Little islands, big wildlife

Great Inagua is a popular port in The Bahamas where you can clear Customs and find fuel,water and groceries. Here, wildlife is abundant and home to some of the most intriguing species in The Bahamas. For those interested in dining ashore, there are several tasty restaurants from which to choose. The island specialty is wild boar, and “kicking beef” commonly appears on the menu.

Birdwatchers travel from all over the world to observe the burrowing owls, Bahamian parrots, spoonbills, and the amazing 60,000-flamingo spectacle during nesting season. This population of West Indian Flamingos is one of world’s great conservation success stories. A vast area of Inagua is a preserved national park under the Bahamas National Trust’s supervision led by Wardens Henry Nixon and Casper Burrows. Contact either Nixon or Burrows for a tour, and bring your best camera with a telephoto lens. Be sure to ask the wardens how to prepare for the expedition, and you’ll certainly want to pack plenty of water and sun protection.

Morton Bahamas, a major producer of sea salt, is the chief employer on the island. Burrows previously worked there, so he knows all about the industry and systems. Most importantly, the marina is finally getting cleaned up, rebuilt and expanded to make room for larger Defense Force vessels, mail boats and yachts. All wrecked and sunken boats have been removed, and the controlling depth is set at 15′. The south wall, available to yachts and commercial vessels, is projected to extend 300′. This work in progress should be completed by fall 2016. In the meantime, boats will be able to go into the marina for fuel, water and possibly even a quick stay as long as they’re not in the way of the construction.

The best place to anchor for diving (and peace and quiet) is Man-O-War Cay, but if you prefer being closer to town, anchoring by the airport is the way to go. Prior to inclement weather, move your vessel into the safer waters of the marina. Westerly winds may cause small surges and discomfort in the marina, but you will be safe.


Little Inagua

Little Inagua, situated slightly northeast of Great Inagua, is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Weather permitting, a trip out to the cay is guaranteed to be one of your most memorable cruising experiences. If you end up wandering inland, watch out for the poisonwood that grows around the cay. The anchorage is comfortable in easterly weather, so you can stay a while. The entirety of Little Inagua is a national park and also considered a no-take area out to 100 fathoms. If you visit during turtle nesting season (April through September), please report nesting tracks to the Bahamas Sea Turtle Network Facebook page: Tracking Sea Turtles in The Bahamas.

The masthead

It’s possible to spot an osprey soaring over the shorelines of The Bahamas. However, this is no dreamy, meditative Ishmael standing his watch in search of whales. Unique among North American raptors for its ability to dive into the water to catch live fish, observers can identify the North American Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) by its black mask wrapping around the head, while its West Indian subspecies (P.h. ridgwayi) has a much fainter mask.

Bimini Big Game Club

Complete Marine Services of Spanish Wells recently finished rebuilding the docks at the Bimini Big Game Club. The upgrade is especially important as this summer’s billfish season approaches. As the Big Game Club mentions on their website, the sands in the channel approaching Bimini are constantly shifting. They strongly advise that vessels call the marina for the latest information on how to safely navigate the channel. biggameclubbimini.com

LeoRose Sunset Beach Bar & Grill

Former Defense Force Officer Leo Kirby opened LeoRose, a new waterfront restaurant and bar in James Cistern (about 6 miles south of Hatchet Bay). The new spot serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lawrent Saunders, who cooked some great meals for us in Sandy Point, Abaco, moved back home to run the kitchen. Ask Saunders to whip up some of his conch-fried rice and you are in for a culinary treat! To make your LeoRose experience even better, the property has rooms as well as rental cars and small boats. With permitting weather, you may anchor your boat near the shore, dinghy in to the small dock and tie up for a meal. The location is perfect for sundowners and a green flash.

Navigation notes:

The western entrance to Spanish Wells is dredged to a controlling depth of 10′. This important channel allows deep draft boats to enter and exit the Spanish Wells harbor, even at low tide. When approaching Spanish Wells from the south, stay about a half mile off of Royal Island, and then head toward the power plant on Russell Island. About 100 yards off the power plant, turn to run parallel to Russell until you can turn into the marked opening of Mouth Sound channel (western entrance to Spanish Wells harbor). This is the best track for a 9-foot draft at half tide

By Stephen Connett, Southern Boating Magazine June 2016