groggy-eyed, the gulls sitting on the tops of the pilings at Orchid Bay Yacht Club & Marina are yelling at the top of their lungs.  As usual, we're listening to the Cruiser's Net on channel 68.  The wind has switched to westerly and the boat's motion is not nearly as violent as it was during the night.  It is quite cool this morning and the weather prediction is to reach a high temperature of only 82 degrees today.

Before we started out on our day exploring the island by land, I removed the fuel filter from the outboard engine and blew through it with my mouth--this seemed to dislodge and debris because the outboard engine now starts like a charm again.

We rented a golf cart from Dive Guana to explore the island.  Great Guana Cay is about 5.5 miles long and maybe one mile wide at its widest point.  

This is Front Street that runs through the original settlement.  A
more normal road (they call it a freeway) runs along
the developed area on the northern
end of the island.

There is an occasional rocky area along the beautiful beach
on the ocean side of Great Guana Cay.

Along the ocean beach someone collected a lot of flotsam
and erected a sort of memorial (left side of image).

This is Grabber's Bar & Grill just off of Fishers Bay where
Guana Beach Resort was previously located.

We had a terrific thin crust pizza for lunch at Grabber's--the best we've had in the Abacos!

After lunch we dinghied back to the boat.  (The engine started fine again after cleaning the fuel filter this morning!). I took a much needed nap while Maggie sunbathed on the foredeck.  She has me a bit concerned since she's been obsessed with sea turtles ever since we were in Little Harbor.  Here in Settlement Harbor there is a sea turtle that Maggie thinks looks directly at her when he/she surfaces for air and wants her help.  The turtle does surface very close to our boat.  As we were watching the turtle late in the afternoon, a large ray glided along the bottom right along side our boat.  This harbor is clear and full of sea life!

A U.S. Coast Guard vessel named "Cormorant" has been berthed
on the t-head at Orchid Bay Yacht Club & Marina all
afternoon.  Two big guns are mounted
on the foredeck.

I hope I can sleep better tonight.  If not the wind again, I will
be worried about this chartered catamaran that is
anchored too close to our mooring.


We had a very restful sleep last night because of the very light winds and the southerly wind direction.  As I'm making coffee this Wednesday morning, April 25, I'm thinking about how expensive it is here on Great Guana.  Yesterday, we bought a six-pack of local (Kalik) beer and a six-pack of club soda at the only liquor store on the island and it cost $29.  Also, for lunch we bought an 18-inch thin crust pizza with pepperoni slices on half and green peppers on the other half, a Kalik, and a Diet Coke all for slightly less than $50--this was at Grabber's.  The day before at Nipper's we had a Kalik and a frozen nipper (the house drink) for $18.  I'm not one who is usually concerned about prices of food nor complains about the typical $15 price for a hamburger here in the Abacos, but  prices on Guana are ridiculous!

As we drove around on our rented golf cart yesterday, we found that the entire island south of settlement point consists of the Orchid Bay development with its restricted access.  On the very north end of the island, Baker's Bay is being constructed.  In between these two large developments is the very small original settlement and several individual (restricted) developments that overlook the ocean or the Sea of Abaco.  Great Guana Cay success is closely tied to the state of the U.S. economy and tourists with deep pockets because of these exclusive developments and high prices for food items.  With the island's attraction being exclusive home sites and two large party bars, I don't see much to attract typical cruisers to Great Guana.

We decided to leave Great Guana a day early and head to Treasure Cay.  Stay tuned for our experiences at Treasure Cay...

Thanks for following our blog!

1 comment: