Food Storage on a Sailboat
I Went Up the Backstay. Way Up

Thirteen (13) Things to Know Before You Sail to the Bahamas

We left the Florida on Christmas so we’ve spent just over a month in the Bahamas. We’ve learned a lot – some of it even useful. 

  1. Wifi is elusive in the Exumas. While some facilities mention wifi – the fine print says you only can use 200 or 400 mb per 24 hours. That is not worth the $10.00 fee. Of course many of the Exumas are uninhabited and we can’t expect the iguanas to offer wifi. Since we still can’t transmit on the SSB, we can’t use the email option. All of this explains why we’ve been silent. We are fine, happy, and having fun. Just not connected. We are in Black Point Cay today and tomorrow and plan to leave for Georgetown on Saturday if the weather allows. There we will be on the dock for two days and have plenty of wifi for that whole visit. You’ll hear from us. Promise.
  2. Sand Happens.  When you think about walking the beaches of the world, you forget that you bring some of that sand back with you. Keeping sand off the boat is more of a challenge than we thought it would be. We’re now bare feet only below, unless under way. Sand in the cockpit and on the cabin sole is still better than sand touching the keel, and it’s the rare boat that doesn’t touch bottom in the Bahamas. ThatPC290019 doesn’t mean you should plan on running aground or dragging your anchor to the beach. It does mean that your keel will most likely touch down on sand (or sand will come up to meet your keel) and you have to get used to it. The tides here range from 2.8 to 4 feet so don’t count on a high tide to get you off. Dave from Choctaw Brave taught us this one: “Brown brown run aground. White, white you just might. Green, green nice and clean. Blue, blue right on through. We get caught on the very light greens – so light they may be white and we definitely might. In the Bahamas, sand happens.
  3. Beer is really expensive here. Stock up. When you think you have enough, get more. Your wife (who never drinks beer) may begin to do so in the Bahamas. You could stay in Nassau three weeks longer than you intended. Bring more beer.
  4. Many food items are expensive here. Some I expected and some were quite the shock. Ever paid $3.98 for a can of chick peas?  Whew! We use a lot of them as I put them in lunch salads and make humus for cocktail hour. (Humus on sliced zucchini is an excellent appetizer.)  Other things to stock up on: chocolate, chips, pretzels, crackers, butter, and all kinds of nuts.  Side note: In Jacksonville when UA took EW to Costco, my sweetie returned with a 5 gallon canister of pretzel rods. I was less than impressed. Then, I realized that the pretzel rods are a great snack and the container is perfect for keeping nacho chips fresh and unbroken. I found room for 3 or four of them and then couldn’t find another 5 gallon canister of pretzel rods. I’d love to have a couple of canisters of pretzels and nacho chips on board.
  5. The People of the Bahamas are Wonderful. I don’t know when I’ve had better conversations with P1260005 strangers. Nearly every person has been friendly, helpful, and welcoming. The manager of the Green Parrot was sorry to see us go, said that they would miss us. One of our football watching friends left two cigars for EW.  At right is a photo of a souped up car. The owner, an elderly gentleman “just has fun with it” and was delighted I wanted a photo. Moments before, we had watched a domino game in the park and were invited to join. Come to the Bahamas for the sailing and the beaches, but make sure you take time to know the people.
  6. Nassau is worth a visit.  The Explorer Chart Books didn’t make Nassau sound welcoming at all. We did heed their advice and did not walk around at night, but we were all over that island by foot and bus over three weeks. The palm gardens on the eastern end only cost $2.00 to visit and are nearly worth it. The experience certainly was.
  7. Bahama John, Taxi Driver Extraordinaire in Nassau is a trip.  He drives like a maniac. He knows almost everyone on the island. He’s traveled in the US and he’s sailed in the Exumas. If you hire him to help you find a part, he will help you find that part. It will cost you, but you’ll have the part, a great story, and a new friend.
