Tag Archives: Bahamas

CLOSING THE LOOP, ATLANTIS & THE BERRY ISLANDS – by Randy

It is hard to believe that our family odyssey aboard Pilots’ Discretion is almost at the four year point. During our time aboard we have put in excess of six thousand miles under our keel, that is a lot of traveling by boat. We have seen and experienced so many diverse and unique places and cultures that it is now the norm for us to begin our day wondering what new adventure awaits. Florida is now nearly on the horizon and in just a few more days, we will be reinserting ourselves into our land based world, but for now we still have some traveling to do.

Our last port of call, Atlantis Marina, Nassau was not typical of the places we have visited along the way. Atlantis, to me, represents a combination of Las Vegas and a water based Disney World on steroids. Ryan and Ronan wasted no time finding the various water slides, while Theresa and I really enjoyed the front row seats we had at the marina as the various megayachts came and went. Click photo below for video:

It was a lot of fun to see, and certainly worth the visit, but it could not be more different than our next stop, the Berry Islands. The Berry Islands are a group of small cays that generally run northwest of New Providence (the island that Nassau calls home) for about 60 miles. The Berrys are largely undeveloped, or owned by private individuals and cruise ship companines, so they are about as far away from the bright lights and hustle and bustle of Atlantis as you can get.

One of the things that immediately struck me as we approached the Berry Islands was that the water is absolutely crystal clear. The Bahamas, in general, are known for their beautiful clear water, but the Berrys take clear water to the next level. It was, at times, hard to believe that our depth sounders were reading 50-60 feet while we were looking over the side at various marine life such as star fish, sharks and rays gliding beneath the Pilots’ Discretion. Click photo below for video:

The Berry Islands feel like a natural spot to wrap up our family exploring. We all got to see things that were not part of our norm. Sort of the signature for what has been an amazing four years of growth for our boys, and Theresa and I as well.

We left the Berrys on a direct course to West End, Grand Bahama Island. Ironic, in that our first stop outside the United States four years ago was, the still charming, Old Bahama Bay Marina, on West End, Grand Bahama Island. Click photo below for video:

After our stop on Grand Bahama Island it was time for the Pilots’ Discretion to cross the Gulf Stream westbound. Additional updates to follow.

HIGHBOURNE CAY & ALLEN CAY, BAHAMAS – by Ronan

After Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park, we pulled into port in Highbourne Cay Marina, where we were able to see nurse sharks, and reef sharks lurking around in the water right under our boat! After we were docked, we went bike riding around the island, found an isolated beach, and went kayaking. The next day, we took a short (5 minute) dingy ride over to Allen Cay,  which is an uninhabited cay full of wild iguanas. There were none on the beach as we approached, but with the hum of our dinghy motor approaching, dozens crawled out from the brush seeking fruit and vegetable snacks. Click the photo below for a video (v-log) of our adventures!

We were advised to be careful because the iguanas have sharp teeth and will bite if you get too close.

Iguana, Allen Cay, Bahamas (2018)

Iguana, Allen Cay, Bahamas (2018)

Our next of port of call, after Highbourne and Allen Cays, was Atlantis, Nassau . . .

P.S. There are no buses on Highbourne Cay!

Ryan & Ronan @ the “Bus Stop,” Highbourne Cay, Bahamas (June 2018)

Ryan & Ronan @ the “Bus Stop,” Highbourne Cay, Bahamas (June 2018)

 

 

EXUMA CAYS LAND SEA PARK, BAHAMAS – by Ryan

After stopping at Big Majors Spot, we headed north to Warderick Wells (the Exumas Cays Land and Sea Park). We spent a couple nights on a mooring ball and went hiking and kayaking during our stay. We hiked the main trail to Boo Boo Hill where we looked through the large pile of drift wood for boat names that we recognized. We kayaked past the park ranger’s station and hugged the coast until we got to the isolated Lucky Spot Beach. One morning while we were in the park, a nurse shark was hanging out behind our boat all morning. Click on the video below to check out our adventures at Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.

