Chuck Baier and Susan Landry purchased their 34-foot Marine Trader, Beach House, with the sole purpose of cruising the Great Loop (circumnavigation of Eastern North America). They planned to depart from Naples, Fla. in December 2012. Before heading north along the east coast, the pair decided to take a detour and cruise around the Florida Keys and Bahamas.
They spent most of November prepping and gathering enough supplies for a three-month excursion. Once underway, they spent time in Marathon, Fla. visiting some of their old cruising friends before heading to the Bahamas. Unfortunately, with weather delays and mandatory repairs needed on the boat, the trip was unexpectedly put on hold and they were unable to leave for the Bahamas until early March. They have highlighted their favorite marinas along the way.
HIGHLIGHTS: They departed for the Bahamas from Key Biscayne, Fla. (near Miami) and had a leisurely trip to Bimini. They docked at Bimini Big Game Club in North Bimini, primarily due to their reasonable prices and very manicured facilities. Adrenaline was pumping when Chuck and Susan enjoyed the custom built shark cage at the marina where visitors can experience the wild Bull Sharks of Bimini. They spent about three weeks in Bimini, exploring what the island has to offer while enjoying early morning walks gathering shells and sea glass along the beach. They ventured to the Dolphin House (242-347-3201), one of the highlights of the trip. Built by historian and artist Ashley Saunders, visitors can tour and book a room at the house made entirely of collected materials salvaged from old buildings and materials washed up along the shoreline. The couple dined at CJ's Deli (Queen's Highway, 242-347-3295), a smaller yet quaint restaurant on the island where they feasted on conch fritters and fried chicken, a favorite dish for the couple throughout the entirety of their trip.
HIGHLIGHTS: According to Chuck, harbormaster and manager, Peter Attaloglou, helped make this marina a top choice with his welcoming nature, expert knowledge and guidance on the best places to eat, visit and explore. The couple stayed at the marina for about a week and made multiple trips to the fish market, a popular spot where local fishermen dock along the sea wall and sell their catch of the day, primarily grouper and snapper, under a swarm of red roof tents. They enjoyed a self-guided walking tour of the Botanical Gardens, maintained by the Bahamas National Trust, where they enjoyed the natural beauty of Nassau.
They dined at The Poop Deck (242-393-8175, thepoopdeck.com) a local restaurant in Eastbay that serves typical Bahamian fare and a variety of staples including a delicious club sandwich. You also can't beat the incredible view of the island while dining.
HIGHLIGHTS: The couple enjoyed this marina with added help from the Kelly brothers, the managers and harbormasters, whom have been working together running the business for over 20 years. They work like a concierge service for the boaters, said Baier. The marina staff goes out of their way to make guests feel welcome, arranging golf cart rentals, offering visitor recommendations and even helping Chuck and Susan find a diver to check the propellers before they headed to the Abacos. A ferry service took Chuck and Susan from Spanish Wells to Dunmore Town on Harbour Island located on the northeast part of Eleuthera. They explored Dunmore Town's various shops and restaurants. They also took the ferry from Spanish Wells to the main island of Eleuthera, where they rented a car and drove the entire length of the island in one day, only to discover new and enticing views on land that visitors are unable to see from a boat. Back at Spanish Wells, they ate fantastic conch fritters at The Anchor Snack Bar (242-333-4023), a local restaurant with a waterfront view located within walking distance to the marina. It had been almost 20 years since the couple visited the marina, but each visit brought new memories to bring back home with them.
HIGHLIGHTS: Chuck and Susan stayed at Leeward Yacht Club due to its close proximity to New Plymouth near Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos, the location where the Island Roots Heritage Festival takes place on the first weekend in May. This festival brings visitors from all over to the Abacos to celebrate the heritage of the island with music, food and an array of activities for all to enjoy. The marina hosts a 28-slip dock offering access to free WiFi, and is home to the Lizard Bar & Grill (242-365-4191) with an adjacent pool overlooking the Black Sound. The couple enjoyed a night out dining on conch burgers and fritters while friends they were with sipped on the restaurants signature Leaning Lizard cocktail. They rented a golf cart from the marina and explored the town of New Plymouth, taking in the gorgeous beaches surrounding them and touring the new housing developments being built next to the marina.