From throwback resorts in Little Harbor, Great Abaco to stingray feeding experiences to Bahamian Track & Field, the islands are sure to delight!
Little Harbor, Great Abaco
Popular with both land- and sea-based visitors to the Abacos, Little Harbor sits at the southern end of the Sea of Abaco and offers a slice of life in The Bahamas much as it used to be. This is a small but very protected harbor with a narrow entrance. Recent reports from cruisers suggest approach depths of 3-4 feet at low tide with a tidal range of 2-3 feet, and a series of red and green markers indicate the channel. Once inside, Pete’s Pub offers dockage for smaller boats and moorings with plenty of depth for most cruising boats. Some space remains for anchoring with good holding and excellent protection. Ample dinghy access to shore is available at Pete’s docks or on the white sand beach. Other than the pub and gallery, there are no services here. This means no shopping, fuel, water, or garbage collection, so cruisers need to be self-sufficient.
Randolph Johnston, his wife and their three sons first established the family compound here in 1951. An artist and educator from the United States, Johnston and his family arrived on his schooner seeking an escape from the pressures of the “real” world and a place to practice his art in the Caribbean. Johnston’s primary medium was bronze casting, and within a few years he was casting sculptures using the centuries-old and very complex now-lost wax process. He established the Johnston Studio & Foundry here on this small, nearly uninhabited peninsula and built an international reputation and following.
Today, under the guidance of Johnston’s youngest son, Peter, the foundry continues to operate. They provide workshops and apprenticeships for Bahamian artists and maintain an extensive gallery. Peter is an accomplished sculptor whose work focuses on local marine life. When a casting operation is about to take place, Peter will announce it on the morning Abaco VHF net, and visitors are welcome to attend and witness the creation of this difficult art form.
Meanwhile, next door at Pete’s Pub, Pete and his son Greg operate a true vintage beach bar. It’s reason enough to visit the harbor. An extensive and varied menu of seafood dishes, burgers and some of the best rum drinks around make this a great place to stay and chill for a while. Regular pig roasts for special occasions are well worth planning a trip. Take a dinghy ride to the rocks on the west side of the harbor and clamber around the caves where the Johnston family first resided. They even shared their space with bats. Be sure to visit the ruins of the lighthouse that, for decades, led mariners through the Little Harbor Cut from the Atlantic into the Sea of Abaco. facebook.com/Petes-Pub-Gallery–144337852300293/
Stingray feeding experience
Keith and Linda Cooper, residents of West End, Grand Bahama, are offering a unique aquatic experience at Sandy Cay. Hand feeding stingrays may seem dangerous, or at least a little foolish. But this is a safe and photogenic opportunity to experience one of the most recognizable forms of sea life in The Bahamas. Sandy Cay is just a few miles offshore from Grand Bahama Island’s West End. The Cooper’s “Stingray Feeding Experience” starts at West End with a 25-minute boat ride to the Cay. Keith will spend as much time as necessary with his clients in the water to develop their confidence and familiarity with these gentle creatures. This is not simply tossing food to the stingray. Instead, you hold the food in your hand and rest it palm up on the bottom of the shallows. The stingray will approach and suck the fish from your fingers. You barely feel the action, but the body of the stingray is just inches from your face. A GoPro or still camera will capture images to shock and impress your friends back home. Sandy Cay is a wildlife lover’s paradise with flocks of ducks, herons, pelicans, and a variety of sea life. Your visit will show you a bit of the old Bahamas.
IAAF track competition
Cruisers to The Bahamas who are fans of field and track competitions have a rare opportunity this month. The Bahamas are known internationally for their success in track events, particularly for their men’s relay teams. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Shaunea Miller brought home a surprise gold medal in the women’s 400m and the men’s 400m relay team took bronze. The prominence of Bahamian track athletes, along with the world-class hospitality of the islands, explains why the country will host the IAAF World Relays for the third consecutive year. The competition will be held at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau April 22-23, 2017. Events for both men and women at multiple distances will earn automatic berths in the World Championships for the top teams. Tickets can be purchased online at nsa-bahamas.com.
Words & photos by Rex Noel, Southern Boating Magazine April 2017