Great Harbour Cay

Great Harbour Cay is the major island in the north Berry Islands, which lie between the  Abacos to the north and the Exuma chain to the south. The Berry Islands are a stirrup shaped chain of thirty large cays and numerous small cays, totaling about thirty-two miles in length. The red bubble marks where we are located, at Great Harbor Cay Marina.

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There are very few protected harbors in the Berries and the Exumas, so I am  happy to be in such a spot, with 360-degree protection during these wild westerly and northwesterly winds that we’ve had for almost a week now.  It’s been blowing hard in general for over a month now, and from a particularly bad direction for boats in the Bahamas.

Look  how tight the cut is for entering the harbor! No matter how rough it is out side the harbor, once you enter the cut (about 40′ wide) you are in safe waters.  Whew!


The folks who run the marina will do just about anything to make your stay as enjoyable as possible, and several of the locals have small businesses catering to us visiting cruisers.  On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays a local woman bakes bread and delivers it right to your boat.  She offers a choice of white, whole wheat, cinnamon, coconut, and raisin.  On Wednesday evenings someone takes that same white bread dough and bakes pizzas and calzones that you can order ahead of time.  These also get delivered right to your boat.  Bob and I ordered a calzone last week.  We were told to only order one since it would be too much for just two people.  It was HUGE and fed us for three meals!

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Another night of the week (Fridays?) someone comes to the marina with cold beers and meats to grill for the weekly “Grill and Chill.” There is a women’s lunch outing every Wednesday and the owners of the restaurant come to the marina to pick up the ladies.  There is a similar event for the men called ROMEO (Really Old Men Eating Out).  On Tuesday evenings there is a ‘drink and drift’ where all the participants get in their dinghies, tie themselves together, and drift about in the harbor getting to know each other.  The weather has not cooperated for this since I’ve been here.  On Sundays the local church sends a bus to the marina to pick up anyone who’d like to attend services.  Again, we missed this event because it was too windy to leave Pandora unattended. There is also a Sunday brunch at a local restaurant– weather did not permit doing that either.

Monday evenings are pot luck dinners, and we participated in the one this week in spite of the high winds.  Everyone was clinging to their plates and nothing stayed hot, but it was a lot of fun.

There are all kinds of little get togethers here.  For example, today there was a fund raiser for the school:  a craft project to make your own tropical fish from a coconut hull.  So, while I wrote this blog and baked a loaf of bread, Bob was ashore (under the same pavilion where yesterday I made my warp) with at least a dozen other people, making his coconut fish!



The pristine beach on the ocean side (eastern) of the island is 3 miles long and boasts beautiful white sand.  There is a beach bar there with a glorious view.


The beach is about a mile and a half walk from the marina, although on one of our trips we noticed we could take a short cut through the golf course.  Yes, there is a golf course.  Back in the 1960s, when this island was a hopping hot spot for glitterati there was a resort here that boasted an 18-hole course.  The resort has since failed, and the course was in disrepair for years.  Since the renovation of the marina the golf course has been restored to 9 holes.  It makes a lovely walk…

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The one market on the island is also a mile and a half walk from the marina.  In whatever direction you start out walking, it is guaranteed that a number of people in various kinds of vehicles will stop and ask if you’d like a ride.  You really have to want to take a stroll to actually walk all the way anywhere.

The mail boat arrives on Wednesdays, so the best day to shop at the market is on Thursday mornings.  We did not get there that day last week, so the fresh pickings were slim.

The fresh producs.

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The refrigerated items.

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The pantry items.

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There was quite a layer of dust on the some of the staple items, so I’ll be sure to check expiration dates before buying.

Before I arrived, Bob joined one of the excursions on a particularly calm day when the tides were right, for a dinghy trip down one of the mangrove swamps that cuts through the center of the island.  Bob and his brother Bill saw lots of fish and turtles in the mangroves. It’s been the highlight of visiting this island for Bob, and I hope I get a day to take this trip as well.

It’s so rare that Bob and I ever stay in a marina, and this was has been such a great experience, with the friendly islanders and visiting cruisers like us, and protected waters during these violent storms, so this has become one of my favorite places.  This sign at the airport pretty much sums up the camaraderie we’ve found here.  I’ll definitely look forward to coming back.

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