Happy Holihamas!  Experience a Holiday Vacay in the Abacos

With as many winters—Christmases and New Years’ included—that Phillip and I have spent in the Bahamas, including this past holiday season in 2022, I figured it was time for a little Bahamas tribute, a rhythmic ditty, if you’ll indulge me, an Annie Seuss treat, as we wish you “Happy Holihamas!” and share with you what it is like to shirk the cold, ditch the snow shovel, and trade your egg nogs for Goombay smashes with a holiday season in the Abacos.  

December 22, 2022

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 5:03 a.m.

We weigh Ubi’s anchor and point her bow towards West End.

Just a 10-hour voyage before us, we don’t care we have to motor-sail,

Any day spent in bikinis in a calm Atlantic makes us feel rather swell,  

Particularly knowing we would arrive in West End mid-afternoon in full daylight 

With a wide, easy entrance, a spacious fuel dock, and a slip that would suit us just right.

As we secure our happy yacht in Bahamian waters, a blinding crystal green

I find myself mesmerized—again, every time!—by the clarity I am seeing.

The colorful scales on each fish, I feel I can count.

The jewel tone of the water, I feel I can reach in and scoop out.

Walking the docks I’m reminded of equally happy days coming here on Plaintiff’s Rest

When we checked into the Bahamas for the first time in 2017 as virgin guests!

Walking over to the beach on the north shore, the view looks too perfect to be real

A white beach, bending palm trees, Bahamian waters, it’s surreal!

Feeling drunk already on simply the sights, to the tiki bar we claim it’s time to dash

Egg nog be damned, we want their famous Bahamian drink, a Goombay Smash!

We trade turkey and canned cranberry dressing in for fresh, tangy conch salad

And savor the tiki bar’s reggae style Bob Marley version of holiday ballads 

Christmas Eve still brings us dazzling lights, a mesmerizing purple, yellow, orange, blue

And I fall asleep in Ubi’s comfy vberth thinking Papa Noel might just find me here, too.

Christmas Day brings us a gift: a cool northwest wind that we sail right to Mangrove Cay

Phillip cracks his usual: “Someone’s spending today shoveling snow in Milwaukee”

It’s another serene night spent at Great Sale Cay before we set our sights on Green Turtle

Keeping Ubi scrubbed and clean during our travels remains my constant but rewarding hurdle.

No sleigh or reindeer at Green Turtle we choose our holiday chariot, a ramshackle golf cart

With the way it carries all our picnic, beach, and kite gear, we find it quite smart!  

Spending the languid days between Christmas and New Years kitesurfing in the ocean

Makes it feel like we put the stress of holiday flights and last-minute shopping in slow motion.

We don’t have any of the traditional holiday décor aboard, no tall tree, on top a shining star, 

But a stately mast we do boast, and when I’m sent up to check the windex it appears quite far!

As December 31st approaches, our excitement grows for the celebration of the year anew,

However in the Bahamas they do it rather differently, with a lively tradition called Junkanoo!

Locals dress in bright, homemade garments and elaborate costumes, paint on their faces

They beat steel drums in rhythm, their enthusiasm and joy rallies every onlooker, all races.

I’m always in awe of their sheer pleasure, Bahamians sharing their beautiful homeland

In ways they appear to have so little, but when I look around and appreciate it all I understand. 

One thing Phillip and I had been really looking forward to, in addition to the Junkanoo glitter

Was the hope that locals would fry up many batches of their savory island gem, conch fritters!

After Junkanoo, we take to the Atlantic again, our sights next set on the Town of Hope

Whose dazzling flora and fauna and neon colored buildings we find supremely dope!

On the way, we dropped a lunch hook at Johnny’s Cay to take in the jawdropping water

Happily reminded that some locations you can still choose by sight, no need for a chartplotter

After grabbing a ball in the harbor, we were thrilled to get a special Hope Town invite from Muffin and Bill

To their weekly game of Bingo: “At Cap’n Jacks, ‘round happy hour, grab a table, it’s a big deal!”