Our next stop was Allan Cay …

Swimming piglets at Big Majors, Bahamas

WHEN PIGS SWIM! BIG MAJORS SPOT, BAHAMAS (MAY 2018) – by Theresa

Continuing with our video logs, after leaving Staniel Cay astern, we next stopped at Big Majors Spot, home to the infamous swimming pigs. (Click on photo below for video.) The three little piglets swimming ashore, 0.55 seconds in to the video, were absolutely priceless!

The pigs swim out to greet the arriving dinghies, aiming to have their efforts rewarded with snacks. Although most of the swimming/beach pigs were docile and friendly, there was one rather large and aggressive pig. The posted warning advised beachgoers to beware of the pig (pictured above and below) appropriately named “Big Mama Karma.”  She was given that moniker because, like karma, she had been known to come back and bite individuals in the backside!

Big Mama Karma, Big Majors, Bahamas

Big Mama Karma, Big Majors, Bahamas

After Big Majors Spot, we next set a course north to Exuma Land and Sea Park…

Sandals Beach Resort, Emerald Bay, Exumas, Bahamas

GEORGETOWN & EMERALD BAY, SOUTHERN BAHAMAS (May 2018) – by Theresa

GEORGE TOWN, GREAT EXUMA, EXUMAS, SOUTHERN BAHAMAS

We arrived in George Town, dropped anchor, and were met with a low weather system. The ensuing squalls and lightning storms were among the worst we had encountered in all our time at sea.

Squall in Georgetown, Great Exuma, Bahamas

Squall in Georgetown, Great Exuma, Bahamas

Squall in Georgetown, Great Exuma, Bahamas

Squall in Georgetown, Great Exuma, Bahamas

Eventually, the stormed cleared and we rode our dinghy through the tunnel, into Lake Victoria. The Exuma Market (very well stocked for provisioning) had a new, floating, dinghy dock. The Exuma Yacht Club, across the street, had, what the boys’ claimed, “the best burgers in all of the Caribbean.”

Georgetown dinghy dock, Great Exuma, Bahamas

Georgetown dinghy dock, Great Exuma, Bahamas

Georgetown dinghy dock, Great Exuma, Bahamas

Georgetown dinghy dock, Great Exuma, Bahamas

No stop in Georgetown would be complete without a visit to Chat ‘n Chill over on Stocking Island.

Chat 'N' Chill, Volley Ball Beach, Stocking Island, Exuma, Bahamas

Chat ‘N’ Chill, Volley Ball Beach, Stocking Island, Exuma, Bahamas

Randy chilling at Chat 'N' Chill, Volley Ball Beach, Stocking Island, Exuma, Bahamas

Randy chilling at Chat ‘N’ Chill, Volley Ball Beach, Stocking Island, Exuma, Bahamas

The resident stingrays were hovering by the fresh conch salad stand waiting to be fed by those brave enough to get in the water with them.

Stingray at Chat 'N' Chill, Volley Ball Beach, Stocking Island, Exuma, Bahamas

Stingray at Chat ‘N’ Chill, Volley Ball Beach, Stocking Island, Exuma, Bahamas

Kids feeding & petting Stingray at Volley Ball Beach, George Town, Exumas, Bahamas (May 2018)

Kids feeding & petting Stingray at Volley Ball Beach, George Town, Exumas, Bahamas (May 2018)

St. Francis, just around the corner, was a great spot to end the day.

Dinghy dock at St. Francis restaurant, George Town, Exumas, Bahamas (May 2018)

Dinghy dock at St. Francis restaurant, George Town, Exumas, Bahamas (May 2018)

MARINA AT EMERALD BAY 

After George Town, we continued our journey north, next pulling in at Marina at Emerald Bay.

