Bertram’s Destination of The Week: Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas
Known as the “Hub of Abaco,” Marsh Harbour makes a perfect base to explore, cruise and fish the fabulous Abaco islands of the Bahamas. Originally founded as a shipping port for the burgeoning lumber industry in the 19th century, Marsh features a large and relatively deep natural harbor that attracts boats of all types.
The town boasts a good selection of marinas for transient cruisers and anglers. Supplies are easy thanks to several full-sized grocery stores and well-stocked hardware and marine stores that rival what you may find in the U.S. Skilled mechanics are available for most routine engine service. Marsh Harbour also features many excellent restaurants and watering holes, so you’ll not lack for good food and entertainment.
The surrounding barrier islands make great destinations for day trips. These include Elbow Cay and Hope Town, Man-O-War Cay, and Great Guana Cay—all three just a short run from Marsh Harbour, listed south to north. Each island has its own personality and flavor and you’ll quickly get a feel for the area once you start exploring. We’re looking forward to doing so on the shallow draft 35. (Sorry! We had to get that in there!)
Extend the Fun: Hope Town on Elbow Cay is an easy cruise from nearby Marsh Harbour.
Photo: MG Turner.
Getting to Marsh Harbour is relatively straightforward. Most boats come from the north via the Little Bahama Bank, and Lake Worth Inlet at Palm Beach is arguably the closest inlet from which to depart. It’s about 180 nautical miles from LWI to Marsh Harbour, on a route that takes you by Memory Rock on the western edge of the bank, then on to Little Sale Cay, which you’ll pass to the north, and then to the east of Sale Cay Rocks.
Once clear of the rocks—which are easily visible—you head southeast towards Crab Cay light. Along the way you’ll pass the Center of the World rock and then transition into the Sea of Abaco, the body of water separating the barrier islands of the Abacos from the “mainland” of Great Abaco Island. The tricky part comes when you reach the passage between the barrier island of Green Turtle Cay (another worthwhile stop) and Treasure Cay on Great Abaco. A shallow sandbar extends eastward from Treasure towards Whale Cay. Deep draft boats have to travel outside of Whale to avoid this bar. These details and the entire Abaco chain are painstakingly detailed in a must-have book, The Abaco Guide, written by Stephen Dodge. Read this book, and you’ll be island-hopping in the Abacos like a seasoned pro in no time. Please send us your tips too!