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Old 12-07-2017, 08:20 AM   #1
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Default family trip to bahamas / abacos

thinking about a trip to bahamas for the summer[usually go to the keys every year for 20 years]
been to bimini but never over to abacos
would like to island hop and explore a little ,
have 35 contender
any reconmendations or where and what to do
maybe rent a small house in abacos
some fishing and diving
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Old 12-07-2017, 08:28 AM   #2
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IMO your two best islands in the abacos are Elbow Cay and Green Turtle Cay. Both islands have many options to rent and also have lots of places to visit.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:21 AM   #3
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trying to figure out which would be the best deal
1. take my boat and go over and rent a house and explore
2.rent house and boat and fly over for same
3. rent power catamaran and stay on boat to move around

which would be cheaper
also and better for my limited vacation time [trlr boat from alabama to fl. then time over and back from islands
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:50 AM   #4
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Depending on number of people option 1 would be cheaper although that may not be true if you add trailering expenses, gas for cars & boats, rooms in FL before you cross and when you return. In addition, you would be at the mercy of the weather for crossing.

Option 2 would be better for limited vacation time and may even be cheaper.

I would not do option 3 but I'm not much of a cruiser type. Abacos is not setup like BVIs so not as cruiser friendly.
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:10 AM   #5
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We have done option 1 several times, renting a house on Green Turtle. Option 2 sounds good too, but you probably won't be renting anything as nice as your Contender. One thing on option 3 - I looked into bareboat charter out of Marsh Harbor a couple of years ago, but the cruising limits were pretty small - the boats were not allowed Oceanside, which was a deal killer for me.
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Old 12-07-2017, 10:33 AM   #6
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Go with Option 1 if time allows. The trip over and back in half the fun. You'll want your own boat.
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Old 12-07-2017, 01:08 PM   #7
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C Skip R is right, Green Turtle and Elbow are your best bet. I have rented boats in the Abacos before (past 2 years) and won't do it again. Taking your own boat you will be at the mercy of the weather but you will have a boat you know well and should be confident in it's performance/reliability. In '16 the boat we rented the motor blew and this year we rented a 27 Mako (with 2x 150's) that couldnt get out of its own way. No trim tabs very small chart plotter not allowed outside the sea of Abaco etc.. We've been to both GTC and Elbow and truely love Elbow. If staying on Elbow be sure to check out Firefly! Best food in the Abacos!! Snorkel at Fowl Cay feed the pigs at No Name feed the turtles at Coco Cay and you will find all kinds of other stuff to do there. Again, take your boat! You'll be glad you did!
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Old 12-07-2017, 01:10 PM   #8
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I would do Elbow over GTC as there is much more to do in around Elbow.

Option 1 if you have some time. The ride from West End to Elbow is quite nice if weather is cooperative and I think the family would really enjoy it. I promise you will want your boat vs a rental over there.

Option 2 if you are limited on time and cannot think about weather windows, etc. Most of the rental boats work but are certainly not very nice. Larger rentals are harder to come by and is what you would need for a family.

Option 3 is not my jazz so would never consider it.

Keep in mind once you spend time getting to the airport, sitting and waiting, flight time, getting through customs, renting the boat, then heading to the house you would have spent equal or less time going over by boat.

My advice: Plan to trailer boat, get to West Palm/Riviera beach, find a hotel for the family, rent a slip at Riviera Beach City Marina, leave the boat there overnight, get up the next morning and be on your way. Use Lake Park marina ramp to load out/load in and pay the daily fee to leave truck and trailer.

Fuel up the boat before you get to the ramp so the next morning everything is ready to roll. Keep in mind, the later in the summer you go, the better the seas and weather are. Negatives to this are the bugs at night and the lack of fishing over there. The earlier you go the more risk for bad weather but fishing is better.
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Old 12-07-2017, 03:02 PM   #9
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is lake park marina safe to leave your boat and trlr for the week / 10 days ? heard some horrow stories about getting stolen?
route s over check in at west end? and north side ?
recomendations on houses to rent ? price?
house with a dock or marina dockage?
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Old 12-07-2017, 03:28 PM   #10
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Left my truck and trailer at lake park marina with no issues on same trip you’re planning this past June. Clearing at West End was easy. I think south is a good deal further with more open water. We stayed at house called conched out which had dock on sea of Abaco. Would look at vrbo or hometown hideaways for rental with dock

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Originally Posted by ruuster View Post
is lake park marina safe to leave your boat and trlr for the week / 10 days ? heard some horrow stories about getting stolen?
route s over check in at west end? and north side ?
recomendations on houses to rent ? price?
house with a dock or marina dockage?
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Old 12-07-2017, 07:57 PM   #11
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You don't need to check in at West End. I leave out of Stuart straight through the Little Bank to Spanish or GTC to clear. In your 35 Contender you should be able to do the whole trip in 5-6 hours. It would take me 6-7 hrs in my old Robalo 29 w/ twin 250s. Takes me about as long in my 40 Cabo.

Most important thing is make sure you have safety equipment, EPIRB or PLB, and spare fuel filters, you don't want to find out you have bad fuel in the middle of nowhere.

Get the Dodges Cruising Guide to Abaco. He gives you all the waypoints to get there safely plus has all the tips, services, marinas, bars, and restaurants. Great source of information. Fuel at Treasure was usually the cheapest around the Abacos.

Little Bahama Bank averages about 20 ft in depth but you have to be vigilant for the occasional coral heads. If you follow Dodges, you won't have a problem. He's been printing and updating his book for almost 30 years.

I like renting homes or condos with a dock. There are plenty reasonably priced on AirBnb, Homeaway, and VRBO. Elbow is my favorite spot followed by Green Turtle and Treasure.

