GTC 101: Playing Here (Part Two: Boating and Fishing)

This is the sixth post in the series, Green Turtle Cay 101: A Guide to Getting Here, Staying Here, Dining Here and Playing Here.

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Sunrise over the boats moored in Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay.

The waters around Abaco are some of the most beautiful in the Bahamas – maybe in the world. So it’s not surprising that Green Turtle Cay is a popular destination for mariners and anglers. Regardless of your boating experience or skill level, there’s much fun to be had on the water.

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Abaco and its Cays – Map courtesy of Abaco Life magazine.

Don’t own your own vessel? Not to worry. There are several boat rental companies on the cay, including Reef Rentals, Sunset Marine and Donny’s Boat Rentals.

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A quick and easy trip from the settlement of New Plymouth, the beach south of the Gillam Bay point is gorgeous, unspoiled and, more often than not, deserted. It’s a great place to sun, swim and hunt for shells. We just anchor in the clear shallows a few feet offshore and wade to the beach.

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Enjoying fresh-made conch salad on the south side of the Gillam Bay point.

Directly opposite Gillam Bay point is No Name Cay, perhaps known best for its resident swimming pigs. (Bring snacks and some fresh water for them if you can. But use caution when interacting with them — though adorable, they’re still feral creatures.)

A few minutes north of Green Turtle is Fiddle Cay. It’s the perfect picnic spot, complete with a gorgeous sandbar on which to anchor, a charcoal barbeque and wooden tables in the shade. Beyond Fiddle Cay, Munjack Cay boasts beautiful white-sand beaches on the ocean side.

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“Lincoln Park”, at the northeast end of Munjack Cay

Across the Sea of Abaco is Treasure Cay (not a cay at all, but the second-largest community on the Abaco mainland.) Treasure Cay beach was voted by National Geographic as one of the world’s best, and it’s a great boating and dining destination.

For experienced boaters who want to venture further afield, Guana Cay, Man-o-War and Hope Town all make for enjoyable day trips. If you’re renting a boat, be sure to check with your rental company beforehand, since some restrict vessel usage to specific geographical areas.

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Sailboats in Hope Town Harbour

Fishing Guides

If you’re not comfortable operating a rental boat, or you’re looking for a local expert to lead your fishing expedition, there are a number of highly experienced, local guides on the cay, including:

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Tom’s bonefish, caught during a fishing day with Capt. Rick Sawyer

Captain Rick Sawyer – A local guide for nearly to 40 years, Rick offers bonefishing and deep-sea fishing trips in the waters around Green Turtle Cay. Tom and I had a fabulous day bonefishing with him a few years back.

Lincoln Jones – Back in the days before our trips to Green Turtle Cay were consumed with all things Fish Hooks, we had the pleasure of spending a day on the water with Lincoln. Fishing in the morning, and lunch on the north end of Munjack Cay, where Lincoln cleaned and cooked our catch while we swam, snorkeled and fed the local sea life. What a blast!

Ronnie Sawyer Another terrific, long-time local guide, Ronnie leads deep-sea and bonefishing expeditions by boat or by foot, out of Green Turtle Cay or Treasure Cay.

The Rock Fishing Charters with Eddie Bodie – Though we haven’t yet been out with Eddie, he’s a favourite of many of our friends. He leads great deep-sea fishing day trips, which I understand are tons of fun, especially for groups.

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Bonefishing in Coco Bay, Green Turtle Cay

Fishing On Your Own

Subject to weather (and of course, luck), there’s no shortage of good fishing spots around Green Turtle and the other Abaco Cays. Tom and I have had our best luck off the eastern shores of Green Turtle and Munjack Cays, inside the reef.

A lot of anglers also bonefish from shore, primarily at Coco Bay, the shallows south of the Gillam Bay point or the flats beside the cemetery.

A few tips for boating and fishing around Green Turtle Cay:

  • Before doing anything else, pick up a copy of the Cruiser’s Guide to Abaco. So you know, aside from being a loyal customer, I’m not affiliated in any way with this publication. But it’s a terrific, comprehensive annual guide to boating in the area, and includes up-to-date maps, tide charts, guides to good snorkeling and scuba spots, approaches to harbours, water depths, etc. Even on land, we refer to ours constantly.
  • Grouper season is March 1 to November 30. No grouper may legally be taken between December 1 to February 29. Similarly, crawfish (Atlantic lobster) season is August 1 to March 31. No crawfish may legally be harvested outside that window, and crawfish with tails shorter than 6″ may not be taken at any time.
  • On a related note, the Bahamas National Trust recently launched its Conchservation campaign, which encourages locals and visitors to protect the country’s dwindling conch supply by not harvesting juvenile conch.  A mature conch (and therefore, one that can be harvested) will have a fully formed lip at least 1/2″ thick. For more information, see the BNT’s Conchservation brochure.
  • It should go without saying, but always use care and caution while on the water. Though good, basic medical care is available in Abaco, serious injuries may require airlifting to the U.S. — which is expensive and can delay critical treatment. And with rental boats, if you break them, you’ve bought them. I’ve heard several stories about renters whose intoxication or irresponsibility cost them the price of a boat — or worse.
  • Tropical weather can be unpredictable, shifting quickly from clear skies and calm seas to huge swells and gusty downpours. For up-to-date forecasts, check out Barometer Bob, or monitor your VHF for the Cruiser’s Net. The Green Turtle Club also broadcasts a detailed weather forecast by VHF each morning, usually between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Here are some other sources of information about boating and fishing in Green Turtle Cay and Abaco:

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Bonefishing in Settlement Creek with Ronnie Sawyer

 Have I overlooked your favourite boating destination, fishing guide or spot? Drop me a note and I’ll add it to the list!

Coming next in the GTC 101 series: Watersports – SCUBA, snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding and more. Stay tuned….

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