Marina at Emerald Bay, Great Exuma Island, Bahamas

Marina at Emerald Bay, Great Exuma Island, Bahamas

A short walk away, Sandals Resort is located on a white sand crescent beach.

Sandals Beach Resort, Emerald Bay, Exumas, Bahamas

Sandals Beach Resort, Emerald Bay, Exumas, Bahamas

Sandals Beach Resort, Emerald Bay, Exumas, Bahamas

Sandals Beach Resort, Emerald Bay, Exumas, Bahamas

Sandals Beach Resort, Emerald Bay, Exumas, Bahamas

Sandals Beach Resort, Emerald Bay, Exumas, Bahamas

Sandals Golf Course, Emerald Bay, Exumas, Bahamas

Sandals Golf Course, Emerald Bay, Exumas, Bahamas

Continuing our journey north, our next stop in the southern Bahamas was the infamous Staniel Cay …

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

LONG ISLAND, BAHAMAS (May 2018) – by Ryan

From South Side Marina, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, we traveled three days in a row, stopping at Mayaguana Island, Acklins Island, and finally Clarence Town, Long Island (Flying Fish Marina). The seas were relatively small and following, which was nice. The Customs and Immigration person arrived at our boat an hour after we arrived in Clarence Town, and checked us in quickly.

CLARENCE TOWN, LONG ISLAND (May 2018)

Ryan washing the salt off the boat, Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan washing the salt off the boat, Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas (Father Jerome’s Church in the background)

Flying fish marina is a very convenient spot for sport fishermen, with deep water just a few miles off the coast. Every day we were there the sport fishing boats would go out and come back with plenty of large fish, including Mahi Mahi and Tuna. Around dusk everyday the crew cleaned the fish and a lot of sharks came. Nurse sharks, Lemon sharks, and even a couple of Bull sharks, showed up everyday for the huge fish carcasses. Surprisingly the “docile” nurse sharks were also jumping two feet out of the water for the fish! We took amazing videos and pictures of the sharks feeding at the fish station

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Shark feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Shark feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Sharks feeding on Tuna at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

In 2014, when were last at Flying Fish Marina, they were working on a new building, a pool, and a restaurant. While we were cruising down south, we heard that their construction work was blown away with one of the many hurricanes. During our most recent visit, we were glad to see the work was finished and the result was excellent. The restaurant was great, and the store/marine chandlery was well stocked with boating essentials. Overall, the marina has great facilities and is a great place to stop in the Southern Bahamas.

Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Randy at Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Randy at upper deck Outer Edge Grill, Flying Fish Marina, Long Island, Bahamas

Clarence Town (marina building on the left), Long Island, Bahamas

Clarence Town (marina building on the left), Long Island, Bahamas

One day, while we were on Long Island, we rented a car and went out exploring.

CAPE SANTA MARIA RESORT

 After driving North, nearly the full length of the island, we stopped at the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort for Lunch. The view was excellent and so was the food.

Ryan, Randy & Ronan, Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan, Randy & Ronan, Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island, Bahamas

Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island, Bahamas

Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island, Bahamas

Cape Santa Maria  Resor sits overlooking Calabash Bay. It looked like such a great spot, we decided to take our boat there to spend a night at anchor.

Cape Santa Maria, Long Island, Bahamas

Cape Santa Maria, Long Island, Bahamas

COLUMBUS MONUMENT

After lunch at Cape Santa Maria, we drove further north to the Christopher Columbus Monument. Allegedly, the monument is overlooking the spot that Columbus first anchored in the New World. The allegedly comes from a lack of hard evidence, and San Salvador (just north of Long Island) has also laid claim to being the first place Columbus anchored.

The drive to the monument was three miles through, let’s say, less than favorable terrain. The rental car was a compact and not exactly fit for that terrain. About halfway there we passed a pickup truck (presumably with four-wheel drive) turning around. We still, unbelievably, made it to the monument.