If you'd like to rent a cat from Moorings or similar, I have met many people over my trips doing that and they seemed happy. Although Abacos is not the BVI's there are still plenty of nice anchorages. I guess the only drawback would be the limits the rental company has on the area allowed to motor/sail.

You're in the right place looking for advice, and you will get plenty.
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Old 12-08-2017, 08:56 AM   #12
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The southern point of Great Abaco Island is great because you have easy access to the more protected western side of the island and also to the more open eastern side. There are reefs to snorkel/dive all around the islands (throughout the Abacos) and they are all beautiful.
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Old 12-08-2017, 09:05 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruuster View Post
is lake park marina safe to leave your boat and trlr for the week / 10 days ? heard some horrow stories about getting stolen?
route s over check in at west end? and north side ?
recomendations on houses to rent ? price?
house with a dock or marina dockage?
I also have this question... What are all the options for a safe and secure place to park your truck and trailer for a week or so and what does it cost? Do any of these options have monitored security?
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Old 12-08-2017, 09:06 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goody12 View Post
IMy advice: Plan to trailer boat, get to West Palm/Riviera beach, find a hotel for the family, rent a slip at Riviera Beach City Marina, leave the boat there overnight, get up the next morning and be on your way. Use Lake Park marina ramp to load out/load in and pay the daily fee to leave truck and trailer.
A room and slip at Sailfish Marina is a good option. Roll out of bed, walk to the boat and out the inlet quick.
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Old 12-08-2017, 10:54 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by xavierq View Post
You don't need to check in at West End. I leave out of Stuart straight through the Little Bank to Spanish or GTC to clear. In your 35 Contender you should be able to do the whole trip in 5-6 hours. It would take me 6-7 hrs in my old Robalo 29 w/ twin 250s. Takes me about as long in my 40 Cabo.

Most important thing is make sure you have safety equipment, EPIRB or PLB, and spare fuel filters, you don't want to find out you have bad fuel in the middle of nowhere.

Get the Dodges Cruising Guide to Abaco. He gives you all the waypoints to get there safely plus has all the tips, services, marinas, bars, and restaurants. Great source of information. Fuel at Treasure was usually the cheapest around the Abacos.

Little Bahama Bank averages about 20 ft in depth but you have to be vigilant for the occasional coral heads. If you follow Dodges, you won't have a problem. He's been printing and updating his book for almost 30 years.

I like renting homes or condos with a dock. There are plenty reasonably priced on AirBnb, Homeaway, and VRBO. Elbow is my favorite spot followed by Green Turtle and Treasure.

If you'd like to rent a cat from Moorings or similar, I have met many people over my trips doing that and they seemed happy. Although Abacos is not the BVI's there are still plenty of nice anchorages. I guess the only drawback would be the limits the rental company has on the area allowed to motor/sail.

You're in the right place looking for advice, and you will get plenty.

This
Why trailer down to West Palm leave from SLI and pass by West End check in at Spanish or GTC
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Old 12-08-2017, 12:33 PM   #16
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If you are traveling to GTC, just clear in GTC. No reason to clear in West End. There is typically a lot of traffic there, although David (customs officer) is looking to expedite the clearing process. I like to clear the inlet before first light and arrive at my port of entry, either Spanish or GTC, just in time for lunch. Conch salad and a Kalik!

As far as recommendations on where to stay in the Abacos, I'd recommend GTC. I say that with a grain of salt too, as I was introduced to the Abacos with going to Treasure Cay for years prior to staying anywhere else and have been hooked on staying at Elbow Cay the last 3 years. The crime in Treasure and more-so in Elbow has been completely out of control and there is nothing being done to stop it. This past summer we stayed at our typical rental right next to Firefly for 14 days, Out of the 14 days, 17 boats were stolen, including rental boats. All it would take is to put a RBDF boat at the entrance of Marsh Harbour and the crime would stop. Instead, they let the crime continue and the Abacos are quickly going down hill. Treasure at least has put a cable up across at the fuel dock at night. Regardless, make sure you lock your boat up EVERY night. I always use a cable lock on the wheel and a transom lock on the motors. Even this will not stop them though, as they have started bringing plasma torches to the jobs and cutting boat lift locks and motor locks.

The good thing is that the Abacos aren't too big that you can't get from GTC to Elbow in a quick, beautiful hour boat ride. There is much to do between the two islands too. If you ask me, there is a lot better diving and reefs off GTC and to the north too.

Parking at Lake Park Marina is perfectly fine. They rarely have problems there.

Last edited by Chris7687; 12-08-2017 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 12-08-2017, 12:41 PM   #17
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Old 12-09-2017, 05:18 PM   #18
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Old 12-09-2017, 11:07 PM   #19
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The southern tip of Abaco OWK as HITW, is not a spot for a family vacation. Its a great spot for hard core fishermen but not family snorkeling/diving vacations. The currents are pretty brutal and the sharks are the worst in the Bahamas. You do not want your kids snorkeling in this area.
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Old 12-10-2017, 05:45 AM   #20
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The southern tip of Abaco OWK as HITW, is not a spot for a family vacation. Its a great spot for hard core fishermen but not family snorkeling/diving vacations. The currents are pretty brutal and the sharks are the worst in the Bahamas. You do not want your kids snorkeling in this area.
I agree. I would NOT recommend the HITW/Southern tip (as previously mentioned), nor would I recommend running South and coming up. There is NOTHING down there (on land). Also, I’m not sure where the previous poster got the idea that the Western side is “more protected”. It’s open, deep ocean 270 degrees around that tip.

GTC is nice, and Elbow seems to be a favorite for good reason (lighthouse, several reasonably good restaurants, groceries available, things to do by golf-cart, etc.). Note that things are already booking up so you may want to look into locking something down sooner rather than later.

Safe travels!
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