One can’t say that the world has passed by the Bahamian out-islands, but one can truthfully see that, in these quiet little islands, Father Time has been very, very kind.
I first experienced the Bahamian out-islands in the mid-1970s, passing through as an ordinary seaman aboard the four-masted Portuguese schooner Argus. I was 23-years old, Argus more than 50, and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas was in its first year as an independent nation. As we lay at anchor along the eastern edge of the Gulf Stream, I recall marveling at the clarity and the range of colors of the water as it moved from the deep blue of The Stream, to turquoise, to pale green, to the dazzling white sand flanking the many empty, rocky islets.
These same waters inspired Winslow Homer, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and have not changed. In the little-traveled Far Out-Islands you enter a different , older world. Fishermen still harvest conch, grouper, and snapper from wooden boats. Farmers bring product to a co-op in broken-down pick up trucks. People walk. Glitzy hotels and casinos do not exist. One experiences a traffic delay because a herd of stray goats is camped in the middle of the road.
My favorite of these havens is Long Island, a long, coral ribbon running 90 miles north/south spanning the Tropic of Cancer. Long Island is a microcosm of the Bahamian out island experience. Far removed from the Nassau casinos, the islands' economy is dominated by farming and fishing. Tourism makes up the smallest part of the scene and, in fact, there is literally no presence of the all-too common chain hotel or fast food restaurant. Here, a local would more likely define fast food as a grouper, as that fish can be so elusive to the hook. There are no movie theatres, not a single traffic light, no neon signs. The main airstrip is at Deadman's Cay, and a big day on the island is when the mailboat from Nassau arrives, bringing relatives, friends, cement blocks, generators and other cargos.
Many islands boast peace and quiet among their treasures, but to me, the enduring charm are the Long Islanders. Quick with a smile, industrious, and once engaged, vocal! Cars are never locked, houses rarely so, and, tellingly, churches on the island out number bars at least three-to-one. The people here are known locally as "sheep runners" and, indeed, there are more of these little goats here than people.
Lagoon life and our boats
Atlantic Sail Charter in the Bahamas is a small, custom operation, set up generally for two couples seeking non-touristy, quiet, off-the-beaten path experiences on land and sea. Some have sailing experience and wish to enhance their skills; others interested in learning or just relaxing. Regardless of your preference or sailing experience, all who have traveled with us have enjoyed our unique pairing of a houseboat as home base, and an ocean-going sailboat for cruising the spectacular outer island waters of the Bahamas.
You are not be on your own here. Our charters always include a skipper with knowledge of the local waters, weather conditions and cool places to go, things to do. Part of this is practical: you are on an out island. There are no buoys, no marked channels, and the occasional navigation lights ashore probably have not worked for years. This is a delightful contrast for travelers who have experienced the Virgin Islands, for example. Perhaps the BVI were like this -- some 100 years ago! Our skippers have many times navigated the narrow channels and reef passages, and will teach you how to identify water depth not by buoys, but the old way, by the color of the sea. No TV either... no room service...shortwave radio weather reports are tuned in daily...beach bonfires occasionally...snorkeling for lobster or grouper for dinner (really!) pretty much every day. Your skipper will show you how to do all these things at a non-pressurized, relaxing pace.
Ana and The Troll
Sounds like a fairy tale, doesn't it? Well, it pretty much is. Except it is real, and less than a day's travel from New York City! Be prepared to decompress.
Staying aboard the houseboat Troll, in Joe’s Sound, northern Long Island, is an exceptional experience. Guests have said Troll is like a sunny beach house on a raft. It doesn’t rock and roll from the small waves, and its many large windows and screened front porch further enhance the natural setting of the Sound. Click the link above for pictures and more on life with a Troll. :) The Gallery section of this website also shows many photos taken by guests of their Out Island Experiences.
Anacacuya: A gateway under sail.
Troll is your home base, and Anacacuya (Ana for short) is your sea adventure gateway. Ana, is a 35 foot Pearson, the respected P-35, a widely-recognized modern classic in the best tradition of ocean-cruising and racing sailboats. In fact a Pearson 35 (Ana’s sistership) won the famous Newport Rhode Island to Bermuda race, a testimonial to both her seaworthiness and performance abilities on blue water.
Ana compliments Troll perfectly. She is anchored within hailing distance, with her captain aboard, ready for a leisurely day sail close to shore -- or outbound to the deep blue sea. Among striking range on Ana is Conception Island, a small uninhabited out-cropping surrounded by some of the clearest water on the planet. With the winter easterly trades, Ana can depart Troll in the morning and by early afternoon be anchored off this special island for an overnight stay. From Ana’s large, 9’ long cushioned cockpit, far offshore and hundreds of miles away from the continental USA, the star gazing is without parallel. The Milky Way, Southern Cross, Orion (everyone's fav) and Sirius – are seen at their most brilliant.
Ana is ideal for two to four guests on overnight excursions with her on-board galley, power-independence from land, and sleeping arrangements. The forward cabin sleeps two in privacy. Her midships cabin is more like a bunkhouse. The cabins walls are oiled teak, and brass kerosene lamps supplement the on-board electrics. A hard-bottom inflatable dingy makes shore excursions a delight. Think of Troll as spacious basecamp, Ana as a hike into the woods for an overnight in a with a way, way cool tent.
Welcome aboard! Welcome to "lagoon life."
Captain Pat, aboard Troll, Joe's Sound, LI
Latitude. 23 degrees 36 min. north, Longitude 75 degrees, 20 min. west, or, some one million miles from New York....
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You can dive off the cliff in this swimming spot. It is also the world's deepest "Blue Hole" and first choice for top free divers.
Happy hour sunset at Cape Santa Maria resort, one of two small resorts on Long Island. Voted top sunset viewing bar by all!
Today's catch of the day is a Spanish Hogfish. Spearfishing for dinner is seldom unrewarded with a delicious catch!
Anacacuya at rest in Joe's Sound: Ana is a 35' Pearson, a proven ocean cruiser /racer.
Rum Shark Delivery Service, Joe's Sound. This is the most dangerous of the species found in the lagoon. Appears nightly!
Historic Catholic church, Long Island. Churches far out number bars on this island, an indication of priorities...
Quiet cove on Conception Island. Within a day sail on Ana. Population: Zero
Baby coconut palm in the wild... "Put de lime in de coconut and call me in..."
Capitol city, Clarencetown, Long Island, population 300, two historic churches, farmers produce co-op and mail boat dock.