Our sailing the Bahamas adventures were full of all sorts – storms, sharks, new friends, beautiful turquoise waters, engine failure, pigs, iguanas, carnivals, lots of shallows and more. Read and watch our Sailing Bahamas series, full of articles and videos, to get a feel for sailing in and around the Bahamas, booking in, varied anchorages, lovely sights, must-see spots, and some great sailing.
Get a feel for sailing the Bahamas before you go there yourself.
Within each of our Sailing Destination areas on the website, we provide information that will give you a feel for our passage to and throughout the area. The information includes our passage plan and route, a diary-style article about what we got up to and a video showcasing the surrounding area and/or some sort of special event that happened (ex. engine failure and having to sail into an anchorage).
Each article and post have been created so that you can get an idea as to the various areas, what some of the highlights are, whether we think they’re a hit or miss and some of the difficulties we ran into. Our hope is that these sailing destination series will prepare you a bit more than just sailing to a destination blind.
Our trip through the Bahamas was prior to hurricane Dorion…
However, the areas we sailed in were not effected like the Abacos where. I’m told that everything we saw is still as it was. Considering we’re a deep keelboat, we skipped the Abacos due to depth but it’s not uncommon for sailors with keels to still pay a visit.
We enjoyed the Eleuthera and the Exumas with only a few scary moments!
Our Sailing The Bahamas Adventure
We sailed for two nights from Florida to arrive at our destination of Royal Island, Bahamas. Rather, I should say that we motored half and sailed half. The crossing of the Gulf Stream was noticeable but not bad. The whole boat shifted from side to side for a while but eventually slowed down. We timed our crossing well. (Video’s and more in-depth articles are included via links below or skip to an area you’re most interested in by using the navigational menu above – Sailing The Bahamas).
The sea state and wind were almost perfect.
Just before entering the area outside the harbor of Royal Island, we slowed down and waited. We wanted the sun to be a bit higher so we could see the ocean floor. The entrance to the harbor was littered with rocks so we needed to take it slow, stay on the recommended navigation line and have someone keep a lookout.
Our first stop was wonderful – a deserted island with almost no other people or boats around us.
The peace and quiet was bliss.
The highlights of Royal Island were testing out our new Mantus Anchor, watching my husband inadvertently swim up to a hammerhead shark eating a ray and meeting new friends that were testing out their new Outremer Catamaran.
Read more about our voyage and watch our video Sailing from Florida to Bahamas.
While anchored in Royal Island a substantial storm blew through sending over 45mph winds through the anchorage. Our priority was to check into The Bahamas, in Spanish Wells, however, we’d have to wait until the weather cleared.
The storm passed by.
Once the winds and seas were calm again we were fortunate enough to take a trip on our friend’s Outremer catamaran to Spanish Wells, the closest port of entry. Getting there ourselves would have been impossible. Our keel is too deep so it was great to hitch a ride on such a spectacular boat.
We went into Spanish Wells, booked in (there’s a lot of paperwork!) and got some bread and milk. The cost to book in was $300 and includes the fishing license. The $20 extra was the cost for our crew member. Check out our article and video entitled Catamaran Bahamas.
After our lovely stay in Royal Island, we pulled up our anchor. We headed for Governor’s Harbor on the island of Eleuthera, The Bahamas. Following the inward track we made on our plotter, we motored out. We did so the same way knowing that we’d avoid all the rocks and shallows. Once we were clear of obstructions, we pulled out the sail and enjoyed the quietness and freedom that our sailboat provides.
For an hour we motored but the wind changed in our favor and we eventually managed to get the sail back out. After ten hours we pulled into Governor’s Harbour, the old Capital city.
We were delighted to find mooring balls, a cute town, a great restaurant, and a carnival sailing the Bahamas.
Watch the video to see our passage plan on Navionics. There are also highlights from the passage, a walk around the town and discover what momentous thing our crew, Andrew, got up to. Our next stop was planned for Pig Beach.
Head over to Sailing The Bahamas Governors Harbour to get the full scoop.
Instead of making the 12-hour sail to Pig Beach we made a pit stop. We enjoyed a night’s stay at the beautiful Cape Eleuthera Marina. When we arrived a kind attendant helped us tie up the boat at the end of a T-dock. We all got off and were blown away with the beauty of the area.
After a lovely night’s sleep, we left the marina early in the morning and headed south to the Exumas. We sailed for the first five hours, had to motor for a while and then eventually sailed again. Just before arriving at Pig Beach we had to go over a very shallow area.
I held my breath as Simon navigated back and forth through the shallows.
When I saw 0.9 meters below the keel I became very anxious.
Eventually, we anchored near the Pigs. We all got into the dinghy and headed for the beach. To my utter amazement, the beach was filled with pigs – BIG PIGS. As we slowly approached the beach, the pigs started swimming out to the dinghy.
Discover what it’s like Swimming With Pigs In The Bahamas.
While anchored off Pig Beach we were a short distance away from one of the Bahama’s best natural attractions – Thunderball Grotto. Not only is the grotto full of colored coral reefs, high caverns, and beautiful fish. We also happened upon a nurse shark!
There are great fish, amazing views from inside the cavern. And if you’re very adventurous you can climb to the top of the rocky island and jump into the middle of the Grotto. The drop is around 20’ to 25’.
Both my husband and Andrew, did the jump several times.
If you ask them what it was like they’d both agree that it was a rush.
Afterward, we went over to Iguana Beach and saw loads of lizards! It was amazing. The day ended with beef stew and a family movie night. It was a perfect day.
Little did we know, however, that a disaster and I mean DISASTER would strike the following day. While leaving Iguana Beach we started taking on water. And it wasn’t just a little water – it was Niagara Falls.
Watch our video about the grotto and Iguana beach before moving onto our disaster: Thunderball Grotto & Iguana Beach In the Bahamas
So, we started to take on water while traversing a very turbulent waterway.
Water was rushing in fast and the bilge was working hard. It took us around three minutes to find the issue. I headed to the stern of the boat (back) pulling up floorboards. Andrew went to one side of the engine and my husband, Simon, went to the other.
Andrew discovered that an elbow connection on our raw water system had split. When I looked, all I could see was gallons of water spraying out everywhere in the engine room.
We survived! We had to anchor under sail power only and that’s after navigating through reef, rocks, and land. To get the full play by play, read our article and watch the video: Sailing In The Bahamas – Engine Failure.
Is it time for you to have your own Sailing Bahamas adventures?
We may not be in the Bahamas anymore but we’re surely still out sailing. If you’d like to join us for a fully immersive bluewater cruising experience (whever we are), learn more about our Britican Experiences.
|THE BRITICAN EXPERIENCE - A WEEK-LONG BLUEWATER CRUISING EXPERIENCE|
|During Merrill's Britican Experience he learned how to book out and into a different country, what it's like to fly a mainsail, genoa, and staysail, how to anchor, tie onto a mooring ball and dock up at a marina. And unfortunately/fortunately Merrill managed to experience what it was like to ride out a surprise tropical storm. If you'd like to experience what it's truly like to live and cruise on a bluewater sailboat, come join us for a week. Check out our availability here: Click here for more information.|