The Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) has recently established a spectacular Coral Reef Sculpture Garden just off Clifton Bluff in southwest New Providence (25–00.5N/77–33.0W). If you stay at Albany or Lyford Cay or anchor in West Bay, it is an easy dinghy ride to the Garden in settled weather.
BREEF calls the garden “a perfect fusion of art, education and marine conservation.” It will promote the growth of new coral, provide fish habitats and relieve some of the pressure on the natural reefs in the area. The garden is already a regular dive site for Stuart Cove.
The impressive sculptures by local and international artists are all built of concrete, which provide a substrate for new coral. Scattered around the artwork are reef balls which are excellent artificial habitats for fish. The garden is in about 20 feet of water so is easily seen from the surface while snorkeling. breef.org
Sandy Point, Abaco
Some additions to the cruising life are just plain fun. Brad and Ceril, residents of Abaco, have built a floating bar in Sandy Point. In the summer months their barge is anchored just off the beach and has a small raft on a line that gets people back and forth from shore. The bar supplies a basic choice of beverages out of a cooler, and music is provided from a boom box plugged into a car battery. There is room around the barge to tie up your dinghy. From personal experience, drinking a cold beer in the midsummer heat while semi-submerged on the edge of the barge is delightful.
Aids to Navigation
The list of aids to navigation that are malfunctioning, abandoned, or missing continues to grow, so it is best not to rely on any of them. Gone are the days when you could depend on Great Isaac and Great Stirrup lights to guide you down the Northwest Providence Channel. The government simply hasn’t the money for maintenance. Thankfully, modern charts and electronics compensate for the loss of reliable buoys and lights. Be sure your paper and electronic charts are up-to-date and your GPS and radar are functioning properly—it is advisable to have a backup GPS. If you are not an experienced navigator you might consider traveling only in daylight, and it is never a bad idea to call ahead to a marina and ask for local knowledge and advice.
Cape Eleuthera Marina
The facility now sports a new swimming pool, the beach has been enlarged, docks are still in excellent condition, Pascal’s restaurant is open at the T-dock, and the staff are as helpful as ever. The showers and laundry are air-conditioned and clean, and the store has a good supply of snacks, liquor and bait. An added plus, the fuel dock never seems to run out of diesel and gas.
Westerly winds cause a miserable surge in the marina, but the staff will try to place you in one of the slips with minimal movement. Regardless, you will be safe even if you are in a slip with a lot of surge, and you will be happy when the wind clocks around to the east and sad to leave.
For fresh Bahamian food call ahead to Sheryl’s Inn (242-334-8111) in Deep Creek for supper. Sheryl’s does not serve alcohol but you can bring your own or go across the road to Friendly Bob’s bar and liquor store and carry beverages back to Sheryl’s.
Stone Crab Fishery, Eleuthera
A stone crab company is now operating in the Bight of Eleuthera. Bahama Biters (bahamabiters.com) has invested in hundreds of stone crab pots so Styrofoam buoys are everywhere. Keep a good lookout wherever you go in the Bight, and if you run at night know that you might snag a buoy.
Staniel Cay, Exumas
The Staniel Cay Yacht Club building has just finished a major upgrade. The kitchen, dining room, gift shop, and restrooms are completely rebuilt. The new dining room is lovely, overlooks the channel and is open to the fresh air or air-conditioned when that is more comfortable. There is a new chef with a good menu and prices are fair. The restaurant is open for lunch and there are two seatings for supper—reservations are strongly recommended. Breakfast is still served in the old dining room, which has been redone. For those who relished the sailors’ charm and controlled chaos of the old club, the bar has only replaced overhead lights and is still as cheerful as ever. Local residents and cruisers still engage in lively conversation and consumption of beverages and bar food.
By Stephen Connett, Southern Boating April 2015