Dirt road to the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

Dirt road to the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

It was a very short hike up a small hill. We took some pictures and then went back down Rocky/Muddy/Bush Whack Ave. It was fun, and a good live history lesson.

Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

Ronan & Ryan at the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

Ronan & Ryan at the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

View from the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

View from the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

View from the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

View from the Christopher Columbus monument, Long Island, Bahamas

HAMILTON’S CAVE

The next day, on Mother’s Day, we drove to Hamiliton’s Cave where the Lucayan Indians were thought to have once lived. The cave was full of many different types of bugs, bats, carvings, stalactites and stalagmites. Mom was very brave! Our guide, Leonard, told us that, in the past, the cave has been used as a hurricane shelter.

Ryan & Ronan entering the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan entering the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan exploring the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan exploring the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan exploring the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan exploring the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Carving in the stones in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Carving in the stones in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Theresa, Ronan & Leonard (guide) observing the bats in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Theresa, Ronan & Leonard (guide) observing the bats in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Theresa in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Theresa in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Stalactite in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Stalactite in the cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan, Ronan, Leonard (our guide) and Theresa, Cave, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan, Ronan, Leonard (our guide) and Theresa, Cave, Long Island, Bahamas

DEANS BLUE HOLE

After visiting Hamilton’s Cave, we took a quick visit to the infamous Dean’s Blue Hole. Dean’s Blue Hole is the second deepest saltwater blue hole in the world and the deepest one in the Bahamas. It is also the site of a few popular diving, and free-diving competitions. Unfortunately,  we did not go in, and just walked around the edge. I hope to go back and scuba dive Dean’s Blue Hole some day in the future!

Road to Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Another long bumpy dirt road to Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan at Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan at Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan at Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Ryan & Ronan at Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

Dean’s Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

We spent our last night on Long Island anchored in Calabash Bay, just off Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort.

Anchored just off Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island Bahams

Anchored just off Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island Bahamas

Randy & Ryan pulling up the anchojust off Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island Bahams

Randy & Ryan pulling up the anchor in Calabash Bay, just off Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, Long Island Bahamas

Our next stop in the Bahamas on our north bound journey was George Town, Great Exuma . . .

Bahamas Map

Southern Bahamas Map

Patton, Loblolly Beach, Anegada, BVI

Happy 15th Birthday Patton! – by Randy

imageYesterday was a pretty important day aboard the Pilots’ Discretion. Patton, our intrepid, world traveling Cocker Spaniel turned fifteen (15) years old. Way back when we initially left the comfort zone of our home marina in Tarpon Springs, Florida (2 and 1/2 years ago) we had some concerns with how well our then 12 year old buddy would adapt to a life at sea. Our concerns were completely unfounded. Patton is the first one up every morning and the last one to turn in each night after surveying the boat to assure himself that the entire crew is accounted for.Patton Kindle

Patton crew

Patton crew

He loves excursions in the dinghy and he has his favorite spot picked out under the Captain’s helm chair for long passages.

Patton driving the dinghy in the BVIs

Patton driving the dinghy in the BVIs

Randy & Patton in front of Tthe Indians, B.V.I.

Randy & Patton in front of the Indians, B.V.I.

The story would not be complete without acknowledging there have been some concessions made due to the decision to cruise with Patton. We do not patronize places along the way that are not dog friendly. We have on rare occasions had more difficulty clearing immigration as a result of declaring Patton as part of our crew but all in all, he has been a very positive addition to our crew and we would not consider having it any other way.

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Reupblic

Cable Car, Loma Isabel de Torres, Dominican Republic

 

For those of you following our blog who are not dog people, I am sure you just scratch your head when you see me acting like a very proud papa when talking about Patton. To the dog people following us, I know that I need to say no more.

Happy birthday Patton, the crew of the Pilots’ Discretion loves you❤️

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.

Patton enjoying the sunset from The Bight, Norman Island, B.V.I.