In Hope Town we got news some long-time friends would enter the Bahamas within a week

We turned around to head back through the Abacos to meet them, Annie giving a squeak.

We stopped in Munjack Cay, not wanting to miss a stroll along the trail of recycled art

Delighted to find it had grown extensively since our last visit, many more cruisers playing a part.

Making our way into the anchorage at Great Sale Cay, we took in a wondrous sight

Our sistership, another Outbound, s/v Serendipitous, looking ship shape and right.

With our amazing Annapolis friends, Peter and Patty aboard, waving brightly from their bow

As well as Spandana and Dev on their Cal 40, Turtle, making us grateful for the hear and now.

As it had been months since we’d seen these hearty sailors, each with many stories to share with everyone,

The last time the six of us had been together on Ubi was Fourth of July, 2021.

We spent hours laughing and talking the evening away, sharing news, lessons, and crazy tales

The next day bidding our friends adieu as they headed happily into the Abacos, raised sails.

As Phillip and Ubi and I, satiated with our island trip, made our way back to West End

For other duties called and our glorious time this year in the Bahamas had come to an end.

But the crystal green memories remain, the sun and the rum and the incredible fun

Headed back to Florida we felt grateful and content, our 2023 east coast adventures having just begun. 

5 thoughts on “Happy Holihamas!  Experience a Holiday Vacay in the Abacos

  • Looks like a blast! Hope to be there in the coming years…we have a Lagoon 39. Just trying to get away from work….

    • We hope to see you there! Balancing work and cruising is always a challenge. Phillip and I both still work full-time, which doesn’t always make it easy. We have a Starlink now which helps a lot, but there is still a lot of balancing to be done between computer work, phone calls, Zoom meetings, etc. and exploring ashore, but it is doable and very rewarding. (www.sail-plan.com). Hope you’re able to get away or find the right balance soon!

  • I am curious as to what y’all’s thoughts are on, how shall I put it, maybe, the least amount of time you should allow for a trip from Florida over to the Bahamas and back to Fl. I know that’s a VERY subjective question. I am questioning about a trip that would be down into the Abacos, possibly into the Exumas, then home. Thanks for your response.

    • Hey there. While it is subjective, it’s not a bad question. We actually did that very trip back in 2018 – entering in the Abacos, dotting around toward Green Turtle Cay and Hope Town, down to Nassau, then over to Eleuthera and just dipping into the Exumas (only to Warderwick Wells, which is still only the furthest we’ve gone down into the Exumas, and it’s an absolute shame! lol).

      We had much stronger ties then (pre-Covid) to Florida, our work requiring more of a physical presence, so we had to make the trip shorter than we would now, where we can work more remotely. I believe we did that in about two months (Thanksgiving’ish to mid- or late-January. Don’t quote me on that, but I believe that’s right. That’s a very quick trip to do all those different island chains, and we didn’t really give any of them the time they deserve, but I understand time can be limited and you want to see all that you can. So, two months would allow a quick smattering of the Abacos and the Exumas IF the weather allows you to keep moving. Sometimes you can get pinned down with weather for days, or even weeks, thwarting all plans.

      If you can plan to just do one or the other (Abacos or the Exumas) I think you would give yourself better odds of having a more flexible schedule (always safer and more enjoyable) and spending more time really soaking up one or the other. But, we’ve clearly done both in two months so if you’re ambitious, go for it! Recently, we’ve done only the Abacos twice on trips closer to three weeks and that was quite enjoyable. That is leaving from the west coast of Florida, requiring just a day hop over and back, but know that finding that window alone (just a 10-hour trip) can be challenging and hold up all travel plans if the winds and weather are not cooperating. Crossing the Gulf Stream is not a voyage that should be taken lightly and cannot be rushed or forced. I hope that helps give you some insight!

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