Ease of Sailing the Abacos: A Skippered Charter Story

22nd Jul 2019
A Skippered Charter Story

The Freedom of Sailing the Abacos

Why I chose a Skippered Charter

I wasn’t completely new to sailing. Nor was I a seasoned boat captain. I had no license, no formal schooling, and no experience sailing the waters in our chosen destination – the Abacos. My husband and our friends were already sold on a yacht charter in these less-traveled “out islands” of the Bahamas, so I’m so glad we had the option of a skippered cruise.

I had heard of the Abacos, but didn’t know much about them – or even exactly where they were. After catching sight of a friend’s Facebook pictures from a Bahamas yacht charter, some serious trip envy set in, and we started planning our own Abaco adventure. 

Two years earlier we had sailed in the British Virgin Islands on our first bareboat “solo” trip, taking the helm of a charter yacht without hiring a skipper to do the sailing for us. There was the adventure and thrill of having full freedom and control of our yacht. And then, there was the responsibility of having full freedom and control of our yacht! It’s an experience I treasure, but I also quickly learned the value of having a full fledged captain on board.

Arriving at the Dream Yacht Charter base

So, for this next chapter in our skippered chartering story, the decision was easy and upon arrival at Dream Yacht Charter in Marsh Harbour, on the island of Great Abaco, Skipper Stephen graciously welcomed our group of 3 couples aboard our new home for the next 7 days – a gorgeous 45-foot Lagoon catamaran. 

After getting our provisions on board for the week and settling into our cabins we were immediately in full-blown vacation mode. Now, I do enjoy chart briefings, but a cocktail and lunch at the waterside Snappas restaurant was a more than adequate stand-in. Afterward, we sat down with Skipper Stephen for a meet and greet, and some itinerary planning. Stephen was born and raised in the Abacos, so we knew we were in good hands and got on well with him from the start. 

There were a few things we already knew we wanted to see – swimming pigs, the Sunday Nipper’s party, and Hope Town that we’d seen in those Facebook images; that was the extent of the preplanning we’d done for our trip (in stark contrast to our solo BVI cruise)!  I didn’t study depth charts or scour the internet for all the best anchorages and restaurants. And as expected, there was no need. Based on a few simple questions, Stephen knew exactly where to take us – the best anchorages, snorkeling, fishing, restaurants and more – all the knowledge that weeks of internet research could never have matched.

Our skippered charter experience

Since our first day on the water was Sunday, we set off toward Great Guana Cay – home of the famous Nipper’s pig roast party – and leaving the dock was a stressless joy. He informed us that the party would start heating up early afternoon, leaving plenty of time for some stunning snorkeling at nearby Guana Cay Beach and lunch onboard. Afterward, we sailed toward Fisher’s Bay where Stephen informed us would be the best place to go ashore for the party. While we all got ready to go ashore, Stephen easily and single-handedly had us securely anchored in the shallow bay. I was more than a little thankful that I wasn’t nervously watching the depth, and shouting orders to an inexperienced crew on the foredeck. I also took full advantage of the opportunity to imbibe in the infamous alcohol-laden Nipper Juice, with no concerns since Stephen happily ferried us to shore and back.

The carefree week continued with one little-known local secret spot after another filling our days. A personal introduction at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, the local watering hole on Green Turtle Cay. A dinner reservation and lovely open-air dining at the Treasure Sands Club. An evening dinghy ride to tucked-away Cracker P’s restaurant and bar on Lubber’s Quarters Cay – a trip I most certainly would not have undertaken without a skipper, even if I had known it was an option. 

Still, the best was yet to be seen and experienced toward the end of our charter when Stephen asked if we wanted to swim with stingrays. The answer was a resounding “yes, please!”, and we headed for Nunjack Cay. Here, we found ourselves in a secluded cove wrapped with a stunning, horseshoe-shaped white sand beach. A short swim to shore, and we were surrounded by the graceful gliding beauty of at least twenty gentle stingrays – a memory none of us will soon forget. 

This surely will not be our last trip to the Abacos. Will we hire a skipper for our next charter? I’m not really sure. But we all agree that the trip would not have been the same without Stephen’s confident ease, good humor, and endless local knowledge. 

It wasn’t the same freedom as sailing our own yacht, but a different freedom altogether – the freedom that comes along with not having a care in the world.  A truly breezy vacation.

You’ve read about Carol’s journey in the Bahamas, now view an incredible skippered adventure in Greece.


Experience the beauty of the Bahamas’ 130 miles of cays and islands with one of our
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