  8. They have a litter problem in the Bahamas. Some islands are better than others, but it’s clear that they P1260001 have not undertaken a successful anti-littering campaign. We walked past a young woman who was cleaning chewing gum off of her car. When she was done, she threw the paper onto the ground and drove off. That was minor compared to the litter we’ve seen in most neighborhoods. The mentality toward littering seems to mirror that of the US in the sixties. They need a “Give a Hoot” campaign down here.
  9. You need a Glass Bottom Bucket but you don’t need to spend $32.99 for it. You’ll use it to view starfish and search for conch. It will be extremely useful as a tool to check your anchor. A glass bottom bucket is a $3.99 hardware store bucket with the bottom cut out and replaced by a piece of plexi-glass. Before heading over here, go to your neighborhood hardware store and make a glass bottom bucket. Side note: EW loves the glass bottom bucket as it has provided me with much peace of mind regarding the anchors. When I am at peace, EW is at peace.   (NOTE: Below right is the CQR not holding the boat.
  10. Bahamians think a mile is too long for us to walk.  Every time we asked someone for directions, they told us it was “too far to walk”. Usually we just set out on foot anyway. Twice we took the bus, but it was only necessary once. From the marinas or dinghy dock in Nassau you can walk during the day to almost anywhere you need to be. If you take the bus, tell the driver where you are going and he or she will make sure to let you know when you get there. You can pay them as you exit. Exact fare is generally required.
  11. BASRA Radio offers local marine weather on VJF Channel 72 at 7:20 AM. On Thursdays they invite all cruisers to join the local sailing club for lunch at the Green Parrot. I imagine it would be a great way to meet sailors. We didn’t hear about it soon enough to attend.
  12. 66-foot tall boats can get under the twin bridges to exit Nassau to the east. Those bridges are posted as 69 feet on the charts. That’s pretty close to 66 feet, and we don’t have an exact measurement of La Luna as we simply determined that she couldn’t get under the 65-foot bridges in the Inland Waterway. During our time in Nassau we watched a lot of boats go under the bridges, and we talked with sailors but never found one with a mast over 55 feet. We stopped by their harbor office and asked folks at the fuel dock. We planned our exit with low tide (bridge heights are listed at high tide) and held our breath going under the first bridge. We didn’t touch but it sure looked like we would.
  13. Rose Island is the best kept secret in Nassau. The Rose Island anchorage is on the chart and P1280015 mentioned in Van Sant book as a good starting point for going across the Yellow Bank. His book is about making passages in the Bahamas and Caribbean, not about what you will see along the way. The Explorer Charts don’t mention Rose Island at all. We stopped there for two nights, arriving at 4:00 PM and spent the next day touring the area. There is a small island with a beach and a concrete walkway, and the main island has a stone jetty and steps cut into the hill to allow folks to walk to the beach on the ocean side. On Friday night boats from Nassau head over for the weekend – so Rose Island is their secret and their cocktail cove.  It’s not protected to the south or west, but is great in the prevailing winter winds. 

Other photos from Rose Island:

P1280024 This is the life.

P1280010 This coral was cut to create a wide and deep opening into the island. It may have been a salt works. They are now selling lots with docks.  The view above was as we were exiting the one below is the view into the circular harbor. P1280011 There is an island within the island and you can circumnavigate that in a dinghy, power or sailboat. Lots are available on the inner island as well as on the Rose Island itself.


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Tim Byrne

From the looks of the photos, it's a ball. I'll swap you some of the partly cloudy skys for the 8 ft of partly cloudy (and somewhat muddy and salty) piles on our drive.

Travel safely; enjoying the journey through your eyes and words.


At least we are doing some things right!
hip Hip Hooray ! to my fellow Bahamians.
our crime rate may be horrible.
But at least we are doing something right with tourism.


The Bahamas are beautiful -- a bit shallow though -- the bays not the people. The best to you.

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